With an array of artistic and musical influences between them, Manchester quintet Y.O.U.N.G. don’t quite fit into any particular genre, but they certainly don’t seem to mind. Having earned themselves a considerable following throughout 2017, largely thanks to their impressive live performances, the band are starting 2018 on a high – one that’s set to continue when the group release their debut album later in the year. ThisIsTheLatest caught up with rapper and keyboardist Ben to find about more exactly to chat about how the band came together and what fans can expect from them in the coming months.
TITL: How do the five of you know each other/how did you meet?
Ben: Jamie and Chez actually worked at a music studio. I met Chez’s dad when at a film festival with my uncle Wiggy, who did choreography for Take That and 911. He invited me down to meet the boys. We connected as mates and gave a few tracks a go. It felt great, but looking back these tracks were awful. Haha! We all agree! Eventually there came a time where we needed a drummer and a bassist, luckily for us we knew the two lemons for the job. Grae has known Chez from primary school, same with tom. We’d all worked for the company teaching kids drums in schools, all of a sudden we we’re all playing in the same building we all trained. It was like some fate shit. We jammed it felt good, more energetic, so we became, officially a 5.
TITL: What would you say Y.O.U.N.G’s unique selling point is?
B: The combination of musical elements. I don’t hear rap on guitar like I want to hear it nowadays. Every rappers trappin’. Of course guitars and rap isn’t new. But the way in which we do it, I believe is unique. Come watch us I’ll show you!
TITL: How different/similar are your personal music tastes and how have you been able to bring those influences to the table in order to create your sound?
B: We like a lot of the same things, but it’s evolving all the time as we listen to new things. It’s not always what you think. For example, recently Chez has been listening to lots of reggae, whereas I have been jogging to Slipknot. Our sounds are slowly merging over each other over time. For an idea to get into a song we generally just go on the strength of the idea; you can’t turn up to rehearsals and start playing folk and talking about the Norwegian charts….but if the bassline gets me, then I’m in, wherever it came from! We all have to feel it or we don’t do it. It’s actually quite easy to bring our influences to the table, no one’s getting a guitar thrown at them for trying something in practice. We just try bring strong ideas to rehearsals, some things work, some don’t. The songs are coming together nicely at the moment though, I believe they always will.
TITL: If you were to say you sounded similar to any band or artist, which or who would it be?
B: I’ve read Lethal Bizzle vs Twenty One Pilots – I’ll take that, although I prefer to think of myself more rap-wise as a young Method Man with a sprinkle of Will Smith. Just a sprinkle. I can’t act.
TITL: Tell me a little about your latest track “Exposure.” Is there a story behind it?
B: It’s just about outing people who need outing. We all feel it.
TITL: Which song do you wish you’d written and why?
B: I don’t wish I’d written any song, that belongs to someone else. I’m sure we’ll have ours.
TITL: You’ve toured fairly extensively this past year – any favourite shows or highlights?
B: We did a Sofar sounds acoustic gig in a front room somewhere in South London. That was an experience, insence and Jeremy Vine sat cross-legged in the front row. We even got him on an improvised ”oooops there it isssss’, as we decided to do a song which I haven’t even done a rap for yet. Give me time fellas!
TITL: You’re heading back out on the road in February and March. For those who have never seen you before, what can they expect from a Y.O.U.N.G. show?
B: Energy, moments of madness, chaos, the proof of practice, all undercut with some off the cuff light hearted tongue in cheek.
TITL: You’ve also got an album coming out. Is there anything you can tell me about it? Any favourite tracks perhaps?
B: Just that we’re all very proud of it. Happy to be a part of it. Every moment in each of our lives leads us right to our first album release. Deeep! I’ll be weeping like a baby if it does well! My personal favourite track is “What I Gotta Do”, because the rap is easy to shout, and sometimes on Monday mornings, I like to shout.
TITL: What impact has social media had on your career so far? Do you think you’d have the following and support you do without it? How big of a part do you think it’ll play as you move forward?
B: It impacts it greatly. It’s nice to have a platform where people care what you say. But for me, it’s just a pathway to attract people to the music. If I wasn’t in a band, I’d really be trying to cut it out pretty much all together; when you are on there you aren’t here. It’s all about the moment for me, and sometimes social media can help you miss that. I know at least me and Chez wouldn’t mind being born with no phones and no internet. It’s nice on some levels, fans can connect easier, and so maybe it’s easier to feel part of something. However, it’s hard to say if the number of followers would be the different with or without social media. If people were still coming to the gigs I like to think word of mouth would spread. There’s almost too much for fans to look at now, everyone’s someone, everyone’s verified. I wouldn’t mind if it was just like, I won’t update you all what I’ve been doing all week, I’ll see you and 10,000 others on that park at that time and we’ll all talk about it then.
TITL: What’s the ultimate career goal for you guys as a band? Whose career would you most like to emulate and why?
B: We want to have enough money own a zoo together, with big giraffes and lions. Or maybe a coffee shop in Amsterdam if we can’t afford the zoo. Jay-Z and Beyonce. We 4 can be jay z, and Jamie can be Queen B.
TITL: Finally then, with so much new talent around, as we head into 2018, if you had to give music fans one reason to listen to you rather than your many counterparts, what would you say?
B: FREE FOOD FREE FOOD FREE FOOD. Now I have your attention, LISTEN TO YOUNG, the music will do the talking.