Listen to Tara’s exclusive interview above with rising singer-songwriter Fergus. We go behind the making of his debut album ‘Love Upside Down’, the songwriting process, challenges overcoming in making his music, plans for what’s next and more.
Rising singer-songwriter Fergus has just released his debut album ‘Love Upside Down’. Co-produced by Fergus and Goldun Egg head-honcho/songwriter-producer Jake Gosling, Love Upside Down contains the acclaimed singles ‘Flatline’, ‘More Than I Deserve’, ‘All I Dream’, ‘Leave Me Light’ plus the brilliant new single “Dear Heart”.
An extraordinary, emotional, cliché-free cycle of shapeshifting songs which capture the highs and lows of a new relationship, Love Upside Down is the result of a near five-year partnership with Gosling (Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, 1D), the mentor Fergus initially first met just for a few hours of advice. His high, heart-melting vocals – think Jeff Buckley meets Keane’s Tom Chaplin, with a nod to Noughties’ Coldplay – may be Fergus’s calling card, but everything from his unusual phrasing and fiendishly clever lyrics to his intuitive guitar playing and adventurous spirit had Jake hooked. By the end of that first fateful day, the pair had agreed to release one song. That led to a trio of annual EPs before the pandemic-delayed Love Upside Down got underway.
In fact, Fergus has Covid to thank for how his debut turned out. A week after fleeing his flat in a locked down London for comfort in Cambridgeshire, he fell in love. The batch of bitter break-up tracks he’d recently written were binned and a new set of songs were soon underway.
In every sense, it was the best thing that could have happened. Thanks to all of our plans being put on hold, I have a much more mature body of work. My sound evolved a lot. And luckily, love songs are an easier sell than angry rants!
Don’t come expecting to hear only hearts and flowers, however. Love Upside Down is a warts’n’all look at love. From heady early days in a sun-drenched lockdown haze to the difficulties of returning to work, and the sudden separation it involved, to arguments, compromise and accepting the blame for finding fault, Fergus’s poetic lyrics depict real life rather than fantasy.
I’m not naturally an upbeat person. I hadn’t written a happy song in five years and even now, hearing myself sing about being in love is out of my comfort zone. I definitely couldn’t write a whole happy album.
The complex nature of real relationships is mirrored in the songs’ shifting structures and wide range of styles, from acoustic folk, indie and psychedelic rock to swathes of synths, a dip into jazz and even the spectre of samba. Striking instrumental interludes abound. Songs flit from light to dark or burst unexpectedly into sunshine. Some are intimate, others expansive.
As ever, Jake opened my eyes to where we could take the songs sonically. The huge instrumental sections were his idea. Some of the songs needed that break because they can be intense. It was about zooming out to see the scope of the album and getting the pacing right.
Recording Love Upside Down began as lockdown lifted, but Jake’s studio remained shut. Hence, some was recorded in the producer’s home, some later in his sprawling Surrey studio and a trio of tracks with Jake protege Patch Rochelle at London’s Miloco studios.
Fergus has been writing and performing gigs since moving to Bristol to study aged 18, having left King’s College, Cambridge, where he had been a boarder and choir boy since the age of eight. With the famous Kings College Choir, he sang at Sydney Opera House during a tour of Australia aged 10.
It was like having a career as a kid. At first when I left I wanted nothing more to do with music, but then I found myself writing songs and playing open mic nights trying to make the transition from classical to the type of music I liked. Encouraged by Jake I’ve gradually gained more confidence in my writing, and also I’ve learned more about the whole recording process,” he confesses. “The album has been over two years in the making. I’m fascinated by bodies of work that are really cohesive, and that tell a story. That’s what I’ve tried to do with Love Upside Down.
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Written by: Channel R