25 February 2016 (released)
25 February 2016
Tony Momrelle is perhaps currently best known as the lead vocalist of Incognito, but having been playlisted on BBC Radio 2 with his single This Could Be Us, the spotlight has been fully thrust on his solo project. With a wealth of experience in the industry, not only through his work with Incognito, but also having worked with Sade, Brand New Heavies and Reel People, Tony is applying the lessons he has learnt from his collaborators to his own career.
Hi Tony, the response to This Could Be Us has been hugely warm. Were you anticipating the reaction?
I'm going to be honest with you, I didn't expect that at all! As a writer, especially having done what I have, you don't really think that way. For me, I wanted to create a record that had momentum. Something positive, uplifting and full of energy. When we put it out there, we didn't expect for it to gain the traction so quick. It's been a really pleasant surprise. I am really grateful.
This Could Be Us is from your new album Keep Pushing - what was your starting point with the record?
I wanted to have some thing that had a feel good factor to it. At the same time, when you are writing for this kind of record, you just come up with loads of ideas and so the process for me was to have something relationship based, but resembled the old school soul sound. Down to emotions, the subjects and the lyrical content. I wanted it be modern and accessible. I wanted it to not be too deep or specialist. I wanted it to be able to be played across the board, but at the same time have some meaning to it.
The album has a real classic feel to it, but with a contemporary twist. Who were you listening to during the writing and recording process?
I was listening to Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway and some Stevie. I'm a person that is always surrounded by music. Funnily enough, when I was making the record I was getting some vibes from those areas of music, but I wasn't completely lost in it. It wasn't just that stuff. When I wrote Keep Pushing, which I wrote with a friend of mine, I knew that was what I wanted. That just started around the piano, but when he started playing, I just knew that was it. That melody made the song. He said he felt the same thing. It had a marching sound to it that is menacing. It replicates the late 60s and we thought it was really clever. That gave us the momentum for the rest of the record. We took elements of the old school sounds and gave them a modern twist. We tried to keep the lyrics about today.
Collaboration has always been at the core of your work. Do you thrive most on collaboration, or do you also like to work alone?
I like to work on my own. A lot of the time when I write songs it starts on my own anyway, then I go to a member of my team and bring the band together at a later stage. It starts with the melody and the concept, then the beautiful thing about collaboration is you have someone to then bounce all that off. They throw other ideas in the pot and that helps the creative process. I think the collaborations I have done on other projects have been really useful for me. They stretched me as an artist and as a singer, but they also kept my name out there as a singer. Right now I am more focusing just on my own career.
You seem to be riding a wave currently. What else would you like to achieve in 2016?
The way it is evolving right now is a little bit more of that. More performances. More of me being played on radio. Knowing worldwide what is coming from the UK. I want to see more of that. I want to get on to larger platforms. I am doing Cheltenham Jazz Festival. I doing the Friday night Music Night with the BBC Big Band Orchestra, so I am just going to keep doing stuff like that.
Over the years you have worked with some of the industry's biggest talents. Have you learnt a lot from them?
Absolutely. To be resilient and keep working. All the people I have been fortunate enough to work with that is the one golden nugget I have learnt. These are people that will get up at 5am and start their creative day. Whether that is interviews, or prep for a show. Their mind is always on the goal - to let people know their art and to be grateful for what they have. That is how I see it. I have been so lucky to work with people like Sade, who is so graceful in the studio and when doing interviews. I am applying that my own career and my own personal life.