In previous interviews, you’ve mentioned making K-pop fan frames and being active in online communities. Now that you are the artist, do you find that this online experience influences the decisions you make?
Yeah I think so. Being online… You know, like being streetwise, it’s almost like being internetwise. You become aware of what you can say, what you cannot say, what is beautiful, what is not. I mean there is no right or wrong, but I think if you want people to see you in a certain way, there are definitely things you can do online to push them. people in that direction. For example, I wanted everyone to know early on that I’m not the type of person to let go [out details] About me. I wanted to make it clear that I am a musician first, then everything else afterwards. So you’re not going to see me every day. It’s about maintaining privacy as well as being online and balancing the two.
Has growing up in Bath with fewer people than a big city influenced your approach to the online world?
I was born in Bath, but when I moved to the South East of England to live with my mother there was a lot to do. I think for me it was fair – and this is going to seem like a real cringe – I really enjoyed the escape that was the line. [world] and I really enjoyed having my own private obsession. No one really knew I liked K-pop because I was embarrassed. I thought people were going to laugh at me so I didn’t tell anyone about it and just had it at home in my laptop. It wasn’t necessarily because there wasn’t much to do, I had a lot of extra-curricular stuff, [the internet] was just a really nice way to escape.
With its climax of singles and teased snippets, to hell with that sounds like an ode to the past year. We often have to ask you, but where does this name come from?
In fact, I think you are the first person to ask. It’s like everything, I don’t think much about the names of things, especially my stage name. I polled my friends on FaceTime asking them what I should call the mixtape and they said, “You should call it that: hell.” He had a different title at the time, and I was like waiting, I really like the to hell with that part — we’ll do it. And it worked pretty well. People have come up with their own interpretation of it, and I like the hellish part. The whole mixtape is pretty dark, so I think hell as a buzzword fits the whole concept well. I also like the fact that it comes from a personal space; it was literally just a phrase my friend always said so it felt right
In previous interviews, you spoke of the mixtape as a hallmark. Where do you wanna go from here
I would love to do dance stuff. Obviously drum & bass and jungle is dance, but I think there are so many branches when it comes to dance and electronic music and I would actually like to focus more on house than music. D&B and the jungle. I want to devote myself more to house, R&B and stuff like that. Like I said before, it all has to be a progression rather than a giant leap, so I’d like to experiment with more sounds rather than giving up everything I’ve already done. I think with each job I want to come up with something different, so you can probably expect to hear something a little different but not a giant leap.
“I wanted to make it clear that I am a musician first, then everything else afterwards. So you’re not going to see me every day. It’s about maintaining privacy as well as being online and balancing the two.
Do you feel more pressure to keep making a similar type of music now that more eyes are on you?
It’s going to seem such a strange thing to say, but sometimes I wonder why people listen to my stuff because on the one hand there are a lot of people who love D&B, love the jungle, love the sounds behind the beat, but there are also an equal number of people who like the way I write and sing. I think you can create an equally good song and an equally good impression on your listeners with another beat if you know how to work your way around the beat. Well, I hope so anyway.
Obviously I hope people listen to me because of D&B, jungle. etc., but at the same time these rhythms – the singing over these rhythms – is nothing new. For me, it’s about creating a more distinctive writing style, melody style and singing style. So yes, to answer your question, do I feel pressured? I feel pressured to a certain extent, but I also have faith that I can work around this.
Much of your music has been teased via snippets from TikTok. Did you always know that certain songs were going to evolve, or was it more based on interactions?
Literally, it was right next to the engagement. What I would basically do is that when I posted a preview I was only writing that 15 second portion that I was posting online, so no part of me felt like I would write an entire song. But if people want a whole song, I’ll do one. I’m so lazy when it comes to writing, and I’m so lazy in general when it comes to music, that I really don’t like having to write more than necessary, which is why my songs are so short. I never want to write what I want to write. I never like to feel like there has to be a B section and a hook and… I just like having the freedom to write exactly how long I want.
Every time I wrote an excerpt, it would never be thrown away. It’s the same now. if i’m in a session, i really never go to a session with the intention of not creating something i’m going to put out, which looks really crazy and almost a little toxic. [Laughs] I feel like I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself, but I try to be efficient. It sounds really bad, it’s never a waste of your time because you are always learning, but I always try to do something worth publishing. And if I can’t turn it off because it’s terrible then I’m like fucking it’s a bad time.