The Birmingham Ormiston Academy alumni, Vincent Darby talks recording, writing and his family’s soulful influences
At just nine-years-old, the young Vincent Darby opened for Flo Rida at Brum’s O2 Academy after a record producer watched him perform his version of Alicia Keys’s single Fallin’ on YouTube – he’d been singing regularly since he was five. From there he joined creative and performing arts academy, BOA, has performed at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekender, released his debut EP, Still Here We Are, recorded around the globe and has just dropped his new single, We Could Be.
Showcased in his home-town at the Rainbow, Digbeth in February and out now, We Could Be is produced by French DJ and producer Blundetto and combines funk, new wave and synth-pop. There’s a chilled-out confidence about the single that’s mature and easy which makes for an enjoyable listen. Inspired by the work of artists like The Weeknd, Depeche Mode, Eurythmics and Prince, the single is Vincent’s first release since his celebrated debut EP Still Here We Are. That EP attracted a lot of support from BBC Radio 1 from the get-go, culminating in his performance at the Big Weekender, and was selected by BBC 1Xtra as their track of the week.
Recorded at Shaggy’s Big Yard Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, the EP was a highly successful springboard to his career with stand-out tracks such as Get Away and avant-garde jam Baby Oh I. Vincent said at the time: “Still Here We Are came from a place of not quite understanding the ‘situation-ship’ that I was in; a story about how something can be so good, but also so bad.”
Since the EP, Vincent’s been busy writing and recording in Jamaica, Toronto and Zimbabwe as well as the UK and says he’s found a new lease of life. Covid put a spanner in the works and slowed things down, but he’s had time to reflect. He says: “I’ve really grown since I last dropped music, the whole world has. Without being too philosophical, today’s not the same as yesterday, we grow. I think as an artist it’s important to show growth”.
The lyrics of new single, We Could Be, detail an intention to repair and rebuild a tumultuous relationship elevated by Vincent’s euphoric and virtuosic vocals. Skillfully switching between breathy notes and piercing falsetto he sings sentimental phrases like, ‘There will be a compromise, because lonely is no friend of mine’. The video, directed by Eric Yealand who has worked with the likes of Wiz Khalifa is slick and unfussy, putting Vincent and his lyrics firmly centre stage.
Vincent is a proud descendant of Jamaican grandparents, who as members of the Windrush Generation migrated to the UK after the second world war, working as a bus conductor and a nurse. Heavily influenced by his music loving grandfather, who was a hospital radio DJ and vinyl collector, Vincent was exposed to the sounds of Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Isaac Hayes, Barry White, Teddy Pendergrass, Beres Hammond, Dennis Brown and Richie Spice.
Vincent’s on the move again currently treating the people of Toronto to a his soulful sound and there’ll be more touring on the cards. Keen to get his sound out to the wider music world