UK based musician Philip Plested, who simply goes by Plested, is creating a buzz with his recently released debut album First and Foremost. Plested got his start in the UK band Chasing Grace before deciding to venture off into a solo career. Having discovered a love and a talent for songwriting, he has penned songs for artists such as Zayne Malik, The Vamps, Kygo feat. Miguel, Little Mix, Emeli Sande and Calum Scott and has become a rising star and sought after writer within the industry. After 5 years in the industry, Plested penned his first hit with “Touch” by Little Mix, which served as the first big stepping stone in his career as a writer. Since launching his solo career, he has collaborated with other talented songwriters and producers to create an album that truly reflects who he is as an artist. With songs that showcase his songwriting talent, impressive knack for melody and personal insight, the album is receiving plenty of critical praise. He recently released the songs “Back Up Plan” and “Ribcage” with accompanying videos, with “Back Up Plan” being the first of the two videos released and “Ribcage” being the emotional second half to the story. Plested had this to say about “Back Up Plan”- “This is the story of ‘Leon’. Someone that’s dedicating his life to his art and to his dreams. He works in a cafe to earn a living and in his spare time he rehearses relentlessly to perfect his craft. No backup plan, do or die…When I first started writing songs, I was at university studying illustration and working at a café to get by – it was about a year or two before I was fortunate enough to be able to stick to it full time. And even after that, it was years before I wrote a hit song. This is for everyone who has a dream and a passion. Keep at it, have faith & it’ll all work out.” Directed by Daniel Alexander Harris, the video for “Ribcage” continues the story of Leon and his struggle to open up in the midst of falling in love. Plested recently made his debut headlining performance with a sold out show at London’s acclaimed and beloved venue St Pancras Old Church, which also saw him performing his solo material for the first time with a proper band. Things are definitely working out well for Plested and his future is looking bright! Staff writer Emily May recently spoke with Plested by email and discussed the new album, his transition to a solo career and what’s next for him. You can stay up-to-date with Plested and all upcoming tour dates and new music, as well as stream and purchase his music via the following links. You can check out the videos for “Back Up Plan” and “Ribcage”, as well as for his new song “Your Name” below.
Photo credit- Catie Laffon
You just released your debut solo project/album ‘First & Foremost’! Congratulations! You’ve described it as a “deep sea dive into your heart as a songwriter trying to figure out love, a career and the balance between them”. Do you feel that you have figured out that balance (or are on your way to doing so)? What can you tell me about the new track on the album, “Your Name”, as well as the video for the song?
I don’t think anyone ever really figures out the balance, but that’s what keeps life interesting right? ‘Your Name’, I wrote in New York with my friend Scott Harris, I couldn’t stop talking about a girl from back home and so we wrote the song about a name popping up in every word you say. I love the song because it’s happy-sad, I wanted the video to portray the theme of ‘missing someone’ – a guide to loneliness. We thought it would be quite funny if I was doing loads of couple activities on my own!
You worked with some amazing writers and producers for ‘First & Foremost’, including Scott Harris, Emily Warren and Alex Hope! You’ve also been in the studio with EG White & Malay. What was it like to work with so many talented people and what do you feel like they added to the process?
One of my favourite things about this industry is how collaborative it is. Working with so many talented people, on this project, not just the big names, it helped me get out of my own head and comfort zone. I think the best songs come from experimenting with sound and being in the studio with fresh, exciting writing/producing talent, it’s always super inspiring. I’m glad to call the collaborators on this project my friends too – and getting to work with your friends every day makes it even better.
First & Foremost represents the beginning of you as an artist. What were your goals going into the project and do you feel that you achieved those goals? What do you hope that fans take away from the project?
I just wanted to make a project that was honest and raw, I never want to release a song that doesn’t mean something to me. So if fans can take that away from the project, that every song has come from the bottom of my heart, I’ll be a happy boy!
Having written so many songs over the years, you decided at the end of September to release a song a week with an accompanying drawing over the course of the next year! How has the response been?
We originally had the idea for a song a day! Thankfully we ended up changing that idea to ‘a song a week’, because I realized 365 songs in a year is a little too much haha. The response to every song has been overwhelming, a lot of the songs are just one day, one take demos, they’re unfinished, rough and raw. I like the idea of showing people the process of writing songs and how they get from pen and paper to people’s ears.
You first started writing songs when you were at University studying illustration and were working at a cafe to help yourself get by. It took you a couple of years to stick to it full time and a few years after that to write a hit song. What was your first hit song? What was that time in your life like and what inspired your drive and determination to stick with music and not give up? What have you learned about yourself and writing songs in the process?
My first ‘hit’ was Little Mix – Touch and after being in music for nearly five years, that was my first big stepping stone in my career as a writer. I finally felt like I had earned my place in the industry. Hearing that song at parties and on the radio is a feeling that can’t be described, people would tell me what that song and lyric means to them and it gives you so much determination to write another hit and that’s what drives me to stick at this everyday. One thing it taught me is that a ‘hit’ can come from anywhere, you don’t have to be a massive writer or work with big names, a good song will find its way to people’s speakers one way or another!!
You started out in a band called Chasing Grace before deciding to start a solo career. What led you to want to branch out on your own and how has the transition been for you of being in a band to being a solo artist?
I had so much fun being in the band, met some amazing people and played some incredible shows, but I realised that it just didn’t feel like me. We got dropped by Island records and I had to think about my career realistically, hence writing songs for other people. After a couple years of writing I really missed the stage and connecting with fans. So I thought it would be fun to play a couple small shows with songs I had accidentally written for myself! I enjoyed those shows so much that I never stopped.
You started writing songs for other artists while in Chasing Grace, and then as a solo artist, including Zayn Malik, Little Mix and Emeli Sande. How did you come to start writing for other artists and do you have any artists coming up that you will be writing for?
Genuinely I just got lucky! My first ‘cut’ (that’s what writers call a song that’s been taken) was with James Arthur, “Certain Things”, he sung it and put it on his album after hearing it in the studio one day. The idea that I could give my lyrics a bigger audience by giving them to someone else to sing was so exciting. So I thought why not be an artist and write for amazing artists at the same time!!! Best of both worlds!!!! I’ve had sessions with some exciting people yeah, but I’ll let you wait and hear the songs once they’re out 😉
Having gone to University for illustration, did you initially decide you wanted to pursue a career in illustration or did you want to incorporate illustration into your music career?
I was never actually going to get into music, I thought it was impossible to get into the bubble of the industry, so didn’t want to try. Throughout school I always dreamed of going to art school in London – Central St Martins in particular. I somehow managed to get in and passed my foundation, but that’s when music kicked off. Now I just try to use illustration to accompany some of my favourite lyrics and songs, I’ll never stop picking up the pen!
In writing your single “Back Up Plan” with your friend Alex Hope, the two of you discussed what it takes to make a career out of music- all or nothing! Did you have much pressure from family/friends to have a back up plan or have they always been totally supportive?
My mum still jokes with me, whenever we go to a cafe with a ‘job vacancies’ sign, she’ll tell me to apply. Haha no in all seriousness, I am super lucky, friends and family are unbelievably supportive and have been patient enough to let me risk everything on this career. I must say, it is definitely important to consider a back up plan, that’s partly why I still give some of my songs to bigger artists to sing! I’m just now saving the biggest ones for myself.
For your videos for “Back Up Plan” and “Ribcage”, you feature Leon, a dancer that has dedicated his life to his art and dreams. How did the idea for the videos come about and how did you meet and come to work with director David Alexander Harris to bring the vision to light? What led you to do the videos as a part one and two? How do you feel that the themes in each song are connected?
I first met Daniel Alexander Harris at a festival and we clicked instantly, we’ve shot photoshoots together, watched gigs together, so it felt right to make a video together! With sharing creative careers in common, he knows exactly what it takes to make it in these industries. It’s relentless, hard work and determination. That’s why wanted to link the videos, the work that goes into music/photography/dancing, can often have a knock on effect to your personal life. That’s what Ribcage could also be centred around, not being able to open up, loneliness and questioning why.
You have mentioned that every time you write a song, you have to dig deep and open up and that everything you write is really personal and autobiographical. Do you ever find it hard to open yourself up so much and write such personal songs?
Yes it’s hard!!! I used to just draw on stories my friends would tell, because I was scared to use my own feelings and secrets in a song. But I think it’s important to show some of my own insecurities through my own music, as I want my fans to be able to relate to me and what I’m going through as they’re most probably going through similar things too.
You recently performed your first headlining show at London’s St Pancras Old Church. I’ve heard it’s an amazing venue! What were some highlights for you from the show?
Literally one of my favourite venues! I forced my team to allow me to play there! We had my good friends Maisie Peters and Etham supporting, who were insane. Emeli Sande and Naughty Boy came to watch too which was an amazing feeling. And it was my first time playing with a proper band, which sounded crazy.
What’s next for you? What are your goals going forward?
Next up are my big songs! We’ve been saving them for the right time, but now First and Foremost is out and the foundations are laid, I think we’re ready for the hard hitters. I want to tour as much as possible in 2019, so keep your eyes peeled.