By Aaron Whyte
Bipolar Sunshine is a man who likes to be different. You might know him from his breakthrough single “Love More Worry Less” or you might know him as the Mancunian guy with the triangular haircut, or perhaps you don’t know him at all (tut tut). Regardless of how you came to find him, there is no doubt that Bipolar Sunshine has had a great year: he’s released two EPs, made the Radio1 playlist, toured with Bastille, collaborated with Rudimental and even found a celebrity fan in US Heavyweight A$AP Rocky. So we decided to sit down with the man himself to talk it all out. As you do.
We’ve been reading that Bipolar Sunshine is a concept name. But what is the concept?
The initial plan was to obviously find something to write towards. But the concept was basically trying to keep the sentiment the same as any darker moment. There’s always sunshine at the end and you can come out of it. So that was like the first analogy I had of it. It’s basically looking at life from my own angle. I want to write from a much wider spectrum and cover love, cover the loss of love, cover anything that means a lot to me instead of just me narrowing my views down. And I like the sunshine because it gives it a lighter end. It’s not all dark. It doesn’t have to be dark.
Why did you choose to cover that end of the spectrum? Why not make happier music?
Because I felt like I had to be true to myself. When you’re making music you have to remember you have to perform it. You have to go out and do it. In six months time I don’t want to think, “why am I known for this? Why did I do this?” So if it works I can continue doing what I love doing.
You’ve just brought out your Drowning Butterflies EP. What’s the difference between this and the last EP?
I think Drowning Butterflies is like the next step up. It makes the whole project a little bit more rounder. So people can see a different side. I don’t want to put out loads of the same songs, I want to be different. But I kept the same genre – pop. I think a lot of people are making interesting and new pop. I’m just trying to fall into that – new pop music.
So isn’t the album done yet?
It’s ¾ of the way done. It’s just the case of picking the last 3 or 4 songs. I’m taking my time.
How long have you been making the album?
Before I got signed I made 30-40 songs that I was happy with, and after that is when I allowed Polydor to sign on with my label and now it’s a joint thing. So I’ve been writing the album forever really.
How is it being on your own label instead of being on someone elses? Do you get more control?
100% . The main difference is that they [Polydor] are prepared to speak to you about ideas and the way you want things to be done. They’ve seen that I’ve already been making music. I’ve already created my own infrastructure, my own label. So by having Polydor working with my own record label it just… works.
A bit of a change of subject but – your single “Love More Worry Less” has been getting play on Radio1, you’re getting magazine coverage, there’s a buzz around you. How does that feel?
Amazing, man. When you’re making a song first step is getting to radio and then people start to feel it from there. It’s like, a different concept to what else is out there. I feel good that I’m able to put that stuff out and not feel the need to conform. I want to act as a catalyst and give people that next thing. I want people to know you can try and hear this next shit and get down with this. You don’t have to listen to the other generic shit that’s out.
Do you think the internet is more important than the radio?
100% – it helps music to spread. I only put some songs out in December (2012) and within two weeks I had people ringing me up wanting to sign me. And that’s just off Soundcloud. Soundcloud and all these little things, you’ve got to know how to use them. If everyone on there is making good music then you need to make sure yours is better. That’s why I think I need to do the next thing. You need a fresh platform, there’s no point seeing whatever someone else is making and copying that.
What do you want your label to represent?
I want it to be a lot of people who are all open to discussion. It’s about the beauty of art and music. I want it to be new stuff – I’m disillusioned about Manchester music. All Manchester people hark on about is old bands all day and nobody is hearing any new stuff. Some people are stuck in their ways. I want to start a new Manchester label and I want to be like “This is what I’m doing. Come and be a part of this”.
Most people from Manchester always reference Happy Mondays, Oasis, Stone Roses, etc. But you don’t really seem to mention them?
I do enjoy those bands, I do listen to their music but I’m not gonna lie and pretend I put it on before I go out. But I know Manny from Stone Roses and seeing his success is really inspiring.
You collaborated with Rudimental. How was it?
That was amazing y’know. I’m going on tour with them in February. They’re dead easy in the studio. We vibed out with a few ideas. I came up with another idea for the vocal, they were feeling it, we laid it down. It was amazing, I hope we work together again in the future.
Do you think you’ll collaborate with other people more in the future?
Yeah I want to do a lot of collaborations but I want to get myself out first. I want people to know what I’m about first instead of riding the collaboration wave. I think sometimes if you do too many collaborations before you put yourself out there kind of dilutes what you’re doing. And even though more people might end up hearing of you, they won’t necessarily know about you as an artist.
So what do you make of artists that collaborate exclusively?
It depends – you have to strip it down to the actual artist. It depends who they are – some artists might be rappers. And some rappers can’t do hooks… so they are always going to need to call someone in to do the hook. But then you have great rappers who never need to call people in and always do things themselves. And that’s the difference – there are those ok guys who have to feature people on every song. And there are great guys who don’t need to feature anyone and release songs by themselves and get massive. So I’m listening to the great ones. I don’t really care about the ones that feature everyone. I don’t listen to them.
peaking of rappers that leads me on to America –A$AP Rocky’s a fan of yours and we first heard of you through [NYC DJ] Kitty Cash. How does it feel to know you’re influencing those kinds of people?
I never thought of it like that. I just know that these people hear what I’m doing and are getting interested in it. And it’s good, It just means that certain people are enjoying it. It’s showing that I’m on the right vibe and the right course of music that I’m trying to do. I can’t do it their [American] way. I can only do it my way and I want to have the same vibe and the same sentiment.
Are you going over there?
I’m playing SXSW in Texas – so hopefully I can meet those people. They’re releasing my EP on Universal over there and yeah… I just want to go to America. It’s the place to go.
You’ve listed Kanye West, Prince and The Smiths as your influences. What is it about them that influences you?
They’re charismatic. Even Morrissey. They’re people who know where they want to go with their own music and they’re not afraid to try things. They don’t just listen to what’s out and replicate it. They think “I like a bit of this, and I like a bit of that. I’m going to get all these ideas and make something fantastic from it”. They’re just powerful. I like that.
And finally, no PressPLAY interview is ever straightforward, so we give you: the “Bipolar Sunshine Quiz”. We’re going to list some things that have been big in 2013. You simply say if they make you feel Bipolar (bad) or Sunshine (good)…
Cover songs – Bipolar
Twerking – Sunshine
Tie Dye – Sunshine
2Chainz – [laughs] Sunshine. He’s jokes.
X Factor – Bipolar
Blurred Lines – Sunshine
Miley Cyrus – Sunshine
Staying up all night to get lucky – Bipolar. That’s long, man.
Mr Sunshine – thank you for your time.
Bipolar Sunshine’s latest EP “Drowning Butterflies” is out now.