That's when GG Skips isn't putting on the best artists in London with his friends
It’s the end of an hour I’ve spent with Glows in his living room that also serves as a makeshift office and studio. Is there anything we haven’t covered that you think is important to mention, I say, flipping my notebook closed and reaching for the off button on the recorder. Almost always the answer to this is a shake of the head. Occasionally it’s “yes, I forgot to plug the new video.” GG Skips, the name Glows goes by when he’s not being Glows, exhales a plume of smoke from his roll-up, towards an open sash window covered in stickers. “Well, I used to be a massive Dead Head. I used to do a lot of drugs. I had a breakdown and it freaked me out. Then I became really into The Grateful Dead. Still am. They’ve been a big influence on me.” I quietly let go of my bag I started to pick up underneath his dining table. Ok, when was that? “It was when I properly started making music. Then I developed a lot of mental health problems – if you want to put that in… just to big up men talking about their mental health.”
It’s the beginning of a fresh avenue of conversation that, in truth, has already traveled down much deeper, thought-provoking routes than the typical 21-year-old electronic-artist-conducting-their-first-interview usually does. Because Skips is a fascinating character. Awkward and anxious by his own admission, he speaks quickly and holds eye contact only in snatches while he chain-puffs and pours tea from a pot. Place that to one side though, and I’m sat opposite an interviewee that’s fiercely inquisitive, unquestionably motivated and boundlessly creative.
“The culture we live in has very interesting ideas of sobriety, and music people especially,” he says, picking up his thread. “Young people have weird ideas on drugs and alcohol. I don’t think they realise. A lot of people are lucky, but some people aren’t – in terms of developing any mental problems from it. It does happen and I was one of the unlucky ones.”
This all happened around Skips’ first period of experimentation; drugs, alcohol, music all wrapped up. Though it left him with lasting effects, it also had an indelible impact on the art he now creates. “It’s a lot of what the lyrics are about,” he says.
“How harmful was it?” he rolls my question around his mind for a brief second. “Not harmful, in fact, probably better. It made me much more focused. Made my writing better. It brings on a level of deepness and richness to the music you’re making when there’s something quite serious behind a lot of the stuff.”
That doesn’t mean he’s anti-drugs these days (far from it), but he is pro-awareness. “These things have real consequences. It’s just a lot more real than people think. It’s bizarre. I have no regrets.”
“That sounds like I’m saying everyone should have mental health problems to write good music. That’s not true at all, I just think for me it means that when I listen to my music I’m listening to all the influences of that time, but I’m also listening to how I felt at that time and what I was going through.”