"It's About Authenticity!" Clash Meets Rag'n'Bone Man

Diving into his rap roots...From taking part in rap battles in the streets of Brighton in 2008, to singing his loveable blues and soul vocals on the soundtrack of ‘Bright’ with the likes of Logic, Machine Gun Kelly and more in 2017, Rag‘n’Bone Man has come a long way, but he won’t stop any time soon. He’s known for his silky soul and blues music, but a love of rap, hip-hop, drum 'n' bass as well as jungle transcends anything else. In 2008 the born and raised Uckfield singer was starting to understand the world of rap, but knew he needed to take a real stab at it to be the person he wanted to be. “I remember getting really into UK hip hop in the early 2000s and my introduction to that was like, Roots Manuva, Task Force, Jehst and people like that. I was just being really heavily influenced by that and also kind of jungle music and dancehall culture and stuff like that. Then I started to write actual bars to beats.” - - - - - - With UK rap running through his veins and the confidence he could really do something in the genre, it was time to get himself a flat in Brighton and that is where his journey in rap really kicks off. “There was a little scene in Brighton and it really started at one place for me. There was a place called The Hope on Queens Road in Brighton and that was where a monthly open mic night at the time, which was run by a guy called Heinz, who would have people from all over, to come down for this thing and they'd have one performer throughout the night and then open mics, that open deck for the rest of the night. I was not confident at all at first, but it was one of those things where from the outside it seems quite clicky but once you get under the skin of it, everyone's really welcoming and like everyone was just trying to push me to be to be like not afraid of being on stage and being like confident stuff. I started to meet people from that scene like Gizmo and I met DJ Direct, and at that time I reckon maybe 2009, there was talk about starting a crew.” Soon after the meeting of key figures in the Brighton hip-hop scene, Rag‘n’Bone Man would end up in the crew, Rum Committee, which allowed him to really express himself. From rapping and singing on a couple of tracks, to being the main man in the group, it wasn’t too long before the scene started taking notice of him - enter the rap battles. Don’t Flop rap battles were all over Brighton, crowds and crowds of people engaging and wanting more. They’re still popular now and even though a pandemic has happened, they have been providing rap battles where they can. It’s quite beautiful to watch. Rag‘n’Bone Man only competed in a couple of battles, but it allowed for some fun. “I preferred watching battles than actually being in the battle to be honest. I much prefer my friends to do that rather than me. I only battled a couple of times really so I don't have a wealth of experience. It was kind of fun, but not that creative. Because it's just poking fun at someone”.  2011 became a big year of gigs in Brighton at venues such as The Concord, alongside festivals where mixing in rap and pop became the norm for Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, which is where he would meet High Focus Records, the label he would eventually sign to. He also had an incredible talent in Fliptrix who would not only become a friend and label mate, but also someone who constantly put out progressive music that helped inspire Rag‘n’Bone Man when it comes to consistency and experimenting with music. It was this consistency and being surrounded by like-minded people that allowed a rap group to be born and also to gain attention across the world. Throughout his blues and soul music in the debut album ‘Human’ there were little hints of rap in tracks such as ‘Ego’ and throughout the years he’s been able to meet and work with some legends in hip hop, which is best to let the man himself do the talking here about rap life from 2014 to 2017. “I think back in the day, I was introduced to a few artists from Leaf dog, who was my producer at the time, and he makes beats for everybody like Freebo from Wu-Tang. I started doing a few tracks with them, so I feel like I was on people's radar. Then I kind of got friendly with people like Pharoahe Monch, and I know DJ Premier really well now. He was like one of the first people from the US to give me props. You know, I remember like 2014 he was playing my tunes on his DJ sets. So he must have told people about it.” Continuing on he says: “When it comes to doing the Bright film and soundtrack I don't know how else they would have found out about me because I feel like my music at the time was not really big in the US. But yeah, it was really cool to do something with logic. I feel like that shouldn't be the end. I know Logic’s taking a bit of a hiatus from music. I don't know for how long or if he's going to come back anytime soon. But yeah, I would like to work over again, like in person. Because you know, too many times these collaborations happen, but you

"It's About Authenticity!" Clash Meets Rag'n'Bone Man
Diving into his rap roots...

From taking part in rap battles in the streets of Brighton in 2008, to singing his loveable blues and soul vocals on the soundtrack of ‘Bright’ with the likes of Logic, Machine Gun Kelly and more in 2017, Rag‘n’Bone Man has come a long way, but he won’t stop any time soon.

He’s known for his silky soul and blues music, but a love of rap, hip-hop, drum 'n' bass as well as jungle transcends anything else. In 2008 the born and raised Uckfield singer was starting to understand the world of rap, but knew he needed to take a real stab at it to be the person he wanted to be.

“I remember getting really into UK hip hop in the early 2000s and my introduction to that was like, Roots Manuva, Task Force, Jehst and people like that. I was just being really heavily influenced by that and also kind of jungle music and dancehall culture and stuff like that. Then I started to write actual bars to beats.”

- - -

- - -

With UK rap running through his veins and the confidence he could really do something in the genre, it was time to get himself a flat in Brighton and that is where his journey in rap really kicks off.

“There was a little scene in Brighton and it really started at one place for me. There was a place called The Hope on Queens Road in Brighton and that was where a monthly open mic night at the time, which was run by a guy called Heinz, who would have people from all over, to come down for this thing and they'd have one performer throughout the night and then open mics, that open deck for the rest of the night. I was not confident at all at first, but it was one of those things where from the outside it seems quite clicky but once you get under the skin of it, everyone's really welcoming and like everyone was just trying to push me to be to be like not afraid of being on stage and being like confident stuff. I started to meet people from that scene like Gizmo and I met DJ Direct, and at that time I reckon maybe 2009, there was talk about starting a crew.”

Soon after the meeting of key figures in the Brighton hip-hop scene, Rag‘n’Bone Man would end up in the crew, Rum Committee, which allowed him to really express himself. From rapping and singing on a couple of tracks, to being the main man in the group, it wasn’t too long before the scene started taking notice of him - enter the rap battles.

Don’t Flop rap battles were all over Brighton, crowds and crowds of people engaging and wanting more. They’re still popular now and even though a pandemic has happened, they have been providing rap battles where they can. It’s quite beautiful to watch. Rag‘n’Bone Man only competed in a couple of battles, but it allowed for some fun.

“I preferred watching battles than actually being in the battle to be honest. I much prefer my friends to do that rather than me. I only battled a couple of times really so I don't have a wealth of experience. It was kind of fun, but not that creative. Because it's just poking fun at someone”. 

2011 became a big year of gigs in Brighton at venues such as The Concord, alongside festivals where mixing in rap and pop became the norm for Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, which is where he would meet High Focus Records, the label he would eventually sign to. He also had an incredible talent in Fliptrix who would not only become a friend and label mate, but also someone who constantly put out progressive music that helped inspire Rag‘n’Bone Man when it comes to consistency and experimenting with music.

It was this consistency and being surrounded by like-minded people that allowed a rap group to be born and also to gain attention across the world. Throughout his blues and soul music in the debut album ‘Human’ there were little hints of rap in tracks such as ‘Ego’ and throughout the years he’s been able to meet and work with some legends in hip hop, which is best to let the man himself do the talking here about rap life from 2014 to 2017.

“I think back in the day, I was introduced to a few artists from Leaf dog, who was my producer at the time, and he makes beats for everybody like Freebo from Wu-Tang. I started doing a few tracks with them, so I feel like I was on people's radar. Then I kind of got friendly with people like Pharoahe Monch, and I know DJ Premier really well now. He was like one of the first people from the US to give me props. You know, I remember like 2014 he was playing my tunes on his DJ sets. So he must have told people about it.”

Continuing on he says: “When it comes to doing the Bright film and soundtrack I don't know how else they would have found out about me because I feel like my music at the time was not really big in the US. But yeah, it was really cool to do something with logic. I feel like that shouldn't be the end. I know Logic’s taking a bit of a hiatus from music. I don't know for how long or if he's going to come back anytime soon. But yeah, I would like to work over again, like in person. Because you know, too many times these collaborations happen, but you don't get to work in a room with someone and I feel like, that's when I thrive in those environments. So I like to get in the room.”

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Since then he has always been making beats and writing the perfect bars, but it’s all about jamming in the studio and seeing what happens. Having recently released his second album ‘Life By Misadvantage’ it was a completely different direction from previous music, which focuses on the blues side of the singer. Even though this latest project has been doing well and showing a different side to Rag‘n’Bone Man, he talks about focusing on hip-hop in his down time.

“It's me, my keys player and my bass player who have started to make beats together. I started to rap on those beats. There's different people involved in it, I think there's potentially a rap EP there. There might be a couple of us rappers and stuff on there, too. I don't know when it's going to be finished and I don't know when it's going to come out. But I'm just not gonna push it. I really like it when I listen to it now. I'm excited, you know, for a time where I can just be like, okay, now I'm gonna put out a hip hop project. So, you never know, it might be in six months or it might be two years down the road, but it will come out eventually.”

It’s a beautiful thing to see Rag‘n’Bone Man still connect with his love of rap and work with local rappers to produce music - the roots of hip-hop will never leave this man.

Some people say that in the latest album that he tried too hard to be a singer-songwriter, but he’s been creating melodic lyrics and cleverly written bars throughout his career - this isn’t new to him.

Regardless of how much blues and soul music he creates, rap and hip hop will be a consistent part of his life. Whether he’s collaborating with big time rappers in the US or if he’s back in Brighton with the Rum Collective, Rag‘n’Bone Man will never stop rapping or making beats. It’s something to admire and something to celebrate as this writer has loved the rap career of Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and can’t wait to see it progress even further.

As this celebration piece comes to a close and the life and love of rap and hip hop in Rag‘n’Bone Man’s life has been discussed, it only feels right to conclude with a great quote from the man himself.

“All you've got is you, you know, it is about being authentic to your own ideas and that's exactly what I've done. So it doesn't really matter to me what people say, because I'm happy with it.”

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Words: Josh Abrahams
Photo Credit: Fiona Garden

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Source : Clash Music More   

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"This Is Just The Introduction!" Clash Meets Maeve

Up-close with the groundbreaking pop multi-hyphenate...Returning to re-introduce herself to the industry, Maeve has the kind of self-assurance that can only come from know-how. Following up her 2018 EP 'Beasts' with something different and a whole lot punchier, 'Caravaggio In A Corner Store' is the product of a quarantine spent in a home studio and a strong vision. Cayman Islands born and London residing, the EP is entirely genre defying. Combining a mixed bag of musical influences picked up along her many moves and borrowed from a massive range of inspirations from Patti Smith to Eminem, no label or description can quite do her justice. Maeve’s technicality paired with her eloquence mirrors the thing she loves about her idol, managing to be both experimental and universal in her music. Owing the ability to her production skills, she keeps a firm hold over her work, creating almost entirely out of her bedroom and trusting her own ideas to lead the way. After burst back onto the scene with 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl', Maeve’s been quickly gaining attention for her sharp message and strong sound. With big plans for the coming year, we caught up to learn more… - - - - - - The single 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' was your first release for a couple of years since 2018, what made you decide that was the track to reintroduce yourself with? I feel like it’s a good song to start off with because it has the piano and the more intimate moments that I have in my music, but it also has the harsher sonic. I think that sound sums up this EP really well, having both sides of the spectrum. What were you getting up to in the gap? Was it a constant process of preparation? I feel like the first EP was just me putting my feelings out there and getting the right people around me, and then those two years were heavily spent writing and getting better at production. I spent a lot of time alone honing my sound to get together a lot of material. I think it was really crucial that I had that time as I’m coming back with a vision that’s a lot clearer than where I started out. I think you can really see the growth on this new EP. - - - - - - Scrolling back through your insta and looking at the covers you made over quarantine, the range of artists incredible. With such a huge catalogue of inspirations, was it hard to pick a direction to go in? It never happens consciously that I’m like oh I want to write a Bjork sounding song today but I want it to have Patti Smith lyrics. I’ve listened to such a range of music from living in different places and being from all over the world that just seeps in naturally without me thinking about it. On 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' especially the instrumentals with the soft and harsh moments ended up perfectly mirroring the story in the lyrics. Did the whole idea hit you at once? For that song it started with that crunchy synth at the beginning and an 808. I made that beat and looped it over and over then started singing the rap bit over it. It confused me a bit like ‘wait I’m not a rapper why am I doing this?’, but I went with the freedom of what was coming out. - - - - - - Obviously the title is a massive film and TV trope, bringing up characters like Skin’s Effy Stonem or Summer from 500 Days of Summer, what inspired you to write about it? Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was one that really made me think about the trope and I went on YouTube trying to figure out if it was supposed to be a positive thing or a negative thing cause I really related to being this character. I wanted to write about that realisation that I’d become this Manic Pixie Dream Girl character but I’m going to rewrite my life, take control, become the main character and live for myself rather than other people. On your last EP 'Beasts', you used a lot of religious and mythological imagery, it’s almost as if the Manic Pixie Dream Girl has become a modern myth of femininity or a figure women are expected to live up to… Yeah! Luckily now so many women are rebelling against those standards, especially in music you know. It’s feminine to be an amazing producer, it’s feminine to be an amazing mixer. There is so many different aspects of being a women and just because an industry is really male-heavy and we might have to shout more to get our voice heard, it’s totally possible to do so. In production especially, I’m seeing more and more female producers every day which makes me really happy. - - - - - - Did any women especially inspire the track? At the time I was actually thinking about how I’d never worked with a female producer which was crazy to me and I really want to collaborate with some more women. I’ve always been really inspired by people like Bjork. The way she took sonics and made them so experimental but also made really big and universal songs, she’s always inspired me. With all the various lockdowns, when did you get the tracks all down and recorded? During the first lockdown when no one really knew what was

"This Is Just The Introduction!" Clash Meets Maeve
Up-close with the groundbreaking pop multi-hyphenate...

Returning to re-introduce herself to the industry, Maeve has the kind of self-assurance that can only come from know-how. Following up her 2018 EP 'Beasts' with something different and a whole lot punchier, 'Caravaggio In A Corner Store' is the product of a quarantine spent in a home studio and a strong vision.

Cayman Islands born and London residing, the EP is entirely genre defying. Combining a mixed bag of musical influences picked up along her many moves and borrowed from a massive range of inspirations from Patti Smith to Eminem, no label or description can quite do her justice. Maeve’s technicality paired with her eloquence mirrors the thing she loves about her idol, managing to be both experimental and universal in her music. Owing the ability to her production skills, she keeps a firm hold over her work, creating almost entirely out of her bedroom and trusting her own ideas to lead the way.

After burst back onto the scene with 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl', Maeve’s been quickly gaining attention for her sharp message and strong sound. With big plans for the coming year, we caught up to learn more…

- - -

- - -

The single 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' was your first release for a couple of years since 2018, what made you decide that was the track to reintroduce yourself with?

I feel like it’s a good song to start off with because it has the piano and the more intimate moments that I have in my music, but it also has the harsher sonic. I think that sound sums up this EP really well, having both sides of the spectrum.

What were you getting up to in the gap? Was it a constant process of preparation?

I feel like the first EP was just me putting my feelings out there and getting the right people around me, and then those two years were heavily spent writing and getting better at production. I spent a lot of time alone honing my sound to get together a lot of material.

I think it was really crucial that I had that time as I’m coming back with a vision that’s a lot clearer than where I started out. I think you can really see the growth on this new EP.

- - -

- - -

Scrolling back through your insta and looking at the covers you made over quarantine, the range of artists incredible. With such a huge catalogue of inspirations, was it hard to pick a direction to go in?

It never happens consciously that I’m like oh I want to write a Bjork sounding song today but I want it to have Patti Smith lyrics. I’ve listened to such a range of music from living in different places and being from all over the world that just seeps in naturally without me thinking about it.

On 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' especially the instrumentals with the soft and harsh moments ended up perfectly mirroring the story in the lyrics. Did the whole idea hit you at once?

For that song it started with that crunchy synth at the beginning and an 808. I made that beat and looped it over and over then started singing the rap bit over it. It confused me a bit like ‘wait I’m not a rapper why am I doing this?’, but I went with the freedom of what was coming out.

- - -

- - -

Obviously the title is a massive film and TV trope, bringing up characters like Skin’s Effy Stonem or Summer from 500 Days of Summer, what inspired you to write about it?

Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was one that really made me think about the trope and I went on YouTube trying to figure out if it was supposed to be a positive thing or a negative thing cause I really related to being this character.

I wanted to write about that realisation that I’d become this Manic Pixie Dream Girl character but I’m going to rewrite my life, take control, become the main character and live for myself rather than other people.

On your last EP 'Beasts', you used a lot of religious and mythological imagery, it’s almost as if the Manic Pixie Dream Girl has become a modern myth of femininity or a figure women are expected to live up to…

Yeah! Luckily now so many women are rebelling against those standards, especially in music you know. It’s feminine to be an amazing producer, it’s feminine to be an amazing mixer. There is so many different aspects of being a women and just because an industry is really male-heavy and we might have to shout more to get our voice heard, it’s totally possible to do so.

In production especially, I’m seeing more and more female producers every day which makes me really happy.

- - -

- - -

Did any women especially inspire the track?

At the time I was actually thinking about how I’d never worked with a female producer which was crazy to me and I really want to collaborate with some more women. I’ve always been really inspired by people like Bjork. The way she took sonics and made them so experimental but also made really big and universal songs, she’s always inspired me.

With all the various lockdowns, when did you get the tracks all down and recorded?

During the first lockdown when no one really knew what was going on in the world, all I really knew was that I could keep making music so that’s what I did. I was back home in the Cayman Islands and I wrote 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' in my room with no real plans to put it out, just wrote it on my laptop and a mini keyboard and a synth. I got it all mixed when I came back to the UK but it mostly happened in my little bedroom.

- - -

- - -

After all the time off to work on your sound and find collaborators, did you know exactly what you wanted this EP to sound like?

Yeah, being involved with the production has always been a big part of making music for me. But this EP especially was so heavily done by myself and luckily I had people I could reach out to and send stuff over to see what they thought.

It was basically just written online and in my room so by the time I came back to the UK after lockdown I had a bunch of songs that were pretty much done and then I reached out to some musicians that I really liked and said ‘oh hey do you want to finish off this song with me’, so it was all very organic.

With 'Caravaggio in A Corner Store' out now, what’s next?

I’ve just been writing loads and loads of songs so there’s going to be a lot of music coming out this year. This is just the introduction.

- - -

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Words: Lucy Harbron

Photographer & Creative Director: Cal McIntyre. Represented by Digital Picnic.
Stylist: Lauren Groves. Represented by The Magnet Agency.
Hair Stylist: Sheree Jourdan.
Make-Up Artist: Aimee Twist. Represented by Creatives Agency.
Talent PR: Cousin.

Photo Assistant: Alex Galloway.
Styling Assistants: Filippo Sandini and Thomas Brackley.
Hair Assistant: Natalie Angel

Production: Cal McIntyre

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Source : Clash Music More   

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