The South-London vocalist chats about the release of his debut EP 'Vibe In The Winter', the importance of creating something that you haven't heard before and becoming more personal in his music.
You recently released your debut EP ‘Vibe In The Winter’, how does it feel to have your first project out and how has the response been?
Feels like a big weight’s been let off my shoulders. Putting the work and time in to create it and then waiting on the sideline was probably the hardest part; the wait was hard. As much a blessing it is, it’s also like they can finally have it now. The response from the tape has been good. For me, I prefer when people come back after a while, pop up out of nowhere and tell me the music is actually cold and that’s been the case a lot of the time. A lot of the times people listen to a song maybe three or four times, put it in their playlist and then brush it. So, when someone comes back and gives me a reaction a month or two down the line, in my head it's like - rah, so we actually created that vibe.
What were the main inspirations both sonically and conceptually for the EP?
I wanted to create a timeless body of work that was the main thing. I was listening to ‘So Far Gone’ and ‘Trapsoul’ a lot while I was writing this tape. When you look at how much both artists have grown over their careers.. how much music they’ve released since their first projects; and I’m still here listening to songs from like ten years ago. I wanted that to be me. Looking ahead more than anything I wanted something that was gonna sit and resonate forever. Over time people will look back on the journey and see what we did back then when we’re wherever we are ten years from now. They’ll be able to see how much I’ve grown since ‘Vibe In The Winter’ and how much the music has evolved since then. Winter lives forever. so with that this vibe is gonna live forever.
How was the process of creating this EP having written it back 2017?
We’ve been planning this project since 0’17. me, sy brxwn and rally. So the late night studio sessions, travelling to wherever just to be in the studio, creating concepts/ideas; it was me and them. We established from day one that winter was always gonna be ours. None of the songs I wrote back then made the tape apart from ‘Sunset’. ‘SOS’ is the only song that I spent a while on. I was sitting on the song for about two years. Coming into a new headspace, writing the other songs, when it came down to finishing that song, I had to accept that I'm a different guy than I was when I was 18/19. I’m 21 now, I gotta keep true to who I am now. I think that's what prevented me from finishing it two years ago. When you get a beat like that, it requires you to go all in; sort of put your heart on the line. That's something I understand now that I didn’t understand back then.
"Instead of me shying away from real life ... I’m gonna let you know exactly how I’m feeling ..."
Did you see an evolution in your writing once you came back to record the EP?
Yeah for sure. The way I see it, how can I expect a listener to understand or grow with me if I sound the same every single time - rapping from the same perspective I had two years ago. Yeah I’m early in the game but I’m still a normal guy. I go through things just like anyone else. Instead of me shying away from real life to paint the perfect image, I’m gonna let you know exactly how I’m feeling right now. If we’re ever in the same room together we can have a conversation about whichever song touched you the hardest and we can connect on a level deeper than just music.
How important is it for you to remain a storyteller in your music and create an atmosphere within your sound to draw your listeners in?
If I can’t make you feel something when you’re listening to the music, it means I’ve lacked somewhere. I’ve got two to three minutes to tap into somewhere that’s gonna make you feel a type of way. You might text your ex you might text your next you might get up and grind, whatever it is, I feel like it’s my duty to do that. Like, for someone to sit down and listen to a song that you made.. I think it’s something people take for granted. So if they’re gonna do it with my music I gotta make sure that I create a moment for them. Those “I remember when I first heard that song” type of moments. For me to do that, I’ve got to say something that’s going to make you feel that way or create a vibe in the air that you feel you need to feel again.
How was creating throughout the pandemic, for you?
For me, the first pandemic was a blessing in disguise. My pen had been down for a year, I wasn’t making music so going into it I was ready. I just locked in and got to it. There were some moments where it was hard but from those moments songs like ‘Wintro’ came alive. I just took the good with the bad and moved, tbh.
"The music is a lot more personal now. I’m catering to myself more than anything ..."
Is there a track on the EP that you feel best captures the overall tone of the project?
‘SOS’ is probably the song that captures the tone the best. You look at all the words that connate or relate to winter and that song encapsulates all of that. The beat creates that cold, lonely atmosphere while the words convey the feeling that comes with living in that atmosphere. The beat is what makes the song what it is and that’s all down to sy.
I think the sounds matured a lot. But I think that’s come from me growing up and experiencing life. The music is a lot more personal now. I’m catering to myself more than anything now. And for me, that’s where I’m in my element. I’m not too worried about what people want. If you’re relating to someone then you’re already giving them what they want cause everybody wants to feel like someone understands them.
How was creating the visual for ‘Nana’ and how important is that visual aspect to your music?
I look at visuals like an extension of the song. If the visual doesn’t fit the song you could ruin the whole experience for the listener. That’s probably why I haven’t done too many yet. It’s like being in the booth all over again. You’ve got to create something that people are gonna look at and think “yeah it makes sense”. With ‘Nana’ the blue and red colour scheme was our sort of way of trying to tie the vibe of the song with the visual.
"The beats I gravitate to most are the ones that always have a question mark around them. Part of it is also that I wanna create a vibe that you ain’t heard before. "
Do you have plans to release any future visuals for ‘Vibe In The Winter’?
I’ll definitely create visuals for ‘Vibe In The Winter’ though. Like I said, winter lives forever so forever could be now or later.
How important is it for you to create without feeling confined to any genre boundaries?
I don’t really look too into what sounds like what or what genre it is supposed to be in. I literally just hear the beat and do what I do. The beats I gravitate to most are the ones that always have a question mark around them. Part of it is also that I wanna create a vibe that you ain’t heard before.
How do you go about bringing in a range of influences whilst maintaining an authentic sound?
Thats a good question. I listen to music then have a conversation with the song. Whatever their rapping about I’ll take the topic and relate it to my personal experiences or if they’re singing I'll create melodies, harmonies off of what they’re doing. There's not one answer, you just gotta be in the studio with me to experience it. But I’m grateful to have sy brxwn who can convey my feelings into beats which match what I’m trying to do or push me to go harder.
Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?
Anyone that was on Channel U while I was growing up to be honest. Saying that I think N-Dubz were the ones who I first heard and thought, I wanna do this. Now anyone who’s in their own lane or doing they’re own ting inspires me most.
If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would you choose?
What’s coming up for 2021?
2021 just more music.. literally