At COZY, We’re all about new sounds and finding people of talent from across the world. We caught up with the newest experimental hip hop artist on the come up, Alcatrz- to discuss how he arrived at his distinct sound and to talk his newly released track which premiered on VEVO.
COZY: Thanks for talking with us! First off, we’d love to know- What is your musical background?
Alcatrz: I guess my love for music started in church. My parents were, and still are strong practicing Christians,and as a kid, they always wanted me to be involved in some sort of church activity. I remember the one thing I genuinely enjoyed in church was the way the ‘drummer boy’ played the drums and if anyone has ever been to any African Pentecostal church, they will be able to tell you, praise and worship aint no joke!
So from an early age I decided I wanted to play the drums like the ‘drummer boy’. I told our resident pastor, and he introduced me to the choir leader who hooked me up with the ‘drummer boy’. A few weeks of practice and I was already playing in church services.
They also tried teaching me how to play the piano and the bass guitar, but I just couldn’t be bothered. I learnt basic chord progressions and that was about it. I was back to my drums again.
As a lot of kids born and raised in Europe, my mum thought I was becoming too ‘Westernised’, and decided to take me back to Nigeria for two years. In those two years I learnt a lot about the Nigerian culture, especially the music scene down there. My grandmother and uncles, listened to a lot of different Nigerian genres , 70’s 80’s afro-beat/highlife/Nigerian-gospel/afro-punk/traditional folks songs and that was when I came across a lot of artist like Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey. At the same time my friends and I listened to a lot of American Hip/hop and Rnb, which was the ‘cool thing’ to do.
C: Did you feel restricted musically?
A: I was really in a box when it came to exploring different genres as a kid. But when my parents and I moved from Italy to London, a good friend of mine Wale, showed me that they were a lot of other genres apart from mainstream hiphop/Rnb. That was when my love for music was taken to another level.
C: I know it’s difficult, but how would you describe your sound?
A: I’ve asked myself that question several times. I really do not know how to describe my music. You would have to listen to it and categorize it as you think it best fits. A lot of people would say its experimental, cause I do not produce basic trap beats or soul sample beats. Other people say is industrial because, of the heavy synths and the unconventional way I program my drums. At the end of the day I just think my sound is refreshing, something out of the norm.
C: Agreed! What do you think of the music scene in London at the moment & where do you think you fit into that?
A: I think right now, London is killing it when it comes to music. Not even London, the UK in general. People living here to do not appreciate what they have. a lot of people do not see past Tini Tempah or Cheryl Cole, no offence to them in anyway. This year we saw the rise of FKA Twigs, from an artist that would not be played on mainstream radio, cause she is not ‘pop enough’, to being recognized worldwide as a creative and unique talent. London is at the top right now.
And I think my music fits perfectly amongst the unique talents we have over here. I personally think the dopest artist in the world have never tried fitting in. They just do what they want. Some people will get your vision, others won’t. You just have to stay true to your artistry and to who you are.
C: Absolutely. Where do you hope your music will take you?
A: I want my music to take me to places and spaces I have never been to. I want my music to create opportuities for me to work with artists I’ve always wanted to collaborate with.
Listen to “??” by Alcatrz here. And make sure you check out his new track, Marburg, which was premiered on VEVO last week.