Belouis Some talks about his career and return to music

Best known for international hits, “Imagination” and “Some People”, British singer-songwriter and musician Belouis Some (Neville Keighley) is returning to US stages for the first time since 1988. He’ll be embarking on a tour with The Alarm and Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel starting May 1 (UPDATE – on 4/29 it was announced that the tour is postponed, as The Alarm’s Mike Peters discovered that his cancer has returned.)

Keighley put out his first release, “Lose It to You”, in 1981 under the name Nevil Rowe. He began performing as Belouis Some the following year, and put out the single “Target Practice” in 1984. “Imagination” was the first single from Belouis Some’s 1985 album “Some People.” The music video for “Imagination,” directed by Storm Thorgerson, was initially barred from MTV due to its nudity. However, it could still be seen in various venues, such as clubs and on Cinemax’s ‘The Max Headroom Show.” An alternate version was created for mainstream television, and his next single, “Some People,” had a much more broadcast-friendly video (also directed by Thorgerson.) Belouis Some was one of several artists of the time to have sponsorship deals with Swatch, and the “Some People” video served as the basis for a TV commercial.

Belouis Some contributed the song “Round, Round” to the Pretty In Pink soundtrack (1986), and in 1988 released a second, self-titled album. Singles from that album, “Let It Be with You” and “Animal Magic,” found success in the US dance charts.

The 1990s proved to be a difficult time musically for Belouis Some. His 1993 album, “Living Your Life”, saw only a limited release, and he ended up stepping away from the music industry to focus on other ventures. It wasn’t until 2019 that he began performing again, taking part in 80s-oriented festivals.

Over a Zoom interview, Belouis Some discussed his career and the upcoming tour.

You have an upcoming tour of America. Is this the first time you’ve done a US tour since you got back into music?

Belious Some: Yeah, the first time since… You’re not going to believe this, I last went out in 1988. It was with a fantastic band that Carmine Roja put together for me with Alan Childs and Doug Worthington and everyone. We had a great time, but I haven’t been out on the road in the States since then.

Having done shows in Europe in recent years, will your approach to a set list differ at all for the US audience?

Belious Some: I’ve hardly done anything in Europe. I did a few festivals in 2019. I mean, basically what happened was the nineties came, and they were horrible for me. I made a great album in ‘93, and I was really proud of it. And, being really blunt, I couldn’t get arrested, and I wasn’t going to carry on being one of those musicians trying to make it happen, trying to make it happen. And so I just disappeared from the music industry and went into business and opened a nightclub and a restaurant, and then I started a film company.

I’ve got two young kids now, and basically, I did nothing until I got a phone call. I mean, my kids didn’t even know I was a singer. Everyone else knew. And ‘Imagination’ in particular in Europe was always considered to be one of those classics. But my little one was about six, and she came to me and said, “They say you are a singer, daddy, is this you on YouTube?” And I was large and not looking like a singer at all. And then I got a phone call in 2018 saying, “Do you want to do summer festivals?”

Was there any hesitation going back?

Belious Some: I’d seen all my contemporaries going back into the business. A lot of eighties bands really had a horrible time in the nineties and then crept back in. Unless you were really big, the nineties were just horrible for a lot of us. I think I’m saying it as it is, unless you were really superstar-level, it was really difficult.

So when I was asked if I wanted to do festivals, it was really easy. I just turned up and sang two songs, and then I thought, “This is great. I’m going to go back on the road, I’m going to start making phone calls.” I did, and guess what happened? 2020 happened, and the entire world was locked down for two years, which in music business terms is four years. And it set me back. So I am really, really happy now to be going back on the road.

What is your approach to putting a set list together now, given that there’s been time since the music initially came out? Obviously, there are the hits you need to include – has perhaps feedback from newer fans who’ve discovered you online had any influence?

Belious Some: With this particular tour, I’m one of three bands. I’m going on at the beginning. One has to be realistic. I’m hitting the set with just what I would say were all singles. Anyone who does know Belious Some doesn’t know whether I’m still alive, whether I can stand up, whether I can… So, it’s just eight songs going full speed. There’s no chance for me to be a little indulgent. But if I’m able to come back on the road later in the year or next year, then I’ll be able to build on the set and put some more creative stuff in, I think.

In your time away from the business, were you doing music?  Were you doing any writing?

Belious Some: Well, I know you’re going to think this is a bit strange, but what happened was I did actually and completely forget about it until about two years ago. I actually recorded all the demos for a fourth album, which was much rockier, much more along the lines than I’d originally wanted some stuff to be. And so I recorded 11 songs, and they were great, and I was really happy with them. And then something must have happened that made me go, ‘you know what? I’m not going to try going around to record companies. I’m not going to do this again.’ And I completely forgot about them. And in fact, I threw all the tapes away, but I found one CD. I was going through my lockups and I found the CD of one copy of them. So I’ve got the songs, and I listened to them and I really love the songs. I would like to do them again properly.

I wasn’t familiar with your third album, as it didn’t get as wide of the release, but listening to stuff on YouTube, I think it’s really good. What was that experience like at the time? Why didn’t it get wide release?

Belious Some: Well, again, this is 1993. I got the record deal in 1991 in full Brit Pop and Summer of Love, everyone dancing crazy to their E, summer and groovy, groovy, groovy. And I’m not like that at all. So I took what I’d learned with Steve Thompson and everyone in New York, the two albums I did in New York with those great musicians. And we went into a studio in London and we took what we learned and we made the album. I think it’s a great album. The problem was, it was on BMG. Again, the politics of records; BMG Germany made a big fuss about it, but BMG UK didn’t want to know because I wasn’t there signing, blah blah, blah. And then, the album’s never been put up on Spotify or Apple, which really makes me very angry. I had a legal wrangle with some people about six years ago. I mean, I want the album to come out, and every two years I write an email saying, ‘Hey, you promised to put the album out.’ They haven’t, I will have another go this summer. If not, I’ll re-record it.

You’ve worked with a lot of interesting people. In my mind Carlos Alomar really stands out. Are there any collaborators who particularly stand out in your mind? Either people you were excited to work with or people that you feel had strong influences on the way your sound evolved?

Belious Some: Do you know what? I was really excited to work with every single person I ever worked with. I was lucky because I’m a solo artist, I could sort of not work with them, if you know what I mean. This is why it never worked for me whenever I tried being in a band, I knew what I wanted, and I was a bit headstrong.

I was really into the people I was working with. Obviously, Carlos played a massive part because he got involved in every aspect of everything I did. And Guy Fletcher, who you might know from his work with Mark Knopfler. I was close to him, and Chester Kamen—these are people I worked with for many years on everything. So they did other stuff, but they were a massive influence on me. Geoff Dugmore, as I said, Carmine. I was lucky, but I didn’t feel like I was the junior partner with these amazing people. I didn’t feel humbled by them in any way, other than I respect what they’ve done. But I came in with my own ideas.

Early in your career, with music videos and being on a big movie soundtrack and in a Swatch commercial, it seems like you really took advantage of all of the big ways to promote music at the time. Was that a conscious effort to use different avenues to reach audiences?

Belious Some: Well, the other thing is that being a solo artist, you have to think outside the box a little. Because I didn’t have a band—there weren’t five of us, where we could just get in a van and play for nothing. To get my record deal, I had to put a band together, I had to borrow money. It was a really exciting time in the ‘80s. Every month, something new was happening and so much was condensed into a few years. I remember having a fantastic conversation with George Michael when Wham! was number one everywhere. George said to me…. I was in awe of him. I hadn’t had a hit. I was sitting there in a bar at his table having a drink with him. I was humbled by him and he said, “Right, what you are going to do is you’ve got to plan ahead.” And I’m thinking, “Plan ahead? I don’t even know what’s going to happen tomorrow.” And I always remembered that.

So yeah, the thing about the Swatch commercial, I don’t think anyone had done a music video that was also a TV commercial. Swatch was revolutionary. Swatch meant you could go out with your 20 bucks and buy a watch that worked, that was waterproof. And so it just changed everything. So I was really excited by it; of course, I grabbed the opportunity to do the commercial, and they put some money towards the ‘Some People’ video as well, you see. So it was common sense, and I seem to remember Playboy put money towards the ‘Imagination’ video as well. I think it’s quite a good idea to find someone to put up some money to go into production values.

You mentioned how the nineties were a bad time for a lot of artists who emerged in the eighties. What are your thoughts on the current perception of eighties music and the response based on your interactions with people?

Belious Some: Well, my view is always that in the eighties we were doing great stuff. The record companies that were making so much money, certainly in England. And I made sure I tied myself in very much with Capital as well in LA, right from the beginning. I knew if I wanted to be successful, I had to be successful in America. So I included them in everything I did. But from an English point of view, I was signed in England. So they spent the money. “We’ve signed you, don’t come back until you’ve got hits.” And the money was never really a major problem. Whereas now you’ve got your minor, tiny budget and whatever, but then it was just literally, “Do something creative, record something.”

I recorded “Imagination,” what, three, four times with different people in different ways until I got it right in New York with Steve Thompson and Carlos and all that. So we were all being very creative, and the fashion was really creative, everyone was very enlightened sexually. Obviously, in the mid-eighties, it all went horribly wrong, with HIV. But it was an incredibly exciting time. So I knew the songs would last, and they have. And of course then there were the nineties; I never understood the nineties music. I never understood Britpop because Britpop was just second-rate sixties music for me. It was sort of Beatles melodies without being any good. They weren’t original. So it just did nothing for me. And then it got more interesting in the beginning of the 2000s. And then of course now it’s 11 songwriters, all at a computer and AI, and they’re all just trying to have a chart position or whatever, or get it on YouTube. I don’t know what they’re trying to do. So I think every year there’s half a dozen great tracks, but it’s so much more than just songs now, isn’t it? It’s visual, it’s social media, it’s TikTok.

Do you ever think about what it would be like if you were emerging today with all the differences in the industry and the rise of social media?

Belious Some: I would be on OnlyFans, and I would work social media like crazy. I mean, I’m joking about the OnlyFans, but you know what I mean—you’ve got to use social media, TikTok. In some ways, I like social media—I mean, I love Instagram, and how you can go out with no money and make something happen on YouTube..

Are there any particular songs that your opinion of has changed over the years? Perhaps seeing them in a different light, performing them live? Or because of the production techniques and styles of the time they were recorded in?

Belious Some: I think songs come in and out of favor. I’ve noticed this with myself—I never understood why my favorite artists didn’t play what I considered their greatest songs. Then, on another tour, they would play them. And I think I understand that now. I listen to songs I hadn’t listened to for 20, 30 years now. And I go, “Wow, that’s a great song.” And I must’ve loved it at the time and then gone off it, hated the mix, didn’t like the production. But I’m not listening to that now. I’m listening to the song. And so yes, it’s happened quite a lot, and it’s happened quite a lot in the last two or three months since the tour was planned. I’ve sort of been listening to songs. I’m thinking, “You know what? I must have had some great ideas when I did that, but maybe it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.”

You mentioned the fourth album you had been working on. Do you have any plans to put out new music anytime in the foreseeable future?

Belious Some: No, it’s a lot of emotional stress and a lot of work to do it properly. I’m not going to just do it willy-nilly. I’m going to do it properly. And if I’m going to do an album properly, I want people to listen to it. So I’m not going through that turmoil if there’s no end result. So at the moment, I’m not going to do it. But if everything goes well and people are interested and people show interest, then I know I’ll get the bug. It doesn’t take much to stir me up, if you know what I mean.

See the full list of tour dates here. For more info on Belious Some, visit