RJ Thompson has built a name for himself in recent months as one of the countries strongest up and coming singer-songwriters. His poignant lyrics perfectly capture the mood of the past 12 months, with songs that won’t fail to resonate, and all are set against a colourful (and at times nostalgic) soundscape that goes far beyond modern-day singer-songwriter stereotypes.
“I have always believed that musicians, artists, authors… they all have a responsibility at least to some degree, to hold up a mirror to society.“
RJ is an artist who’s had to graft for every great opportunity that’s come his way, getting his big break through consistently playing grass-roots music venues, pubs and clubs in his native North-East. It was a night in Hartlepool where the work paid off. A sound engineer at an open mic night was working with Live Aid organiser and Ultravox frontman Midge Ure. The engineer submitted RJ as a support act, leading to more than 30 shows touring the UK and Europe. Support shows with Gabrielle Aplin, Deacon Blue and Jools Holland (including a performance at the Royal Albert Hall) soon followed as well as several EPs and a live album.
“Up here in the North East there is a saying… “shy bairns get nowt”. You’ve got to put yourself out there, asking and doing, if you want to make any progress. So that’s what I did throughout my early years. I got out and posted my demos to all the local promoters, played at the grassroots venues, the local festivals, and any community event going – even those that had absolutely nothing to do with music!. Every single show has taught me something.”
Now, RJ is stepping out with his first full studio LP “Echo Chamber”. The album features guest appearances from John Waugh, saxophone player for The 1975, and ex-Bellowhead cellist Rachael McShane and serves as a sonic departure from RJ’s traditional singer-songwriter background. After a few tracks, a love for analogue synthesizers and strong electronic-pop production becomes evident. With tracks like ‘The Girl & The Gunman’, ‘Echo Chamber’ and ‘Think About You’, we can hear distinctive retro arpeggios and lush synth chords – perfected with a contemporary mixdown and epic production standard. There’s an overriding theme of the old combining with the new throughout the record, as RJ explains..
“I wrote this album almost entirely over a 2-month period, recorded it the following month, and now it’s here and ready to be released. It’s the most focused I have ever been as a songwriter and I think that comes across… I knew what I wanted the album to be, exactly how I wanted it to sound, and with the help of my producer we’ve made a genuine body of work that perfectly represents who I am and the artist I want to be. I wanted the album to feature elements of my favourite music from my childhood, so you can certainly hear synth and percussion sounds throughout the album that wouldn’t be out of place on Thriller or Bad. Even the length of the album is a nod to some of my favourite records. We are carrying that mindset through to the music videos too. The first video (for the title track) pulls in influences from some classic 80s movies like The Breakfast Club.”
The album is coming in November to coincide with more tour dates with Jools Holland.
Listen/Stream to Echo Chamber below:
Think About You
The Girl & The Gunman
Go It Alone
Lie Close To Me
29th November – City Hall, Newcastle (Jools Holland Support Tour)
30th November – City Hall, Newcastle (Jools Holland Support Tour)
1st December – SECC, Glasgow (Jools Holland Support Tour)
21st December – International Centre, Harrogate (Jools Holland Support Tour)
22nd December – First Direct Arena, Leeds (Jools Holland Support Tour)