Drill has been doing big numbers for the last few years, and it hasn’t yet showed signs of slowing down. One of the most recognizable duos in the genre is Skengdo and AM, who famously breached an injunction and received sentences for performing their hit song ‘Attempted 1.0’.
Now, taking his career to the next level, AM has released his debut solo project. It’s a more personal project than he might have released if the injunction hadn’t happened, but with that limitation comes a fair share of lyrical and sonic versatility, a silver lining of sorts.
We had a chat about his path into music, the new project, fakery and more.
JS: Hi mate, how’s life treating you at the moment?
AM: Cool, cool. Just working on stuff around the tape right now, promoting and that.
JS: Has Corona not had much of an impact?
AM: The only significant thing that happened was the tour being cancelled. I’ve just been staying indoors mainly, doing what I need to do.
JS: People often comment on videos of you that you’re an articulate guy and have your head screwed on outside of drill. Do you see it like that?
AM: To be fair I feel there’s a culture of not giving too much off to people… people like to be reserved. That’s the same with me but I communicate how I would in my day-to-day life. I don’t want to be misquoted or misinterpreted so I try to explain things the best way I can.
JS: What would you be doing if it wasn’t music and wasn’t road?
AM: I’d probably still be going down the education route probably. Working to be a chartered accountant, that’s what I was doing initially.
JS: How did you get into music in the first place, if it wasn’t always the plan?
AM: Music’s always been in the background, but it was always just a bit of fun. Skeng was doing music, releasing videos and going studio. I was just working on GarageBand on my computer and putting stuff on SoundCloud for my friends as a bit of banter.
Skengdo was like ‘nah we should go studio, you’re hard’. So I followed him studio one day, made two songs and released one.
JS: Did you notice progress quite quickly?
AM: From my first 10k views I was like nooo way. We were gassed. Nowadays you get 10k views in a couple hours or less than an hour. But back then 10k in a week was crazy…
JS: What sort of music were you listening to growing up?
AM: Growing up I listened to a crazy range of stuff still. From Motown, to RnB, to gangster rap.
JS: And was this what your family was listening to or what?
AM: Not family, just mates and my cousins. My family listened to a lot of gospel music.
JS: The music industry is quite a complex and ‘odd’ place to be… what do you dislike most about it?
AM: I don’t like the way labels go about giving deals. Obviously as an artist you have to do your due diligence and make sure you’ve got your legal backing and read your contracts and whatnot… but a lot of times these deals are set up to trick the artist. And if the artist isn’t aware of certain things, they get into deals they weren’t prepared for. But all we can really do is educate people, cause at the end of the day it’s business.
JS: What’s your writing process? Bars first, beat first, or what?
AM: It varies. But my best is when I’m driving and I’ve got beats running, coming up with different flows and different styles. Then I just voice note them and develop on them when I get home.
JS: Lots of lyrics reference the issue of fake friends when the money/fame start flowing in. Have you experienced that downside?
AM: To be fair, the people I started this with have been solid from the jump. Coming from a hood or gang culture, your friends show their true colors from when you’re younger. So, by the time money and music come round, a lot of dead weight would’ve been cut off time ago. But obviously there’s still a possibility people can fold on you, but you’ve just got to be prepared.
JS: Your debut solo project, Mally, was released recently. How was it creating something on your own?
AM: It was a weird stage for me because a lot had happened in terms of the injunction. I couldn’t really give them what they want because they want a certain type of sound and certain things to be said… as raw as it comes. That’s how we were initially but I wasn’t allowed to do that. Instead, I gave them a project that describes me as an artist, and that’s why it’s called Mally.
What’s a better invention - the mobile phone or the aeroplane? Phone.
Favourite takeaway? Nando’s.
Dream car? G63 – Mercedes.
Beer, wine, water or weed? Water. I don’t know about anything else.
What’s one country you’d like to visit that you haven’t yet? Bali.
Piercings or tattoos? Tatts, cause you can be more creative.
If you could choose what you’re remembered for when you die, what would it be? Pass.
Biggest spend? Land.
Go-to news source? Twitter.
Favourite clothing brand? Nike.
Favourite shoe? Jordan 4s.
What artist/genre would people be most surprised that you listen to? Motown.
What do you see for your retirement? Traveling. I’d have a base but definitely traveling and experiencing different cultures.
If you could have a chef, a driver or a cleaner (who does your laundry) – which would you have? I like to drive, I’m quite tidy and I like to cook. But chef.
Interview: Jack Siggs @jacksiggs
Photographer: Marta Literska @martaliterska
Stylist: Lily Burdis @lilybelburdis
Producer: Amira Umar @amiraamirau
Coat: Caitlin Yates
Suit: Joshua Samuels