Friends Like These: Bugzy Malone and Dermot Kennedy

The Manchester rapper and the Irish singer/songwriter on their collaborative single 'Don't Cry', Bugzy's recovery following his near-fatal motorbike accident and the unlikely influence of Vincent van Gogh

The deeply emotive ‘Don’t Cry’, the recent collaboration between Bugzy Malone and Dermot Kennedy, was borne out of the life-altering aftermath from a horrific event. Back in March, Bugzy was involved in a serious motorbike accident in his Manchester hometown which left him feeling “lucky to be alive”.

“Prior to going through the crash situation, I was in a place where I didn’t feel like I had loads to say,” the veteran rapper says now in regards to the brutal wider story behind the single. “When I went through the crash, [I lost] all my inhibitions — everything just went on pause. It was a case of just recovery: all I had to do in the world was just recover.”

After leaving hospital the following month, Bugzy proceeded to use the first coronavirus-enforced lockdown as a time to heal both physically and mentally. He subsequently made the decision to document his experience through song, and reached out to his newfound pal Kennedy — who lays down distinctive, gritty vocals on ‘Don’t Cry”s powerful chorus — on Instagram.

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“We spoke on the phone and you explained to me how you were in a place where you weren’t necessarily desperate to make music,” the Irish singer-songwriter recalls to Bugzy over Zoom. “But you had experienced something that sort of ignited that fire in you, and had put you in a place where you really had something to speak about, which is the best place to be when you’re making music.”

‘Don’t Cry’ is the first track to be taken from Bugzy’s upcoming second studio album ‘The Resurrection’, which will drop early next year. As a longtime fan of the rapper, Kennedy says that he felt honoured to be involved in the record.

“I’ve been listening to your stuff for years,” Kennedy tells Bugzy. “But when I got to the studio to record [the vocal], I was very conscious of the fact that what had happened to you [the crash] hadn’t happened to me, right? I was trying my best to imagine how you might feel. It was important for me to take anything that I’ve been through that’s been difficult and just channel that same feeling.”

Bugzy agreed with that sentiment, telling Kennedy: “I could tell that artistically and creatively, you were truly immersing yourself in the situation. When I looked into your eyes, I believed you. So from then on, that was my introduction to you.”

For this latest instalment in NME’s Friends Like These series, Bugzy and Kennedy also talk about which people have inspired them creatively, what their respective end goals are in music and reminisce on their first-ever gigs. Check out the full video above.

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Bugzy Malone and Dermot Kennedy’s ‘Don’t Cry’ is out now.

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