"Make something good. Make something good. Make something good. That’s our mission.”
The UK music press is still talking about “the South London scene”, but for many the periscopes seem to be permanently facing the likes of Shame, Goat Girl and HMLTD. If you’ve spent any amount of time eavesdropping in the smoking areas and live rooms of the capital this year, though, the name Black Midi will have cropped up more than any other, as they’ve garnered themselves the title of London’s most compelling new band. They regularly play at venues like The Windmill in Brixton, but are infamously elusive online; their digital presence is limited to one studio recording, an esoteric Facebook account and a few rough live videos on the South London archivist Lou Smith’s YouTube channel.
Meeting Black Midi for a drink in Effra Hall, a gorgeous pub just off Brixton Road, it’s difficult to imagine that this group of unassuming teenagers are the talk of the town. Lead vocalist Geordie Greep is humble and deflects all imminent praise with a wry smile. “It is what it is,” he laughs. “I’m glad people like us, but we don’t want to get bogged down in that.”
After talking to the band for just a matter of minutes you can quickly piece together that their lack of online presence isn’t a shrewd PR stunt or an attempt to create mystique; rather, that Black Midi are a shy bunch that have skilfully veiled their awkwardness.
It’s the same story when you see the band live: audience interaction is kept to a minimum while the group seem much more at ease communicating simply with each other. It’s all part of their musical chemistry, and their live shows feel like the product of a highly intuitive hive mind where individuality is not important. The focus is on each member’s contribution to perfectly executing the group’s bastard musical hybrid of clanging math-rock, visceral noise and frantic post-punk in the best way possible. At times it has a real sense of humour. At others it’s exhilarating. Sometimes it’s just bloody good fun. But Black Midi are deadly serious about their art and Greep constantly refers to the idea of ‘progression’.
“In two years, Black Midi’s music will be unrecognisable compared to what it is today,” he declares. “We just want to use the available resources to make something good. Make something good. Make something good. That’s our mission.” This focus is what defines the band far more than any catch-all genre term could.