Wrap Up And Watch Out: Byron
Dot Rotten rates him, DJ Target (BBC 1Xtra) plays him. Born in South Africa and raised in Slough, 25-year-old Byron is ready to put his stamp on the UK’s urban music scene. James Walsh recently had a chat with the MC to talk about how he took grime music to Australia, how it felt to support Game and Ghostface Killah on tour and much more…
The Wrap Up: Hi, Byron! So, tell us a bit about yourself…
Byron: Hello! My name is Byron. I carefully select beats, come up with a concept and then rap on them and make up hooks in my own particular way. People seem to enjoy this.
TWU: What were your earliest musical influences and who did you listen to growing up?
Byron: I grew up listening to garage music and not much else. I would listen to Deekline and Hyperactive on a Sunday on Flex FM, Chuckie & Gusto on Freeze FM, Heartless Crew, Wiley, Dizzee, Tinchy, Durrty Goodz, God’s Gift, Pay As You Go, Roll Deep and the rest. I'd listen to sets on Slough's local pirate station, Trilogy FM. A bit later on came Eminem, Slick Rick, Lauryn Hill and so on.
TWU: Okay, cool. So how would you best describe your music and style of rapping?
Byron: My new project, 'Deep Lyrics/Dirty Beats', describes my style perfectly. I also just like to affect people's emotions in some way – be it igniting a bit of anger, frustration, despair or joy – after all, isn't that what music is about?
TWU: After supporting the likes of Kano and Skinnyman in the UK, you secured an album deal in Australia and supported Ghostface Killah and The Game on tour. How was grime music received overseas and what did you learn from opening for two of hip-hop's heavyweights?
Byron: Arguably, we took grime music to Australia. I was part of Nine High at the time – myself, Scotty Hinds and Fraksha. There was the initial shock and surprise of three English guys rapping so quickly, but after a while, people began to accept it a little more and the hype and energy became our trademark style. The Game show was in front of 5,000 people and the Ghostface show was at one of Melbourne's most historic venues. I learned that my ambitions surpassed being an opening act and that I wanted to become the act that all the people had come to see.
TWU: Your album, 'Jack Of None', dropped in May of last year and it received support from BBC 1Xtra's DJ Target and Ras Kwame, as well as Choice FM. How did it feel to receive such a good reception for the album?
Byron: The positive response from everybody was great and it has some fantastic features on there, including Emeli Sande, Ghetts and Nine High. It taught me that you need to have certain mechanisms behind a release and certain foundations laid, otherwise it’s just another good body of work floating around in the world, which is lovely, but not for one second did I consider a bit of radio play and some positive reviews enough. But I am an objective person and the album is really, really good, so go and buy it off of iTunes or Amazon and you shall not be disappointed.
TWU: Since the release of your 'Jack Of None' album, you've released 'The Hardworker' EP and last month you dropped the 'Deep Lyrics/Dirty Beats' EP. What made you want to give your new material out for free?
Byron: I feel like I’m starting the cycle again, with a new plan and new focus. I felt that to begin with, I should give away some more music to ultimately encourage the purchase of future projects. Plus, I have ‘Jack Of None’, which I will never put out for free.
TWU: So, what's next for Byron for the rest of 2011 and beyond?
Byron: I'm working on the next video from 'Deep Lyrics/Dirty Beats'. It’s for ‘Thank You’, which is a song that received radio support from DJ Target and CJ Beatz on BBC 1xtra. For the rest of 2011, I’d just say watch out for 'Deep Lyrics/Dirty Beats' – the second part – more video's, more carefully selected features, more media exposure and more radio play! I’ll also be pursuing more live shows, releasing some t-shirts and the deluxe physical CD release of 'Deep Lyrics/Dirty Beats', including some exclusive bonus tracks. Come and join in and see what happens. Support quality independent music and artists. Peace!
Byron’s album, 'Jack Of None', is out now.
Stay up to date with Byron on Twitter – www.twitter.com/ItsByron_
Words: James Walsh (@JW_DittoMusic)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson(@Jpizzledizzle)