INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed singer Rory Graham, known by his stage name Rag ’n’ Bone Man, has had a whirlwind ride to the top of the charts since his first hit single Human was released in 2016. He sat down with JOSH WALTON to discuss young people getting involved in the industry, his support for music charities close to home, the concept behind his recent Brits performance and more

"We need music from council estates,” says the soul singer.

His message is that young talents from all backgrounds should be given the chance to chase their dream of becoming an artist.

The chart-topping solo performer, from Uckfield, spent much of his time as a young man cutting his teeth in the industry while living and playing to crowds in Brighton.

He says he still has close ties to the city and has high hopes for the local music scene’s future, emphasising that for young people to succeed in the industry, it depends on their willingness to persevere.

“It is all about nurturing the next generation of talent,” says Rory. “It is about them having that platform and a charity like Brighton’s Audio Active making everyone feel included.

“It doesn’t matter whether you come from Hove or Whitehawk, whether you have come from a wealthy family or whether you have got nothing.

“You are welcome to this space to be creative.”

When asked whether his ties to Brighton remain as close as they were when he was coming up through the underground music scene, he said “very much so”.

Rory said: “Some of the guys like Phonetic, who came up through Audio Active, she came and supported me on a couple of dates on my tour and came and played to like 5,000 people.

“It is really cool to be able to do that for people and it is about giving people that confidence and a little step just to say you can do it.”

The 33-year-old developed his musical skills as a young child, MCing over jungle music before he started to sing.

After moving to Brighton, he joined the rap group Rum Committee, before going on to perform at a local hip hop night called Slip-jam B and releasing their own album on Bandcamp.

He started working with UK hip hop label High Focus in 2011, going on to release a number of soul and blues-inspired tracks and working with several other artists on the label.

He got his first chance to perform on the “big stage” when he supported veteran British singer, songwriter and guitarist Joan Armatrading in 2012.

He signed a deal with Warner Chappell the following year.

“We have connections in Brighton, Tom runs a night called Slip Jam B and is involved in Audio Active,” says Rory.

“I became a patron for Audio Active nine or ten months ago just basically trying to use my platform a bit to help.

“You know, I have a lot of online followers and fans now I guess.

“Looking at the actual talent there, it gives me faith in where the scene is going.

“Like the talent in Worthing, Hove and Brighton and just seeing how good the kids are.

“You should have seen the stuff I was writing when I was 17. In comparison it is miles apart.”

With venues closing down around the country due to a lack of funding or because of new building developments, Rory says “I think it is a problem for the whole of the UK.”

He said: “It is really difficult for kids in Worthing because there isn’t the venues and even in Brighton there are venues closing down here and there.

“It is a lot due to residential areas and lots of building going on and making somewhere residential that was never meant to be residential and venues just get pushed out.

“Unfortunately that is happening all over the place.”

He believes part of the problem is also that there aren’t enough people turning up to watch acts at smaller gigs.

He would like to see musicians, venues and producers continuing to come together to push their local music scenes in order to give youngsters and up and coming artists the chance to prosper.

“We as a community should support the music,” says Rory.

“It is easier for people to give up now.

“There are certain points over the last eight or nine years where I have thought I don’t know if this is a viable option any more.

“I have done a publishing deal and then still didn’t have any money and was living week by week.

“It is easy to get to that point and say I can’t do it any more.

“It is all about people’s perseverance. It’s how far you’re willing to go and what type of career you want as well.”

Rory sang in front of a flaming West Pier set at the Brit Awards this year to pay homage to the city and his time spent growing up in it.

After receiving the Best British Single for his chart-topping track Human, he took the time to thank his fans and everyone else from Brighton who had been part of his journey to chart success.

“Yeah, I am always involved in those things,” says Rory about the concept behind the dramatic backdrop on stage.

“Obviously being something like the Brits they always want to make it big and spend as much money as possible apparently.

“They were like ‘what do you want to do?’, so I said ‘if you’re going to do something big you have to make it about the place I’m from’.

“It was a pretty good idea.”