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Olly Powell: Tracks That Shaped My Sound

British music sensation Olly Powell is rapidly carving out his niche in the industry as a singer, songwriter, rapper, multi-instrumentalist, and producer with a flair for blending R&B, alternative hip hop, and neo soul. Garnering attention with airplay on BBC Introducing and NewStyleRadio, his tracks "Sweet One," "Honey," and "Paris" showcase a progressive mix of styles that defy easy categorization. With performances at iconic venues like Symphony Hall and festivals like Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Fest '23, Powell's versatility and dynamic stage presence have solidified his status as an artist to watch. As "Slide," his latest release, continues to turn heads, Olly Powell sits down to discuss his journey, his influences, and what it means to push musical boundaries in an ever-evolving landscape. Here are the tracks that shaped his sound:

John Mayer - Neon - Where The Light Is.

I was 16 when this album was released. It was the first time I really heard someone and thought, "that's what I want to do". Before this video I was mainly interested in playing as fast and as loud as I possibly could, I had listened to the likes of James Taylor growing up so fingerstyle acoustic wasn't totally alien to me, but this particular technique John uses here really blew my mind. This set me on a totally new path in music. I spent years trying to get it down and could never nail it 100% until he posted a tiktok about it last year which confirmed what I thought he was doing, but its just the bloody good!

Frank Ocean - Thinkin' Bout You

What can I say!? This is another album/track that changed my vision of what music could be. His voice, spoken/rap vocals, the feels and instrumentation was so eclectic it stood out to me as the album us kids, that grew up listening to everything, should be listening to. Frank and this song are still incredibly special to me. I still strive for the feel of this album, its ageless. This album opened up a world of Tyler the Creator, The Internet, Odd Future which themselves were a huge influence. Oh Andre 3000's on Pink Matter is perfection.  

D'Angelo and The Vanguard - Really Love 

I had been introduced to D'Angelo by a friend whilst at university. I loved his first two albums and they heavily influenced me, but this track turned a light on in my brain. The sheer bliss when it moves from the lo-fi intro to the undulating strings and bass is truly a masterpiece of arrangement. Was it Spanish? neo soul? jazz? I LOVED it and wrote 10 songs in a week with this old battered Spanish guitar I found in a charity shop! One of them turned into 'Honey' my third release. 

Pharrell - Frontin' 

Pharrell is the Goat, I really couldn't decide which track has had the most influence on me as they are all amazing. I have chosen Frontin' because it is a perfect example of his 'less is more' approach to making a track. There's 3 drum samples, a guitar and bass for the majority of the track and yet you can't not start nodding along to it, and then the bridge comes in with these beautiful Stevie Wonder style chords to give you a new flavour before heading straight back to the groove. Pharrell's production was a huge part of my singles 'Paris' and "SLIDE'. 

Blood Orange - Charcoal Baby

This was so hard to choose one last song, because there have been so many artists and genres that have got me here. So, I have chosen someone who I have only just recently discovered in the past 5-6 years. It's insane to think this came out 2018, it was so fresh and again, eclectic. I think there's a theme here with eclectic artists... Believe it or not this album was introduced to me by my Mom. It was playing in the kitchen and I walked in and just stopped. The whole album is a masterpiece. What I took from this album was the license to be creative with sounds and textures. Smack a reverb on the whole track and make it sound like been played in a hallway! There's an Instagram live video of Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange, and he goes through the logic files on his laptop for this album and it blew my mind that he made this album in his front room. The guy is a true genius of our time. 


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