At 28 years of age and already an acclaimed singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, it's safe to say that music pulses through Angel's veins. Born Sirach Charles, he spent much of his childhood in a small, two-floor terraced house in Shepherds Bush, West London, where he was one of five siblings. As a youngster, music was ever present; and he was raised by his Grenadian mother and his father, Tendai Charles, a popular figure on the UK reggae circuit, who would often play sessions with Bob Marley, Dennis Brown and Kaya in the 70s.
"When I was young, as soon as my Dad finished working on or listening to music in his room, I would sneak in, switch everything back on, and just zone out in there," he says. "I know he came in and saw me but he just left me. He started it and I picked it up organically, passionately, willingly."
With Tendai heavily entrenched in the business, a journey down a similar path seemed near inevitable for Angel, and, by the end of his Primary School years his passion for music began to blossom. He successfully managed to train himself on the piano, guitar and the drums and would often spend days and nights at home, composing tracks in the recording studio in the basement. Seeing potential in his five children, Angel's father put his own musical career on hiatus, instead deciding to nurture his next generation of talent, rolling Angel and his siblings into a pre-teen touring band he would call 'The Charles Family'.
Together, and with Angel as lead singer, the group scaled the country, performing in over 300 hundred schools and universities across the UK. At their side was late UK reggae icon Smiley Culture, who, along with Angel's father, co-managed the group. When off the road, and back at home in West London, the pair would skill the children in the art of performing, tutoring them for hours on end once they tumbled through the front door at the end of every school day. "All my friends would me standing out by my window, asking me to come outside but we would just be in the front room rehearsing non-stop."
After an enlightening few years, the group had run its course and was brought to an amicable end. However for Angel, things were only warming up and, by the time his 16th birthday had arrived, he was totally immersed in his craft. He had been producing from the age of 10, and, engrossed by the creative process, would earnestly pour over early production programmes like 'Atari Video Music' and 'Cubase'. As an eager, self-taught student he would mark his progress through trial and error, eventually acquiring a gift for layering the same kicks, snares, strings and percussions that he would go on to vocal over. "Any instrument I pick up I play by ear: piano and guitar mainly, but drums too. If there's a particular sound that I need for a tune then I pick up an instrument and do it. It's like a heavy drug, if I go into the studio and make music I'm at peace."
Angel married this talent for instruments with a unique ability to craft songs, a skill sharpened he says, by studying the greats. He snatched writing techniques from Donny Hathaway, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, vocal arrangements from Brandy Norwood and production techniques from Quincey Jones and Rodney Jerkins. For inspiration he would look to Michael Jackson, the Yellowjackets and The Beatles, using whatever knowledge readily available to churn out a steady stream of sweeping R&B and pop numbers.
After penning songs for Wretch 32 to Devlin, Pixie Lott to Cheryl Cole, it was not long before record labels again came knocking. And before long his song writing and production group 'Parallel Music', formed with friend and co-producer Kassa, had signed a publishing deal with Universal. Then, shortly after, Angel scored his first number one single. 'Green Light,' a song he had written for Grime collective Roll Deep, was a 2010 summer anthem and has since gone on to sell over 400,000 copies. That was just the beginning and further chart success would soon arrive. In 2012, furnished with a single of his own, Angel again breached the top 10, with the anthemic 'Wonderful' peaking at number nine, eventually shifting over 250,000 copies.
Now, at 28, Angel is ready for more and is preparing for a solo career that, after inking a record deal with iconic US label Motown Records, is at last ready to be realised. Trips back and forth between home and America have since followed, as have studio sessions with Pop & Oak and Swizz Beatz with Angel looking to make his imprint stateside.
"It's an honour to sign to a label with such an amazing legacy and to
have the platform to really show what I can do in the US," he said.
"It's a blessing to have someone like Swizz on board, someone who understands exactly where I'm coming from, which will give me the opportunity to show my culture in the most authentic way."
Supporters caught a first glimpse of Angel's new, refined sound on the rebellious 'Rude Boy', which featured WSTRN's Haile, and amassed more than 300,000 views in a matter of weeks. "That was a statement," he says. "Let me show you where I'm coming from. I don't want to do anything that's compromising." And so, with an album on the way, a new record deal in place and a renewed sense of purpose, Angel is at last ready to spread his wings.
"Britain's first all singing, all writing and producing urban boy wonder" - The Guardian
"The new face of UK R&B" - BBC Radio One
"A multifaceted talent to be reckoned with" - MTV
|25 Feb 17||Bush Hall||London, UK|
|26 Feb 17||O2 Academy 3||Birmingham, UK|
|27 Feb 17||Bush Hall||London, UK|