North-West London's imaginative-lyricist speaks on the release of his debut project 'BRUCE', his love for London's tight-knit music community and taking his listeners on a journey.
What were the inspirations for your single ‘BRUCE’?
'BRUCE' talks of defiance - it talks of issues that can be left unspoken sometimes. It’s result of navigating systemic racial prejudice, it’s a result of me latching on to a figure for inspiration where there isn’t really anyone of yellow skin that is heralded within this western-world that we are living through. It’s about unbinding stereotypes. Creating your own atmosphere. The song talks about a lot. Essentially, it’s about weeding out bad seeds whether dished out by Monsanto or implanted through fear-mongering propaganda. 'BRUCE' talks of being fluid - moving into space.
How was the process of working on this upcoming mixtape?
The process has been very meticulous! Some of these tracks have been growing for years - and sometimes the universe requires you to be patience so to finally see this project flourish brings tears of joy… like a proud auntie.
What themes did you want to explore within the project?
The themes are themes that I’ve lived through - it’s my story I guess. Loss, love, lethargy, life, lunar charged lucid dreams, dragons, dismissing dickheads, driving forward through the Babylonian bullshit in the banged out Chariot of truth and righteousness with my donnies… partially on my own as well ‘cos you have to to travel on your ones sometimes to really live out your story.
"... lockdown for me has been fruitful you know, I’ve been self producing some stuff that’ll be out in the future ..."
How does this project differ or show an evolution from your previous work?
Hmm this project is almost my debut, I have a REALLY old mixtape out there which is very vintage lol it’s like 10 years old now, but it’s golden you know, that old stuff bangs and when you're so youthful it’s got an innocence to it that resonates - a carelessness; and to blow my own trumpet it’s still fucking hard lyrically. But in response it’s the same but different ;)
Last year, you released a string of singles - how was creating during lockdown?
I wonder how people are going to bear if and when it’s lifted - it’s almost like there’s a comfortability to this all - like ‘fuck it the world's fucked out there’. You have no options to consider doing anything crazy… creating during lockdown for me has been fruitful you know, I’ve been self producing some stuff that’ll be out in the future and yeah - it’s alright, but as an artist you need fuel for your fire. Staring at a screen for eons ain’t gonna produce anything that’s pushing boundaries you know…
How did your collaboration with The Silhouettes Project come about for your track ‘Eucalyptus’?
Yes, yes and yes BIG UP the ROOT 73 gang that’s my peoples, I’ve seen the thing grow from since it was a seedling so huge amount of love to everyone there. They did an amazing job at creating a unique project and pairing producers/artists that were unaware of each other prior to the album, and getting them to collaborate. If you haven’t deeped the project it’s well worth a listen. Hang tight Jkarri on production for 'Eucalyptus' as well and ROOT for linking us together me and Jkarri have some stuff marinading still!
"we are like the mycelium of fungus all interconnected and helping push each others growth ..."
How important are creative communities to the underground scene, especially during this time?
COMMUNITY!!! and that being said, creative community serves an important role, you bounce off people. You need reference points in life - you need two dots to calculate the distance in-between. Add more and more and you can triangulate yourself. Also to be encouraged, and furthermore to encourage yourself! Push the fucking boundaries.
How important do you find collaboration for creative growth?
Collaboration for me is essential, although I am pretty autonomous as an artist and I think that is of equal importance to be reliant on yourself, without the help of others it’s difficult. From the artwork to the music no matter how much of it that I may produce it’s intrinsic to the process: the help of my friends. All the work I make is through my network of friends - we are like the mycelium of fungus all interconnected and helping push each others growth towards the greater goal of generating life! And yeah having a good time while we're at it - that is probably the most important bit.
Do you take inspiration from artistic mediums other than music e.g. film/fashion etc?
I take inspiration from everything… it all goes in through the retina, the tips of my fingers, my nasal passage etc. and churns around in my head top, add a bit of imagination and some mystic imagery and boom. It’s simple. But nah I’m always thinking about the analogies between art and music. Textures, lyricism, etc. I don’t wanna get too flowery here so I won’t but if you catch me somewhere I can chew your ear off about it. So yes everything is inspiration, poems, paintings, patina, construction sites, rubble, etc. (I went art school innit so yes it’s very farty but if you don’t feel it you don’t feel it - I’m on the waves.)
"Growing up, Grime was very active and was undoubtedly a source of inspiration…"
In terms of lyricism, who/what are your biggest inspirations?
Lyricism! Leonard Cohen used to blow my head a bit… 'The Wind Cries Mary' has a few gem stone lines in it. MF DOOM RIP boss lyricist - setting the listener up to suspect a certain rhyme then man just SWITCHES it - I like this. Big up Daniel Johnston as well RIP for being so fucking raw with it, that’s less lyrical and more just whole body feeling with it.
How important is it for you to remain a storyteller within your music?
Yeah it’s a beautiful thing to be taken on a journey with music - to really explore. So it’s very important. Telling the story, it’s like unravelling a thread of a tied up knot of thoughts that unlocks portals for me and hopefully others to travel.
Being from London, are there any local artists you would recommend?
I have to recommend my guy Maxwell Owin for extreme wizardry and even just the way he titles his work is inspiring for me, deep with it. The energy that is Eerf Evil - just dropped his new project ‘Ends & Beyond’ with my darg Srigala, who produced most of the joints on my new tape. Lex Amor for the kind of soft spoken elegance that’ll still make you screw your face up. Sunken my G’s for some highly cinematic sonics in a sweet and off-kilter timbre. Joseph Efi for the expansive mesh of the most beautiful merge of madness musically I can’t even put words around the levels of exploration mans on. Carl Blarx my fucking bro for the most organic tangled rhyme rambles of the purest honesty and general life truths that we can all relate to.
Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?
Growing up, Grime was very active and was undoubtedly a source of inspiration… UK Hip Hop, the likes of Jehst, Taskforce etc. were definitely influential during the first raps I was writing back in year 10 and generally a lot of east coast 90s Hip Hop, ya Big L’s and so fourth. Now, I listen to so much music I don’t think I could pin one specific type to be of inspiration - I’m really into ambient music and left field stuff - anything that feels fresh. These days we have access to such huge amounts of sounds, it’s like the internets all pervasiveness disallows the kind of incubation period musical movements had before the speed of the web. However, it means the sounds of today are a kind of melange of all the predecessor sounds, plus a little personal sprinkle. So whenever the mix is good and the sprinkle is strong , that’s when it’s interesting.
If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would you choose?
So tough but I’m just gonna go quick with the first 5 to my head: Canadian-based Khotin, for floaty dance leaning ambient scapes. Joseph Efi who I mentioned before whose said sprinkles are so strong that it’d be sacrilegious not to get your ear round it. Ranking Dread - the Lots of Loving album in particular for some strong toasting on some big riddims. Tara Clerkin Trio for some wonderful arty-oddball music that’s definitely in it’s own bubble of influence. Jessica Pratt for some mystical, sticky-wet with dream dew, folky sublimeness.
What’s coming up for 2021?
2021!!!!!!! I’ve got so much to drop this year it’s getting my giddy. Collaborative projects galore - as I said my network of friends is a blessing. So 'BRUCE' to begin with, following that an EP with the Sunken gang who the main body of which constitutes my live band set-up, and cannot wait to get that to you, and perform when possible. An EP with Joseph Efi in the pipeline which I will say no more about that.
A collaboration with Carl Blarx which was the catalyst for me starting my own production. Blarx and I were at a similar level of novice producer skill and this allowed for a very open, free, ease of exploration into the whole sonic world because of the equal level of innocence and curiosity without having to feel like were being judged by someone superior. The ting is gonna be beautiful, I know that for sure. Beautiful and very weird, And yes, my own personal self produced stuff I’m planning to start dripping out too so you know what it’s a bit of a madness but not a bad place to be eh?