Blackaby is both the surname and musical-moniker of London-based songwriter William Blackaby. Originally a drummer, William shifted to writing songs for his old band, before embarking on his new project, with a, “conscious decision to be less poetic” with his lyrics. It’s an approach that’s evident on the distinctly un-romanticised visions presented on his upcoming EP, Everything’s Delicious, out next month via the excellent Hand In Hive label.
While William cites the influence of acts like Wilco and Big Thief, there’s also a distinctly British-lineage to his songwriting, a straight-talking way with words, and a certain honest mundanity, that seems to flow through him via acts like The Kinks and Squeeze and more recent contemporaries like Teleman or Meilyr Jones. As with his acclaimed previous EP, What’s On The TV, on Everything’s Delicious, William seems to trace the path into adulthood, fluttering between youthful dreaming and personal growth, musing on the process of working out who you are and where you’re going, even if that manifests as watching Home In The Hammer and worrying about your hairline on the sublime Warm And Sweet, or staring blankly into a carp pond as you’d rather be anywhere else but talking to people, as on No Long Grass. What William seems to do so well as a songwriter, asides from being an absolute master of a poppy melody, is tap into the seemingly inconsequential moments, how they shape our lives and define the difference between who we truly are, and who other people think we should be: everything’s delicious, if you let it be.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Blackaby?
Blackaby is the musical project of me, William Blackaby. When I play live I’m joined by friends to make it a band with bass, drums, harmonies and all that lovely stuff.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
My first show as Blackaby was in the Waiting Room in London opening for my friends band Dama Scout. It was the first time I’d seen ‘Blackaby’ written on a poster and thought it looked weird. It was a fun night of noisy music and friends saying things like ‘good set’.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
There was a piano in the house growing up which my parents encouraged my sisters and I to play. Before I got a drum kit, I’d play pots and pans and before I had a guitar I’d play my dad’s tennis racket. I just really wanted to play music all the time. When I was 13 I started playing drums for my older sisters mates band called Bernard Bernard and fell in love with playing in bands.
FTR: What can people expect from the Blackaby live show?
Covid permitting, I’ll be joining my friend Zoe (Wyldest) on her UK tour in May. You can expect me singing with a guitar with two or 3 effects pedals (including tuner) and maybe playing drums with my feet and also expect to be seated and distanced. The thought of getting in a car and playing songs each night makes me so happy so crossing my fingers it’ll be allowed.
FTR: What’s next for Blackaby?
Probably take the dog for a walk and then try and write a smash hit song. My 2nd EP comes out on 16th April followed by a 12” vinyl release on 21st May (both my EPs on one record) which is also the first date of the above mentioned tour.
They Listen To…
The Beach Boys – This Whole World
Joni Mitchell – Night Ride Home
Donny Hathaway – Jealous Guy
Budokan Boys – Sick Pic
Joe Jackson – Steppin’ Out