St Albans rising star to take centre stage with debut single

Oli Simpson - photo courtesy of Mark Leaver

Oli Simpson - photo courtesy of Mark Leaver - Credit: Archant

A home grown Hertfordshire talent will be taking centre stage this Thursday (5) for the official release of his debut single.

Oli Simpson, 22, who grew up St Albans, already has an impressive musical CV under his belt, but will officially embark on his promising career with the launch of his new single ‘Rise’,

The song will be released this Friday (6) but music lovers can get a taster when he performs it live this Thursday at Club Batchwood.

Oli attended schools Aboyne Lodge and Verulam, where he first developed his passion for singing.

“I was always in bands and I wasn’t the best at football, so I had singing lessons instead,” Oli said.

With an R&B, blues and soul vibe, Oli said his love for music sparked from a very young age.

He said: “From a very early age I was surrounded by musical influence, especially from my Dad.

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“I have always been very interested in soul, R&B, blues and after being in bands I decided to go as a solo artist.”

Oli left St Albans for five years after moving to Bahrain and Dubai with his family.

But the move saw him develop as an artist; winning various singing competitions that led him to support Nelly Furtado at the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 and sing for Bill Clinton.

Upon his move back to England, Oli wowed the judges at ‘BBC Introducing’, who called him the same day after he submitted his audition tape with a friend in 2011.

He said: “I knew it was a very good song but I didn’t expect them to call me up the same day.

“They couldn’t quite believe we were only 20 and 18 at the time, and that there was no band.

“I don’t play an instrument but I can hear what a song is supposed to sound like, and where I want certain instruments to be in a song.”

His song, ‘Smoke, Drink and Fight’, was an instant success gaining an unexpected 150,000 views on YouTube, but Oli admits he wasn’t quite ready for all the attention.

He said: “They told me to expect around 3000/7000 views on the video, but it ended up getting 150,000. The reaction was brilliant, but I didn’t even have a follow up song.

“I had quite a bit of interest following the song, bit I didn’t have anything to say to them! We both decided to go our separate ways, and I took some time out for university.”

Since leaving university, Oli is determined to move forward with music. He said: “I’m working with new producers now and I’m going to be releasing an EP hopefully.

“I want to get label interest and get my music out there, and ultimately make it into the charts, but I’m very grounded it and I know you have to have a business mind too.”

Oli will be performing at Club Batchwood this Thursday (5) , tickets are available here.

Peter Bell, manager, said: “We’re so excited to have Oli perform at our venue.

“It is really important for us that we are involved with and supportive of the local community so being able to provide a platform for a such a talented artist from the local area is an honour. Just make sure you remember us when you hit the big time!”