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Handshake – Fred Roberts

Photographer Liam Young – Fashion Editor Zak Maoui – Talent Fred Roberts – Grooming by Tyler Johnston at One Represents – Lighting Assistant Nick Hillier – Retouch Sarah Marshall – Interview by Federica Romano – Special Thanks to Frazer Lawton at Ryko World // Total Look Florence Black // Total Look Hermès // Trench Coat Filippa K – Shirt Margaret Howell – Shoes Grenson 

Let’s simply start with your debut single ‘Runaway’, what inspired you to write this song, and what’s the main message you want to convey through it?
‘Runaway’ came to life after a chance encounter with someone I hadn’t seen in ages. It was one of those unexpected moments, meeting him again after leaving school. Surprisingly, all the bitterness I once felt towards him melted away that night. It was as if he was a different person, and I realized I ha grown comfortable with myself. The song’s message revolves around the idea that with time and distance from a situation, healing and moving on become possible, though it’s rarely effortless.

Rolling Stone described you as a singer who uses music to extract the pain from your past. Could you share some of that creative process with us and how your music has helped you overcome personal challenges?
For me, music is therapy. It’s where I lay bare my emotions without reservation. Unlike journaling or talking about my feelings, songwriting allows me to confront and resolve issues in my life. Most of my songs stem from personal experiences, and I weave them into my music. If I can’t connect a lyric to a specific emotion, it’s hard for me to fully embrace the track. So, yes, I do draw from the pain of my past to fuel my creativity.

Total Look S.S.Daley

Participating in X Factor: The Band in 2019 must have been an exciting experience. What was the most significant or formative moment you experienced?

It was a whirlwind, to say the least. The entire show lasted only two weeks, and being just 17 at the time, it felt surreal. The most pivotal moment was making it past the initial auditions. Honestly, I went on the show expecting just a fun day out, with no inkling that it could lead to something more. The validation from people beyond my close circle was monumental. It gave me the confidence to pursue music wholeheartedly.

How would you describe your unique musical style, and how do you think you differentiate yourself from other emerging artists of your generation?

My style is a blend of my favorite songs and artists. I’ve always admired Troye Sivan as a storyteller and idolised his style when I started making music. Collaborating with my producer Andrew and exploring different genres helped me discover my sound—a mix of anthemic tunes similar to The Killers with softer vocals, and diary-like lyrics inspired by artists like Troye Sivan, Lana Del Rey, and Billie Eilish.

Shirt, Jumper and Trousers Geordie Campbell – Shoes Dexter

As a rising pop star representing Generation Z, do you feel any particular pressure or responsibility in your music’s portrayal of this generation?

Before releasing music, I wasn’t entirely sure of my role beyond creating something I loved. But the response to my single ‘Disguise’, especially within the queer community, changed things. Knowing that my music resonates with underrepresented groups is humbling. With a platform comes responsibility, and while I don’t see myself as a role model, I hope my music provides solace and representation.

Have you had an encounter that’s shaped you deeply? What’s been the most significant experience you’ve had so far in your music career?

My second headline show stands out as the most magical experience. Witnessing the impact of my music firsthand, with people singing back my most personal lyrics, was surreal. Spotting two boys freely dancing and embracing in the crowd moved me deeply. Creating a space where they felt safe was a dream come true.

Jumper and Shorts Hermès – Shoes Paul Smith // T-Shirt and Cardigan S.S.Daley – Shoes Grenson