Everyone knows that when traveling to new places, the best spots to visit aren’t the ones easily found on the web. It’s all about local favourites – those true hidden gems that make the place unique for its own inhabitants. In our new Hometown Hotspots series, we’re catching up with musicians around the world to find those gems on a personal tour through their own cities.
In 2020, UK singer-songwriter Will Joseph Cook released the infectious “Be Around Me” that achieved TikTok virality last year, racking up well over 1.2 million views. Known for his catchy and quirky musical tastes, vocals, and personal style, Cook is undoubtedly one of the UK’s brightest talents, having landed his first record deal at the age of 17 and subsequently releasing his debut album Sweet Dreamer in 2017.
Earlier this year, Cook gave us the moody ballad “4AM,” and more recently has announced that his upcoming album Every Single Thing will be released on May 20th. He also gifted us with a new single titled “Little Miss” that is inspired by the nostalgic jazz-pop sound of certain video games. If this is an indication of what to expect with the new album, we’re in for a treat! Make sure you bookmark the Every Single Thing album on your favourite streaming sites now to put a smile back on your face.
In the meantime, we asked Cook to show us around his hometown of London the way he sees it. Join the musical talent as he takes us on a tour of some of his favourite spots in the British capital.
Life In London
Credit: Dominika Gregušová / Pexels
London is a city that offers pretty much everything except the beach. I moved here when I was 18 and am 24 now, and I have to say it definitely takes a while to feel at home here as the city is so large! I feel like even now there are certain parts of the city I have yet to experience. Creatively, London is a great place to link with people. Probably the best thing about it is how all the creative worlds here often merge. People working in fashion, art, film, and music all hang out in the same circles so it’s great for collaborations.
An eatery you’d feel homesick for: Mr. Bao
My favourite place to eat near me is a restaurant called Mr. Bao. It’s a small bao spot that has just doubled in size, as I’m guessing because everyone loves it as much as I do. It’s a chill vibe and is probably the best Asian food you can get in my area. The best places to eat in London definitely aren’t ones that serve ‘British food’. (Laughs) I took my girlfriend for one of our first dates here so we always like coming back to celebrate some good news or something. My favourite dish there is probably the peanut pork belly bao bun and also the golden kimchi there is so good. The song I’m picking is ‘Cool’ by Zack Villere as I discovered his music around the same time.
Your favourite place to perform: Heaven
My favourite venue is probably a club called Heaven in Charing Cross. I did my first big live show there so it’s always got a special place in my heart. I feel like it’s a great venue to catch an artist at as they’re usually in the same position I was—their first proper production with custom lights, screens, etc. One of the best shows I saw here recently was Caroline Polachek so I’m gonna pick her song ‘Pang’ as that was such a great moment in her set.
Your go-to for live music: Roundhouse
Credit: Robert Stainforth / Alamy
A show I’ll never forget is Parcels’ performance at Roundhouse in Camden. Everything about it was perfect—from the emotion on stage and in the crowd, to the art direction and live renditions. A personal highlight of that show was their song ‘IknowhowIfeel’.
Your secret spot for new visitors: Telegraph Hill
Credit: Londonstills.com / Alamy
There’s a small park called Telegraph Hill in my area. It’s not on the map in terms of tourism at all but it’s somewhere I would bring someone. You get sweeping views of the whole city and when the weather's good in spring or summer, the park almost becomes a big social club for all the young people in the area. Just a cool vibe to hang out, smoke and drink. ‘Big Brown Eyes’ by Benny Sings was the last song I was listening to when chilling there.
The one place you hope will always stay the same: Nunhead Cemetery
This is an overgrown old cemetery that is now mostly forest with paths and community gardens dotted throughout it. It’s somewhere I can go in south London that has enough green space to feel like you’re escaping the noise of the city. It smells very different, and all the vegetation reminds me of the countryside in south England where I was raised. I’m gonna pick my song ‘Treat Me Like A Lover’ as the opening line is about how I like going running in cemeteries when I need to clear my head.
Hometown Hotspots is created in collaboration with Secret Signals.
Cover Credit: Bertie Gilbert