Why Manchester is the new creative epicentre of neo-soul and hip-hop
Coming from the south London area of South Norwood, Gray is a singer becoming more visible by the day. The youngest member of the area's Badside Crew, he stands out thanks to a pure slumped out soul and grease with super catchy bars. His music sounds like it would fit perfectly in the 1990s R&B era, with his effortlessly bouncy productions and lyrics speaking to love, life and late nights channelled by youthful exuberance.
Perfectly capturing the haziness of the south, his is laid back, calming music to zone out to. With his debut visual, 'PayPal Interlude' (which we are premiering today), Gray is ready for ohase two of his plan to take over. Before that, he gave us a breakdown on his style, influences and his south London home.
How did you get into music?
I think it was a mixture of things, but my old man was the person who got me into music from a very young age. Everyday, without fail, he would slap on some vinyls or CDs and then call me down and just tell me to ‘hear tune boy’ in a patois accent. Seeing my dad’s emotional connection to music and seeing how much joy it brought him, I think I just wanted that same feeling and I also wanted people to feel that as well.
How would you describe your musical style?
I’ve never really thought about it like that, but that being said a lot of people like to describe it as smoking music. So, I guess you could call my style laid back or chilled.
Who did you grow up listening to?
Besides the artists and groups my dad would play in the house, I listened to a lot of music that was on MTV, so artists like Usher, Mario, 50 Cent, Missy Elliot. Music for me has always been about feelings and vibes, like when I hear a good song my body gets chills and I can’t help but smile. So my choice of artist could easily go from 50 Cent to Teddy Pendergrass.
What to you makes a song perfect?
That’s a hard question but for me, Like I said music is more than just sounds, and I usually judge it by the feelings it gives me. So I guess if it gives me those goosebumps it’s pretty perfect.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Frank Ocean for sure, he’s one of those artists who have inspired me a lot. Channel Orange is one of my favourite projects from recent time so to be able to make something with him would mad. I feel like he’d help me develop my sound further. If not Frank then probably Jorja Smith because her voice always gives me goosebumps.
Who do you think your music speaks to?
Right now, I think my music speaks to people who are from a similar world as mine. I grew up in Norwood, south London, so there was always something happening, whether it was positive or negative, and it’s hard trying not to get caught up with all the bullshit that goes on out on the roads. I’m all about being real.
What do you want your music to be remembered for?
To be honest, my music just being remembered would be more than enough for me. I only say that because I feel listeners are a lot more fickle these days – compared to 10 years ago anyway – and they all tend to just follow suit. Even with the vast majority of A&Rs and radio presenters these days, they aren’t out here trying to discover something different or unique so we end up with the same generic music and 20 artists that all sound exactly the same. So, just being remembered would be calm with me.
Check out Gray's debut visual, 'PayPal Interlude,' below.