Since stepping out from behind the boards as a sought-after producer in 2017, S-X has made one of many smoothest transitions into solo artist that we’ve seen in modern British music.
The 28-year-old singer-songwriter, born Sam Gumbley, made his mark on the music trade some years earlier than launching his singing profession—in 2010, S-X produced the grime reload basic “Wooo Riddim” and, in 2011, he produced Skepta’s “Large” single with Chip, all from the consolation of his small, Wolverhampton-based bed room. He later gained manufacturing credit working with the likes of Younger Cash (“We Alright”) and Infantile Gambino (“Free At Final”).
S-X’s time in school would see him beatboxing for aspiring MCs within the playground, earlier than going residence and honing in on the works of his mom’s favorite rock bands, like Fleetwood Mac, and tapping into his DJ brother’s American hip-hop assortment that will encourage the lure sounds of his first three mixtapes—Causes, Non permanent and True Colors—when his producer-to-singer transition started in early 2017. S-X has now established himself as a fully-fledged recording artist, one with distinctive melodies and vocals that haven’t been heard within the pop-R&B sphere earlier than him. Having just lately seen success by singing the hook on KSI’s 2020 single, “Down Like That” with Lil Child and Rick Ross, in addition to making noise of his personal with “In Actual Life” and “Distance”, S-X is now gearing himself as much as launch his as-yet-untitled debut album later this yr.
We caught up with S-X over the telephone to debate his early relationship with music, making that transition from producer to singer, his upcoming debut album and extra.
“Truthfully, it feels prefer it’s the primary time in my musical profession that I’ve been doing one thing right.”
COMPLEX: The previous twelve months have been tough for musicians all world wide. How have you ever discovered it each personally and professionally?
S-X: The primary lockdown hit after I was 1 / 4 method by means of making my album, perhaps a little bit little bit of a push in direction of half method, but it surely gave me an opportunity to actually use the time to develop on the manufacturing—and the challenge as an entire. Clearly, we’ve missed out on the tour, however I believe it’s simply a type of issues. My excursions don’t do loopy numbers—they’re largely in venues that match a pair hundred individuals—which is chill, and it’s a blessing to have the ability to say that I do this, but it surely’s not like I’ve missed out on tens of millions of kilos.
When did the music journey begin for you? Is there a specific second that stands out?
It began in school, actually. I believe it was at some extent the place everybody was MCing; grime was simply beginning to get huge, and the older children would simply spray bars each break and lunchtime. Generally they’d have a speaker field that will play, however that ultimately bought confiscated by academics so I turned the man that beatboxed. That’s how it began, actually, and the way I bought into music. I realised I may really do one thing with it after which, from after I came upon you could possibly make beats on a laptop computer, I used to be like: “Yo! I’m out right here now!” [Laughs] However again then, there was no YouTube or something like that, so half the time I didn’t even know what I used to be doing! I simply knew what the music was going to do. I can’t even play keys—like I can’t even play precise piano keys—however I do know each chord, simply due to the issues that I noticed on the display screen. It’s kinda loopy, man.
Getting residence from college and honing in on the curiosity that you simply developed, did you’re taking any inspiration from your loved ones and at-home environment?
After I was rising up, I used to be listening to plenty of my mum’s music, so like ABBA and Fleetwood Mac, and she or he used to play mad dance information, too. I used to be at all times round electronically-synthed music, you understand? However extra like on the sound of a trippy, pop wave—I assume you could possibly name it that. However that’s how I actually bought into music at that age, as a result of I used to be eager about completely different sounds. However for certain, I grew up in a really musical family; my brother was a DJ, and he would play every kind of hip-hop stuff, in order that’s how I bought that facet too.
Do you suppose that being an aspiring musician from Wolverhampton left you at an obstacle compared to different abilities which might be based mostly in London?
For certain, man. Once you’re in London, you actually see a musician or superstar on the street, crossing the highway, with out even realising. However in Wolverhampton, it’s actually each man for themselves. You see the odd footballer as a result of we have now a fairly large group now, however that’s about as huge because it will get. That’s why, as a child, I used to get the practice all the way down to London and simply wait exterior labels—at like 16, 17. I’d simply wait exterior the labels, as a result of that’s the place the best persons are going to be! That’s what I at all times tried to do: go to the place persons are at. That’s the place you’re going to fulfill individuals, you understand what I imply? It is likely to be a bit creepy, however individuals respect the starvation.
Stroll me by means of your transition from making beats for artists to changing into an artist your self.
I’ve type of at all times sung. I’ve at all times written melodies for musicians in periods and stuff, however extra low-key than something. Like, it’s my job! We’d have a observe on loop and we’d give you melodies and features, but it surely took me some time… I by no means actually realised that this was songwriting in addition to producing, you understand what I imply? So I’ve at all times low-key sung, however actually from the tip of 2016, going into 2017, I simply determined I used to be gonna write about some private issues and carry out them over my very own beats, and simply experiment. So I simply began placing it out and, truthfully, it began doing rather well—like, greater than my beats. It’s been arduous to make the best transfer, and the improper transfer, but it surely’s gone properly. Truthfully, it feels prefer it’s the primary time in my musical profession that I’ve been doing one thing right, which is type of mad contemplating I’ve had Grammy nominations and stuff, so it speaks volumes for me. However on a private degree, it feels good for me to be doing one thing like this. I believe lots of people suppose that as a result of I’m from the grime period, I’d be doing one thing that’s extra in that bracket, however I’m simply gonna be doing what I need to do now as a result of that’s the way you develop.
Would you say that grime is a key affect in your sound nonetheless? “Wooo Riddim” is a complete basic.
I’d say I’ve at all times been extra of a hip-hop fan, personally. However grime was at all times a cool factor after I was rising up and, as a young person, that was clearly what bought me into music. It was the curiosity in grime that bought me into music. However I actually began out enjoying the drums, so I’ve been influenced by a great deal of music. I simply love music [laughs]. I’m at all times open to making an attempt new stuff.
In your music, you constantly contact on subjects of heartbreak, suicide, and psychological well being. How necessary is it so that you can converse on these issues?
The factor is, typically they’re simply relatable. Individuals may adapt their which means of my songs to no matter’s occurring of their private life. If I used to be simply speaking about fucking bitches, shopping for chains and smoking weed, and that was somebody’s dream day trip, then they’re going to like that tune! But when I’m speaking about suicide or psychological well being, or actual life conditions, then it’s going to stay with them on a deeper degree. It’s all about notion, man. For me, music is all about emotions. I don’t really feel like I write about actual particular and private issues to me, I simply write what involves me. Some days within the studio are horrible! Like, typically I’m out right here pondering, “Ought to I simply give up?” and a few days, it simply comes. With my tune “In Actual Life”, I actually wrote it in quarter-hour, and the beat. It was simply pure for me to put in writing that tune. Generally they’re identical to that.
“I need to painting a stable message with the album, particularly throughout a time the place individuals want good power and vibes.”
You may have a very robust following on social media, extra particularly on YouTube. How influential has the platform been for you, and the way a lot has it helped you construct your model?
How I bought linked into the YouTube scene was from connecting the blokes on the TGF channel; we’re from a really comparable space, like ten minutes away from one another. I began singing throughout my friendship with these guys—they began placing my early songs of their movies and it was being acquired rather well by followers, so what I assumed could be sick could be to maintain giving them music. That is the brand new technology of TV, and it’s with your pals so it’s as natural as ever. However I by no means needed to pressure it. It wasn’t prefer it was compelled down your throat in each video; it wasn’t like I used to be asking for all my music to be put of their movies. However yeah, man, I can’t say the phrase sufficient: natural! It was simply natural. That’s why I really feel like I’m meant to be right here.
You signed a publishing cope with Sony Music UK final yr—congrats on that. Did your the way in which you create endure any drastic adjustments after you signed on the dotted line?
To be sincere, it hasn’t modified, as a result of I signed my deal in the course of the first lockdown in April and we’ve been indoors ever since. So all I do know is: indoors, studio, ending my album, and actually simply ready. Like, earlier than my final tune, “Harmful”, I hadn’t dropped a tune for like eight months so I used to be pondering, “Yo! Are the followers going to nonetheless like me?” However you understand, it’s not was successful file with tons of of tens of millions of streams, but it surely’s sitting on like three million views in a few months and I’m pleased with that. To come back again after eight months after not doing something, to a pandemic, the place persons are not doing something—clearly, we have been on Gogglebox as properly—I’m proud of the way it’s performed.
Because you determined to step inside the sales space as a singer-songwriter, you’ve launched three mixtapes—2019’s True Colors and 2018’s Non permanent and Causes—however the subsequent challenge coming is your debut album. Has there been a unique method with making this album?
I’m glad you’ve requested this, as a result of with my final two tasks, Non permanent and True Colors, they have been each straight mixtapes—a compilation of songs. A few of the information are unmixed demos, however they comprise little tales that I assumed the followers would love. However with this album now, what I need to do is painting a message, one which’s probably not in relation to itself. The music on the album is the same old S-X—heavy beats, fireplace melodies, relatable lyrics—however I’m experimenting much more. I need to painting a stable message with it, too, throughout a time the place individuals want good power and vibes. It’ll all make sense when it’s out… It doesn’t make actual sense proper now for the individuals studying this dialog, however I can promise you: it would.
How lengthy has the method been in creating it?
Quite a lot of the album began in late 2019; the primary single, “In Actual Life”, was made in March the identical yr. A few of the album was made in LA after I was staying at my supervisor’s home, and most of it was made in the course of the lockdown. Like, in my studio, I’ve bought plenty of demos and plenty of concepts which might be there which I do know the place they may head, however plenty of it was simply ending these off. I’m excited for individuals to listen to the brand new stuff, truthfully. I’ve by no means put an album out, so I’m simply trying ahead to individuals having the ability to hear the place I’m coming from, and listen to my story.
Changing into an artist means changing into a full-on model. How have you ever discovered being in entrance of the cameras and the centre of consideration?
I believe it’s simply a part of what comes with it. Clearly, it hasn’t even phased me but as a result of I don’t know if what I’m doing is right [laughs]. Clearly it’s, as a result of it’s going properly, however I really don’t know what I’m doing so I’m type of winging it. If I’ve bought cameras in my face, then I’ve bought to get used to it—even speaking on the telephone, it simply feels regular. I can’t clarify to you adequate about it being natural, but it surely’s all simply very meant-to-be. I really feel like I’m on a religious path with it all written out for me, and I’m simply turning the pages.
Apart from the album, is there the rest we are able to come to count on from you within the close to future?
Yeah, man, my third single is with big artists so be looking out for that. I’m simply grateful that everybody remains to be paying consideration, so luckily everybody’s nonetheless right here. There’s some good issues coming. I additionally should shout-out my followers—I really like my followers, man. They’re simply there for me, and I’m going to be there for them.