Rationale is currently poised on the verge of something really special - not that you'd guess from his humble demeanor.

With a small string of singles under his belt, he set the Hype Machine a light, found his singles playlisted on Radio 1, and sold out both the Village Underground and Scala in the space of a month. Not bad for an artist yet to release an album. We met up with the young Zimbabwe-born talent to discuss his genre-spanning career to date.

Rationale is defined as "a set of reasons or a logical basis for a course of action or belief" - do you feel like this project is a form of catharsis and explanation of your life?

There's a story behind the name. I got to a really bad time in my life about 5 years ago and I ended up working in this call centre, phoning people up and asking for donations. The one thing I'll always remember was that they give you this speech which ran through awhole series of stages, one of which was called 'The Rationale'. It was the point where you explained the cause that they would be helping. I quit after a couple of days as I wanted to make music; it was the only thing that made me feel like I was actually alive. I'm a small, slightly odd looking human being and doing this is the only thing which made me find and reasoning and meaning. I connected this back to 'The Rationale'.

There's not a much information about you online: is that a deliberate thing to try and keep your personal life personal?

I love Dave Grohl, but that doesn't meant I want to know what he does in his personal life, and why he does it. I spent a lot of my life trying to make music for different reasons, and not in a very centred way; I've stumbled upon something that makes me really happy and I want to put that out there ahead of anything else.

You were born in Zimbabwe before you later moved to London, what effect did this have on your songwriting and influences?

There's always been an afro-pop tinge to things I've done in the past. I like a lot of African musicians, people like Thomas Mapfumo, who is an amazing guitarist and vocalist. These people have taught me to write and sing differently. Then my upbringing is really different. Most of my friends are English and grew up in Hackney and Stoke Newington, so I'm used to that scene too. To be honest with you, my biggest influence is probably my mum - she's a pillar in my life, a single parent with a stubbornness to get by in uncertain circumstances.

Tracks like 'Fuel to the Fire' seem to be steeped in religious and political connotations - do you find that these themes play a major part in your songwriting?

I wake up in the morning, pop on the news and think, "my god, what the hell is going on." I just wanted to start a conversation on this. 'Fuel To the Fire' has lots of those these references. "Gone are the days of virtue and honor. Rights that we fought for, burn down the wall. Let it never be said that we truly learned from darker days." That was the truest that I think I've been for quite a while. I've got a history of writing pop records for different people, but for this project I wanted to really say something

Do you ever worry about putting too much of yourself out there?

Sometimes I do as most of what I write about is my friends and situations I've been in. I've got a small circle of friends who are generally pretty cool. I remember my mum getting upset about a statement I wrote about having a hard time and being thrown out of the house when I tried to tell her that I wanted to do music for a living, but she can only be proud of what's happening now and that lots of people are turning up to see this thing now. The bottom line is that music is an art and it should be pushed to its limit and done with true sincerity

I caught your live show at Village Underground last month - the reaction you got from the audience was impressive. How important is delivering those live performances for you, and are you still shocked by how many people are turning up to these shows?

Drake has this interesting energy about always moving forward and putting all your energy into doing good things. I don't want to keep being shocked that people are turning up to my shows - people are turning up to my shows and what I need to do is to just keep giving them good music. I think I've reached that cusp where - it's not that I'm used to it - but I need to continue that and to give people an experience.

Do you still get nervous before performing?

Of course man. If that ever went away I think it would be a sad state of affairs. It's good energy! You take that nervousness and fire it back into the whites of the eyes of the people who are watching you.

You performed on Jools Holland the other day - sharing the stage with established artists like Beverly Knight and Underworld - that must have been especially nerve-racking?

That was the most nervous I've ever been before performing, as everyone I know was watching - but you know what, this is bucket list stuff and I can only be happy about that.

You've had an amazing amount of support, not just from the big sites and Radio 1, but from the music blogging community - were you surprised by how these people seemed to relate to your music?

I like to think that I know that world, so when I put 'Fast Lane' out and it caught on really well it was amazing. Getting admiration and respect from these blogs that you know hear so much music and have good taste feels really good.

Your videos are really striking visually, using contrasting colours. Is the image element of this project important to you?

We work so hard to make the videos feel like they represent the music, not necessarily me. I hope when you listen to me it evokes a story behind the music and the subject matter of the lyrics, not necessarily the person behind it. We try to choose colours and imagery which is otherworldly and hasn't been done before.

The video for 'Fast Lane' is really interesting - can you talk me through the meaning behind that?

I didn't want to be in that video, I wanted to tell the story of that song which I wrote when I was really pissed off with life. We had a little more budget on it so we were able to go a little further out on it. We wanted to paint a picture of frustration.

Your friends make your videos and you do a lot of your own production - is it important to keep as much of this project as close to home as possible?

With Best Laid Plans - the label I signed with initially - we are a team, from management to production and every other element, and it's important for me to try my best to keep that. With some acts I've seen there are a lot of people involved and your initial concept isn't what ends up coming out. If that doesn't connect with people then that ends up being your fault.

What are your plans for the rest of 2016? Can we expect the album by the end of the year?

I'm playing a hell of a lot of festivals this summer including a headline tour across the States which is selling really well. I am definitely aiming for this year for the album and that's my main focus right now - to get that out and to play in front of as many people as possible.