Loyle Carner On His New Material – And Some Big Collaborations

You’d forgive a hotly tipped British hip-hop hopeful about to embark on a busy summer of huge festivals for being nervous about the months ahead. Loyle Carner, however, is more concerned about how his fast-filling-up schedule is going to impact the five-a-side football team he plays with on Tuesday nights a stone’s throw from his south London home. “None of the shows are on Tuesday at the minute. So even though things are getting busier, it shouldn’t stop me killing
it on the pitch,” he laughs.

It’s typical of the 20-year-old, who despite accruing hype on both sides of the Atlantic since the whip-smart rhymes and melancholy of his debut EP, last year’s ‘A Little Late’, remains committed to his home life, both on record and off. “My next single’s called ‘Tierney Terrace’, which is the place my nan and grandad lived. It was my home away from home when my mum was working late, so it became one of those landmarks for me. They passed away a few years ago, so it was cool to pay homage.” Due out on paradYse Records, the track’s “the next stage in my story”, he says. “It’s a continuation of where I’m at. I didn’t want to change up my sound just because there’s a bit of attention around me now.”

“A bit” is maybe understating it. Since the release of ‘A Little Late’, a gritty, sad but never moping six-track rap confessional threaded with glimpses into a sometimes troubled adolescence – “Everybody says I’m fucking sad. Of course I’m fucking sad, I miss my fucking dad”, he rasps on opener ‘BFG’ – he’s opened for hip-hop mastermind MF Doom at his first ever show, earned a fan in New York star Joey Bada$$ and played a series of storming sets at The Great Escape in Brighton.

“They might have to wait a little while,” Loyle grins to NME when asked about his debut album. “I don’t want to rush it. I want to get it right, you know?” That doesn’t mean new material beyond isn’t coming, though. As well as ‘Tierney Terrace’, he and Rebel Kleff, the collaborator responsible for the twilight boom-bap sound of breakout tracks ‘Sea Shells’ and ‘BFG’, have been working on new tracks both in his beatmaker friend’s home and at a nearby fancy London studio, as part of Converse Rubber Tracks, giving rising young artists free studio time.

“The driving force in my life is family and friends. That’s what has been spurring me on to write, so that will be what the next step for me is about too, I think,” he says. Having worked previously with the likes of Kate Tempest, he hints at some major collaborations in the works. “I wouldn’t want to give too much away just in case they turn out really shit,” he laughs. “But one is a big hero of mine…”

Expect Carner to keep killing it, on the mic as well as on the football pitch.

Loyle is one of several rising artists to be given free studio time from Converse Rubber Tracks London. He recorded at Kore Studios.

How did you find out about Converse Rubber Tracks London?

“My manager found it and emailed me. It was wicked – a great opportunity and a fantastic experience. Me and [collaborator] Rebel Kleff usually record and work on all of our stuff in his bedroom, so being in a professional environment was something new and kinda eye-opening.”

How’d it go, then?

“Yeah, great, man! We had nothing planned – we just wanted to go in there and see what happened, experiment a little. We made a track I haven’t given a name yet. It’s quite short, not a fully fledged song.”

Did you learn anything from the experience, do you think?

“I learned a new approach. It was great to be able to play with keyboards and things not normally at our disposal… The track we made’s a little more polished than normal, so I might bring a little of that back to the bedroom.”