Joe Hicks had got used to staying in his lane in terms of the music he felt comfortable releasing. That was until he decided to release his debut album. The singer-songwriter reflects on how giving himself a good talking to in the mirror changed his approach to songwriting.
Hicks is slightly late for his interview, immediately apologising for the reason, which is wonderfully un-rock and roll. “I had a bit of a crazy coffee spillage just now and I covered my kitchen in coffee granules, so I’m calming down after that,” he laughs.
“You probably don't try to make coffee two minutes before you're meant to go live with someone, do you? No,” he answers before Headliner can respond.
Kitchen crisis solved, he explains that he’s just finished filming his first ever music video for his new single, Mirror Mirror, in which he, ironically, learnt how to make a proper coffee.
“Half of the video is me singing the song, but the storyline part is in about five different locations around Newbury like the hairdressers, the florist, a coffee shop; all places that I go quite regularly. The coffee shop is somewhere I go every couple of days to do my emails and the social media side of music, and they were really up for it and were happy to close for an hour or so in the morning.
"The girls in there taught me how to use the proper coffee machine, and then moments later a guy, who I believe was an Italian man – so maybe knows a thing or two about coffee – came in and ordered a double espresso. They were like, ‘Right, you're on your own’. So I made a paying customer a coffee.”
Raised in the rural market town of Newbury, at first Hicks made a name for himself as a session guitarist, before releasing his first solo single at the start of 2017. Soon after he was made BBC Introducing Artist of the Week, receiving extensive radio play across the UK, and has since accumulated over 2.5 million Spotify streams.
“Quite often, artists get so obsessed – and that was definitely me at a certain time – with getting on these editorial playlists that they look past nurturing smaller relationships, and at the time these more independent people were championing me way more. However that support culminated in me starting to get on some bigger Spotify playlists. And people ask me about this a lot,” he adds, “they say, ‘Spotify is shit, isn't it? You don't get paid enough’.
"While that is absolutely true in terms of the pay could be more, I've always been someone who thinks you’ve got to embrace what the scenario is. I could sit here being like, ‘Woe is me, the Spotify streaming rate is terrible’. Or I could realise that I've got fans in Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and far flung places that I would never have otherwise. So there's definitely silver linings in all of it. I think you've got to make the best of what's there while trying to improve it as well.”