How to make it as a trap artist from the Midlands
After a super strong 2018 thus far with the release of their Make The Jump EP following on from their album Planet Good Batch, shows up and down the U.K. and a new podcast in which they interview creatives from producers to photographers; the Local Geezers (Jimi Da Killa) & (Wiz) are very much in the ascension. Hailing from Derby in the East Midlands (perhaps not the first place one associates with trap music) their unique sound utilises local slang, high octane flows and boundless witticisms. We caught up with them just before their highly attended recent headline show in Derby.
Q. So guys, summarise 2018 so far?
Wiz: A year of growth and learning. I think, building belief in ourselves and what we can actually achieve collectively as well as with close individuals that are on the same kinda wavelength as us. I would say has been a big part of it
Jimi: Development in all sorts of areas really I think like you say
Q: So you've started a podcast alongside your music in which you interview other creatives about themselves and their work, where did that idea come from?
Jimi: It gives us the chance to not only exploit our own personalities but other creatives and individuals who sometimes in certain scenarios don't have the access to be put on to talk about their come up or like what they've been up to. Cause like as an artist we know what it's like to sometimes not get the press, or like interviews to explain the processes of stuff to do with yourself as an artist really
Wiz: Yeah yeah and I think we just wanna make it a comfortable sort of platform, you know? Where obviously you're gonna be able to crack jokes but we do and actually are interested in the person who's on the other side of the interview. We're genuinely interested in hearing and we feel that we can take something from you and others can take something also. It's been really good
Q. So the music videos are quite noticeable, you put a lot of effort in to those. In a music industry at the moment that's in a way more governed by streaming, what is your incentive to put so much time and effort in to videos?
Jimi: Personally I think videos are quite a focal point to sort of building a relationship up in terms of fans to an artist. You see that sort of...how they show themselves in that sort of sector. So my sort of past falling in love with artists has been watching their videos and seeing how they use that sort of creative field to express themselves and how they act. Even sort of how it brings the song to life I guess
Wiz: That's it, that's the thing how it brings a song to life like we've always said sometimes a song might not be the best song but the video might be amazing. Or sometimes you see a video and it really catches your attention and you go on to actually get that song that's available on all the streaming platforms as well and that's in your daily rotation. So it's just another angle to draw people in and it's also from a creative point of view it's nice to see, obviously working with Rufus how he can listen to one of our songs and be like "I've got this idea" or "we can take this like this". It's good because it enables us to just make songs and fire them out and then someone's there starting. The pots bubbling for us to then come back and do something with it
Q: So being from the Midlands where rapping, specifically trap rapping isn't often done, have you noticed a difference from the beginning of your career where people might be surprised to see you make a go of music - to know where you're more established? Or is that something you haven't paid attention to?
Wiz: I think it's always gonna be there you know, if you wanna go with the smaller city mentality there may always be those kinds of things. But we've never tried to put on a front where we're like "Yo we're rappers, like we're really cool and we're better than everybody else" we're just ourselves and this is what we do as a hobby for enjoyment you know when nobody was supporting and we were just catching jokes off the music that we were making. So I don't think that's ever too much of a concern. What we have noticed is that as we've been doing our stuff outwardly and going to where we need to go to get our name noticed, yeah we've seen more of a gravitation towards us. People in Derby are wanting to do stuff with us now
Jimi: I think we tend to use our individuality as motivation. The fact that there's no one combining our style of vocals within rap and the kind of beats we use it's quite a niche or it's a bit of a unique way of...well it's a unique sound. We use that as motivation like I say.
Q. So in terms of subject matter musics obviously a very personal art form, would you say that you derive lyrics from your personal life?
Wiz: Yeah I would, I mean down to the simplest things of like what I'm doing, what I'm wearing on occasion, those kinds of things. But yeah like I think with my lyrics I just like to try and give people little lessons but not like in a judgemental way. Just drop little hints here and there of how you can better yourself. So yeah they definitely do because they're like from my learnings and where I've been and how I've got to this point. They're mantras in a way of what I think is positive and will help you grow.
Jimi: I think the writing process or like certain concepts we decided to go for like sometimes it's important that it comes from a place you've been or a stage of your life because if not you're almost writing a song from a point of view that isn't yours
Wiz: If you don't have an understanding of something it's not going to translate properly in the final form and people won't be able to resonate with it because it's not organic and it's not true to you
Jimi: and the haters can smell that!
Q. Rap music, indie music and rock and loads of different genres are blending. Someone like Lil Uzi Vert who's influenced by Marilyn Manson or Juice WRLD who has an indie feel to him but is definitely a rapper. Do you think it's a positive thing for you at an early stage to take influences or is it more important to firmly churn out your own sound rather than being more experimental?
Wiz: It's got to be a mix of both and you've got to do what's natural. For example in our situation Ted's primary like production style...to begin with was trap so that's what we had and that's what we listened to regularly so that's where we had the best understanding from. But then once you begin to understand yourself as an artist, you begin to understand your voice and what you can and can't do, or not what you can and can't do but what you're more suited to or what you want to do...then you'll be able to just sort of venture on beyond your style because you've got your comfort zone, you need to find your comfort zone first of all in music and then you'll not be afraid to stray outside of it.
Jimi: Yeah it's important to use your original sort of foundation and initial fanbase and things like that but sometimes it can be hard when you're trying to find your market I guess.
Wiz: Yeah that's a big thing I think as well like I say I think when you're finding your market it's all about the branding isn't it? If you're throwing this kinda genre like a house song then a trip song then a lo-fi song people are gonna get confused
Jimi: Yeah it's a bit messy
Wiz: You've got to get your core audience, your core listeners. Then once you've got that and once you understand what your main brand is. Then you can see and start to think "right how can we branch out in to other areas. What other genres or styles have things that we could suit and make work.
Q. Now more than ever artists are taking agency of their own careers and getting signed or getting a record deal isn't the only way to "make it" and sustain yourself in music. What are your opinions of the independent vs. signed way of moving?
Wiz: Yeah I think you wanna push yourself as far as you can by yourself as much as possible you know? Get to the furthest point that you can. But I'm never going with the intention of...like my goal isn't just to have a record deal. You know what I mean? If a record label came along and they had...like if we were at a point where we couldn't get to the next level of where we wanted to get to for whatever reason that was and they could give it to us and it was in a way where we hadn't lost control of what we were still doing it was a supporting kinda thing then yeah cool. But if they were wanting to dictate who Local Geezers are and what we're about then that's -
Jimi: - That's a line that we don't want to be crossed. Our recording process or the person directing our videos or the person producing for us, we just wanna be comfortable. If we can do it independently then statistics show that profits and happiness are probably a lot better than signing.
Wiz: It's shared with people who have been there from the beginning
Jimi: It's more organic and natural which is what we want all round for ever and ever and ever.