Soho Rising: Aeris Roves

A young man with a warm yellow light on his face in front of a plain background.

The British R&B artist, who’s performing at Houses this month as part of our Soho Rising series, opens up about the year ahead

By Chante Joseph .  Wednesday 22 January, 2020

Yorkshire-born and London-raised, 22-year-old musician Aeris Roves creates haunting but hopeful R&B and soul tracks that speak to a generation managing complex lives and relationships. His songs – a rollercoaster of atmospheric crescendos, warm guitar strums and evocative reverbs – showcase his menacingly sultry voice, which has captured audiences and helped contribute to a British R&B renaissance.

Signed six months after his first live performance, he dropped his debut mixtape, Moon By Island Gardens, late in 2018, and his inventory of experiences thus far defies the time he’s spent in the industry: prior to being signed, he was handpicked to support Billie Eilish on her European tour, and in March last year, he opened for Take That at the Royal Albert Hall – a gig he landed just 30 minutes before stepping on stage.

After spending the holidays in Jamaica, and ahead of his performances at our Houses in London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona and Istanbul, Roves caught up with us to discuss everything from self-care to South London.

It’s a new year and a new decade – what word do you hope will define this year for you?
I’d say patience. I think it’s a quality I want to pay more attention to. I’m always focusing on the end goal, but I want to learn to enjoy the process, in all aspects of life.

In an interview, you said ‘you’re only as big as the last thing you did’ in the music business. How do you keep constant creation fresh and honest?
I find this one quite tough. I think patience plays into this one too. I try to write what I live, so I have to live a little and then write. It’s a longer process, but I think it tackles the issue of contrived songs. There are probably other ways to achieve the same goal, but that’s where I’m at.
Aeris Roves posed in t shirt
Places play a huge role in your songs and videos. What physical and mental places have had an impact on your sound? 
For the first record, there was a place called Island Gardens [in London], which I named the project after. The time I spent there really influenced what I was writing. In terms of mental spaces, I’d say there was a darker influence.

You went to Jamaica, where your father is from, for the first time as an adult last year. Do you think that dual heritage will seep into your new music?
I’d say Jamaica is starting to feel more like home and I listen to a lot of reggae and dancehall, so it might creep in, but it probably won’t be deliberate.

How did you practice self-care while being thrown into the music industry headfirst? 
I think one of the biggest things is time management, which I’m still working on. Sleep, water… I go to the gym, I try to meditate and I’ve started keeping a journal to help organise my thoughts. I’ve started getting messages from people that say I inspire them or that they look up to me. I sometimes feel a little pressure from that. I want to be a positive influence.

What was it that eventually made you decide to commit yourself to music eventually?
For as long as I remember, it seems it was the only thing I wanted to do. I moved here at a young age and the magic of South London helped steer me in the right direction too.

On Instagram, you jest that your songs are ‘sad’, but where does this honesty and the soulful way you convey it come from?
I guess I was inherently sad when I wrote a lot of those songs, so I was just saying how I felt when I wrote them. I know the emotion well, which helps in conveying it honestly.

How do you balance creativity with inspiration to create your sound?
I let inspirations come through subconsciously. If I hear anything in my music that sounds too similar to something I know, I’ll change it. I try not to focus too much on a specific thing; I like to let the ideas flow through. I don’t think if I’ve found a signature sound yet.

Are you hopeful about the future of British R&B, and who are you enjoying at the moment? 
I feel like it could have a moment. It’s usually the American acts that get the attention, but I feel we have a lot to offer. Although, if I’m honest, the last thing that caught my attention was an Australian band called Parcels. I think they’re pretty cool.

How do you describe your performance style and what can we expect from your Soho House shows? 
Pretty chilled, intimate. It will probably be just me and a guitar. Nothing is set in stone yet, so I won’t say too much. I don’t want to break any promises – same goes for the rest of what I do this year.