Interview with Finn Bonel

Finn Bonel is a singer/songwriter from sunny London, England. Not only does he wield an instantly classic voice and big potential with his song writing skills, but he knows how to play the social media game (and I’m not talking about Farmville). I discovered Finn when he followed PeteHatesMusic on Twitter (best decision he ever made!). Typically, it’s the blogs and media outlets following the artists. Finn has an active social media presence, spamming filling my Twitter feed with album updates and other interesting news.

Like any up and coming musician, Finn also has a website. On this site, he fearlessly points out his influences – “Finn’s music gives a nod to the sounds Dylan, Waits, Springsteen, Vega and Cohen which constantly bellowed throughout his childhood home.” Music was banned in my house, along with candy, hence my obsession with both of those once I left that prison my parents’ house. Finn is putting his obsessions to slightly better use.

Finn Bonel, Looking Cool (courtesy of Finn Bonel)

Finn recently released his debut single, Love’s The Only Thing, which you can pick up at iTunes. After hours of walking the streets of South London trying to find Finn Bonel, PeteHatesMusic gave up and fired him an email (remembering that social media is his thing). Check out our discussion about the name Finn Bonel, what to expect from his first full length studio album, and whether steel drums or a kazoo will make an appearance on the album.

PeteHatesMusic (PHM): I hate asking bands or artists about their band or stage name, but Finn Bonel is your name, and it’s pretty cool! What is the history or story behind it?

Finn Bonel (FB): Finn Bonel is my birth name. ‘Bonel’ was my Grandfather’s name, who was from Catalonia on the border between Spain and France and I think my parents got ‘Finn’ from a poem. I spent years trying to come up with a cool stage or band name but could never think of anything so in the end I just decided to go with what I got.

PHM: To date, you have one song up on iTunes and a few videos and songs floating around on YouTube and SoundCloud. What are your plans for future releases – an EP, an LP, or dare I say it – a double LP?

FB: We’re planning to put out 2 or 3 more singles and an LP towards the end of the year.

PHM: Your first single, Love’s the Only Thing, features some strings, whereas your other songs are mainly guitar songs. What can we expect musically from your upcoming releases? Primarily guitar-based songs, more strings, or perhaps steel drums and a kazoo?

FB: The album will be quite eclectic. Some songs with strings and some which are more based around guitar riffs. There will also be a couple of songs which are faster and louder than anything up at the moment. I don’t think an artist should ever limit their creativity to one sound, I just go with what works for each song. For instance, the next single has Tabla and Sitar on it.

Oh yeah, and I do actually have one song that I play kazoo on so we may record that too! No plans for steel drums at the moment but I wouldn’t rule anything out!

PHM: You proudly mention your American influences (Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, etc.) on your childhood and seemingly try to reflect some of the influences in your music. Do you think this alienates or bothers any fans, since you hail from South London?

FB: If it does, I think that’s a shame cause I’m not trying to alienate or bother anyone! We mentioned those influences because that was the first stuff I heard as a kid and therefore where it started for me. I love the sound of those American songwriters but I’m into all sorts of stuff – Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, The Clash, Cypress Hill, The Specials, Thelonious Monk, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Johann Strauss II, Chas & Dave. I like Asian music, African music, Irish music, South American music, Biscuit-tin music, I could go on..!

It’s all music to me. Why does everything always have to be put into a box? I don’t think it should matter where you come from. There are already too many social divisions that oppress people. Let’s not forget, we’re all floating on the same rock! Vincent van Gogh was Dutch but he was inspired by Japenese and French art. If he hadn’t embraced these influences, maybe he wouldn’t have created all those beautiful paintings? I really don’t think it matters!

PHM: By mentioning such legendary performers in your bio, does it immediately and unfairly raise expectations of Finn Bonel?

FB: I don’t think so, it’s just a reference so people know what you’re into. And even if it does, personally I wouldn’t go see a band thinking, if they’re not as good or better than their influences then I’m going home!

Having said that, I do think as an artist, you should always aim high. I’m not just doing this for a laugh, I want to make great music. I’m not saying I’ve achieved that yet, but that’s what drives me on and anyway, who wants to be average?

(note: you’re dealing with the most average website around, Finn!)

PHM: Your vocal style immediately screams vintage or well-traveled (this is a compliment by the way). Is it by coincidence that you built your music around both your influences and your somewhat similarly-styled voices?

FB: It’s no coincidence. I wanted my music to sound a certain way, worldly and retro. At first, I tryd to sing the way I talk but it just didn’t fit the music. So, I developed a style of singing that reflected my influences and I felt, sounded better. I know that some might find it odd that I don’t sound like where I live but for me, art has always been an escape from reality.

For that moment while you’re making a song or painting a picture, you can go anywhere as long as it’s on the map of your imagination. The beauty of art is that there are no rules!

(note: that’s also the beauty of living alone! Why wash dishes when you can buy new ones?!)

PHM: You seem very connected with fans on various social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, your website and blog. Do you feel this is an important part of being a musician or building a fan base in this day and age?

FB: Well, I was against it at first but now I think it’s amazing. Through Twitter and Facebook, I’ve spoken to people all over the world who have heard and like my music – Russia, South America, Indonesia, Japan, U.S.A and of course, Canada to name a few! The Internet opens up the whole world and you can now reach fans in way you couldn’t before. So yes, I think it is important.

PHM: What do you hope to achieve in 2012 (you can check “an interview with PeteHatesMusic” off your list).

FB: Well, I’ve already achieved more musically this year than I ever have – including a desired interview with the brilliant PeteHatesMusic! – but you have to be realistic. All I want for now is to grow as an artist, to get better at what I do and to reach as many listeners as possible.

PHM: Although I’m from Toronto, Canada, I’m actually living in a flat in South London this year. What pub should I head to for the best pint?

FB: I’d have to say, The Montague Arms in New Cross! It’s proberbly the most surreal pub I’ve ever been to in South London. It’s great and well worth a visit! Here’s a link to a review at TimeOut London.


Finn Bonel plays March 19 at Monto Water Rats, April 2 at 93 Feet East (acoustic set!), and May 26 at Carling Academy Islington. Check Finn’s website for updated ticket and show news, and follow the man on Twitter – before he follows you.

Finn Bonel – Love’s the Only Thing

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2 Responses

  1. 2012/03/20

    […] worry – he returned it – groan!). While preparing songs for his debut album (and answering silly interview questions from PeteHatesMusic), Finn has been road testing some songs and playing gigs. One such gig was last night in London, at […]

  2. 2012/04/17

    […] Finn Bonel is still putting the finishing touches on his debut album. However, he’s let those who are interested get another glimpse of what the album will sound like, with another video from the forthcoming album. The track is Wedding Song, and touches on the use of Indian instruments that Finn mentioned in his interview with PeteHatesMusic. […]