Singer-songwriter Si Cranstoun releases his debut album Modern Life today and performs at the Royal Albert Hall’s BluesFest 2014 on 31 October. He talks about his music heroes and breaking into the big time.
How did you get into performing?
My sixth form school band was looking for someone to sing. At 16, I was terrible so I tried to help them find someone. Unlike nowadays at school, however, back then there was no-one so they asked me to try and I got away with it! It boosted my popularity with the girls.
You spent years busking – and on the underground vintage scene. Was it always your dream to make it big?
Yes, from my teenage years I was determined to become a success in music. I also had the good fortune of living next door to a Grammy award-winning songwriter who upon hearing my band demos when I was 17 told me I had the gift.
How did it feel when you signed a million-pound recording contract with Warner Records last year?
It took a while to sink in. I think it’s still sinking in that finally I’m a qualified professional. It’s an interesting contrast because with all that joy and excitement comes a great deal of anxiety and concern that you are now in the most competitive marketplace in the world.
How would you describe your musical style?
It’s a blend inspired by the soulful singers of the past fused with sounds of the vintage big bands, which are then polished off with contemporary beats & rhythms to excite your dancing feet.
What can people expect from your new album Modern Life?
Strong songs, which will lift them up. I have written or co-written virtually every tune on there so expect a fresh new batch of new compositions. I’m also working the top end of my vocal register a fair bit so the songs are super-punchy and ‘in yer face’.
Your songs are insanely catchy – how do you go about writing each one?
Thanks. Observation is the key. I try to write about real-life situations and how to feel good about them, normally on my acoustic guitar where I create the chord progressions, which go hand-in-hand with the lead melody.
Can you tell us more about performing at the Royal Albert Hall in Bluesfest 2014 later on this month?
I’ll be there with my whole band: a three-piece brass section of trombone, sax and trumpet along with drums, bass, keyboards and guitar. All my band members do backing vocals which helps with achieving a fuller sound.
How does it feel to be performing in the Royal Albert Hall?
Amazing, surreal! It’s like Christmas morning when I was a kid when I got my first ever Playstation 4 Atari. I have always wanted to play the Royal Albert Hall and get off the tube at South Kensington, and this is now going to happen.
What are you most looking forward to it?
I saw Tony Bennett there a few years ago and the place has a real magic about it, along with a vast history of legendary performers, so just being there is going to be a thrill.
Who are your musical inspirations?
Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole and Elvis Presley
What are your plans for 2015?
To gig the new album with my band as much as possible. I’d like to spend more time with the kids, do a bit more cooking, get a nose job.
Are there are any particular collaborators who you’d love to work with?
Paloma Faith, Mark Ronson, Calvin Harris and Michael Buble.
Si Craunstoun performs at BluesFest at the Royal Albert Hall on 31 October. The festival runs from 26 October-31 October. For tickets visit royalalberthall.com