You might remember him as the winner of The Voice South Africa in 2016, but Richard Stirton has grown in leaps and bounds musically and says he needed to take the road less travelled, in order to experience what he's learnt up to now.
Richard recently released his single Cold On Me, the second single of an EP he is set to release in June. Following the first single Rough Justice released in October 2023, this forms part of his first body of work since March 2019.
The chorus of Cold On Me was written by Richard a couple of years ago, with the verses and post-chorus melody falling into place when he revisited the song in 2023.
With the focus of creating a feelgood, uplifting, and catchy song, Richard (as with Rough Justice) worked with Jack Bowden of the British folk band, Tors, as producer. Recorded in Devon, the song's storyline features a relationship that goes south after the novelty of it wears off.
We caught up with the music man who now lives in the UK.
“Cold On Me was specifically written for a friend of mine who was misled and taken advantage of in a relationship. It's about a lover who was excited by the idea of a relationship but who only showed their true colours after all the celebrations of the big day had finished and the ‘honeymoon phase' had passed. Their love was built on the idea of the relationship, rather than what it actually meant,” said Richard.
The single features meaningful lyrics, memorable melodies and big vocals – all pillars which underpin his upcoming new EP.
Richard aims to create music that make people reflect on life, themselves and their relationships in order to feel strong and fulfilled.
“I hope this song unites a bunch of people who have experienced the same thing with past lovers. It's a song to sing along to, scream your lungs out to, and a reminder of your self-worth.”
Of his experiences abroad, Richard said: “It has been a whirlwind journey of exploration of who I am as an artist. Signed to Universal Music at the age of 22 with three weeks to create an album, 90% of the songs I didn't write, I toured for two years across the country sharing stages with South Africa's biggest artists and line-ups with international acts like The Pixies.
“I then needed to take a step back and establish who I was as an artist. Being a singer and being an artist are two very different things. So in 2019 I made the decision to move across to the UK, where nobody knew me and there were no preconceived ideas of who I was, in order to explore my sound and really establish the stance I wanted to take as an artist.”
Richard lived in Liverpool for the first 18 months and had to busk to make ends meet.
“It's a very different place to South Africa. The weather is pretty bad, but there is music everywhere you look. I was able to make ends meet through playing on the street. A busking amp, my guitar, an open guitar case and my voice would cover my monthly expenses.
“Busking is the ultimate litmus test. If random people on the street stop to listen to something you have created and then pay you for it just because they liked it, you know you are on to something good.
“You miss home but the opportunities are incredible - I do try and get home as often as possible though.”
He then moved to London in 2021 where he had to work multiple jobs to cover his rent.
Richard told Weekend Argus: “Ironically, the financial security of a recurring paycheck has resulted in a lot more clarity from a creative perspective as there is a lot less weight on the time used to create, i.e. ‘is this song going to cover rent?’, and resulted in a creative watershed half way through 2023.
“I am now working with established writers and producers, both from the UK and US, and pulling together a body of work I am extremely proud of. There are also exciting things happening from a live perspective, which is my favourite part about music, so keep an eye on my socials for announcements around that.”