For those standing at the back of the crammed Casablanca Jazz Club in Brighton trying to catch a glimpse of one of the most hotly tipped teens in UK music, they are rewarded by the occasional glimpse of a bouncing head of hair above the sea of similarly nodding heads.
At just 16, Bedfordshire singer-songwriter Alfie Templeman, our latest Newbie Tuesday artist, has already notched up a few bucket list items of which an artist 10 years his senior would be proud.
Play an iconic London venue? Check. Play a session at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios? Check.
“It’s incredible, man,” says the visibly buzzing and heavily perspiring young man after his show at the The Great Escape festival of new music on England’s south coast.
“The atmosphere feels like it’s insane. Basically, everyone has shown so much support, it was such a great gig.”
A great gig it might have been for Alfie and the 200 or so people squeezed into a low-ceilinged, red-walled music venue. But Alfie’s tender age has brought its own issues.
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“Most people my age aren’t even allowed in,” says Templeman – whose first London show was at the Brixton Academy – so I’m lucky to be here and it’s a great experience for everyone in my band who are all really young.
“I actually had some trouble getting in here in the first place.
“They let us sound check, and then the bouncer came over and said, ‘Sorry, we’re not actually allowed to let you in here. We’re like, ‘Wait, what?’ So we had to go through a bit of trouble to get in.
“Got here eventually.”
Along with requiring a responsible adult to accompany him to his own shows, it’s also meant Templeman has had to fit in time to rehearse between schoolwork.
“I just finished, so it’s a bit easier now, just got exams left,” he explains. “There’s been less focus at school because I’m so excited about the music and now I’m doing it full time but the teachers are happy about it as well.
“My parents are cool with it, they were a bit worried at first that I was doing it at such an early age but they grew to really support it.”
Templeman has already picked up some high profile fans including Radio 1 indie show presenter Jack Saunders.
With more than a passing resemblance to a young Jeff Buckley, his video for Like An Animal – recorded when Templeman was just 15 – sees the young singer wander around a deserted town dressed in a bear suit.
While the promo for Yellow Flowers, shot in his own living room at home, sees him display his musicianship, picking up and playing instruments artfully scattered around the room.
There are nods to the likes of Tame Impala and indie hipster Mac Demarco as well as 60s revival bands like The La’s and The Stone Roses.
“And Oasis,” he agrees. “A lot of Oasis and a bit of The Smiths.”
Raised in the small town of Carlton, Templeman, whose father is an avid guitar collector, learned to play the drums at age seven.
“My dad showed me the guitar but I always wanted to play drums. But he always didn’t want that amount of noise, so he bought me a guitar instead. Eventually, he got to the point where he was like, ‘Right, he makes enough noise and whacks stuff all the time. So he got me a drum kit.”
The young Templeman matched his enthusiasm for music with an equal enthusiasm for poetry, though he admits his early lyrical efforts don’t slip well into a modern indie pop live set.
“I think when I was about seven I wrote something about the war, World War One, about like, war sirens or something. I can’t really remember but it rings a bell in my head.”
Signed to Chess Club Records, home to artists like Mumford and Sons and MØ, Templeman says he still insists on writing alone.
“Just because I like being honest about myself,” he says assuredly, “and not letting anyone else kind of put in their two cents. To give a slice of myself because at the end of the day, it is about Alfie Templeman.”
With future plans for an EP, or his preferred “mini-album” of around seven or eight songs, Templeman says his next single is called Don’t Go Wasting Time.
“It’s just about not wasting time on things that were meant to be, basically. Just to ignore the things that didn’t work out, silly mistakes and just move on.
Spoken like a 16-year-old music prodigy with a recording contract and a bright future.
And the hair. Mustn’t forget the hair.
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