Finn Askew is the archetypal Gen-Z talent. The 20-year-old names Nirvana and Justin Bieber as influences on his own art, which amplifies how this current crop of emerging talent don’t care for fitting into genres or binary scenes.
Askew has aspirations to reach the very top of the music industry, and he’s not afraid to try to manifest his objectives into existence. Although he’s only in the infancy of his career, the Somerset-born musician is already openly discussing his plans for global domination — he’s not here to make up the numbers; he’s here to generate them.
While Askey has only released one EP so far, Peach, his breakthrough track, ‘Roses’, has already racked up over 50 million streams combined on Spotify and YouTube. The future is a gleaming one for Askew, who blends R&B with intricate indie, which he fuses to create into a delicate, heartfelt pop sound that is already capturing the attention of the masses.
On top of that, Askew is graced with a self-assured attitude. In his mind, nothing is off-limits when it comes to his career, and mediocrity is anything apart from being one of the most prominent artists on the planet. Following the release of his catchy new single, ‘Adidas’, and ahead of his performance at Reading & Leeds this weekend, Askew caught up with Far Out over Zoom to explain why he’s an artist that you can’t afford to sleep on for any longer.
‘Roses’ was Askew’s debut single on Polydor last summer, and since then, things have been flying. However, the track didn’t catch steam in the traditional sense. The reason why it ended up as a viral hit is inexplicable even to Askew, who still hasn’t entirely wrapped his head around the weird way he garnered a fanbase overnight. “I think it happened maybe three weeks after the release,” Askew animatedly explains. “It was literally getting like 1.5k streams a day, so nothing major. Then in the K-pop community, there’s this guy called Taeyong who is in the boy band NCT, and he played the whole song on his live stream, which had like 3.5 million viewers.
“It was like an overnight thing, and I woke up the next day. Everyone was in my comments going ‘Taeyong’. I was like, ‘What the fuck is this word?’ I just thought it was a random trend, and I couldn’t find out for like six hours what the fuck was going on until someone DM’d me the live stream. It went from 1.5k away, then up to like 50k streams a day, and it’s never really stopped.”
While Askew is thankful to Taeyong for helping spread his work to a broad audience, to rise to prominence in such an unconventional method was never part of the script. Furthermore, it’s now left him in this bizarre position where he’s more famous in Asia than at home in the UK. “I always thought; first we’d tackle England, and get to a good place, then we’ll go to the other side of the world and try to make it happen,” Askew adds. “Obviously, it’s already happened there, so it’s all gone a bit backwards, I’ve broken over there, but now I just need to break over here.”
Askew is heading out to Thailand next year for his debut show in Asia, and he’s already excited to revel in the superstar welcome he’s expecting to arrive at the airport: “When I get spotted on the streets, it’s rare, but when I go there, I’ll get dropped into this craziness, and I’ll eat it up. I’ll absolutely love it, there’s no way I won’t, but it will be fucking weird,” he reflects with a smile.
A fundamental part of Askew’s appeal is how his tracks bounce around from genres across a smorgasbord of different sounds — and don’t expect him to change anytime soon, with the singer telling Far Out he’d get “bored so quick” of any sound if he had to stick to it religiously. He tells me how he can go from listening to Nirvana to Juice WRLD to Justin Bieber, and Askew wants his body of work to reflect his eclectic taste.
Although Askew isn’t in a dash to release his first album, an imminent release seems unlikely, as he maintains: “You only get your debut album once”. Instead, he’s going to carry on chipping away with singles relentlessly until the anticipation becomes a cultural talking point, and he feels like he’s personally ready to release a masterpiece. By his admission, he’s not quite at the level he wants to be yet artistically.
“I want to be number one in the world,” Askew says with a hand on his chest. “A lot of people are afraid to say it, but I want to be number one. I fucking believe that will happen if I put my heart and soul into this shit. You’ve got to speak this shit into existence.”
Askew isn’t worried about coming across as overconfident, and continues: “I’ve been confident my whole life; if I don’t make it, then yeah, I’ll look like a dick, but it’ll only be because I didn’t push myself enough.”
Gen-Z have a relentless hustler mentality, and Askew is the physical embodiment of that. While the artist has set himself high expectations for what he wants to achieve, Askew doesn’t believe it will happen if he doesn’t pour blood, sweat, and tears into chasing the tail of his dream.
Whether he becomes the most prominent artist in the world is another matter, Askew isn’t the first young musician who’s dreamt of seeing his name in lights on Times Square. One thing for sure is that the driven 20-year-old will throw every punch he can at making this a reality, and his destination won’t depend on a lack of trying.