Plested is a singer/songwriter based in London, who is having success in two different ways. First, he’s a hit songwriter who co-wrote Lewis Capaldi’s latest single “Before You Go,” which recently reached #1 in the U.K. and is currently on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He also co-wrote female group Little Mix’s Top 5 U.K. hit, “Touch.”
On top of this, Plested (whose birth name is Phil Plested) is a talented artist who is signed with Atlantic Records. In December 2018, he released an 8-song project called First & Foremost, and he has released several new songs in the past year. His latest single is called “Beautiful & Brutal.”
As an artist, Plested writes & performs pop songs that are honest and personal, and have a soulful flavor. He has a strong, expressive voice that conveys the heartfelt emotion of each song. His new song “Beautiful & Brutal” is one of his best songs to date, and on his release First & Foremost, the highlights include “First Song,” “Worthy Of You,” “Your Name” and “Ribcage.”
As a songwriter, in addition to his cuts with Lewis Capaldi and Little Mix, he’s also co-written songs for Zayn Malik, Miguel, Kygo, James Arthur, Calum Scott, Emeli Sande, the Vamps, Naughty Boy and Why Don’t We. He frequently travels to Los Angeles and other cities to collaborate.
Besides his work as a recording artist and songwriter, Plested is also an active live performer. He has headlined a tour in Europe, playing shows in Germany, Netherlands and the U.K. He has also been an opening act for Alec Benjamin, Calum Scott, Emeli Sande, Mogli and Nina Nesbitt.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Plested. He discusses his artist career and recent releases, and he tells how he co-wrote Lewis Capaldi’s hit, “Before You Go.”
DK: How did you get started as a musician and songwriter?
Plested: I started quite young…my parents wanted me to play an instrument, and when I was in school I started playing violin and a bit of clarinet. Meanwhile, my granddad was playing guitar in a jazz group. So growing up, I listened to him playing, and I always wanted to play guitar. All the other instruments are great, but guitar is the one for me. So when I was about 12, I fully picked up the guitar. I listened to James Morrison, John Mayer and David Gray, [and I realized] that men can be emotional playing the guitar…just being onstage with an instrument.
Here’s the video of Lewis Capaldi’s hit “Before You Go,” which
was co-written by Plested.
DK: I read that early on you got a break, when you met U.K. hit producer, Naughty Boy (who’s worked with Sam Smith, Beyonce and Emeli Sande). Is that correct?
Plested: Yes. He’s from Watford (near London), where I grew up. When I was in my last year of school, one of my friends invited him to come to our school. It was like, “Come and check out these guys I know—there’s a few of us who work in music.” So we performed a couple songs for Naughty Boy, and things kind of clicked. He said, “Come down to the studio; come learn how to write songs properly.” He was working on the first Emeli Sande record at the time, so I got to witness that. It was almost like a crash course…if you can put yourself in the room, and study the way that people write songs, you can pick up your own technique.
DK: When you met Naughty Boy and you were getting started in the music business, was your first success being an artist, or was it getting cuts with artists like Little Mix?
Plested: I was actually in a band very early on, and I was signed to Island Records. [Although the band got dropped], that was a great experience of what it takes to be an artist. I learned a lot from that. At that point (working with Naughty Boy), I started to write songs every day, with the intention of writing for other artists. I had a song called “Certain Things” that James Arthur cut on his first album. That was my first taste of an artist singing one of my songs, and it was an amazing feeling.
DK: As an artist, how did you sign with Atlantic Records?
Plested: I signed with them about two years ago. At that point I was focused on writing songs for other artists, but I put a couple of songs aside [for me as an artist]. There were the songs “The Least That I Could Do” and “Either You Love Me Or You Don’t,” which are now out. Then I went to Los Angeles—I had a friend who was an A&R exec for Mike Caren (CEO of APG Music), who is an amazingly passionate guy. I met him and played him “The Least That I Could Do,” and he was like, “You’re an artist,” because I think he heard the potential in that song. I decided to sign with APG (which has a partnership with Atlantic Records), although it took me awhile to sign with them because I wanted to make sure I was ready.
Here’s the audio of Plested’s new song, “Beautiful & Brutal.”
DK: Currently, you’re on the charts with Lewis Capaldi’s hit, “Before You Go,” which you co-wrote. How did you connect with Lewis?
Plested: Lewis is an amazing guy. I got very lucky with him, first writing the song “Hollywood” with Lewis for his album, and later writing “Before You Go.”
One evening, I got a call from my friend, (songwriter & producer) Kane Parfitt. Kane said he was working with Lewis, and he asked me if I wanted to write with them. This was before Lewis became big, but I was already a fan of his voice, so I said, “Yeah, of course.” At the studio, there were four of us—Lewis, Kane, me and Callum Stewart.
We had fun writing together, and thankfully the song “Hollywood” came out of that.
After that, Lewis and I just created this relationship, and I got invited to write with Lewis and PMS (the writing/producing team that co-wrote Capaldi’s hit “Someone You Loved”) and we got together and wrote “Before You Go.”
DK: About a year ago, you released your first 8-song project as an artist, First & Foremost. Can you talk about the songs on this release?
Plested: This project is an introduction about who I am as a person and an artist. It’s very honest, and it really depicts what I was going through. [During that period], I was traveling between L.A. and London, and trying to find a career, and trying to find love. So a lot of the songs are very emotional, and about missing people and things like that. And now we’re looking to cut the second project, and I feel like the new songs are more established, and a step forward in sound. I think I found my live sound, and how I sound with a band.
DK: Are you also still writing songs for other artists?
Plested: Yes. I’ve been working with a lot of singer/songwriters, which has been lovely because that’s the world I come from, and that’s the world that I was influenced by. I’ve been in the studio with people like James Bay. And I’ll be going in the studio with Tom Walker, which should be amazing. It’s great working with singer/songwriters, because they’ve got a story to tell.
Here’s the video of Plested’s song, “The Least That I Could Do.”
DK: As an artist, what are some of your favorite songs that you’ve written?
Plested: I like the new song, “Beautiful & Brutal.” I wrote that with two friends: (songwriters) Koz and Lauren Aquilina. We wrote it at the end of a really intense writing week. We said we should just take it back to the piano, and Lauren played some amazing chords on the piano, and we just wrote this very honest love song. I love it so much, because it comes from a place of discovering love and what it means. It’s about the both sides of love…it can be great and it can be bad at times. You just have to find your way through it.