His approach was making music and performing it live, years before he got signed. Rag’n’Bone Man attending the Toy Story 4 Premiere at Odeon Luxe, Leicester Square, London. However, being just an average man, as in no prophet or messiah”, he does not.
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Following a summer of triumphant festival sets including Glastonbury, Bestival and Isle Of Wight, the biggest UK breakout star of 2017 Rag’n’Bone Man (AKA Rory Graham) announces 19 European dates for next spring including a show at London Alexandra Palace on March 8th. RAG’N’BONE MAN: It was mostly about girls and smoking weed. laughs It wasn’t that interesting, and I’ve got a great deal of tapes of the early days. I don’t want anyone to hear them—it’s really terrible.
RAG’N’BONE MAN: It was just a recording I made on an old 8-track with a microphone in the bathroom. I recorded a couple of acoustic songs, and my girlfriend at the time sent in some of those tracks to promoters. I subsequently ended up supporting Joan Armatrading. That was about 2011 or 2012. It gave me a massive boost, since it got me a bit of interest from radio here and there and it spurred me to record my first project.
RAG’N’BONE MAN: It’s really difficult to choose. Close to my heart is Muddy Waters. I love the way he sang. It was almost like a bark. It was like the bark of a dog, it’s not fancy; sometimes it’s not like singing, it’s like shouting. There’s something really magical about his voice, and he taught me how to sing, basically. I used to sing along to Muddy Waters records constantly. People like him, and all the great blues singers, like B.B. King.
Soon, ‘Columbia Records’ signed a deal with Rag. This collaboration brought Rag worldwide success. In July 2016, Rag released a single titled ‘Human,’ which became an immediate success. It reached the top spots on the music charts of several European countries and was certified gold” in many of them.
In February 2017, Rag’s full-fledged album, ‘Human,’ was released. Apart from the lead single, ‘Human,’ another song from the album, ‘Skin,’ became highly successful. The album also featured musicians such as Mark Crew, Johnny Coffer, and Two Inch Punch.
In 2014, Rag released his first big project, an EP titled ‘Wolves.’ It was a collaborative effort with Mark Crew and was released under ‘Best Laid Plan Records.’ The album consisted of nine tracks and featured several budding rappers of that time such as Vince Staples, Stig of the Dump, and Kate Tempest.
Neo-blues & soul singer Rory Graham was born and raised in the small town of Uckfield in the southeast of England. Music video by Rag’N’Bone Man performing Lay My Body Down. (C) 2014 Best Laid Plans Records. It was Graham’s love of hip-hop that inspired his early lyric-writing as a teen.
Before reaching critical acclaim for his debut album, ‘Human’, the singer-songwriter MC’d with a drum and bass crew using the handle Rag ‘N’ Bonez. At the age of 19, Rory started singing at a blues jam in a local pub, and has since gone on to win two BRIT Awards.
Rag’n’Bone Man stops by Red Nose Day 2017 to perform his new single Skin. Rag’n’Bone Man: I don’t get free haircuts now. Not from the guy I go to. But you know, Big Narstie’s right: you can’t cheat on your barber.
Rory Graham, better known by his moniker Rag’n’Bone Man, has a voice that is nigh indescribable. Saying it’s booming and soulful with an ability to fluctuate from high peaks to powerful tenor would be underselling it. For proof, one need only listen to his hit single Human,” or any of the songs off his debut album of the same name, released in February 2017 by Sony.
A few weeks ago Rag’n’Bone Man appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ US chat show. He had never seen the programme and had no idea what to expect so he says the daytime vibe weirded him out”, but the very fact he was there at all shows just how far the 32-year-old from Uckfield in East Sussex has come in a very short time.
Famous for hits including Human, Skin and current single Giant, with Calvin Harris, Graham, 34, ditched the three-piece suit for a dark camouflage Polo Ralph Lauren tracksuit top and matching joggers, as well as Nike trainers, for the big day.
Rory Charles Graham (born 29 January 1985), better known as Rag’n’Bone Man, is a British singer-songwriter, known for his deep, baritone voice. His first hit single, “Human”, was released in 2016, and his debut album of the same name was released in February 2017. At the 2017 Brit Awards, he was named British Breakthrough Act and received the Critics’ Choice Award.
RAY BLK: Hip-hop has influenced my songwriting. When I write songs, I feel like I write them as a rapper would. I fell in love with hip-hop because of the stories and the way they were told, so that has kind of been my approach to writing. I’ve always been very conscious about the lyrics and telling the story – and connecting with someone in that way.
RAY BLK: Rapping was my entry into music, really. I loved US hip-hop, but as a teenager in London, all I would hear is grime, so I grew up listening to Dizzee Rascal and Wiley when I was really young, and that made me want to rap. It was a playground thing – all the boys huddled together and went bar for bar, and I just wanted to get involved … that’s how I started, just writing raps. I was the only girl in the circle, trying to get listened to. And then, when I was about 13, I joined a crew of all-male rappers and I wanted to rap as well, and they wanted me to sing, because I could. So I became the singer.
In Human”, Rag’n’Bone Man is speaking to his mortality. This is not done in the physical sense, as in the temporalness of his physical body. Rather he expresses this sentiment along the lines of acknowledging his inherent flaws and inability to resolve certain issues.
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During the painstaking process of assembling his all-important debut LP, Graham’s untetherable need to perform became so out of control, he took to turning up at open-mic nights, to ‘unleash the beast’ that is his tumultuous singing equipment.
As the album approaches completion, early tracks are sounding simply electrifying. As a teaser, Rory soft-released the song ‘Healed’, which was overseen by Cadenza (Lily Allen, Sean Paul), aka Oliver Rodigan, whose background as son of reggae DJ David Rodigan, chimed with Rory’s own. Its brass-assisted, slo-mo R&B-gospel vibe was concocted between London and Jamaica – a cultural collision, and a heartstring-tugging but quintessentially summery anthem.
The next step for Rag’n’Bone Man is to get the album out in the next couple of weeks. It’s also called ‘Human’, but anyone expecting it to be just The Big Single and 10 more songs that are a lot like The Big Single will be disappointed. It’s the opposite: a super-eclectic selection of songs, of which 50 per cent was written in the last year, and then stuff that I couldn’t let go of. Like, there’s a song from ‘Wolves’ called ‘Life In Her Yet’ which I wrote in, like, 2013. I didn’t feel like enough people had heard it, so I felt it had a place on the album.
RAY BLK: I think it’s a bit more empowering to say that these lists of incredibly successful artists have come before us to win the Brits or Sound of … and it just means that we have the potential to achieve that level of success as well. At the time when Adele or Sam Smith won these things, they weren’t globally successful artists either. They were just starting out. But I can’t believe it. I’m really a very regular girl from quiet, trampy Catford who just started writing songs in my bedroom to pass the time because I had nothing better to do.
RAG’N’BONE MAN: I am in a tent backstage at a festival. He came up with the handle Rag ‘N’ Bonez when he emceed with a drum and bass crew, reckoning it sounded like the name of a classic blues singer. Rag’n’Bone Man joins Romesh, Rumaj and DJ Martin 2 Smoove for a live edition of the podcast at The Theatre Royal Brighton. Recorded on 13th April 2019 as part of the WAVE Podcast Festival.
His album borrows just enough stylistic tropes from both worlds, pairing the spare, snappy breaks of hip-hop (most evident on ‘Be The Man’ and ‘Ego’) with the infectious licks and brassy instrumentation of the blues (especially on ‘Innocent Man’).
RAG’N’BONE MAN: Yeah, that’s right. Rory says it has taken a while to go from nothing to the biggest new star of 2017, as he wanted to make sure he was 100 per cent happy with his debut album, which is also called Human.
Rag’n’Bone Man: I think the main ambition I’ve got, the proper ambition, is still the live thing. Obviously, the accolades are nice, and getting a Brit award is a beautiful thing, and hearing, Oh, you’re No 2 in the chart,” or whatever is nice because that’s something my mum appreciates. But I like playing to people, and that keeps growing. So as long as that happens, the rest of it can kind of take a side.
Dozens of live shows later, both plugged and unplugged, Rag ‘N’ Bone man released his first fully fledged solo release to critical acclaim late last year. An acoustic hip hop outing of the highest calibre, ‘Bluestown’ saw Rag ‘N’ Bone man establish the unique position in which he currently stands; the most enterprising and forward-thinking singer within a rap scene desperate for accomplished and unique vocal lyricists.
Graham’s Rag ‘n’ Bone Man moniker came from his childhood memories of sitting in front of the TV with his grandfather, watching repeats of the British ’60s sitcom Steptoe and Son, about a pair of rag-and-bone men – dirt-poor street collectors who in bygone days gathered up rubbish in an attempt to find useful rags, bones, and scrap metal that could be sold to merchants for a few pennies. With his massive bulk, tattoo-covered arms, nose ring, shaved head, enormous beard, and typical garb of hoodie and jeans, Graham looked like an escapee from an early-2000s nu-metal band, but he blew crowds away as soon as he opened his mouth with his deep, powerful, soulful, bluesy vocals.
It also fared well in Rag’n’Bone Man’s native country, peaking at number two in Britain. However, across the pond, it only reached number 74 on America’s Hot 100. Despite this, Human” still managed to go Platinum in the United States.
Lead track ‘Bitter End’, a tear-jerking realisation of a relationship’s demise, was staunchly supported then playlisted on BBC Radio 1 Xtra, and made it onto Radio One’s ‘In New Music We Trust’ playlist. On the back of the EP, Graham put together a Rag‘n’Bone Man live band, featuring a drummer, bassist, guitarist, keyboard player and backing singer. They toured the UK with hand-picked guests under the banner ‘Rag ‘N’ Bone Man Presents’, selling out shows up and down the country. They made quite a splash across Europe’s festival circuit, too, including Glastonbury, Eurosonic and Loveboxx, bringing fields and tents to a standstill, winning new disciples wherever they went.