MTV The Wrap Up – Context [Interview]

Four years ago in 2008, Context released his debut EP ‘Dialectics’ with Huw Stephens, revealing his first track to the world on BBC Radio 1. This was a fantastic start in his journey as a music artist, and he later went on to win MTV’s Brand New Unsigned Artist competition in 2012. Now the narrative story-telling MC is back with new single ‘1.4 at 12’ – he talks The Wrap Up’s Shireen Fenner through his sound, going to university and what’s next for him…

The Wrap Up: What was the foundation to your journey as an MC? 

Context: I was always really into rap music in a major way. I moved out of home when I was 19 and I was working in a call centre; I just started messing around, writing tracks to talk about what I was experiencing. I just did songs about living in a ropey house, having a ropey job, but also having a really amazing time with my mates.

Of course, as I’ve got older and experienced more, I have more and more to write about; but at its core, my music has a thread running through it, and I guess that thread is me – exploring what it means to be a young man from a small town. I guess exploring parochialism and everything that comes with it.

TWU: Your sound is very unique, mixing dubstep productions with hip-hop and indie sounds. How did your sound develop?  

Context: It just came from the fact that I’m into a lot of different stuff; but the main reason is a bit more conceptual I think. The whole of idea of being unashamedly yourself is something I’m really keen on. People like Giggs or Drake; they just do exactly what they want musically. Whether you like them or not, you can’t deny that. I rate that a lot.

TWU: Where does the influence for your sound and lyrics come from? 

Context: My influence is my life and the life of my mates. I felt like “Urban Music”, for lack of a better term, didn’t speak to us at all. All our life we grew up on hip-hop and grime, but apart from The Streets, we never related to the artists in the genre. We’re not living in the hood, but we’ve not got any money either. Who speaks for us? Who tells people how large amounts of young people live, well, at least the young people I know anyway, day to day? I felt like I had to do that and do it honestly.

TWU: How do you feel about being called a ‘game changer’? 

Context: It’s great. All I really ever wanted to do was tell our story. I wanted to take the music that I loved and grew up on, but use it to tell people about how we live. Everyone loves to listen to the stories of people in far off lands like Queensbridge or the Marcy projects. When you live in Norwich, London is glamorous too! Like when we heard ‘Boy in the Corner’ – what did we know about Bow? It’s a different world to ours. So if people like the fact that I’m changing the focus of attention to different groups of people, I think that’s great.

TWU: Whilst you were releasing a lot of material, you were at university. Wasn’t it hard to balance the two?

 

Context: It’s a doubled edged sword. Of course it slows you down, but uni is the ONLY reason I can make music, that’s a simple fact. How else would I live day to day? I can’t live with my parents; my dad’s in Scotland and mums in Manchester. My student loan IS my income. Music is an incredibly expensive hobby. It’s like a full-time job that pays no money in the short term. I would always tell people to go to uni if it’s right for them.

TWU: Your new track ‘1.4 at 12’ was just recently unleashed to the public – Tell us about the track.

Context: I was driving around Norwich on a Saturday night going over to my mates. I started writing down all the things I was seeing; a guy bleeding outside a kebab shop, ‘rudeboys’ in maxed out cars, couples arguing… I started thinking about the track ‘Aston Martin Music’ and was just like; the whole ethos of that track has nothing to do with our lives. It’s meaningless to us. This is our life. And honestly, it’s great! Who else is chatting about this? The song basically wrote itself.

TWU: What is Context up to this year?

Context: I’ve just dropped ‘1.4 at 12’ and the video for that. There are a series of remixes dropping in the next few weeks too. Then I’ve got an EP of entirely new material dropping in April or May called ‘Lacked Capital’. I think there will be another single from that EP too. The plan then will be to start getting everyone ready for the album, which is mostly written now. I’ve also got some amazing live dates happening this year too!

Words: Shireen Fenner (@Shireenxoxo)

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