Rainy Boy Sleep: Worthy of the Name

Ahead of his fourth consecutive Glastonbury appearance the Derry-based solo artist talks signing to Universal and becoming a regular at the world's biggest festival

Bring us up to speed on Rainy Boy Sleep so far - how long have you been performing under the name?

The Rainy Boy Sleep project was formed in 2011 - my first gig was supporting Nick Lowe in The Buxton Opera House - it was a lovely way to start the journey and I've been so lucky to have played in some of the finest venues in the UK and Ireland since.

How did you make the leap from the local circuit to dates with James Morrison, Cyndi Lauper and Ray Davies? Was that a dizzying transition? What did they do for your career at the time?

I'm not really sure how those gigs came about. They must've heard something that they really liked I guess. It was definitely crazy to be still working the day job one week and the next to be playing the Hammersmith Apollo in London.

I learned an awful lot on those tours, mainly the hard-work ethos that surrounds acts of that calibre. They're all pretty chilled out people but at the same time, being in their company, I felt such a strong aura of determination that they naturally carry around with them. That was a very inspiring thing to witness.

You signed to Universal in March last year. How did they approach you and what was that experience like?

Again, I'm not too sure how that came about. It was definitely a big buzz to have a major approach me. The roster of acts that they represent is eye-watering, so it was very humbling to be asked to join in!

What sort of impact has that had on your life in the year since?

Things have started to gain a lot of momentum in the past year. Two singles and accompanying videos along with a few tours and lots more attention on the whole project. It really hit home when making the videos - seeing all this crew working to visualise songs that I wrote back in student digs. It was a bit surreal.

Last year's Ambulance EP was the first release to be issued through the label - how did its release differ from previous tracks/singles from your perspective?

Things moved a lot faster in such a short space of time. Ambulance got a lot of attention from radio, so it was great to get such a good start with the first release on a major.

This year will be your fourth consecutive Glastonbury appearance. Is it starting to feel like your local?

Haha, I'm getting to know my way about the place definitely! I think that making an appearance at Glastonbury is kind of like a footballer getting caps for their country. It's an international platform and I feel proud to say that I've gotten to go and be an ambassador for our lovely island.

What's been your favourite memory of the festival so far - do you look to experience something different each time?

Crystal Castles on the John Peel Stage blew my mind! The gospel choirs on the Acoustic Stage on the Sundays are always a beautiful way to kick back and unwind.

The site is so big though that you just can't make a plan as to what acts you want to see — okay, there might be one or two that you really must see but it's just cool to float about and see where the wind takes you. I'm always pleasantly surprised at what I discover.

How do you think the John Peel Stage will compare to where you've played previously, the Acoustic and BBC Introducing Stages? Is this indicative of the progress you've made this year with the Manchester Post EP?

It's a BIG stage! We're going to crank the volume up a few notches for this one for sure. I think the traction that 'Manchester Post' gained has definitely helped with getting that opportunity and exposure. I've seen a lot of great acts there over the past few years so it's going to feel a bit like standing on hallowed turf. 

Your slot is sandwiched between too very hyped acts in Hinds and Leon Bridges, do you feel any pressure in that the stage will be the subject of a lot of press attention?

I haven't thought about press at all. I'm just focusing on putting on the best show I can. Worrying about TV cameras etc would be just putting an added pressure on myself. Playing such a 'premier league' setting is always going to create exposure I think  I'll just take things as they come.

James Bay and The Cribs are just two of the acts clashing with you - with so much on offer what would you say to encourage festival goers to see your set?

The set is going to have songs that you'll be hearing a lot over the next year or so, so this is like the set to say 'I was there and saw it first'. We've really honed our set through touring this past year so it's going to be pretty special.

Is there anyone in particular you're hoping to catch yourself this time round?

Death Cab For Cutie. I'd be a happy boy just to see them. Kanye will be pretty insane as well I'd say.

You wrote the song 'Your Face' while over at the 2011 festival. Did you set out to write it while there or were you just taken by the surroundings at that moment?

The whole setting is just so other-worldly so when the idea hits, you just have to jump on it. Having such a beautiful song flow out just seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

You featured as the guest opener on Soak's recent Irish dates, how did those go? Are you hopeful for emerging solo artists and your own career when you see an artist like her rise to popularity?

They were great shows and made a lot of new friends out of it. The Rosseau guys were sweethearts as well. I think that over-thinking about hopes for success etc is more of a hindrance really. It's much more a case of presenting the art to the world and just letting it do its own thing in an organic, unforced way. 

Bridie is such a wee star and takes everything in a very calm way it's a fitting testament to her beautiful art and nature that things have gone so well for her.

Earlier this year you had hoped your debut album Waiting Games would be out by May. What stage is it at now?

It has been finished for quite some time now. I'm itching to let everyone hear it!

What else are you looking ahead to for the rest of the year? You've just been confirmed for Stendhal Festival of Art, is that almost like a homecoming?

We've got a UK tour with Hot House Flowers coming up and some headline shows in between. I'm really looking forward to Stendhal alright! It's about as close to a homecoming as I can get really. I've got so many mates there — pretty much the majority of the town  so it's great to play there and have a bit of banter at the same time.

Rainy Boy Sleep plays the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury Festival at 1pm on Friday, June 26 and will be available to stream live via BBC iPlayer. Catch him closer to home at Stendhal Festival of Art in Limavady between August 6 and 7. You can also enter to win yourself a weekend pass in our competitions section.