On his debut album, Tyron Frampton aka Slowthai draws a witty and grim portrayal of Britain in times of Britain’s current state-of-the-nation. It’s neither fully Grime, nor Punk, but rather social commentary with a knifepoint held at the royal family and populists such as Farage or Johnson.
When Frampton was born in 1994 in Northampton – East Midlands – it was John Major who served as Prime Minister in post-Thatcher Britain. But 1994 wasn’t just the year, Slowthai was born, but also the year both Parklife and Definitely Maybe were released. So, of course Mr. Frampton had to give us a guide to the music from that important year.
Whigfield – ‘Saturday Night’
“I haven’t actually seen this video since I was a little kid. Is this the only song they made? I think it’s nostalgic, up until I was about 6 that was always being banged out on radio and on VH1, they showed music videos all day. But that was always background music. And in the barbers, when I got my hair cut as a child, they always got TV and the music channel on. It was always just on in the background. That’s the thing in Britain, you play that a festival and it would be one of them songs.”
Do they still play music videos at the barber’s ?
“In one of the barber’s shop they still play TV, but they watch Naked and Afraid now. It’s where two people get dumped nacked in the jungle and have to survive for two weeks.”
Blur – ‘Parklife’
1994 was the year two of the most significant British albums came out – Blur’s Parklife and Oasis’ Definitely Maybe. Did you grow up with them?
“Oasis and Blur, even though they were rivals. My stepdad always used to play Oasis. Every pub you’d go to play Oasis. My favorite Oasis song is Supersonic and my most loved Blur song is the one with the actor from Quadrophenia, Parklife. T4 on the Beach, Channel 4 they always played it.”
Oasis – ‘Live Forever’
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play Glastonbury. They had so much style, man. Liam Gallagher He’s the meaner, the way he is. His characteristics, the way he is. In the documentary Supersonic, he thought being in a band was for weak people and this boy from another school come hit him on the head with a hammer, and as soon as he got hit with the hammer, all he wanted to do is music. So after that, thanks to the guy with the hammer, ’cause he wouldn’t be where he is today. He’s to me, someone I always looked up to. Just the way he is, he doesn’t care. Just take it or leave it. He’s one of my favourites, out of any band. Noel’s a bit of a dickhead. Liam being a dickhead is what makes me like him. Noel wants to be like Liam, he’s the older brother, so the younger brother’s doing you in, kid. Yes, Oasis is the one for me.”
What do you make out of the British portrayal they delivered with their music?
“They were like the prime example of what British culture’s like. Outside of the Blur’s more London and they’re Manchester. There’s Northern British, everyone in Manchester is like them and I suppose its the same with the Blur. But for me, Oasis is British, and that’s why it didn’t translate to America, it’s too British. It’s both sides, working class and middle class. Oasis is definitely working and Blur’s the middle, bit more well-off.”
“What, are them two having it out now? To me, there two different crowds. They’re both definitely working class, maybe Idles can be considered a bit more hipstery, at this point of time the dress-scene they have, a lot of hipsters wearing the same that. But to me, they’re both amazing. It feels like you have to pick a side, but I don’t pick a side, I like them both.”
‘Everyone that’s true to themselves – you’re a punk‘
One argument I’ve heard was that the punk movement didn’t work out, that’s why there’s still such a huge debate and demand on the topic of punk music …
“I don’t disagree with that. But I think it wasn’t because it didn’t work out. The majority of punks outgrew it and grew up and they just started seeing things differently. They started to have families and build a life on their own. I think the spirit’s always been in teenagers, then Grunge coming around and Nirvana, it was still there. Even though they’re poppy, they’re still ‚Rock’n’Roll‘. The attitude of Oasis was always Punk, no compromise, we are doing it how we want to do it. I don’t think it’s everyone being lost, its too many subgenres. It’s the attitude as well. The way you look at things.
But I think even to call somebody a ‚punk‘, that’s not punk. Shut up! Punk’s and attitude is, you’re born with it and die with it, you still have the core belief. No compromise, that’s punk.
Everyone that’s true to themselves, you’re a punk. But everyone who has to tell a story about being punk, that’s not fucking punk. That people won’t let people spit on them. That’s part of a greeting of a punk. Most these people nowadays they ain’t punk, that’s the reality of it. But it’s that attitude, I think Grime’s the new attitude. Grime’s where you’re from where you live, how you’ve been raised, how you’ve been brought up. It’s a modern subgenre of Punk. Its funny, because you cant force anything in life.”
Portishead – ‘Glory Box’
The next song is a track you’ve previously covered too.
She’s got the voice of an angel. Portishead inspired Kanye West, to take HipHop from being sampled loops and make it progressive musically. They came come out of Bristol, which is Massive Attack, it’s the scene there that was a booming thing. They didn’t need to be from fucking London to be massive and they didn’t compromise, the music has substance and a message. They’re innovators of a sound. They took something in its basic form and made it into something that can be on a bigger stage or with an orchestra. Portishead is one of my favorite groups, these are people I dream to work it. My mum used to play their first album Dummy on repeat, when I was growing up with a kid. Same with Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy, that would always be on on MTV or another TV channel. For me, the Dummy album’s the one record I always go back to and listen to it, its new each time. The whole album from start to finish is a 10/10, you can’t argue with that.
What was your intention behind the altered cover version?
The reason I chose Glory Box – figure me if I’m wrong – is the message I took from this song is that she is saying that the Glory Box is for me the metaphor for reproduction. Let me be your woman, let me myself, don’t use me as a material object. At the point in time it was even more fundamental, because no one was preaching it. When I wrote my version, I wanted to write it as an abusive relationship from the woman’s perspective. Kinda explaining her thought process and in the end she died, because she wouldn’t leave the guy. That’s why I chose that song because it I could put a twist on it and it’s one of my favorites.
All Photos by Louisa Zimmer for NBHAP