With fans like Dermot O’Leary and a jam-packed calendar of gigs and festivals, 2014 is set to be a big year for this self proclaimed box set loving, super hero geek from Yorkshire.
We spoke to Rupert to chat about how it all started, his charity work and his new single Morning Light.
How did it all start? Have you always had a passion for music?
'Yeh, I've always had a passion for music- perhaps more for singing- from a young age. My parents used to play tapes in the car while on the way to my grandparents house on the weekend so i was introduced to greats like Rolling stones, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Simply Red and Bob Marley. Then, from my brothers I was introduced to the cool music like Oasis, Aerosmith, Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine. I had quite an eclectic introduction to music.'
'When I became a teenager I learnt to play guitar at school, and then went to study music and new music technology at Leeds Met University, which lead me to decide I wanted to do music full time as a career and be a singer-songwriter. Then I started gigging on the local circuit after Uni.'
It's been a busy 12 months for you, how are you growing as an unsigned singer songwriter?
'On a national scale and international scale I'm starting to get recognised by those identifiable accolades. Sometimes you say to people I'm a singer songwriter and they kind of dismiss what you do because they don't think you do a proper job, but then as soon as you've got plays on BBC radio there's suddenly loads more people interested in gigs and loads more people taking notice. People start to take you a bit more seriously, which I think is the fickle thing about the music industry and often it shows how competitive it is. It's been a great 12 months and my career is going from strength to strength. I've played some cool festivals and shared the stage with some great acts like Gabrielle Aplin and Ocean Colour Scene to name just a couple.'
For people who may not have heard your music before, how would you describe your music and yourself as an artist?
'I used to think of myself as an alternative singer songwriter because my writing had a dark twist to it; but I want to always have that catchy element, a slight pop element, to it. I guess you could say that the genre is acoustic indie rock and roll. A lot of people say I have a unique sound, which I think is really important in the music industry at the moment. I never want to be a flash in the pan kind of success, I'd hope I'd have a very long standing career.'
How did it feel to hear your music being played by Dermot O'Leary on BBC Radio 2?
'I'm very proud to have been played by Dermot. It was unbelievable, I was jumping up and down. I'm a bit of a fan of him already as a presenter and also, his radio show is great as far as new music is concerned. On the BBC I think his is one of the best shows to listen to; it's a nice bit of Saturday afternoon listening. I think that for him to be sent hundreds of songs to listen to each week and for him to choose mine is incredible. It's a big part of the dream for an unsigned artist. To get that industry recognition is massive kudos!’
'For hm to really like my sound means so much to me, so hopefully one day I'll pop in and meet him and we'll have a cup of tea and go out for a drink. Since Dermot's play a couple of weeks ago, Chris Hawkins and BBC British Forces Broadcasting Services Radio have added my new single to their playlist and I've been invited down for a 30 minute acoustic session and interview in May, which is really exciting because they have about one million listeners worldwide!'
What's your favourite thing about touring and playing gigs?
'I love meeting new people- those who have been fans for a couple of years through social media but have only just managed to see us live because we've never gigged near enough to them before; it means a lot to them and it means a lot to me. It's good to put a face to a name and see these people. They always want to have a picture with me and want me to sign stuff; it's not going to be worth anything these days but it might be one day! That's what's really sweet and it's quite heart warming.’
‘Considering I'm not maybe as well known as the biggest acts in the country that's not to say that my music doesn't touch their lives in someway and that really warms my heart and I feel that I'm doing something that's worthwhile.That's the amazing thing about music and why I love performing and entertaining big crowds when on stage.'
'I love playing in front of 1000's when on a festival stage, it's got that rock n roll feel! But playing to the little intimate crowds of 200 in acoustic tents and smaller venues in cities is still a real buzz because we get to interact with people a lot more. I actually get more nervous with smaller crowds than with bigger ones...which is weird! Maybe because I can see everyones face when it's a smaller venue!'
You've got a new single coming out called Morning Light, the video is quite emotional; what inspires your music and song writing?
'Morning Light is about having that special someone to care for you and you'll care for them, stand by them no matter what. The song itself is a very powerful and emotional message to me. We wanted the video to take the viewer on a bit of a ride and not know what's really going on until the very end. So many people have said how much it's moved them which is mission accomplished for me and the video team!'
'I'm an observer of people and relationships, I also have a funny mind in the way I think about things and I sometimes over analyse things. When it comes to writing the songs I try not to overthink the method behind the madness because then I'd worry I would get writers block. It all seems to fall quite naturally with me... words and lyrics seem to come to me at the funniest of times. I remember playing the riff over and over again one night in my basement, for some reason that's when my mind works best.'
You've done a lot of work with Alzheimers Research, why do you think it is important to support a charity alongside your music career?
'I think the experience that we had with my grandmother, when she passed away in 2009, made me realise perhaps the young generation’s naivety of the disease. I kind of feel compelled in the memory of my grandmother to get involved with the charity and to encourage younger generations to support Alzheimers Research; that was one of the main reasons I released my charity single Always in 2012; so far I've raised £6,000 for the charity. As my career progresses and I become more well known I hope that I'll be able to direct many of my fans towards the work I do for ARUK and encourage them to get involved in raising funds and awareness as well!’
‘We're the generation who are going to benefit from it; we're doing it in the memory of our grandparents and it's almost a race against time for our own parents. I'm a national spokesperson and it's something I'm always going to be passionate about.'
Away from the studio what do you love doing in your spare time? Are you a box set and Netflix fan?
'I'm loving so many of them. I'm loving House of Cards, I'm loving Game of Thrones, but I find with that there are so many characters I can't remember peoples names! The only one I remember is Tyrion the half man, I think he's the most brilliant character ever made on TV. I'm into True Detective at the moment with Matthew Mcconaughey, that's brilliant and I was a big fan of Breaking Bad before anybody started harping on about and it was all over social media.'
'I rarely watch TV live these days; I'll put an hour or two aside in the evening to catch up on these shows. I'm a bit of a geek in that I like my super hero films so I can identify with the guys from The Big Bang Theory, another of my favourite shows! I have to get to the cinema to watch the new Captain America and Spiderman film.’
'In a way I can contradict myself, in that I used to quite enjoy rugby at school, I was quite into Rugby Union. When I was 16 years old I was selected as one of five student to go on the South African tour with the first team because I was quite a big strong lad. That was an incredibly experience... I still enjoy it now, I watch International rugby and if I can I catch a local Leeds Rhino game.'
'Rugby, box sets and super heroes basically. Nothing too rock and roll,though I do have my moments.'
You're working with Will Jackson who has produced some big names like The Kaiser Chiefs and Embrace; what's next for Rupert Stroud?
'Hopefully to go on and to have success like Embrace and the Kaiser Chiefs would be incredible. Being an unsigned artist you kind of have to go at things a little differently than signed artists do; they've got a lot of money behind them and a record label who can throw out advertising and pay for tour buses and hotels. The plan is to try and get as much exposure as we can.'
'The single campaign for Morning Light is going great with attention and support from BBC Radio 2, BBC Introducing, BBC 6Music, BFBS Radio. We've got a few exciting dates coming up in the next few weeks in Manchester at the Etihad Stadium pre match entertainment on 5th April, Leeds, The Wardrobe,a fundraiser for St. Gemma's hospice 8th April and London, The Borderline on 12th April, supporting The Dunwells; as well as some festival appearances this Spring and Summer.'
'And of course the usual thing; working hard and always pushing it, always telling people everywhere I go 'Hey! I'm a singer songwriter.' As an unsigned musician you've got to be prepared to talk about yourself and thankfully I like to talk but unfortunately I don't like to brag too much about myself.'
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