Stay Bless is a one man band of sorts. When he's in the studio creating he's often by himself, but when you listen to his records, it's easy to think that he's stationed in a top notch studio surrounded by a variety of band members when really, he's probably just in his bedroom.

Born George Cassavetes in London before moving to live with his American-born father, Stay Bless first came to the attention of most in 2013 with Faded - a cool, love-filled collaboration with Dev Hynes and former Friends frontwoman Samantha Urbani (who also happens to be Dev's girlfriend).

As I picked up my phone to call George, I hadn't really prepared myself for what we were about to embark on. What originally started as something of a rather light discussion about music, be it creating or performing to the various frustrations of the music industry, it quickly turned into something much deeper including physical isolation (something he often refers to in his music) and the usually avoided conversation about mental health; again, something he himself is dealing with on a daily basis. It can be an intense read but it's a conversation that desperately needs to happen more often, and not just in music.

Your In Paradise EP has been out for a little while now. How are you feeling now that it's out and what has the reactions been like so far?

I feel pretty good. With anything that you're working on, there's this process so it takes time from initial inception to getting it out there. So with any creation, you're always quite nervous putting it out and having people react to it because if it's just sat on your computer no one can really judge except you but obviously the end game is to share it with people. I wish I could see people's reactions more, that's why I like playing live as much as I can because that way I get to actually see a reaction in person opposed to just trawling the internet trying to find comments about things. In terms of reaction I'd prefer to see people live and see how they react to it that way more than anything. It's great to have it out but so much of making the music is the creation process that I enjoy so much anyway so having a result is always good but the process of creating I take as much from as when it comes out.

With that being said, I know you had a headline show when the EP was released. Did you get those reactions you hoped for when you performed it and what were your feelings bringing it to the live stage?

It's a double edged sword because a lot of the music I make, it's solo. Even though it's got quite a "band" sound to it or it's not all electronic sounding, which in the studio is alright because I can play all the instruments and layer it up. Obviously when it comes to live, I can't do all of that. A lot of studio projects that people start in their bedrooms. The transition from that to live is obviously always a process, especially now with laptops, I've got my setup at home so it doesn't really cost any money to wake up and make a song. Whereas to play live and have people with me, there's obviously an element of needing some sort of funding for that. To get the kind of sound I want is still a work in process.

There were some technical difficulties with some of the equipment at the show - that's because a lot of the equipment is from my house and not actually meant to be used live, it's mainly for a studio setting. There's still some technical things that need to be ironed out which in turn obviously effect the performance and the way the audience will feel about it and how I will feel about it at the time. In terms of just being in front of people and just playing the songs I wrote in my bedroom, that experience for me is transformative so there definitely a level of frustration when technical things don't go well because I'm trying to get across a certain feeling. If I'm having to deal with computers and things going wrong that takes me out of that and in turn takes the audience out of that. But that's the same with so many artists that get hampered with technical issues. It's like anything, with any show it's very polarizing in the sense that you either feel amazing afterwards or you feel like... utter shit. It's quite an extreme. I get a massive adrenalin rush from it and it's quite polarizing in how I react to that.

I would love to be able to play live more often than I do and I hope to be able to do that in the future; creating the music is one of the things I enjoy most but playing live would be a close second to that. I feel a lot more comfortable... I'm not one to label things, I wouldn't say I've got agoraphobia or anything like that but I don't go to as many shows as I should just because I get quite uncomfortable in big crowds. I can go to busy areas in London because I just freak out so I do feel more comfortable on stage than I would be watching someone on a stage. It's something that I battle with I guess.

Earl Sweatshirt has that album out called I don't like Shit, I don't go outside. Although that's maybe a quite juvenile statement some may see, it definitely spoke to me quite a lot and I'm sure it spoke to a lot of other people - that sentiment stuck with me. At the same time, you can still create and connect with people through music which is what I'm trying to do. I might not necessarily connect with people in a... I don't like going to bars, meeting people in those kinds of respects. With music it's a way of communicating with people, although that's only one way, when it's live it turns into a dialogue as opposed to one way, speaking out to people. Live is very important to me in the aspect of art.

Do you find it difficult translating your music from the studio to the live stage?

I guess it's not simple in the sense that, a lot of the music I've made on the last two EPs, I haven't really held back in that it's not that minimal. The stuff I'm writing now is a lot more minimal for two reasons: one being I actually believe if you can say something with only a few elements than why not try to do that as opposed to saying something using hundreds of elements. I'd much rather get my point across in the simplest kind of way. But also I'm writing more minimal productions just because the transition from being in my studio to live. Obviously a lot of my productions tend to be more guitar based, keyboards, drums then there's a lot of backing vocals whereas when you're just in the studio you can make that over the course of a month and get people to come in if they're featuring on it or going to be playing on it; they can come in when they're free and you have time to do that. When you're playing live you need everyone to be there at the same time, you need to rehearse, there's a lot of work that goes into getting something sounding as great as you want it to sound. I feel like... not that it's not impossible, it's just another element to being a musician.

I've played in friends' bands, I've played keyboard for my friend Gabriel Bruce's band for a few years so I'm used to playing live and the pitfalls of playing live, what can go wrong and those aspects. I don't want to bang on about costs of things but playing live, having people play with you... If I could find a few people that were amazing at their instruments, just sitting around waiting for me to give them the call and they could play for free that would all be very easy but I think musicians should be paid and I would respect Musician Union's minimum payment for artists so for anyone that's in my band, I won't play unless I can pay them what a musician of their calibre should be paid. There's an element that you can DIY stuff when you're in your bedroom or if I was in a band, that would be a little different but because I'm a solo artist, I don't have a band on the journey with me that would play for free, it's very much a solo artist trying to build a band around me to play these shows.

Even though the musicians I play with are my friends that I've met over the years, like I said I'm not going to not pay them... there's a lot of rehearsal that needs to go in. I don't want to just play a straight rendition of what's on record, I want to make the live element be its own beast. To replicate what's on record live right now requires a lot of backing track and I think that tales away a lot of the spontaneity of the live show. What I'm in the process of doing at the moment is rejigging the elements of the show so they're all live but that would strip back a lot of the musical elements that are on record. It's about finding the right balance of being able to play everything live and representing the music and what people like about the recordings. Also trying to make it interesting and different enough while retaining what the song is about with the same sentiment that I wrote it with.

You mentioned that you don't like being in crowded places because they makes you uncomfortable. I've spoken to other musicians who have said that they don't like going to shows because it doesn't give them anything; it doesn't give them any further inspiration. Is that the same with you alongside your "phobia" as it were?

I can understand where people are coming from but I definitely think that I do get inspiration when I do see shows. That's not so much a reason, it is more the logistics - it being crowded, loud... If I could watch a band in isolation, I would go to shows a lot more, it's all the other elements. It's not that I can't do it, if I had to do it, I would. If I can get away with not doing it I do. I want to go to more live things - there are a lot of bands that I do make the effort to go and see, a lot of the music I listen to and interact with doesn't really sound like the music I make, for example. In terms of inspirations, for the last year or so I definitely been getting inspiration from outside of music, whether that's because I'm not listening to the right things, I don't know, but where I am at in my life I'm getting more inspiration from the reality of life around me more than anything else I think, just in terms of what I talk about. A few years ago I was writing songs about a lot of fictional type stories but now I can't ignore certain things that are going on around me. Whether that makes the music unlistenable to some people, I don't know, but I know that I want the music I make to reflect what I'm interested in.

One artist I spoke to is now working in the film industry and they've since said they're much more inspired by that side of things. The comparisons here seem to be quite similar...

Well, I became interested in music through film. I did film at university, I got this crappy Canon camera when I was 13 and was just obsessed with films for years, mostly because of what I grew up on like '80s and '90s Hollywood but my interest diversified from that. Growing up I was listening to a lot of soundtracks and the cinematic feel and soundtracks have always been there for me at the back of my mind. In terms of doing soundtracks, I'm currently working on this little project with a friend and the music is quite different from what Stay Bless sounds like but I'm really enjoying that and enjoying creating music to cues. It gives a bit of structure to the creating process.

Video games have always subconsciously influenced me also but I don't think I ever really thought it. I played a lot of video games growing up and a lot of Nintendo games. There were so many amazing Japanese composers that composed for those games. There was a lot of 8-bit and 16-bit games so many of them were primarily composing electronically - that's been with me for quite a few years. Jon Carpenter, those kind of... Tangerine Dream... New age-y sounding stuff, a lot of pan pipes, I love a good pan pipe! Film influences people because there's a story going on in front of you for an hour and a half and if it's a good story, it's going to make you think and feel things. It's like books, art... that's what art is there for - it's to inspire something in us. In terms of my subject matter and the things I'm thinking and talking about, there's a lot of things that aren't said in music because it's either seen as being unfashionable or a turn off for an audience. I'm not going to get onto a podium and start preaching about politics - at the same time, there's plenty of subject matters that I, as a person want to touch on for example, I suffer from mental health issues and that's something that's not really spoken about that much. No one really wants to touch on that but when someone does like Kendrick Lamar who did it amazingly well... I feel that is too rare in this day and age when an artist that big has the balls to come out and do that. I hope it influences smaller artists to not be afraid to speak up about those kinds of things and not be scared that to will alienate audiences. I think there's so many people out there that suffer from so many of these mental health issues, social unrest, social injustices; a lot of people want escapism. I'll watch a Hollywood film to escape and feel better about everything but at the same time, I'll want to watch a documentary or film that asks a lot more form me as an audience member. I'll want to participate in something and actively have to think about it. There's a lot of things going on around me and I just can't sit back and pretend like everything is fine.

It's still very much a taboo subject in music and life in general really, especially amongst males. Men are usually told to just "man up" and are almost made to believe that it doesn't exist in them when it's a real thing... It's something a lot of people go through.

That's the thing, one can take comfort... well, not necessarily comfort because I don't want to think other people are going through things but you know they are, there's so many people that are going through much worse. There's no antidote that I can see to it. People have spoken about it recently and the late teens of this decade I think will see more and more people rallying against social networking for example. Obviously, the paradox is that to rally against social networking, you're probably going to rally against it on a social network. Like any... I don't want to say "great evil" world conquering thing, a lot of them - not all of them - but a lot of them start out with the best of intentions, the person who invented the nuclear bomb didn't invent it to kill a bunch of people. I can't remember the reason but it wasn't invented for the way it was eventually used. Don't get me wrong, the two things are completely different but what I'm trying to say is, I think what Facebook and the like started trying to do - connect people, made the world seen smaller - I feel that isn't what it's doing.

Most people I speak to - even though they use it - feel like it alienates us even more because on these social networks, as much as they represent "real life" they're not; they're a representation of what we want people to see our real lives as being and most of the time, what we want people to see our real lives as being is a much more rose tinted version of our lives. When we go on them, we see all these people doing all these great things on Instagram etc, most people do it when they wake up and just before you go to sleep so before you go to sleep you're basically seeing what everyone's up to and when you wake up you're seeing what everyone is up to and a lot of the time what everyone is up to seems fucking great! So now we're in this culture where everyone has to look like they're having the best of times, all the time and that to me isn't real, that's not really what those people are doing and who are they having these best of times with? I'll be hanging out with my friends and the best way of getting through to them instead of talking to them is texting them. Or it's the classic where you call someone and they don't pick up, you're like "well, I know they always have their phone out, why aren't they picking up?" I feel more and more alienated by these kind of... avatars of people that make me feel like... I don't know if I know my friends' avatars of know them anymore. Genuinely I spend more time interacting with their online self than I do interacting with them as a real person and I think that's something that people do talk about but I think it's something that we're slowly realising as a population that actually "Oh wait, this is a change but has this change been for the better?" I don't want to be the old man that says "Oh, it was better 20 years ago!" I'm not saying that; I'm not going to move out to the countryside and throw it all away and live this "Island life", I just know there's a lot of people where it doesn't make them happy and in the end, shouldn't we be trying to pursue something approaching happiness?

It reminds me of being in school and liking a band because that's what everyone else liked. I feel like, in so many ways it's so reductionist of who we are as people - the way we've got to interacting in under 140 characters for example.

I noticed in another interview for Wonderland that you mentioned that you didn't listen to much music when you were growing up and that you listened to a lot of soundtracks. What was your first interaction into popular music and who was the first person that caught your eye in that realm?

There were two moments. There was one when I was a bit younger, about 10 or 11 - I hadn't quite made up my mind up on what I liked but my dad bought me a Sony Walkman with a Simply Red album on cassette, the Bodyguard soundtrack, really randomly, I don't even know how he got this but he was really into Ridley Scott and he directed this film called Legends and he got me that on tape, the Top Gun soundtrack; that was massive and a Mariah Carey album. I listened to that stuff and my friends were listening to stuff like Limp Bizkit, Korn... that kind of era of music and I was never really into that. I'd say those were the kind of... first things were I knew the artist existed and this is what musicians made but the first time I culturally got into something and looked at who they were as people, what they looked like was when I was about 13 with The Strokes. That first album, the melodies and everything just appealed to me. I was about 13 or 14 so I was at an age where I was looking outwards to see what was around, who was cool etc and they just stepped up to the plate. That got me into The White Stripes, and that brand of rock. My mum's boyfriend at the time bought me this... in typical "boyfriend that doesn't really know the kid very well" fashion so he got me some HMV vouchers and this massive encyclopaedia A-Z of every band ever basically. I pretty much read that for two years straight from A to Z, listening to the artists on the internet and picking out the ones that I liked. For some reason, from reading that the one's that spoke to me were these kind of West Coast '60s & '70s rock. Some more embarrassing that others: The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Doors... that was a lot of what I was into but then I went to live with my Dad and stepmother in Staten Island in New York, they were from a whole different culture and background than I was so from about 15/16, I started listening to Rap and R&B for the first time - Boyz II Men, Luther Vandross - all these artists I hadn't really been aware of before. There was a certain type of swagger, but not in a Rock n' Roll kind of way, in an attitude that was different from what I had been in to.

Then Eminem's second album The Marshall Mathers LP that was pretty big. I still think Eminem is probably the best rapper in terms of flow. I listen to a lot of rap nowadays and a lot of ambient music. Before that, I was just waiting until the end credits to listen to my favourite songs on the VHS then we'd just take it back. I remember on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, we had the version that had Bryan Adams perhaps with that song that was in the charts for like three years ['(Everything I Do) I Do It for You'] and the music video for it was set in Sherwood Forrest; that music video to this day stays with me, it was kind of ridiculous but it amazed me. It was all quite soft lit, forest mist, Bryan doing his thing, looking into the camera, it got a lot of rewinds. But I moved away from Bryan Adams quite quickly. [Laughs]

You released the Faded EP in 2013 which famously featured Dev Hynes and Samantha Urbani. How did you come to meet and work with them?

I'd known Dev for years, we're friends and he's probably the best guitar player I know. We were all just hanging out and we'd been speaking about doing something together for a while so it was pretty organic; we were hanging out at my house, Samantha was over so I just met her as Dev's girlfriend. We all got on really well, we hung out, one night I just asked her, as I had this part for a girl that she's sound great on so I asked, she came round, Dev came with her so I said "Hey, why don't you plays some guitar on it as well?" Ultimately because the song was about love, I thought it was cool to have them on it. They were a new couple, I liked the idea of a new couple on it; it was something of a snapshot in time, it makes the song in a certain way for me but I quite like that idea. I'd just came out of a relationship, started the song at the end of a shitty relationship and then a few months later the people that guest on it were a new couple; I liked the idea of that. It seemed like a cool fit. I remember Samantha recorded her vocals on the back of Dev, like he gave her a piggy back while she recorded the vocal, I'm not quite sure why though. But Dev is a great guitarist; if I could have play him on every song I would. He's a great songwriter as well and he's not the most technically proficient guitarists I know but he's one of the few guitarists I know that can speak through their guitar like it was their voice which I think is amazing, only a few people can do that. He really knows how to express his emotions, especially when he's performing live.

On the In Paradise EP, one of the two collaborators is Grime MC Trim. How on earth did that happen? That seems like such a bizarre feature.

Yeah, a lot of people thought that was bizarre. I never thought it was bizarre because I've always liked Grime. I've listened to it for the past 10 years and my favourite Grime artist was Trim. One day I was like "Well, I've got this space in a song for a rapper and I want to have a rapper," Before I was doing Stay Bless, I was doing a lot of production based things that were a lot more rap indebted; 90 beats per minutes, slower rap beats. You say it's weird but a lot of what Trim does - obviously he has a more "Don't fuck with me, I'm a road man" type side - but also when you listen to some of his songs, he's a lot more emotionally honest with that and I thought it would be interesting to have... I like the idea that he would be able to incorporate this tough delivery but what he would be saying would be more emotional and that he has another side. I emailed him and said "What do you think?" He emailed back within like five minutes and he was like "Hey, Pop's not really my thing but I really like the section you want me to rap on." We arranged to meet up, met, smoked some weed together and got on really well. He hang around for like five hours and we did the verse. Although his life and what he's come from is obviously so different from mine, I didn't do it in a way to be a cultural tourist or anything like that, I genuinely just love what he does and felt that there was a space that he could fit.

I'm sure we disagree on a lot of things but I felt there was an area where both of us could come together and thought it would be a cool thing to do. A few people were like "Oh, I don't think that will work..." and I said "Look, I've only been sure of a few things in my life and this is one of the things that I'm 100% sure of!" I had it in my head, I liked him and I wanted to see what would happen. I've always wanted to produce tracks for rappers and I thought it would be an interesting way for someone to hear Trim that's not the way you would normally hear him.

I remember a few people playing it on the radio saying "I don't quite know what to think of this..." With my music, like my personality you never know what's going to alienate people, you never know what's going to "work" but at the same time, you have to just trust in your vision and in what you're trying to achieve. You used to get a lot of artists in interviews like "Oh, I don't care, I make music for myself not for anyone else, if anyone else likes it, that's a bonus!" I'm not saying that but it's more... you get to a stage where you have to stop thinking about what other people are going to think because otherwise you just lose who you are, you lose what you are as an artist. Part of being an artist is following whatever voice inside your head even if it sounds crazy to other people, you have to follow through with that. That's what I take a lot of those people have been saying was more just kind of, in the end I have to bring it down to making it for myself otherwise where will I end up? Who will I end up making music for? What will I be doing it for? As much as anyone can, you should try to get some sort of fulfilment out of the art that you make. There's a bit of fearlessness in that respect. Too many artists I feel are scared; scared of not succeeding, scared of not keeping the music labels happy, just scared, like a lot of the industry and a lot of industries in general, there's a lot of people that just basically want their pay check and just want a decent life which is fair enough but that's not the path I'm on.

The EP is entitled In Paradise. What was the reason for the title and is there a reason why each track is just one word?

It's called In Paradise from the phrase "... another day in Paradise" which has a lot of meanings but obviously you can read it as its original meaning of "Oh, great just another rubbish day on this earth." Obviously, in paradise in that kind of way it means the earth or the world. Life can be so amazing as well so it can be read as "another great day in this amazing world we live in." It's trying to reflect the highs and lows of life and I just felt it fit with the music because we all want to live to the extreme especially in this day and age, and live this crazy life that all these people are doing so there's that element but then there's also the mundanity of life - wake up, take a shower - just the everyday, day-to-day life things that people have to do that can wind you down.

The reason because they're all one word - that was keeping with the theme of the first EP. I'm not sure why I used one word, but I think it was my idea of trying to keep things minimal, or trying to boil down what the song was about into one word. I'm a guy of extremes so if I didn't do that, I'd end up with Sufjan Stevens-style paragraphs for song titles or like Fiona Apple style with lots of "..." because you wouldn't be able to fit it all in. I think that was the reasons behind it. Technically, if you count the features it's three or four words. [Laughs] There's also a certain type of theatrically to having one word - think Madonna, Seal - there's something quite dramatic and, like me, slightly camp about it. The front cover has a painting of me; there's a certain level of theatricality behind it.

Where does the name Stay Bless come from? What was the idea behind it?

The way I came across it, I'd been living in Hackney, then I moved to the Old Street area so I've been living in the east London area for eight years and I used to hear it around as a sign off. Not among my friends but people I'd see in the street, I hear "See you later, stay bless." I made a song under my old band name years ago and I called the song 'Stay Bless' I don't know why but I just really liked the sentiment of that. As much as I speak about the woes of life, I want my music to be uplifting, I want it to tell a story and present to you the side of life that might not be enjoyable; depression, breaking up with someone but then I also want, at the end of that, an uplift like we're still alive and there's so much beauty and great things we can achieve and experience so don't forget that. The fact that people used it as a way to say goodbye, I quite liked the idea of it being a sign off. I'm into a lot of soul and gospel music - not for its Christian religious subtext - but more for the raw musicality. I'm not Christian and it might be hinting at some sort of religious element but only in the sense of if you go into any church and they're singing or celebrating their good, usually there's a great feeling in that room - that you're there and with all those people, there's something greater than you at work. You feel that uplift at work; there was a hint of that too.

You've also been working on a remix EP to accompany the original, right?

Yeah! Pale did a remix and Justin Robertson has done an acid house one so that's pretty cool because I really like the remixes that have been done. Pale I think are an amazing band, they're great friends of mine. Although the remix doesn't sound like what Pale sounds like, it's got a lot of elements that they do sound like. I just didn't want them not to be heard because so many remixes just fall through the cracks, I just felt they were really good songs in their own right and I find myself listening to them. I've heard to the originals so many times whist making them that I can't enjoy them whereas I can listen to the remix and enjoy them so I thought they should be put out. I don't want them just to be put on Soundcloud without anyone having heard them.

What would you like you musical legacy to be?

I don't think I'd ever stop until I die to be honest. It's not something that I do as a profession in the sense that I'm doing this regardless of what the outcome may be. I've been doing it for years and I can't not do it. I'm not quite sure how I'd want to be remembered, it's quite a difficult question to answer without sounding quite up your own arse like "Oh, I want to be remembered like Frank Sinatra and I did it my way." I guess I won't have to be remembered because they can just go online or whatever the internet is then and just find my music and listen to it. I think people can just listen to my music and just remember me that way, I guess. I don't know how I'd want to be remembered in general! There's obviously how I'd like to be remembered then there's how people will actually remember you; if you're a dick then they'll remember you for being a dick. To be remembered is how I want to be remembered. To be remembered in some way.

Stay Bless' In Paradise EP is out now.