April 13th 2018 marked the day when Grime finally delivered this Novelist Guy.
A fitting title to the debut album from the young prodigy of Lewisham, who always got his respect long before dropping a project asking for the crown. How is that possible you say? Well lucky for us, he sat down with Sir Spyro for an in depth conversation during BBC Music’s inclusion at The Great Escape Festival.
Spyro pointed out that 21 year old Novelist, was not actually the first Novelist. His uncle, a music connoisseur, “He showed me a lot of different genres from a very early age. And I just wanted to nick his name off of him, that he called himself… And he gave it to me.“
This seems to be a critical component in the development of Novelist, the MC and producer. Growing up in Lewisham, South London, his ears could’ve been solely fixed on the sounds of the roads. The influence of the likes of Giggs, Ghetts, Boy Better Know etc. are enough for many to be inspired by to make music. Novelist, however, prides himself from being musically knowledgeable from an early age: “Obviously Eskiboy is the reason why everybody’s here, so I gotta big up Wiley and all dem. Dizzee and the foundation MCs and producers who made this sound possible. Jammer.”
“But I didn’t just listen to grime growing up. I listened to a whole bunch of dudes… different funk, soul music, gospel“
“It’s all played a part in how I approach music. I tell people all the time, I listen to Japanese jazz, even new genres that are emerging, little scenes that are going on, have had an influence“.
Creating The Sound
Perhaps his early exposure to different genres gave him the creativity to carve out his own style from an early age. “I was doing pirate radio. There was a lot of MCs biting my style at the time. There was a lot of MCs replicating the way that I was MCing, so that was a good indication that what I was doing was working“.
What he was doing was definitely working, Spyro pointed out that things started to turn for Novelist when he was nominated for a MOBO award from a freestyle in 2014.
Novelist is also a talented producer, his perspective for creating a sound is an interesting one, to say the least: “It’s not all about the MCing. A big part of Novelist is about the production”.
“I was heavily inspired by 80s cop movies. I really like that electronic sound”.
You may not understand what goes on inside a creative’s head, even other creatives. This sound got the respect of DJ and producer Mumdance, who collaborated with Novelist for “Take Time”, released via Rinse. “A lot of people don’t understand the value of silence in a song. Sometimes silence will give a song a whole new groove. Mumdance, he understands that very well”.
This caught the attention of the legendary XL Recordings, who Novelist explains how they travelled to meet him in Catford, only to find out they were not too keen on the first Mumdance collaboration. They soon understood when Take Time gathered steam on Rinse, leading to XL coming back around to release Novelist and Mumdance’s “1 Sec” collab EP.
Spyro: As a person, what is the most important thing to you?
One thing you should notice about Novelist Guy is the positivity and forward thinking throughout each and every song. When we sa
t with Novelist he explained why he’s taken that direction:
“I’ve put out enough negative energy in my life, you know what I’m saying? If someone was to go to my ends and ask about me, if they wanted to know about negative stories, they could find some but I don’t feel like that’s for the music. I didn’t just make this music for myself, I made it for like… the people who listen, that’s for them. I know there’s a lot of young people that listen to me, who may have never kicked it from that perspective. I even thought that to myself! I thought should I make it so jolly? But then again, when you do dig it, you got certain tunes like “Afro Pick”, very serious tune, “Stop Killing The Mandem”, serious tune. But I’m a positive guy, that’s another thing people need to remember. Novelist is a positive guy, so I kinda wanna encapsulate a new way of thinking that I took on myself and I had to put that into the music.”
He then goes into further detail:
“It’s easy for me to jump on a tune and talk about how much man I sparked or-
Spyro: “Or how much gyal you had!”
Novelist: “But what is that though? It’s a shame, that’s what it is. It’s a waste of time, all of it. None of that stuff helped me to get here, so when you don’t put out the message of truth, what actually worked and what was good in your life… that’s what people need to fathom and realise, you know what? We need to be done with the foolishness. You can put sugar on top of it, icing on top of it, you’re just gonna bite into a cake of foolishness. Whereas, when you’re getting a cake of righteousness, don’t matter what they put on top of it fam, ingredients is the main ingredients.”
It’s very hard to argue with that perspective but can you take the foolishness out and make Grime album? We asked Spyro what he thought of Novelist Guy:
Spyro: “Whether it’s Grime or not, the first thing is if someone has an album out we are listening from the start to the finish, so we can say do we like that or not? Now my friend, who used to like Grime when we were kids. So I’m talking about the first ever Grime there was. So when I’m showing him someone he definitely doesn’t know about and he’s really feeling it… it tells you all you need to know!”.
Novelist Guy is out now on all digital outlets: