Romford, east London’s’s own Bexey has championed individuality for his whole life. Rocking long earrings and punk clothing before most of rap adopted the style cool, the star has always been ahead of the grain – and encourages you to be the same way. Bexey has definitely himself from the commercial styling of the rap world, blowing up in the moody emo era of SoundCloud. His rap skills are clearly influenced by the rich plethora of talented grime MCs of the ‘00s and early ‘10s, but his looks are clearly inspired by rock stars past and present.
Meeting the 25-year-old ahead of his first performance London’s upcoming, brand-new Alt+LDN Festival in London – a party dedicated to mesh the worlds of rock and rap together, with Architects and Playboi Carti headlining – we talk about him growing up in Romford, the commercial world, and how he “relearning his lyrics” for his performance. But that makes sense when he “doesn’t listen to his own music” and “makes it for others”.
Alt LDN Festival looks like it’s going to be fun, doesn’t it?
“It does! I’m looking forward to it. I was pretty nervous at first because I ain’t done a show in what feels like forever, and my first show back is on the main stage of a festival!”
Your name is next to stars like Playboi Carti and Lil Yachty. How does that feel?
“Ski Mask The Slump God is there. DJ Scheme [famous for being Ski Mask and XXXTentacion’s DJ, and now a record producer] is there. I’m friends with them so I’m excited to see them. They’re great guys. They’re fun!”
And how do you feel about it being trendy to be moody? You were a great figure in the emo-rap wave back in the late ‘10s…
“I think there’s a lot of phoney people out here who have realised that it’s a trend to rap about being depressed. There’s a lot of people doing it on a surface level and not connecting to people because it’s clear that they’re pretending. But the real ones win in the end; money-wise, statistic-wise. We can look back on history and see who really poured their heart into it, who left their mark in the game. And then those who jumped on it to ride the wave, you don’t see them.”
You seem to be one of a kind…
“I just focus on myself. One day, I might wake up and make a disco song. I make whatever I feel like at the moment. However it feels, I let it out. I’m never like, ‘Is this too much?’ and I think that’s why I have such a cult following. What if my favourite artist crossed out their lyrics that got me here, doing what I’m doing now? ‘Oh, let me not talk about depression, and let’s talk about VVS diamonds instead!’ I wouldn’t be here today. It’s so deep that they’re my family, you know. I put my everything into it. If I want to wear a dress, I will. If I want to make a drum and bass song, I will. I don’t overthink shit. There’s kids scared to wear pink to school in case they get called gay – what the fuck is that about? I want people to know you can do whatever the fuck you want to do.”
Who’s your biggest inspiration?
“Lil B has had a huge impact on me, and he’s a friend of mine now. I discovered his music when I was discovering myself. I grew up on grime, battling people in the playground but then there was this switch. I was big on Linkin Park when I was younger and held my CD player on the lowest volume to my ear because I knew if my brothers heard it, they’d be like, ‘Why are you listening to that grunger shit!?’. All this hyper-masculinity, if you will. Lil B wears what he wants to wear, drops thousand-song mixtapes, and his whole message is to be yourself and love yourself.”
How do you feel about the commercial rap scene in the UK and US?
“I don’t really listen to other people. I just listen to my friends’ stuff or myself, or old music. A lot of music out today just sounds the same. You can be in the shop and finish these guys’ lyrics, and I feel like I’ve heard it a billion times already. I think [music] should be unpredictable and a mystery, kinda. Not some nursery rhymes shit.”
Your music seems different compared to typical UK rap, did you feel like you had to leave the UK to become successful?
“That’s just how it worked out. I grew up on grime, on jungle, on drum and bass. I still like it. But I do love rock, rap, even jazz music. I love disco – everything. I’m a cauldron. I’m a mixture of everything. I spent a lot of time on the internet and was a part of communities that were international. I made friends in America. So when I dropped music, I guess my hometown was the last to support me. My first show was in Hollywood. I’m from Romford – you’d think my first show should be in Camden or some shit. Or in my hometown, but yeah… I went out there and now most of my friends are from America in the music scene. It wasn’t planned, though. It wasn’t like I had to go to America to make it.”
And how is that new music sounding?
“I was making so much music, I had to take a step back and live life a little. Some people can, but I like raw emotion. But yeah, the new music is sounding really powerful. I’m really proud of it. Hopefully a new single will be out next week, but I’m working on an EP. I haven’t named it yet, but it should come to me soon. I was going to make an album but I want to make that very very special. Not that EPs aren’t very special, but it’s like a transitional period. I’ve got a lot of cool collabs I cannot mention, but I have a bunch of sick collabs that everyone will love. I want to keep it a surprise so everyone wakes up like, ‘Shit, he did a song with who?’. I love that shit.”
What’s next for Bexey?
“I’m always evolving. I don’t have a style. I’m styleless. I made an EP called ‘Forever in Progress’ in like 2017 or some shit, and that is my motto. I’m never complete, never completed anything. David Bowie said a good quote — it’s not the exact quote, though, I’m not good at remembering shit — but it was like: ‘I’m not sure where I’m going but I’ll make it interesting.’ And that’s how I live: I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow but I’m going to enjoy it. My favourite song is the next song.
“I do have, though, this Alt+LDN Festival coming up. I do have a UK tour coming soon in October, November time. That’s pretty much sold-out and I’m really excited about that. I will be dropping an EP, clothing, whatever I feel like. But a lot of magic is on the way.”
– ALT+LDN Festival kicks off in London’s Clapham Common this Bank Holiday Monday, August 30