The artist revisits his teenage self for our latest Sweet 16 feature
I think I turned 16 in 2015. I think it was winter. I can’t remember because I don’t really do birthdays – I know my age, but I forget when my birthday is. I was with my boy Teo. We were just walking around. I’d already discovered my style a year ago, and I was really happy, loving life. Life was just so good then – I was so excited. I’d been reunited with my boy Teo – used to know him when I was 10, hadn’t seen him for years – and now he’s about to introduce me to all his friends. I think on that day we just hung out on a casual one. I’d just started drinking and I saw this bottle of Grey Goose, emptied out. I knew about Greg Goose because my older friends would brag about it. I was like, “Hang on, that’s a Grey Goose bottle; that’s one of the best bottles out.” I was like, “Teo, take a photo of me.” I posted it on Instagram, but I don’t know if people knew that I was joking. Loads of girls liked the photo, so I was like, “ok, this works.” It definitely wasn’t a weekend, because every weekend when I was 16 there was a house party going on. It was pure bliss – I would never worry about the future.
I was living in Primrose Hill [north London]. My hobbies were mainly graffiti-ing and I think by 16 I’d already dropped my first song. Music came naturally straight away. It came naturally and there was no one around me to judge me. There’s always been this thing with me where I’ve wanted to be different. So every time I did something I never thought, this doesn’t sound finished or like something on the radio. That really helped my confidence.
I was listening to a lot of indie music and a lot of garage. I loved old school hip-hop and I just got into trap in 2016, because I’d always hated trap – it was so boring to my ears. Then there was this one guy, Playboi Carti, and I actually liked the beats he was using.
I did not have fun in school. Primary was the most fun, but at the same time it was the most difficult time in my life. Oh my god, I’ve got to wake up and go to this place where I don’t like anyone. I don’t like these teachers, I only like these two kids, and sometimes these two kids go off and play football and I’m there on my own for hours. And then secondary school was absolutely awful – the teachers there, I’m sure they were just doing their jobs, but them doing their jobs really, really irritated me. Then people were like, “Don’t worry, you’ll love college.” I hated college. I hated it even more than secondary. But as soon as college started, that’s when there were house parties every Friday, every Saturday. At first it was Teo’s friends’, and then friends’ of friends, and then you’d just crash them. You’d always get in. We maybe only failed to get into two, and they were boring apparently.
When I was even younger, my social skills were just terrible. And then all of a sudden, I just woke up one day and started living a certain life, started finding myself, then being at house parties I’d be really outgoing. I’d be the only one talking to everyone, like, “Yo, what’s your name, let’s chill.” I’d be the only one doing that, and I’ve stopped doing it recently. I need to get back into that mindset, because I was more outgoing when I was 16 and 17 than I am now. The only thing that I wanted was to feel good and have fun. That was literally my motive – I’m going to do what makes me feel good. If it gets me killed or gets me somewhere, I don’t care. I feel like that attitude is what gets you places.
As told to: Stuart Stubbs
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