Finn Askew on his new EP and NME’s House Of Papa showcase: “I can’t wait to see the crowd’s reaction”
The genre-smashing singer-songwriter brings a new EP to tonight’s intimate Papa John’s gig
In partnership with Papa John’s
Tonight, NME will partner with Papa John’s to turn an intimate London music venue into the House Of Papa for one night only, hosting four of the UK’s hottest new artists to celebrate the launch of Papa John’s new Fresh Soul pizza range.
Joining rising star Finn Askew on the line-up are dreamy indie singer Cathy Jain, Edinburgh singer-songwriter Brooke Combe and BaggE, the North London neo-soul singer and voice of Papa John’s new global ad campaign.
Throughout the pandemic and into the summer of freedom, Askew has been turning heads with his unapologetic melting of genres. Already leading him to festival main stages, the artist’s influences – which bring together indie rock and US rap from the likes of Lil Peep – mark him out as a truly unique artist for the 2020s, with a Gen Z attitude towards traditional boundaries.
With new single ‘Adidas’ fresh into the world and an EP following later this year, plus his set at the House Of Papa showcase in London tonight, NME caught up with Askew to discuss returning to the stage, new music he’s working on, and how the forthcoming EP will begin to “present the real Finn Askew to the world”.
How has it felt getting back on stage? Are there any shows from the summer that particularly stand out to you?
“It’s been really good. I love being on stage as I’m quite confident and just love hyping up the audience. It’s just been so nice to play my songs. I released them all during lockdown, and so I haven’t actually seen the audience’s response to them and how they’re receiving my stuff. Obviously, I’ve seen the reaction online, but you don’t understand it as much until you see it in person when people actually come to your shows.
“Usually, it’s just me and my guitar on stage, and quite stripped back, but for the ALT+LDN festival, where I was on the main stage, it was the first time I’ve ever had a backing track and could actually hear the bass and drums on my songs.
“Obviously when I’m playing, I want to hear the whole song, and kind of be in the vibe myself. I want to rage on stage, and I want to see the fans rage, and when it’s just you and a guitar, you can’t really get the mosh pits going. ALT+LDN was the first time I’ve had a mosh pit!”
Your most recent single ‘Adidas’ came out last month – can you tell us a little bit about the track?
“I wrote this one so long ago. It was one of those that was in the locker for a while, and we didn’t know when it would come out but knew there was something there. It made sense to release it now as it’s definitely the kind of sound I’m starting to lean towards, with the heavier bass. My goal was to make a song where everyone could sing along after hearing it one time – you’d know the chorus and you could sing it back straight away. I want to feel like a rock star when I sing it.”
You have a new EP on the way – what can you tell us about it, and what direction it sees you heading in?
“This EP is definitely honing into ‘the Finn Askew sound’. On the first EP, I wanted to make sure that every song was different, so when it came to the second, people weren’t like, “Oh, he only does this sound. Finn Askew can do every kind of genre.” You’ve got rap, hip-hop, jazz ballads. With this second EP, I’m definitely honing in on stuff and making it more ‘my sound’, so people can hear it and think, “Oh, this is what Finn Askew is.” The EP is delving into me as an artist.”
When you speak of ‘the Finn Askew sound’ you want to introduce people to at the House of Papa, what kind of things do you hope that encompasses?
“I still don’t think I have one certain type of style, but the new stuff is definitely rockier, with a lot more of a heavy bass influence, so alongside the more soulful tracks from my back catalogue, I can’t wait to see the crowd’s reaction at House of Papa. The style is still just all over the place, as I always wanted it to be. I want people to hear a song, and they’ll know it’s Finn Askew – it’s the Finn Askew style. I don’t want to be in a certain genre, so people can say, “Oh, it’s rock, it’s indie.” Finn Askew, that is the genre I want to be.”
To tune into House of Papa, jump over to the ByteSquad members – Shauni, Jake, Em and Loz – socials from 6pm tonight where they’ll be broadcasting live, creating the first coordinated global TikTok house party of its kind.
If you’re unable to catch a slice of the action tonight, a highlight video of the gig will be available to watch on NME from October 5. More of the night’s live performances will also be available to watch on Papa John’s UK YouTube page.