rag'n'bone man has got soul tattooed on his hands and cemented in his heart

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and a whole new class of talent is in session. Meet South London's Rag'N'Bone Man.

by James Hutchins
18 February 2015, 4:45pm

Rory Graham aka Rag'N'Bone Man sings the woozy blues like no other. Born in Brighton, now residing in Catford, in South London.

Rory grew up on a diet of jazz, jungle, drum'n'bass and a whole heap of hip hop. Starting out singing in jam sessions before learning the basics on guitar and piano, he quickly started writing his own tunes which soon led him into the world of underground UK hip hop with the esteemed High Focus Records imprint. Fast-forward a few years and Rag'N'Bone Man's bluesy tones have seen him gain big praise across BBC Radio 1 with spins from Huw Stephens, MistaJam and Annie Mac. As we await the release of his Disfigured EP, we get to know the gentle giant.

The name Rag'N'Bone Man came from…
An obsession with the BBC series called Steptoe and Son, about rag and bone men.

Early on in my career I used to…
MC over drum'n'bass and jungle but my rap career was short lived.

My favourite underground rapper is probably…
Jam Baxter at the moment for sure. 

I grew up listening to rappers like…
Task Force, Jehst, Rodney P and Blak Twang.

I make music because…
I kinda didn't have any choice; my house was always filled with music. I had a record player in my room and I used to nick my dad's records and play what I liked.

My earliest memory musical memory at home is…
Probably my mum singing at home. She liked a lot of folk music along with a lot of jazz.

The first record I bought was…
Apache Indian, Ragamuffin Girl. The other was The Original Nuttah by UK Apache and Shy FX, they were the first two I had.

The last gig I went to was…
To see a girl called Beth Rowley at The Lexington, she was seriously good.

If I could only listen to the past, present and future catalogue of one artist, it would be…
Sly and The Family Stone, you can't live without the funk.

My karaoke song of choice is…
Luther Vandross, Never Too Much. That's my go to song.

The song I'd want played at my funeral is…
Something stupid like M.O.P, Cold As Ice or maybe some Redman, definitely something obnoxious.

The biggest influences on me as an artist are..
My friends and family. My parents for getting me into music but also for what I write about is either about my personal experiences or about my family or my friends.

As an artist I stand for…
…myself. I stand for the truth; I don't want to be something I'm not. I always try to write from somewhere that's heartfelt. I'm not trying to give you any bullshit.

At the moment working on…
My project coming out in February/March time. I'm not trying to branch out because there's so much work to be done. I look forward to more collaboration, hopefully get to work with DJ Premiere again.

All the music videos I make…
Have come from a small idea I've had. I like to be really involved with them. By the time the song is finished there's a video idea for it.

It would be my dream to work with…
D'Angelo, just to see his process.

The track of mine that sums me up best is…
Reuben's Train because it's a bridging point of making things that is just straight up singing over hip hop and what I'm doing now. For people listening it might now be a huge transition but there was a big learning period.

Is style and fashion important to you?
I like to try and look good, but I don't know anything about fashion. I like good trainers and I like my beard.

The worst job I ever had was…
Being a tarmacer, it's really rubbish. You get hot tarmac stuck in your boots and it burns your feet. I won't be doing that again.

Something that people might not know about me is…
Before I started music full time, I used to work as a personal assistant carer, looking after people with Aspergers' and Downs syndrome. It's a fun job; I got to be stupid every day. If music doesn't go to well, I'd go back to that.

The best thing to happen to me in 2014 is…
When my mate called me and said "dude, have you looked at your Twitter? You might wanna check it, DJ Premiere just tweeted you, saying "Rag'N'Bone Man is the truth". To hear from someone so influential, who I've listened to throughout my life, that was really cool.

If I could achieve one thing in 2014, it would be…
To influence people, to have people say that I've influenced them musically, as a direct result of something I've made, it's inspired them. That's the goal forever.

Another act I'm tipping for 2015 is…
Jam Baxter. UK hip-hop is on the rise; it used to be seen as a bit of a joke, it's not a joke anymore, its thought provoking.



Text James Hutchins
Photography Matteo Montanari 
Styling Max Clark
Hair Kei Terada at Julian Watson Agency
Make-up Jenny Coombs at Streeters using NARS
Photography assistance Nicholas Riley Bentham, Nicola De Cecchi
Styling assistance Bojana Kozarevic, Kristofj Von Strass
Hair assistance Takuya Uchiyama
Make-up assistance Mona Leanne
Production Joe Streeter at Streeters London

rag n bone man
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