TRCH Nov 19

Future Sound of Nottingham 2019 Finalists: Exchecker

3 July 19 words: Nusic

This weekend sees the return of Nusic's Future Sound of Nottingham, where local acts take to the stage at Rock City to battle it out for a slot at Splendour Festival. Meet Exchecker, one of this year's finalists...

How would you describe your music?
In short, it’s classic hip-hop brought into the modern age. A lot of the UK hip-hop scene is more grime-orientated and as a result the audience becomes more UK centric - the bars are often rapid with jumpy, high BPM beats. I like to think of us as transcending the cultural boundary between UK and US hip-hop by writing songs from the ground up instead of just laying down a bunch of words that happen to rhyme over some random instrumental. Whether the tune has a clear topic or is just a chill summer banger, we start with the beat and try to harmonise the vocals and lyrics with that to write a song – the rapping is just a vehicle to make the song we wanna make.

What was your reaction to the news you’d be playing the FSN Final?
Well, I didn’t know when the news was gonna come in. I checked the podcast with a mate a few beers into a night out and needless to say I didn’t get home until 5am the next morning.

What can the city crowd expect from your performance?
The absolute best of everything we’ve put out so far. The Exchecker EP just came out so we’ll mostly be doing tunes from that as well as an old one. The country's looking increasingly terrible at the minute so we’re gonna bring some bright sunny bangers to city with one exception likely to manifest itself as a mid-set on-stage mental breakdown. I adore performers like Father John Misty who are as theatrical and dramatised as possible on stage, so get ready for a rollercoaster of emotions.

Why did you enter FSN?
I literally just came across it on Facebook in the middle of exam season, sent off The Rumshine and completely forgot I’d done it until the email came in to say we’d made the semi-final. You’ve gotta take every single opportunity that presents itself to make it these days, and I stopped saying no to things a long time ago.

Who are your musical influences?
A lot of our music definitely reeks of the 2000s underground scene, guys like Atmosphere and Brother Ali from the twin cities. Obviously legends like Pac and A Tribe Called Quest are always gonna be in the back of our minds because they wrote the book on this and a lot of the summer jams on the EP have a laid back west coast vibe with a tinge of early Kanye West. Weirdly enough, almost the entire time I was writing the latest EP I listened to no hip-hop whatsoever, which comes back to what I was saying about crafting songs as songs regardless of the style of music. I’m personally big into country music – Luke Combs is killing it right now – and I find that kind of concise storytelling fascinating and it definitely had an impact on how I wrote our latest stuff.

What Nottingham artists are you loving at the minute?
Do Nothing have genuinely been my favourite band for the best part of this year. I struggle to get excited about a lot of new indie bands, but these guys sound like nobody else. Chris has an incredible on stage demeanor that one day I can only hope to parallel, and his lyrics sound like the illegitimate child of Bob Dylan and Nick Cave. Captivating band, absolutely recommend catching them live.

What are your biggest non-musical influences?
Whatever pretentious narcissistic nonsense is on my mind really, it varies from tune to tune. Another Day on the EP is about alcoholism and the way it’s casualised into our society more than I think we realise, but tracks like The Rumshine are just about chilling out in the sun with a girl you’ve got no chance with and drinking cocktails. When I’m writing music I want to either escape into an idealised world or say something no-one else is saying – we’re not the kind of group that’s going to write a concept album about Brexit and wealth inequality anytime soon. As much as those things are relevant and pressing, don’t sh*t where you eat, y’know?

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Probably getting to the final to be fair! If you have a look we’re quite a bit newer than the other artists on the bill so getting this far was really unexpected this early into doing what we’re doing and it's ace to know our music is resonating with people already. It’s an absolute privilege to be playing on such a prestigious stage and I’m buzzing to bring our live show to such a massive audience.

Any last words for LeftLion?
Firstly, our new self-titled EP is out on all streaming services now. And secondly, I want to say a massive thanks to everyone at Nusic for picking our tune and to everyone that voted. We managed to get here because there’s a few people that really believe in what we’re doing and spent time helping us get as many votes as possible. In particular Jakub Wójcik, Jess Snelson and Abby Clarke have just been awesome – we couldn’t have got to this point without them and everyone else who’s supported Exchecker since the beginning. See y’all in the crowd!

Nusic’s Future Sound of Nottingham takes place at Rock City on Sunday 7 July

Exchecker website

Nusic website

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