No-nonsense Essex lad Rat Boy has carved a new niche with his raw, powerful brand of indie hip-hop rock. Here, he talks about branching out and keeping a clear head. He plays The Leadmill, Sheffield on 16 Sept and Albert Hall, Manchester on 17 Sept.
Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
The sound is a mix of everything that’s gone in my head. It’s changing every day because I listen to new things every day. I’m always experimenting. Simply put, it’s a mix of very British – from the Specials to Blur to Ian Drury – with the Beasties and Beck and old school hip hop. It’s one foot in the US and the other in the UK.
How have you evolved as a musician over the years?
It started off really guitar-based and now it’s much more electronic. It’s still the same thing though, just with a lot more gadgets, and I’ve worked on production more. I’ve travelled more and had my eyes opened to more things. I really enjoyed working with DJ Dahi in LA, just playing around with bits of my newest music and beat making.
Were there any alternative band names before you arrived at this one?
Actually, no. It was always Rat Boy from day one.
What are you up to at the moment artistically?
I just finished my latest EP, Get Over It. There are always things I’m working on artistically. I just got a group of kids together at Liverpool Street station in London and designed some skate decks and gave them away. I’ve just designed some new merch too that I’m really excited about. The designs are getting fresh and quality is really up now, and I’m also doing a clothing collab with a mate. I’m excited for that to come out. I’m also designing a set for my next tour. It’s going to be crazy, I want it to be really memorable. I have my dad who’s a welder and we’re building some big stage props. I’ve been painting on the side when I have some chill time.
How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
I’m not sure about all that stuff. I don’t think about it too much, I’m just me and I keep creative, which keeps me happy.
What’s on your rider?
I don’t drink because I like to keep myself fresh and wake up to do music and all the other sorts of things I want to do. Only on special occasions or when it’s a crazy night. But good food, champagne, wine, and cigs for the boys. I can’t smoke cause of my asthma. Good food like fruits and stuff.
Tell us about your worst live show.
They’ve all been good, to be fair, but maybe a festival in France last year when all our gear fell apart because the day before we had a stage invasion and they stamped on everything.