If, at the turn of the year, your eyes were turned towards MTV’s Brand New For 2012, you may have seen Context’s name resting neatly alongside the likes of Lana Del Rey, Delilah and Conor Maynard. The Norwich hailing MC was, in fact, the competition’s inaugural unsigned finalist, a fact which can only be testament to an endlessly creative and innovative sound that he is set to soon unleash upon an unsuspecting audience. Infusing the ambient and subtle production sonically similar to the likes of Burial (his track “Listening To Burial“ actually references the legendary beatmaker) and deep, heartfelt lyrics, he’s already gained a vital friend in SB.TV, whose Camden Crawl stage will play host to Context’s live show next month. Ahead of the official release of his single “Drowning“, I had a chat with the now London-based artist to find out more about his greatest achievements, his debut live show and filming the video for his new single – which you can watch below. Very, very excited about this guy and his music.
Introduce who you are and what you do…
I’m Context. I’m an MC and singer originally from Norwich now living in London.
A lot of people may recognise you as the only unsigned to be in the running for MTV Brand New For 2012… how did it feel to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Wretch 32, all of whom were in your position?
It was an unbelievable honour. I kinda entered as I was pressured to on a whim and never thought I’d win. I did a few posts on my blog just saying if people wanted to vote for me, that would be really nice, but I didn’t think anyone would really be fussed. The response was overwhelming. So many people took time out to not only vote for me, but to share my music and the voting link with all their friends online.
How would you describe your style?
Honest, ambient, melodic, gritty, emotive, English music which speaks to me, and people like me, to tell our story in a meaningful way.
Your video for your latest single “Drowning” is ridiculously good… Tell us all about it… Seems like it would have been a bitch to film.
It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I basically went to my management with the idea of doing an underwater video, and they called up Louis Ellison from EMI and together they cooked up this amazing storyboard, crew and managed to bag the tank that using in the Bourne films and Snatch etc. It was shot entirely 25 feet underwater and me and the actress were under for about an hour at a time with a team of scuba divers looking after us and giving us air. I actually had a panic attack down there and it was pretty frightening. But the results really made it worthwhile!
With “Drowning”, you seem to be exploring that sort of deep electronica vibe, especially with the great production from Great Skies… are there any producers in that scene you want to work with just now?
Yeah he did an incredible job with that track. We’re actually cooking up some more as we speak. I’m literally up for working with anyone whose music makes me respond emotionally. That’s all I’m looking for. When I get “that” feeling when I hear a track, it writes itself. I wrote ‘Drowning’, ‘Listening to Burial’, ‘Off With Their Heads’, and all those tracks in about an hour. I just heard the beat and the melody and lyrics fell out of my mouth.
What are your three greatest achievements in your life so far?
Probably getting a first from uni, getting playlisted on BBC Radio 1, and finding a girl who can put up with my weirdness!
You’ve got your debut headline show in London next month… what are your feelings towards it? Nervous, excited?
Both really. The main difference with this is that it’s just me in the spotlight, and that its being done completely with a live band as opposed to a DJ playing instrumentals. We had our first rehearsal the other day and the band have reinterpreted the tracks in a massively exciting way!
As an MC from Norwich, you might be able to shed some light… is there much of a scene up there? Or is London where it’s at…?
Well, I actually can’t really claim to be much of an authority on that as I’ve always been fairly insular and just done my own thing. I know there used to a really healthy UK hip hop scene up there, and my mates are in bands up there and there is a great scene for that. I mainly know about the rave scene which is legendary! The problem I think is the glass ceiling effect in Norwich. When you come and move to London, you just feel like the world is moving at about 50 mph faster and that spurs you to want to do more, and to be better. Comfort breeds complacency which is very hard to shake off.
What can we expect from you in 2012?
Progression. I just want to keep making great songs, unique visuals, and have a wider audience hear and see them. The A&R meetings are in full swing at the moment so hopefully I can bag a tidy record deal and music can start paying my rent and getting the bailiffs off my back! haha
Here’s some free advertising space, anything you wanna plug?
Just this: http://contextmc.co.uk – it has everything you could want to know about me.
If you want to grab some tickets for Context’s aforementioned debut live show in London on April 30th, head over HERE for more information.