Diddie is a singer-songwriter from Hull (UK), who just turned 20. When he was 2 years old, he watched Elton John videos on YouTube with his dad. “I don’t remember all that well, but apparently I used to sit on his knee watching them and then clap my hands and get him to put it on again when it finished.”
From there on he was enrolled in piano lessons. Diddie has been playing the piano from the age of 6. One day his brother bought a guitar with the intention of learning how to play it. However, he got bored and the guitar ended up gathering dust, until Diddie asked his brother if he could borrow it. He spent hours watching clips on YouTube learning different chords. Everything he does on the guitar is self taught.
Did your brother ever pick up that guitar again after you borrowed it?
“The guitar that he had, ended up falling to pieces in the end. It took some hammer when I was using it. It was in my hands from the minute I got up, until I went to bed. He does sometimes borrow one of mine.”
When Diddie took his guitar on holiday 2 years ago, he entered a talent contest and played in front of almost 1.000 people. When he came off stage a little girl came over with her grandmother and asked if she could have his autograph and have her picture taken with him.
If you could open a show for an artist who would it be?
“I’m not in a position to pick and choose an artist to work with. I think if Ed Sheeran did actually ask me to play for him I would lose all power to speak.”
It was watching Ed Sheeran that inspired Diddie to learn how to play the guitar. When Diddie started playing open mics, he ended up playing mostly songs by Ed Sheeran. He gradually started playing his own songs.
What was the first song you ever wrote?
“The first song I wrote, was called ‘Memories’. It’s about one of our dogs that died. I was about 16 when we lost him and it was a way of dealing with it for me. He was around 13 when he died, so I had more or less grown up with him. There is a dodgy recording of it on Soundcloud for anyone that wants to have a listen.” (Look no further, I have added the link to ‘Memories, ed.)
One of your songs is called ‘Superhero’. Who is your superhero?
“My superhero is Chris Norfolk. He looks after me in regards to getting me gigs, making sure I get paid, he mixes my songs and produces my videos. He sponsors me through his company. I always say I haven’t got very far, but without him and the help he’s given me, I wouldn’t even be where I am now.”
If you were a superhero what would be your superpower?
“I think if I was to be a superhero, then I would have to be Spiderman. When I was 5 my mum bought me some Spiderman boots and I used to sleep in them. I wouldn’t take them off. In the video for ‘Superhero’ there’s a picture of me from my 5th birthday party with my Spiderman muscle suit on.”
Your single ‘Sad Song‘ is the highest new entry in the Cool 20. It is a break-up song. What inspired you to write the song?
“With that one I tried to write something sort of based on things that have happened to me in the past, but also from experiences I’ve seen people close to me go through. I didn’t intentionally sit down to write it like that. I had actually been sat for hours trying to write anything. I was at the stage of giving up, when I hit a couple of keys on my piano and then my ears sort of pricked up and the rest came tumbling out soon after.”
How do you write your songs?
“The process I used to have, was to sit down with the intention of writing the next song to shake the world, which anyone who writes songs will tell you it doesn’t work like that. I’ve sometimes been sat for hours at a time and got to the point of almost pulling my hair out, because nothing was happening. It’s weird, because some days I can’t write one line. Other days I can be working on something and then I have an idea for something else. So I end up ditching what I’m working on and moving onto something else, then getting so far through that and having another idea and ditching that. I’ve got a hard drive full of half finished stuff.”
You’re currently working on a new song ‘Always Be There’. You mentioned it’s a new sound, more upbeat and along the lines of your song called ‘GFSL‘. “I try to mix it up a bit, rather than writing and releasing the same sort of stuff all of the time. So by the law of averages, the song after this one will be another slow one.”
On your Twitter bio you mention “as almost seen on BGT” (Britain’s Got Talent, ed.). Is there a story behind that quote?
“Towards the end of last year, I was invited down to Manchester to meet the producers of Britain’s Got Talent. To be fair my initial reaction was not to go as I’d seen and heard quite a few stories about the process. But, after talking to Chris and my dad we decided to go down and see what happened. The initial meeting went really well and within 3 or 4 days of going down there, they called me to say that they wanted me on the show. I’d played an original song to the producers and they were really keen for me to play that song again to start off with. Then they started asking for videos of me singing different songs and over the course of a few months I must have sent over 20 videos of me singing and playing different songs. Then they started asking me to sing songs originally recorded by female artists as Simon Cowell really likes male singers singing songs by female singers apparently. I sort of pushed back against that, as I was trying to go on and sing my own stuff and not copy anyone else’s. Filming for the main auditions was due to start on the Wednesday and they called me on the Friday night to tell me that I was being cut from the show. To be honest I was gutted at the time, but now when I look back I think in a way I would have been cheating. I’m having a good time making new connections through social media and I think if I do manage to become successful, I will appreciate it more because it will have come off the back of hard work rather than a shortcut.”
Diddie recently started studying for a degree in popular music at Hull college.
“We are only a few weeks in, but I’m really enjoying it so far. Eventually we will be learning different songwriting styles and techniques and things like that. One thing I had to do a few days ago, was to write a 30 second piece for a kids TV show. That’s a lot harder than it sounds.”
What kind of music do you like?
“I like all sorts of music to be honest. The first thing I tend to do when listening to a song for the first time, is listen to the melody and the chord changes.”
Are there any artists that changed your life?
“Elton John definitely, because of the influence seeing his videos and how I reacted to them got my parents to enroll me in the piano lessons. Ed Sheeran because it was through watching and listening to him that I learned to play the guitar. And lastly, Dean Lewis due to the emotion and feeling he puts into the lyrics of his songs.”
Is there anyone you’d like to work with?
“I have been pestering Noah Kahan recently for a jam, so if you are reading this Noah, get your finger out.”
What’s a song you have stuck in your head these days?
“Take Me To The Pilot by Elton John, or Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough. My version of Depeche Mode always seems to go down well. I think it’s the last type of song that anyone is expecting to come from an acoustic guitar.”
What’s your favourite song to perform?
“Depeche Mode, purely just to see the look on peoples faces, when I say that’s what’s coming next. A synth pop song isn’t the sort of thing anyone expects someone to play with an acoustic guitar. Also it’s a catchy song, I just love playing it.”
What’s on your bucket list to do before you die?
“It’s not anything I’ve thought about to be honest. I’m not planning on dying yet anyway. I’d love to sell out a local venue and to hear people in the crowd singing just one of my songs back to me would be enough for me.”
Final question. What’s your favourite song in the Cool Top 20?
“I like a lot of the songs in there, but the one that stood out for me was ‘The Depths’ by GHST MDRN. I love the ambient sound of it. I reckon it wouldn’t sound out of place in a film like 28 Days Later. The way things are dropping in and out makes for a really interesting sound. Really enjoyed it.”
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