Denis Coleman on Touring With Little Mix, "Narcissist", and Belfast Bluffs
London-based alt-pop artist Denis Coleman released his single "Narcissist" on May 20, 2022.
At just 18 years old, the independent rising star has wowed tastemakers and audiences around the world, including those of BBC Radio 1, Clash Magazine, Notion, and Wonderland. Coleman has also caught the eye of globally admired girl group Little Mix and joined them on their recent Confetti UK arena tour.
"Narcissist" is a unique fusion of modern rock guitar tones with earworm vocal melodies and pop-sounding beats. The single remains true to Coleman's catchy signature sound, however, the dynamic soundscapes and introspective nature of the lyrics reveal a maturity that makes "Narcissist" his best work yet. The rhythmic variations in the drum and synth tracks are a highlight of the song, adding to the dark, almost cautionary energy of the chord progression.
The music video, featuring the picturesque cliffs of Belfast, Ireland, is equally as haunting as it is visually stunning, with Coleman exploring seemingly abandoned landscapes and buildings in a cinematic reality of inverted colors. The visualizer suits the energy of the single perfectly–with flawless imagery like that, it's no wonder Coleman considers narcissism.
Fans can catch a live performance of "Narcissist" in August at Coleman's headline tour dates:
AUGUST [Headline Tour]
Mon 1st Aug - Glasgow, The Garage
Tues 2nd Aug - Newcastle, Cluny
Thurs 4th Aug - Manchester, The Deaf Institute
Fri 5th Aug - Nottingham, The Chameleon
Sun 7th Aug - Birmingham, O2 Institute 3
Mon 8th Aug - Cardiff, venue TBC
Wed 10th Aug - London, Omeara
Fri 12th Aug - Dublin, Academy 2
Sat 13th Aug – Belfast, Oh Yeah Centre
We spoke to Denis Coleman about his influences, experiences touring with Little Mix, new music, and more. Check out the full interview and listen to "Narcissist" below. Let us know what you think.
At what age did you start playing music?
Young! Probably at around five years old. I used to play violin all the time as a kid and was writing music and making beats by the age of ten. I’ve been playing for as long as I can remember, to be honest.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is bold, brash, rock-inspired sounds filtered through a modern alt-pop landscape.
What message(s) do you hope to convey with your music?
I’d rather convey a question than a message. The subject matter I tackle is often deeply personal, and it relates to challenges I share with my fans, from mental health to interpersonal relationships. If I can encourage my listeners to be introspective and create an emotion that inspires reflection, I will have achieved my goal. My songs mean something slightly different to everyone and that’s the beauty of it.
What is your dream venue?
Headlining the O2 is my dream show. Playing three nights there last week was an unbelievable experience and I can’t wait to get to the point where one day I’ll be the headliner.
Share a little bit about your experience on tour with Little Mix.
Touring with Little Mix was an unforgettable experience. To be a part of such an incredible show was an absolute honour–as was being introduced to the wonderful community of Little Mix Fans across the UK: a truly beautiful, loving, and empowering group. To know that Perrie, Leigh-Anne, and Jade trusted me to open their show was a huge confidence boost and affirmation, and I learnt so much from talking to them about the tour and watching their work process and professionalism.
Tell us about your latest single, “Narcissist”.
"Narcissist" is somewhat deep, but also doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s one of my favourite songs I’ve written so far. The single (living up to its title) was inspired by myself. I wrote it about the allure of similarity, about that initial rush when you meet someone who is “just like you”. I wanted to capture that dreamlike period in which every shared connection feels euphoric... and how, in a way, it’s just a form of narcissism.
"I wanted to capture that dreamlike period in which every shared connection feels euphoric... and how, in a way, it’s just a form of narcissism."
What was your songwriting process like?
I wrote a large amount of the track over a year ago and was just sitting on the idea for months before I actually did anything with it. It only really started to bear fruit after a writing session I did with one of my frequent collaborators, Elyar. We were working on a beat together and my immediate thought was that this song would sit perfectly on top of the instrumental we were creating. So, I recorded some vocals, tweaked a few lines, and developed each section until the fully-fledged song emerged. Fast forward a few months of production experimentation, mix adjustments, and lots of vocal arranging and recording, and the final narcissist arrived.
Did you have any specific influences or references for the track?
I co-produced this track, so that had a very direct role in shaping the sound. My approach was very much to let the song drive the production. Where I felt it needed to drop low, we dropped down to an acoustic strum just to rise into gigantic walls of synth punctuated by staccato electronic and live drums, all while muted guitar chords relentlessly drove the song forward. My influences are very diverse, ranging from classic rock bands to pop punk pioneers and even contemporary alt-pop artists like renforshort and brakence. For me, this song was a true mix of all those different flavours.
"My influences are very diverse, ranging from classic rock bands to pop punk pioneers and even contemporary alt-pop artists like renforshort and brakence."
What inspired the accompanying music video for the single?
A big inspiration for the music video was actually the location. We knew that I would be on tour in Belfast when we had to shoot and wanted to find a way to use the beautiful scenery to complement the video. Once we had the idea to recolour the video to match my eyes, it all fell into place, both giving the video a slight old school flair and symbolizing a skewed perception of narcissism.
What was the most challenging part of the project?
Again, it was the location... A blessing and a curse, the craggy cliffs of Belfast were both an aesthetic dream and a logistical nightmare. Organizing transport, locations, and more from overseas was a challenge, not to mention the difficulty of actually shooting in the high winds and low temperatures typical of these hills. In the end, however, it all worked out.
"A blessing and a curse, the craggy cliffs of Belfast were both an aesthetic dream and a logistical nightmare."
What’s next for Denis Coleman?
My headline tour is next. This August, I will be off on a headline tour of the UK, playing nine dates, including the Omeara in London and the Deaf Institute in Manchester. I’m so excited to bring my ideas for the live show into the rehearsal room and start crafting the most interesting, unique, and high energy set I’ve ever played. In the meantime, the studio awaits! I’ll be spending the next several weeks writing and recording.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
There is more to come. I’m yet to film my best video, write my best music, play my best show–this is still just the beginning for me, so stay tuned.