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Wes Nelson: Center Stage

Since his breakout into the public eye on season four of the British reality show, Love Island, Wes Nelson has remained in the spotlight as a media personality. Now, he's ready to tread a different path, placing full focus on his childhood dream – music.

Since making an appearance on the British reality television series, Love Island (back in 2018) Wes Nelson has gone on to become a mainstay in the public eye. Subsequently, he has appeared on an array of television shows, most notably The X Factor: Celebrity and Dancing on Ice. Following his success from TV, he has also garnered a tidy following on the internet, making him a noteworthy brand influencer. He is, however, substituting all of this to focus on his lifelong dream 一 music. “I’m dropping all TV, influencer and brand deal stuff. I’m just putting my foot down, pedal to the metal and committing to music,” Nelson tells me over a Zoom call on one afternoon in April.

Born in Lancashire, England, a three-year-old Nelson was already quite the musician. “I remember always standing on the coffee table in the living room singing for my parents,” he fondly recalls. Several years down the line and Nelson is still singing. However, this time it's to thousands of viewers. On the 4th of November, 2020, he performed his debut single, “See Nobody” on BBC 1Xtra alongside Hardy Caprio, a song that hurled him to the apex of the UK Hip Hop charts. The addictive record also earned him co-signs from big names like British duo, Krept & Konan, heavyweight boxer, Anthony Joshua and actor extraordinaire, Idris Elba.

Pride and enthusiasm radiate through the screen when Nelson talks about his music. “I’m just happy people enjoy the music as much as I love making it,” he says with a wide smile. While he’s aware people might think this is just another pitstop in his career 一 a cash grab to leverage on his already found fame 一 he is not in any way fazed. His passion and drive for music are very evident; he, however, is in no rush to prove that to anyone. Nelson believes good music will eventually do the talking for him.

B.Side Mag: What would you say your earliest musical memories were?

Wes Nelson: I remember my first ever Christmas gift that I got and it was a karaoke [set]. It didn’t actually even work, it was just a plastic box with a string attached to it and a plastic microphone. But I loved it and I remember I would be screaming around the house with the plastic microphone. Pretty much every Christmas from then onwards I got something music-related. Those were definitely my earliest musical memories.

Obviously, most people would know you from the reality TV show Love Island. What has it been like transitioning from a reality tv star to a musician?

It is happening gradually and I know it's not going to happen overnight. I understand it's what people are used to seeing me as and what they generally identify me as but I'm not impatient. I think I just need to focus on making good music and I believe the music would speak for itself. I don’t need to shout from the rooftops and tell people that I'm a music artist now, they’ll decide that from my music. I know it is going to take time but I’m not in a rush. I’m currently happy where I'm at.

In September of last year, you released your first official single, “See Nobody”. Can you walk us through how that came about?

I remember I was living with Josh Denzel — he was also on the show with me. I had just broken up with my ex at the time and I just moved out and I moved into his place for a month or two. The first day I pulled up to his place, I was driving outside and there was a guy there who said, “Bloody hell mate, your car sounds like Batman coming through the ends” because I’ve got quite a loud car. And I remember saying: “I like that! Cutting through the ends like I'm Batman”. The idea just stuck with me and I literally just went upstairs and started writing because I was supposed to have a session later. Also, for me, it’s like a metaphor for committing to music when I said: “Foot down, I don't see nobody / In my own lane with the top down, no worries”. It’s all full steam ahead for me, full commitment.

Before “See Nobody”, had you been writing other songs and working with other artists?

Yeah, I had been doing little freestyles in bits and pieces. Also, I've always been weirdly good at remembering lyrics and because of that I have so many rhyme patterns and flows in my head. When it comes to writing, it’s quite a quick process for me. Getting the melody down takes no time and the writing is even quicker. Also, I've been writing for quite a few people, other artists. I know people wouldn’t expect it from the guy from Love Island but I’m a ghostwriter now.

You’ve followed up “See Nobody” with your brand new single, “Nice To Meet Ya”. What has the reception been like since you dropped it?

Oh, it’s been amazing. I think we’ve had over three million streams already which is bonkers. The people love the music video because it’s quite random and abstract. It’s been so positive and I’m just happy.

What or who would you say are your biggest musical influences?

Growing up I listened to a lot of R&B. I remember I used to be obsessed with Ne-yo. I even went to my primary school prom dressed as him. I had the flat cap, bent to the side with the glasses on. I tried to dress like him in “Miss Independent”. I also used to memorize all his riffs and runs. I also listened to a lot of Usher, Chris Brown, Drake, Michael Jackson, Nate Dogg, Snoop Dogg and several other West Coast rappers.

What would you like people to feel or take away when they listen to your music?

I would like people to have different feelings with each song that I release. “Nice To Meet Ya” is about feeling like a hundred million bucks. I describe it as getting a fresh trim feeling. I believe it’s always different with each one. I’ve got quite a few songs coming out this year and the vibe of each of the songs are different.

What should people expect next from Wes Nelson?

People should expect some live bits and pieces coming out soon. Also, expect a lot more music from me this year. Last year was a bit difficult to put out music because of the pandemic but I've got consistent releases now. I've also got a couple of features on other people’s songs. People are jumping on my songs as well which I'm really excited about.

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