As Only Real, hip-popper Niall Galvin stays true to his ‘rep real’ insignia.


East versus West: perhaps a tired dichotomy but alive and well all the same. Certainly in our capital city. “I wouldn’t want to fuck with any of those East London rappers; they are a lot more hard-core than I am. I’m just so proud to be from West London and I want to make sure everyone knows that.” Niall Galvin is comfortable in his surroundings. Stool-bound in a Kensington pub, he’s a sharp dart that’s self-aware and bristling in confidence. “This part of London shaped me so I want people to know who I am,” continues Niall. “There is no bad blood with the East though really.”

The 21 year old has arrived fresh faced, untouched and, in his words, “repping real”. Growing up on the right side of the tracks may come with certain snobby preconceptions, but in Niall’s case it makes for good manners too. There is no point in worrying about any kind of stigma,” he says, “what can you do? Most people get what I am pretty quickly and that I’m being honest – it’s quite hard to hate on it.”

What Niall is doing is Only Real – sun soaked trop-pop and hazy tales of yesteryear that send you a million miles from winter’s door. Tracks like ‘Cinnamon Toast’ and ‘Cadillac Girl’ emerged in the summer sun, fast and loose with playful lyrics and a seductive drawl. But there is more to Niall than meets the eye. “Those two tracks are quite relaxed by coincidence, really,” he’s say. “I have the party tunes too, and I have some more aggressive material. People are hearing these songs and forming opinions already. I think of myself as something new, something nobody has ever seen before.'”

Cocksure perhaps, but is it really original (pirate) material? Artists like The Streets, Jamie T and, more recently, King Krule skip to the same beat as Only Real; naturally, Niall takes this suggestion with a pinch not a punch. “I understand why people say that,” he says, “we are all young… well, we all were young! That’s not an insult to them, that’s just how it is. Jamie T was my age when he was doing that and I think he is great. I don’t think that I particularly sound like them all to be honest, but they’re excellent musicians. With my knowledge of my own music and what I know is coming around the corner, I think people will soon understand that I’m my own artist if they haven’t been thinking that already.”

New double A single ‘Backstreet Kissers’/’Blood Carpet’ should provide some guidance. More upbeat than Only Real’s initial tracks that surfaced, but retaining all of his delightful languor and piercing lyrical turns, this debut release is as fresh as Niall’s face and out at the end of January. We’ve been wanting to talk to Only Real about it since the middle of last year. “Yeah, it has been pushed back a bit as we wanted to get it right… also, I demanded a tiger was present at the signing so that took a while to come through.”

‘Backstreet Kissers”s lolloping groove caught the ears of The Shoes who personally got in touch. “They just reached out to me on Twitter, which was really cool, so they will be doing a remix of the track and it’s going to be so heavy.” Niall is still slightly flabbergasted at the hook up. The wonders of the web never cease to amaze. “If I wasn’t looking at shit on the Internet I don’t know what I’d be doing,” he says. “I spend a lot of time in front of a screen.”

Niall’s yearlong project has become that shit on the Internet, the video for ‘Backstreet Kissers’ already rocketing up the hit count. Only Real is turning into a virtual sensation, and like it or not he’s swept up in the dustpan with other blog friendly hip hop and R&B types. Isn’t it all a bit 2012, though? “Nah, I want to make my own movement,” he says. “This has happened organically, as cheesy as it sounds. I listen to a lot of rap music but I listen to a lot of rock music too. I love hip-hop, both golden era and modern. What I do is just me, though, and what you see is just me.”

Only Real might well be just Niall, but live is a different story, with a merry band of whippersnappers joining him onstage. Well, some friends with instruments have. “It’s been cool because they are all my age, they all seem to get what I do and they understand Only Real.” So Niall’s accepted by his band-mates and he accepted himself a long time ago, so surely it’s time everybody else did the same. “That’s up to the people, isn’t it, but I don’t mind. I don’t know what’s next but I’m definitely on for bigger things.”

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