This south London native melds the Streets' beats and storytelling with Billy Bragg's blue-collar balladeering. His debut album, Panic Prevention, was short-listed tor Britain's prestigious Mercury Award, and the U.K. music bible NME named
him solo artist of the year, ahead of Jams Cocker and Thom Yorke. For a 22-year-old who just a few years ago was strumming his acoustic bass for friends, 2007 was the year of a lifetime.
You gained a broad audience through the Internet. How did you realize it could be an important tool?
I was playing solo acoustic bass live for three years or so, but I was doing other recordings at home, too. I wanted to know what people thought about them. The Internet was a way to get the music I was making in my bedroom out to people. I got a lot of feedback from that. It was another outlet. Are you handy with computers?
When I started recording on a computer I had a friend who helped me. But not knowing how to use equipment is a good thing. It leaves room for mistakes. Often those "Ah shit, that sounds wicked" moments are when you stumble onto something really good. In the end, it's about whether the songs are interesting or fucking boring. You don't have to be a musical expert to know that. That's what's so cool about being able to share a song with your friends. They're the ones who really know whether it's good or shit.