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Westerman has a simple, elegant approach to the wispy, wide-eyed experimental pop he creates. “I see melodies and lyrics as the central sketch of a painting and the production around it kinda like a palette, the colours you surround and fill it with,” the 26-year-old explains, a formula part-inspired by the 1980s synthy former chart hits his mum would play him on early-morning car journeys to school, aged 7. “Bronski Beat, Talking Heads: all those guys had great songs that, if you isolate the melodies, are full of great melodies, dressed up in interesting ways.”
It’s a philosophy that seems to be working for the fast-rising Londoner, likened to Arthur Russell and cult folk innovator John Martyn. Since his debut EP, 2017’s sparse and charismatic Call and Response, his songs have evolved from “material sat quietly on a low-hanging branch of Nick Drake’s family tree” into “stranger, more sublime shapes” full of “starry-eyed piano and glittering synth washes” as Pitchfork recently put it. Noisey, Highsnobiety, Stereogum, Gorilla Vs Bear and SPIN, who called his 2018 single ‘Confirmation’ a “modern sophist-pop miracle”, have also been quick to praise his blend of John Steinbeck-inspired, magical-realist lyrics, whisper-soft melodies and echoes, beats and murmurs courtesy of close collaborator Bullion. “I love playing around in those confines of pop,” he says, “and stretching them at points, seeing how far I can take them.”
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