As one of the most recognisable names in the British soul scene, Tony Momrelle is an exciting singer/songwriter who's gearing up for the release of his second solo record.
We got the opportunity to put some questions to Tony about that album, his past experiences in the industry and much more. Read on to find out what he had to say...
You're releasing your second solo album 'Keep Pushing' on February 26 - what should we expect from that record?
This album is all about the journey and struggles we all encounter and go through, whether it be with love or the many life struggles, the theme is to keep pushing and moving forward no matter what. So expect to be moved as well as getting your dancing shoes ready, because it will make you dance!
How does the material on this record compare to that on your first?
Well my first record was put together really quickly and I was new to recording records then. I think this album in many ways is all about my growth. My first record, I was feeling things out and as artists were always growing and evolving. For me this album has loads of energy!
Can you tell us a little bit about the creative process behind this record?
Making this album has been a lot of fun and a real journey for me. I wanted to take my time with this project to make sure I was covering all the things I wanted to say, so I wrote a LOT of songs. For me as a writer, the hardest thing is to write for yourself, so there was a process of me loving a song and with the next breath hating it!
I just wanted it to be the best offering from me at this time so I would work with my team through many long nights to get it right. It's been tough but I loved every moment.
It takes so much energy to make a record from just having a melody in your head to finding the words, then to create the right sound musically, so the creative process has many layers. Once all the songs were recorded we then had to sit with them and choose the right 11 to make the album, then sit with it again for ideas for an album title, photography and artwork. I loved every moment.
How important is it for you to maintain creative control over the work you put out?
I'm quite a strong-minded person and I know at times I can be hard to work with because I care so much. In my mind no one is greater than the song, not even the artist!
Creative control is very important to me to make sure it's the right representation of who I am! Having said that, no man is an island and you need a team! My label partner and my team were there to strengthen me as well as strip down anything they didn't feel was good. It's important as an artist to step away from the picture you're painting to see what's there on the canvas. My team helped me shape the record.
You're also a member of Sade's band and feature on her albums, what sort of experience is that like?
And the Lotto winner is, L-O-L. That's how it felt when I left her house after a private audition. Working with Sade is a real dream, she's such an incredible role model for so many reasons. Being in her band as well as a big part of the creating process is incredible.
I think I've learnt a lot from her regarding being true to your art form as well as spending the time to make sure your music is how you want it to sound, say and feel. She has been in my corner during the making of this record, giving advice and ideas. We are great friends outside of the office job, so being around her is insightful.
In your time you've worked with some incredible names and been featured on tracks by iconic artists - who would you love to work with going forward and why?
Great question and a hard one to answer. I guess one day I would love to do something with Stevie Wonder. He's been a huge inspiration to me. It's funny, through my gift of song many doors have opened for me and I got to meet Stevie a few times. I remember being in Tokyo on tour and another singer who was on that tour called me to her room, as I got there the door was open, I walked in and she handed me the phone.
I heard a guy singing one of my songs down the line, it was Stevie! He called to encourage me and to say he was a fan of my voice. I was so nervous I replied, 'Er, I like yours too!', haha. There are many artists that I like and I guess if I had more time I could list more, but number one would be Mr Stevie Wonder.
When did you first decide that a career in music was one you wanted to chase?
I've always been involved with music from a young age. I actually started out as a rapper, beat boxer, body popper. I had a group I was in around the age of 13 and I remember being in school and a friend of mine told me about the DMC contest. Naughty me, I skipped school the next day to attend. I thought I would be in and out as I didn't think I was that good of a rapper but I came third in the final!
From that I was approached by the BBC about doing a TV show about rap music called The Lowdown. After seeing the show on TV, I thought this is what I wanted to be, an artist!
It was years later when I discovered my voice. I remember my first moment of getting my feet wet. I was working for a marketing company and a friend of mine called me about doing a recording session. I told him no and that I didn't really do sessions as I didn't think I was good enough. He managed to convince me and when I arrived at the studio, sitting on the sofa was Gloria Estefan! My friend kept it from me knowing, as I would have probably backed out!
I'm so glad I went because a few weeks later I took the massive step and quit my job and thankfully I've never looked back.
What would you say are some of your favourite career moments to-date?
Singing at The Hollywood Bowl with Sade is one of them. Meeting Stevie Wonder, working with Chaka Khan... There are too many to mention really because every moment is special to me, from touring the world to doing charity work through music.
Finally what's next for you in the coming weeks and months?
Right now it's all about my album 'Keep Pushing'. I have my diary full with promo, interviews, radio and so on and I'm about to do some promo shows in The Netherlands, France and Germany, so it's all go go go!
Tony's new single 'This Could Be Us' is officially released on February 26.