Elliot Gleave

Freddie the missing dog

Reward offered for missing Portsmouth pup

As nicknames go, Elliot Gleave got off lightly when his friends called him Example.

Not only did he manage to avoid an abusive or unimaginative monicker, but he was gifted a stage name that sounds at home in the Top 40 Chart.

'The kids at school were influenced by American rap, so it's like a rapper's name and it's my initials,' explains the 28-year-old artist who lives in Fulham.

But it was his 'dysfunctional electro-pop', not his rap, that earned him four Top 20 hits in the past year, including the anthemic Kickstarts, which reached number three in June.

His second long player, Won't Go Quietly, made it to number four in the album chart in July.

However, Elliot never sought a career in the music industry.

Instead, he studied Film Direction at the Royal Holloway College of the University of London.

'I originally planned to go into directing or acting, then I somehow fell into music,' he remembers.

(Perhaps it was the pull of his rap nickname.)

He continues: 'I never really realised it could be a career for me, I was just releasing songs as a hobby and they got played on the radio.'

After releasing three singles on his own label, All The Chats, things really took off for Elliot when he was recruited by Mike Skinner of The Streets to join his Beats label in 2006.

A slew of releases followed, including Vile (a response to Lily Allen's number one Smile), The Carpenters-sampling So Many Roads and his first album – What We Made, before the label folded.

Undeterred, Elliot went back to his original imprint and self-released Me & Mandy, the video for which cost just 1,000 and went on to win Best Low-Budget Video at MTV's VMAs.

He was picked-up by Data Records (a label under the bigger banner of Ministry of Sound) and went on to work with Calvin Harris, The Fearless, MJ Cole, Chase & Status and Bjorn of Peter, Bjorn and John, to producing the aforementioned hit album Won't Go Quietly.

He's since been on a touring frenzy, visiting venues such as Liquid and the Pyramids in Portsmouth multiple times already this year.

'I just go wherever I'm booked,' he explains.

'If people want to see me in Portsmouth, then I'll keep coming,' he continues, before adding that he likes to visit Gunwharf Quays when he's here.

He's back in the city for New Year's Eve, but – before that – he's got seven other gigs, interviews, photoshoots and some time in the recording studio booked in.

When we spoke on Tuesday, he was about to head-off to South Africa, where he plays a gig in Durban tonight.

Though it's the first time he's gigged in the country, Elliot has visited for a holiday before and says he likes it very much.

'I like the food, the beer, the weather and the beautiful landscapes,' he says, looking forward to his trip.

But he won't have much time to soak it all up, because it's all work for Elliot.

'I don't like breaks. I want to keep working,' he exclaims.

'My life's been busy like this for three years now and I like it that way.'

But Elliot concede's that he'll be taking a break and 'doing nothing' at Christmas before going over to Australia in the middle of January to visit his parents who emigrated there.

'I haven't bought anyone any gifts,' he reveals. 'I don't think people expect me to. They know I just don't have the time.

'After Australia, I'm going to LA, then New York, then London and I'm back on tour again,' he continues.

Elliot's already started preparing for next year's tour, which will bring him to Southampton Guildhall and then Brighton Dome in March.

'It's really coming on,' he says. 'I've got new lighting, lasers.

'And I'll be doing four or five new songs that no-one's heard.'

These songs are what he's been busy working on in the studio of late.

He explains: 'The third album is nearly done. It'll be out by the middle of next year, I think.

'The first album was all hip-hop. The second was all electro pop and this one is more rave-based.

'I haven't got a title yet, but it will probably begin with W, because all my albums being with W.

'It just seems to have happened that way and I'm sticking with it,' he laughs.

He also reveals that he's worked with more big names for his new album, including reuniting with Chase & Status and new partnerships with dubstep producer Skream, BBC Sound of 2011-listed artist Nero, Robbie Williams' writing partner Guy Chambers and Faithless.

'Everyone's different, everyone brings different things to the table,' says Elliot.

'Faithless are the biggest name on the album. They were pretty inspiring to work with just because they are so legendary.'

Elliot has just come off tour with the much-loved dance act and he says it was an amazing experience.

'Faithless's audience are a lot older than my usual audience, so that made it a unique experience.

'Most of my fans are 18 to 25 and theirs are between 30 and 40,' he elaborates.

So, did he win any new, older, fans?

He says: 'Definitely, yeah.'

And he's looking forward to meeting new and old fans alike when he comes back to Portsmouth on New Year's Eve for a party at the Pyramids Centre in Southsea.

'Of course I'm looking forward to it,' Elliot says.

'New Year's Eve is all about partying, even when you are working.

'When you're working, it's all about the craziest crowds and the craziest crowds are always in Portsmouth.

'Basically, I just want it to be a big rave.'