When your average Londoner thinks of Kentish Town they may think of it as a middle class, gentrified location, almost an extension of the areas known for these connotations like the surrounding Camden, Hampstead and Primrose Hill. When I personally think of Kentish Town, I think of up and coming Producer/Rapper Nige and the culture and community he embodies. Kentish exudes a sense of community and local living, and I found this nowhere more present than with him.
I found myself spending a lot of time with Nige and the many interesting characters in the area who have all seemed to spend their whole lives in Kentish. From countless nights in The Pineapple pub on Leverton Street where Nige grew up to the cafe he manages and focuses a lot of his day to day work into, seen in his P.O.W.R music video, and also where he recorded his latest project, MAP Studio. When it came to planning a shoot with Nige, it only made sense to shoot in the locations that mean a lot to him and are a constant source of inspiration to his sound. I sat down with him after our shoot in MAP Studios cafe to discuss his latest project, the importance of his area to him and collaboration in creativity.
“Kentish Town is where I live and grew up, so is a natural reference point creatively. Kentish has a community aided by the abundance of pubs and cafés where you bump into all walks of life, and you don’t go past any face you know without giving a nod or stopping for a chat. Most of my happy and dark memories come from the area, and I draw on both of these elements simultaneously in the music I’ve been making recently.”
“The things I have experienced in Kentish have compelled me to contribute back to the community, by working on song-writing and production workshops with young people in the area, working with the owner of MAP Studio Café to preserve its place in the community and, in the next year, setting up an artist development charity to further young artists in Kentish and London more broadly in their journey.”
When asked to describe his sound, Nige didn’t take long to mull over his answer.
“I’d say my sound is quintessentially British or London – the influences range from Rocksteady to Post-punk, but I’d say the most audible influences production-wise would be that of UKG sounds like Wookie and MJ Cole, The Streets, and more contemporary Lo-Fi House music, such as Real J and Mall Grab. Vocally, my lyrics and style have been in the works since I began writing songs and bars when I was thirteen, so, over the past decade, there have been too many influences to count.”
Nige is dropping a single and supporting set of visuals each month until the end of this year.
‘These singles cover work I have made this year that I feel lead on well from POWR, stylistically and in content. The visuals will be as informal as POWR also, with a lot of input from myself to further introduce myself and my sound to the wider audience. At the beginning of the New Year, I will be releasing a four-track EP called ‘Winterlude’. While similarly informal, I hope to introduce people to different sounds and content from me in that project, establishing the sounds of 2019 along with what I may be exploring in 2020.”
The music Nige releases reflects his perspective of the city he lives in. It’s very apparent that being British and more so a Londoner means an awful lot.
“I think being a Londoner is a wonderful thing to celebrate; at the best of times, at ground level at least, we are a success story for multi-culturalism and cross-cultural fusions, from food to music to parties. While there are institutions that denigrate and polarise certain groups, and of course individuals and social groups that drag us back from progressing, there is strong evidence that we are learning, growing and thriving from the richness of diversity. The effect of Caribbean culture, for instance, is astounding – from sound systems to carnival, to raves, to Jungle, Garage, there is almost a linear timeline of integration and transformation of cultures that have enriched our city. Similarly, Middle-Eastern and South Asian communities have brought so much deeper understanding of faith, politics and cuisine that we would be in the dark about without their presence. These are only a few less-fleshed-out examples, and I could go on all day about the beauty that lies in the capital.”
Nige is definitely an artist who will be on everyone’s lips in the next few months. Check out the video to ‘Summer Sweet’ below.
Creative Direction – Eddy Walker
Photography – Freddie Stisted
Stylist – Scott Cruft
BTS Photographer – Charlie Holland