It's been the most extraordinary six months for Riley Davies, the Brighton native who has gone from obscurity to notching three UK Top 10 singles in quick succession under the moniker of ArrDee.
Thanks to a viral smash verse addition to Tion Wayne and Digga D's Body, ArrDee signed to Island. In less than a year, the singles Oliver Twist (Number 6), Wasted with Digga D (Number 6) and Flowers (Say My Name) (Number 5) have transformed him into one of the UK's brightest, quickest hitmakers.
When we connect with ArrDee on Zoom, back home from his bedroom in Brighton, it's to talk about Flowers - his third Top 10 of the year and his most commercial offering yet, splicing together two samples from iconic pop songs; Sweet Female Attitude's Flowers and Destiny's Child's Say My Name.
But how did Riley Davies get this far? And what's to come for him next?
Hi ArrDee! Flowers (Say My Name) recently became your highest charting song in the UK so far. How does that feel? You've had a very busy year.
We were kind of worried! We dropped it at a time where it was like; Adele, Ed Sheeran, Elton John, big label teams were advising against dropping but I was saying go do it. So if anything went wrong, it was on my back. That's my highest entry ever [though]. It's madness.
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Flowers is a bit of mix-up for you stylistically. How did the song come about?
Big up LiTek [producer of the song], they played [Flowers] for a bit and obviously, it's not my normal sound, they come off it and play another one. But I tell them to go back. This is a hit, this is definitely a hit. With my ADHD I can't sit down, so I'm walking around the studio [and the line comes to me] "I don't give girl flowers, I give you good wood though." I said it as a joke. My manager had the same reaction as he did to Body, he was like "that's it!"
What gave you the inspiration to mash-up the interpolations of Flowers and Say My Name? Because on paper, they are two very different songs.
Flowers was in one of the pre-made beats I'd already recorded that day. It was sampled in a way that they didn't just put it in. They really put work into it - chopped it up, made it into a whole different vibe. The Say My Name [sample] was me, because it's quite a toxic love tune I still wanted it to be respectful. I love all my females, it's not a tune to cuss them. I almost wanted it so it could be sung by both genders.
It's a change-up for you in terms of style. It's almost a pop song.
It's almost a pop track. If I didn't hit it with the lyrics, I think it's like you say, almost pop. But I think what I've done - not to blow my own trumpet - is to go into that pop lane, but still keep it [true to] me. I see a lot of artists almost trying to do pop and it looks like they're trying to be mainstream. Flowers is still on brand, it's still me, it's just something now being widely appreciated.
And the thing is with the term pop - it's not a dirty word, pop just means popular.
Exactly. Like, what is pop to you? Body went to Number 1. The Top 10 right now is Central Cee, D-Block Europe and me. The concept of pop is skewed.
Would you ever collaborate with a pop vocalist on a track maybe?
All the collaborations I've ever done have been formed from organic relationships - like with Tion [Wayne] and Digga [D]. If something was to happen organically...someone like Raye. I've met Raye, she's actually the ad-lib vocals in Daily Duppy. I could definitely see myself making a track with Raye. But again, I wouldn't call her pop. I'd just call her a talented artist.
I wanted to talk to you about the lyrical content of Flowers. You don't paint yourself in a particularly positive light, but that seems to be on purpose.
Obviously, it's controversial. When I previewed it, a lot of A&Rs from other labels were like "why are you letting him say that?" I think it went well, to be honest. I think I know my generation. My fanbase is generally on TikTok - 21 and under. As sad as it is, we glamourise [the concept of the song].
MORE: Who is ArrDee?
In less than six months, you've notched up three UK Top 10 singles - has that caught up to you yet?
I talk about this in all my interviews - manifestation is a massive part of where I've got to in my life. Not even just with music, but being content and happy. It's all moved so fast, like a million miles per hour. I haven't had the chance to sit in bed...well I am actually sitting in bed right now...but I haven't had the chance to soak it in. If I had, I'd still be stuck on Oliver Twist.
I think it's benefitted me how fast it's moved. I haven't let it change me. I don't live in London, I still get fans popping up asking for pictures, but at the same time I'll go to a bar and they'll still ID me because they've known me since I was 15. I think everyone needs that balance.
And what sort of exciting stuff have you got planned for 2022?
I can't say exactly, but it's very special. It's a mental way to kick off the year. It's going to have a lot of artists sh*tting themselves.
Does that include a longer body of work, perhaps?
Definitely. There's a project coming soon. Maybe sooner than you think. We've got lots coming next year.
ArrDee's Flowers (Say My Name) is out now via Island.
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