In December 2007, Envy & Other Sins won the indie talent competition Unsigned Act on Channel 4. A few weeks earlier, they had been interviewed by judges Alex James, Jo Whiley and Simon Gavin, and chucked off the programme because they didn't show enough desire to win - though this was because they couldn't work out what the competition was leading towards, and asking of them. The public got a chance to vote them back in, and Envy & Other Sins went on to win. In retrospect, they may have been right to be unsure during those early stages: elitist magazines turned up their nose at the 'sub-X Factor talent show' winners, in some cases before they had even heard any of their music, and then the deal with Polydor proved less ideal than the band had thought. However, 2008 was a successful year of gigging and building a fanbase of people who knew a good tune when they heard it. Their infectious but intelligent pop music went down well at festivals and gigs across the country, and they had their album, We Leave At Dawn, on the shelves in March (I'm sure it's still available). Their unique dedication to keeping in contact with their fans went down well too. Now, their singer and guitarist Ali M Forbes is on leave from the band to write some solo music with xylophones and other unusual instruments. His first demo, 'Under Her Sails', is a promising taster of what's to come, and can be heard on his MySpace page. He took time out from his busy schedule to answer some quickfire questions. Describe yourself and your music in 10 words. Guy with beard sings songs, plenty instruments, sort of folk/electro. What do you enjoy most about making music? Mucking around with instruments that I've bought off eBay. Who is your favourite and least favourite current artist? Probably The Flaming Lips or Fleet Foxes - any band beginning with a 'fl'. Every time I think of Lady Gaga I feel strangely empty. Who is your all time favourite artist? Bob Dylan What is the inspiration for most of your music? The sum of my experiences. Are you intending to keep the Envy & Other Sins upper-class gentlemen image as a solo artist? I don't know about 'upper-class' but I'm not about to start wearing tracksuits and being obnoxious to people. Who else is going to be involved in your solo work (if anyone)? A fairly loose-knit collective, some or all Envy members plus violin plus whoever else is up for it. The intention is for it to work well live whether it's just me or 15 people on stage - I'm currently on the lookout for a dedicated glockenspiel player... If you weren't in music, what would you do with your time? I'd be a mountaineer. What are your plans for the future? Write great music, record great music, play great music to people. Ali is playing Rough Sketch at the 333motherbar in London on the 19th May. Tickets are available on the night and it starts at 8:00. Also playing that night are Just For Kicks, The Babysteps and Caimbo. If you're in the area, it should be a great night out, and it only costs £5. More details can be found here. Ali also plays Island Bar in Birmingham on the 22nd May with Tantrums and The Traps, for only £2, also starting at 8pm.