When Alfie Templeman started to work on his long-awaited debut album in early 2020 he could never have predicted the turbulent path that lay ahead for both him personally and the rest of the world. Two years later and the young prodigy has emerged with Mellow Moon; an album that feels like something of a miracle, landing somewhere between an otherworldly trip and a joy-filled ode to life back on earth. As Alfie, himself, puts it; “It feels like I’m on a different planet. I’ve gone somewhere new and I’m discovering fire for the first time.”
19-year-old Alfie began the earliest period of the pandemic shielding due to a respiratory issue first identified in childhood. Having found himself feeling “very low” he sought help and began taking antidepressants as he attempted to deal with his anxiety. Alfie hasn’t spoken much about his mental health in the past but felt that to ignore such a significant moment in his life, finally seeking help for the anxiety he’d contended with his whole life, would be hiding something of himself. “I think people assume that I’m this easy, outgoing person but there’s actually a lot more layers to me and this record shows that,” he says. “Writing songs like Broken, Take Some Time Away and Mellow Moon were like therapy. It was me asking ‘What’s wrong with me?’ and ‘How am I going to get better?’ Just figuring things out in real time. I had therapy but there were still things unresolved in my mind. So I turned to music for the answers.”
The result is an easily accessible comfort place. Across 14 tracks Alfie closes his eyes and imagines another world, one where he’s at ease and not distracted by life’s many challenges.
Music has always proven to be a sanctuary for Alfie, who first started releasing music at just 15 and has gone on to release multiple EPs as well as 2021 mini-album Forever Isn’t Long Enough, but much of the album didn’t come easily. The self-taught multi-instrumentalist produces the majority of his music himself from his parents’ home in Bedfordshire, where he is free to experiment and let his mind run away with him. In a cruel twist of irony however, the samlly intense. I was very low for a few weeks and couldn’t write for a long time.”
It was only by embracing honesty and moving past the fear of failure that one of the U.K.’s most exciting and distinctive new songwriters could move forwards. “I’m being really open for the first time about where I’m at mentally. Overcoming that felt life changing.” He was also able to call on regular collaborators Tom McFarland (Jungle), Justin Young (The Vaccines), Will Bloomfield, and Rob Milton.
The change in mood is palpable throughout Mellow Moon, with songs like the nostalgic 3D Feelings or Broken, a “bit of an anthem for people my age really, all the little wobbles of being a teen and figuring yourself out,” that bristle with the energy of a life being lived again. There’s nuance in there, too. Candyfloss suggests that life can sometimes appear too good to be true, something Alfie has felt since was a kid. “There’s always a downside to the cool shit,” he says. “Candyfloss is what it all appears to be until you get deeper into it.”
“I realised how much I took everything for granted,” Alfie says of pre-pandemic life. “It made my songwriting go deeper, too. I hit a new level that I hadn’t gone to before.”
“I took more time with my songs and was thinking it through more than ever, every single detail. It created a really exciting portrait of finally leaving your room. I wrote a new song every time I left the house. It was all so exciting.” It was around this time that Alfie began playing live again, appearing at festivals across the UK and performing in the USA for the first time. His fanbase grew and grew in the years prior, appearing across radio, streaming playlists and even the FIFA 21 soundtrack. Finally he could play those songs for those fans.
Inspired by modern influences like Steve Lacy, Khruangbin and Leon Bridges, as well as Alfie’s constant cosmic guide Todd Rundgren, Mellow Moon flows with an ease that belies its difficult creation. “If people want to put my songs in their playlists or on the radio then that’s great but I do love a proper album,” he says, “so even though I didn’t set out to make an album this collection of songs has real meaning. The songs wouldn’t be on there if they didn’t. It’s a moment in my life that I want to remember forever. I’ve put so much effort into this and it’s a real experience to listen to.”
Acting as both an intimate diary entry and a communal call to arms, Mellow Moon is Alfie’s most complete work to date and a platform from which he will surely use to propel himself further into the stratosphere. If ever proof were needed that music is a salvation or a transportative force, this is it.