Interview: Ali Neil

Ali Neil is a captivating new artist with an amazing sound, as displayed in his EP, Land Before Us. If you enjoyed the EP, you can find out a little more about Ali below!

By Jane Howkins

You released an EP titled Land Before Us, which we reviewed. What can you tell us about the EP? What does the title refer to?

Indeed I have! Well, the EP was recorded between Covid lockdowns 1 and 2. I had started to write quite a few songs in the those lonely early Covid months. I had certainly missed making music and playing live shows with my friends, and whilst I was tempted to stream some shows online, I would be so awkward doing that so I channelled my efforts into making an EP.

The title Land Before Us I saw written on one of those information boards at a viewing spot in the town Winchelsea, referring to a view towards the coast around Rye Harbour. I had moved there to live with my girlfriend’s mother (and my girlfriend of course) to see out the remaining lockdowns. Anyway, I kept seeing this and thought if ‘I can’t think of anything better this will be the EP title.’ Well believe me, I had a long hard think but a man only has so much time.

Do you plan to release any singles from the EP?

I released Edge of Reason and Damn Life prior to the EP in an attempt to build up a frenzy of anticipation.

Are you writing for another EP or an album, or is it too soon at the moment?

I’m currently writing songs for the next EP, how long that will take to come to fruition I’m not sure. I’m also thinking about some collaborations. Hit me up y’all!

Has the pandemic hindered your work much?

In the way that it stopped all live opportunities, yes. But I think by that point I had already been slowing to a stop and needed a break. I also developed chronic tinnitus during this period, and what with the associated sensitivity to loud noise, I wasn’t sure if I would ever play live again. It was surprising to me that that possibility didn’t bother me too much, and I felt I’d be quite happy just writing and doing studio work.

You’ve had a few songs played on the BBC recently. How did that feel? I hope you manage to get more traction as time goes on, as your music sounds epic!

Thank you. It felt wonderful. I’ve had a special relationship with the BBC that dates back to the late 90’s when I was invited to be in the studio audience to see a friend on The Generation Game. They laid on a free hotel and an open bar after the show! It was also thankfully the only time I’ve been in the same room as Jim Davidson.

Your music has many different genres within it, but there seemed to be a major folk/Americana vibe going on. What/who influences you most as an artist? What have you been listening to recently?

Yes, I think there was a time not long after Britpop where I felt I had to look outside the UK for my musical kicks. I became very interested in US alt-country stuff like Ryan Adams and Phosphorescent and then diving more deeply into the genre I have found wonderful Canadian acts such as Andy Shauf, Deep Dark Woods and Kacy and Clayton. The gift here is that these guys have led me dig around back into the past to listen more to 70’s/80’s Dylan and also traditional music and bands of the British folk revival like Steel Eye Span and Fairport Convention. I’m spinning at lot of this at the moment.

Am I right in thinking you’re based in the UK? Whereabouts are you based? What is the music scene like in your part of the world?

Yes I’m currently based in St Leonard’s in East Sussex, it’s early days so I’m still discovering what’s going on here musically, but to be honest, its hard to hear anything above the seagulls.

Do you have any tour dates lined up in the UK? If so, what can people expect should people come and see you perform live?

I’m currently working on a return to playing live so nothing is in the diary yet. But I’m hoping to find a way to do something a little different going forward. What that will be I’m not sure, maybe some kind of stripped back, hybrid band thingy and not too loud. We’ll see!

Any last words for the fans?

Yes… where are you?