ASBO Meets: Grim Sickers

Over recent years, Grime sensation Grim Sickers has become one of the most recognizable faces within the UK scene. Having first arrived on most people’s radar in 2017 when he released his Grime anthem ‘Kane’ featuring Boy Better Know legend JME. Since then he has become more than just another Grime MC, releasing various Emo, Trap and Garage influenced tracks which have helped to broaden his appeal and sound. 

Renowned for having some of the biggest co-signs in the industry, from people such as The Streets, Ghetts and Example. Grim Sickers has spent the past few years cultivating a passionate cult fanbase. He has now revealed his latest track, entitled ‘True To You’ a melodic Garage banger featuring Rhys the Confessor & Gallah. ASBO caught up with Grim Sickers to discuss this latest single, his journey and future plans.

What are some of your earliest memories of finding interest in listening to music?

Well, I’m originally from Swindon, there aren’t many musicians in Swindon who make music like mine, so for me getting it to music, especially Rap, was just because I just used to listen to the radio a lot. People like Tim Westwood, Trevor Nelson, I used to watch MTV Base as well, that’s where I would find loads of artists I loved. The radio and TV were some of the first places I heard rap music and really made me want to try making my own.

How would you describe your music for people who haven’t heard it before? I know you experiment with more sounds that just Grime.

I was a very good Grime MC. I came in with a different style and a unique rap flow, but I’ve evolved now, I’m not just one genre, I’m not just Grime. I’m influenced by Emo, Garage, Trap as well as Rap and Grime. A lot of British sounds influence me. I feel like there isn’t another Grim Sickers, there isn’t another MC who sounds like me. When you hear my music, you know it’s me straight away.

What influences you musically and non-musically?

Probably boxing, I’m a big boxing fan, I have some songs named after boxers. Cooking inspires me as well because of how therapeutic it can be. Gym as well which is amazing for your mental health, that’s the three things that inspire me the most outside of music for sure.

I know you have a good relationship with Mike Skinner from The Streets who you have collaborated with in various songs, how did that relationship form and what’s it like working with such a big name?

Yeah, we’re like best friends man, we met through Murkage Dave, Murkage heard my song ‘Kane’, showed Mike, and Mike wanted to meet me and since then we’ve really hit it off. We’ve done two tours together, we’ve got loads of records together that haven’t even come out yet. We speak most days, Mike is a great inspiration to me. He always says that working with me has done a lot for him, that’s what me and Mike are like, we are proper good mates.  

Your latest track, ‘True to you’ is a melodic, Garage focused banger. What made you want to create something with a more melodic sound?

I’ve been getting a bit bored of Rap, it sometimes feels like it’s always the same, I feel like to grow as an artist I’ve got to try something different and get out of my comfort zone. I’ve been really inspired by The Smiths recently and their melodies, I’ve realised in music that if you want to make a hit, sometimes all you need is a catchy line or a melody which will get stuck in peoples heads for days, weeks and even years. I’m trying to make some minimal, melodic music that catches your ear because of how bored I’ve been getting with rap recently.

The lyrics to ‘True to you’ are very emotive. When you make these more heartfelt tracks where do you draw the ideas from? Is it drawn from personal experience or is it more abstract?

Yeah, it’s way more personal. Before he passed away, me and Lil Peep had a song together. I saw what Lil Peep was doing in 2016 with his very emotional lyrics and it really connected with me. I thought you know what, I need to be as honest as I can in my music so fans can relate to me. I was really into Lil Peep, he inspired me so much. My lyrics are way more personal now, he inspired that. I’ve realized I’m growing a cult fan base and more fans due to being so open, and not being embarrassed by my true feelings.

What has been a career highlight for you so far?

I would say Glastonbury 2018. I performed on the John Peel stage with The Streets. It was shown on BBC Two, that was crazy. Obviously, Mike helped me get on a stage like that, but I was still there, I was content up on that stage. That was honestly one of the best experiences of my career so far. Hopefully, I can get up there solo one day.

Most people would have first heard of you through your extremely popular track ‘Kane’ with grime legend JME, how much has your music career changed since the success of Kane?

Kane got my name out there, I’ve become more of a brand since that track, more of a personality, an all-rounder. I put that tune out in 2017, I’m very lucky to have a cult following from that track that I still call a family today. Careers last minutes these days. My career has definitely changed since releasing Kane. I’ve had time to find myself musically and personally. People thought I was a gimmick rapper when Kane came out, but all the music I’ve put out since that shows that I’m not. My career and sound have evolved since then.

What’s the hardest thing about being an artist in today’s climate? And what is the most rewarding?

The hardest thing is making your song last more than one day. If you release on Friday, that’s a perfect time, but so many other people also release then, by Sunday and Monday some people have already forgotten your song because it got lost in all the other Friday releases. The way we take in music, we have so much choice it’s hard to stand out, it’s a saturated market, you have to find new ways to stay relevant that’s the hardest thing. Also if you’re not on Instagram or Tik Tok then it’s like you don’t exist so you have to keep up with the social media stuff to stay relevant.

The most rewarding thing about being an artist in these times is how you can blow up from one viral song. Your life can change for the better in one moment. I also love how much closer we can feel to the fans as artists through social media. You can see how much your music affects your fans, it makes you feel good when you know you have made someone’s day better through your art.

I know you are influenced by a lot of different sounds and are a big fan of Lil Peep and the Emo Trap wave. What is it about Emo Trap you love and can we expect more tracks of this sound?

I love that sound man, me and Lil Peep, the pioneer of that sound, had a song in the works together, it really sucks we didn’t finish it before he passed. The Emo-Trap sound that Lil Peep and Bones were creating was really interesting to me, it was so new and fresh It really drew me in. I always liked Nirvana and Blink 182 when I was growing up, but I didn’t like the instrumental parts of those bands as much as I liked the vocals. I liked the melodic and emotive lyrics but the beats weren’t my thing, so when I heard it over trap being done by Lil Peep and Bones then I loved it. It blew my mind, it was a perfect combo. I love how you can mix genres and it brings a whole different crowd together. I’m the best when I’m making this ‘Emo Trap’ stuff, I love the sound, I’m definitely going to have more songs of that sound.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year? Any projects or concerts on the horizon?

Yeah, I’ve got a project called Sickers The Great I just finished up, it’s my best work. I’m looking to release it by the end of September or early October, keep an eye out, it’s gonna be out this year for sure.

Words: David Pratt