MEET: Cigarettes and Scratchcards

New Single: How Should I Say This Out Now

This is an insight into the mindset of Manchester’s own Cigarettes and Scratchcards. Cigs’ writing style is orientated heavily around social observations and the state of dystopia in which we live. This piece serves as a dual narrative of the trials and tribulations of the artist, and many of the common themes that are mirrored amongst other members of the working class and what they may go through in their lifetime, whether that be financial struggles, souls being “trapped on the pavements” under the illusion of better things and a life of crime, addictions and means to keep people limited to their station. The commentary is very refreshing and important to the modern rap scene and makes a stark change from the glamorisation of drugs , sex and violence which have become so normalised in both our music scene and society broadly. 

Cigs comes from a background of rap and electronic music, the instrumental can be interpreted as a melancholic yet upbeat garage beat, the instrumental in itself is also a commentary on society, as where on the surface there is a sombre state of affairs, however as expressed in the closing line “That’s up to us to realise who we are and what we can do when we unite and become one” there is also a rather empowering and motivating element to being a member of the working class and our sense of community us unrivalled.  The Instrumental is also demonstrative of the artist’s own affinity with the UK music scene, particularly the grime scene and early garage with a different vocal delivery style.

1. For someone that is yet to discover ‘Cigarettes and Scratchcards’ and how would you describe yourself.

Independent, Unique, Political, Authentic , Unorthodox

2. What inspired you as an artist?

The topics i write about are often social observations and heavily orientate around the environments and themes i have experienced in my life so far, I look at subcultural movements as a whole such as the UK punk , garage , grime scenes and look at the political subject matter, music to me is about expression and about being bigger than just words, deeper meaning and roots firmly within the working class are what have inspired me to create music and continue to do so in the quest to document mine and many other peoples journeys.

3. What is your process for preparing to perform live? Do you have any Diva demands? Who’s the Mariah Carey of the group?

It all depends, more often than not the ritual is two pints of Guinness and then rock and roll, I normally perform on my own but also have a band called “Steve Stevenson and the Stevens band” where we play more of the punk stuff, they’re all sound and I’m probably the biggest diva to be honest.

4. Where do you feel you fit into the music landscape?

Honestly, I don’t think I do yet, maybe i never will… I feel the music landscape and climate right now on the commercial level encourages mass conformity rather than expression, with the things I speak about I have accepted that I won’t fit into conventional spaces in the “rap” umbrella, because I’m not talking about sex drugs or violence. It’s important for me to pave my own way and carve out my own little ecosystem upon the landscape.

5: What are your favourite musical genres, and are there any you dislike?

I love the UK rap scene generally, I’ve been brought up on a lot of the Manchester indie bands and also with a lot of trance and electronica so it’s a mixed bag really. As much as I love UK rap I do think drill is a bit tired at this stage and maybe it’s time for a change.

6. Where did the name come from ?

Cigarettes and Scratchcards are both vices we often find ourselves entrapped in, gambling and nicotine, I think with the subject matter of my tunes it makes sense to have my name as a commentary on the things unfolding in front of us and especially in the working class.

7 What would you say is your greatest strength as an Artist?

I’m a “doer”, I’m not really scared of making mistakes and any mistakes that I do make will be things I learn from and take forward with me in my career, I have no aversion to doing things wrong and sometimes making a tit of myself, how would I learn otherwise.

8. What would you say is your greatest weakness as an Artist?

Again I have no aversion to making a tit of myself and unfortunately I’m quite stubborn, it works in my favour sometimes but I’m not really phased by ruffling feathers or burning bridges, I struggle to cope with the industry in general a lot of the time and it’s important for me to remember it’s a music “industry” and it isn’t really about freedom of expression, it’s about conformity.

9.  What can fans expect from your new single ‘ How Should I Say This ’

How Should I Say This is a garage tune I Made with a melancholic piano but bouncy drums and bass. It’s an insight into my mindset, This piece serves as a dual narrative my trials and tribulations , and many of the common themes that are mirrored amongst other members of the working class and what they may go through in their lifetime, whether that be financial struggles, souls being “trapped on the pavements” under the illusion of better things and a life of crime, addictions and means to keep people limited to their station.

10. What music artiest would you say have influenced your work?

It’s got to be Mike Skinner more than anyone else, I remember my dad showing me A Grand Don’t Come For Free for the first time as a kid and I’d say that album has inspired me the most, I also respect him from the production side of view as well. Other bands like The Stone Roses, Joy Division and The Clash have all inspired and influenced me massively as well. On the flip side electronic artists like Mauro Picotto and Tiesto were on my heavy rotation when I was a bit younger.

11. Who would you most like to collaborate with artistically?

In terms of collaboration on a song I’m a massive fan of For Those I Love and his style of poetry is unbeatable, I reckon we’d whip up a masterpiece on a track together.

On the production side of things I’d LOVE to produce some beats for Babygang, the Italian rap scene is crazy and I’d probably rate him above most rappers at the moment.

12. What was your worst performance?

I recently performed at an art exhibition and would like to think i smashed the performance however I forgot my lyrics half way through one of my tracks (too many pints oops) which has never happened
Other than that I’d say my first performance was a bit shakey , I hadn’t really mastered my stage presence and wasn’t too confident, but the more time that passes the better I get with more experience.

13: What was the most difficult obstacle you have ever faced and how did you overcome it?

Growing up where I grew up there isn’t a music scene that isn’t to do with conventional band music, so when I first started out I struggled to gain as much traction and support as I’d have liked. But I didn’t let that beat me and started focusing more on Manchester and opened my studio there, after that it’s been a grind but the rest is history, I’m deeply privileged to be part of a fantastic creative community (heads) and be in a space where I can express my true self. All it takes is sacrifice and hard work, nothing worth doing was ever easy and it’s been important to me to remind myself of that along the way.

14: What is your creative process when making music. Do you work with others or is there just you?

Me , studio, locked door, let the insanity commence, sometimes I wish I was more collaborative and enjoy my work with the band but more often than not from the production to the mix and master I tend to do it on my own in solitude, creating is a cathartic exercise for me and it’s important for me to maintain control and individuality in my art.

15: Where do you see your musical career in 10 years?

Who knows? We’re 4 years deep now and I’ve already achieved some of my dreams like working with United and having my tunes played on Radio, I think regardless of where I go it’s important for me to stay authentic and true to my own standards. As long as I’m myself I’m sure I’ll be okay.