R&B in the UK doesn't necessarily get the spotlight, especially with the States dominating the genre. Gray, who's part of the Badside family from South London is creating music that'll get you in your feelings. If you're a fan of PartyNextDoor or Drake, then this is for you. Sitting down with Gray discussing his move to music, I found out it pretty much happened as a natural transition due to his time spent chilling in the studio with other Badside members. “I wouldn't even call myself a singer […] I get by” he coyly tells me, but if you hear the melody and the simple love angst lyrics, I think musician is a well deserving title. Growing up with a father who DJ’s, attending The BRIT school and growing up around other artists such as Rainy Milo and the many talented members of South London’s Badside Collective, it’s no wonder Gray found himself stuck with the musical bug. He met his Badside brothers, Ellz and Proton from mutual friends and growing up in South London, the boys clicked and then the natural friendship organically pushed him to become a cemented Badside member despite him not being a musician at the time, making himself a useful part of the team using his media skills to create artwork for the clique and the Badside logo.
"One day I just had something on my chest and I asked Proton for a beat and he was reluctant to give it to me but he gave me one anyway. I started writing about my aunt who had recently passed away but I felt like I didn't wanna give that story away just yet and put that aside. I left the beat for about a week, then one morning at 9am I just started flowing. When I voice-noted it to Proton he replied straight away saying come to my house to record. We recorded it, mixed and released it the same weekend."
And the rest is history as they say, the pair came out with "The Game" and the buzz kept growing around Gray’s music. What started out as a personal outlet became another addition to Gray’s creative portfolio, on top of his media & filming talents and Skating past.
“I would've just thought to rap before when it came to music but now singing is my go to”. I liked the fact that it came so naturally to him, rather than it being a conscious choice. We spoke about his lyrical content and what inspires him most. Life is the answer - the tracks as I disciphered since I've been listening, often discuss his own emotions and a lucky girl who's either caught his heart or tangled in his lust. Such as my personal fav "Six Girl".
“Sometimes it’s subconscious […] I wrote it (The "Come and See Me" Remix, which is lit by the way) about a girl, thats actually my girlfriend now. After I listened to it back a month later I realised it was actually what was happening now”. The therapeutic aspect of music seems to be the main drive for Gray, and in a world where a lot of people are fame hungry or too image conscious, it’s refreshing to hear music thats created unintentionally. Gray made it clear that he does it just to create "a wave" and to live "for the passion".
To finish off the interview I asked Gray a couple quick fire questions so you guys can get to know him a little more.
What other artists inspire you?
“I love PartyNextDoor, but I wouldn't say I look towards other artists as influence. It’s more of their stories that influence me […] people like Stormzy, coming from ends or Bonkaz […] those peoples lives have influenced me to become something big”
Who were you in a past life?
“I would've been a no-one smoking ganja in Jamaica, on my farm”
Whats your favourite lyric that you've written?
“I got this tune, I don't know if it’ll come out but i say in it, 'Girl can I love you till the moonlight. Aren't you gonna ask me what’s my star sign’ cus girls are always asking what your star sign is haha”
Whats your favourite song, artists and album right now?
“Song: ‘Like That’ by Kodak Black. Artist: A2. Album: I’ll say the Badside EP” (nice little plug there).
Photography by Vicky Grout.