The New LoFi

Ten Years

TNLF Meets Loyle Carner

For someone who never set out to be a MC, Ben Coyle-Larner, better known as Croyden’s very own Loyle Carner, seems very comfortable with his status as one of the most exciting talents in UK hip-hop.

Although he has come to the fore of general consciousness in a year during which UK grime, rather than hip-hop, has taken centre-stage, Carner is not an MC in the strictest sense. His use of language is much more languid, less angular than his contemporaries, his subject matter a more arresting and candidly honest portrayal of his own tight-knit world and experiences growing up.

Importantly, this is just as true today as it was three years ago when I wrote my first ever article for TNLF, a review of his A Little Late Ep, a 6-track release which dealt with topics ranging from his own internal struggle to ‘do the right thing’, the sudden death of his step-father, and the responsibility to his mother and brother that was thrust upon him in the aftermath, all set to a soundtrack reminiscent of  some of your favourite 90’s hip-hop classics.

At the time, I wrote how this was one of the most exciting debuts I had ever heard from any UK artist. Fast forward to last Saturday, and I was fortunate enough to get to go and speak to the man in person, fresh off the first leg of his ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ tour, on a surprisingly hot Saturday afternoon back-stage at Field Day festival in East London.

Dressed in a Juventus shirt (the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Juventus is that evening), he’s practicing keepy-ups with best-friend and long-term collaborator Rebel Kleff when we meet, an example, if any was needed, of the importance he places on remaining grounded, despite the success he’s encountered since the launch of his debut album.

JD: Getting the important things out of the way first…you’re a Liverpool fan, you’re not such a fan of Arsenal though I hear. We’ve heard this week that Arsene [Wenger] has signed on for another 2 years…

LC: [Laughs] You know, I don’t hate Arsenal. I’m cool with Wenger being in though, obviously. That’s fantastic news for me. [Laughs again] I mean unless it’s Liverpool, or maybe Crystal Palace, then I’m not really bothered, but it does seem that people have been ganging up on Arsenal fans recently.

JD: And I guess it’s pretty clear who you’re supporting this evening…

LC: Yeah man, I’m repping it hard today, I’m in it for [Gianluigi] Buffon. I really want to hang around and catch Run The Jewels, but duty must, you know, I’ve got to watch it.  We actually did a little thing for the Champions League, something that summed up the whole tournament that’s going out just before the game.

The ‘little thing’ that Loyle is referring to is a four and a half minute poem for BT sport that weaves a nostalgic tale of the road to the 2017 Champions League Final.

JD: I suppose we should chat about music a bit. Anyone you’re really keen to try and catch today [at Field Day]?

LC: Run the Jewels was my big one, but I want to catch John Cooper Clarke as well. I know he’s on before us so I’ll go check that out, walk around the festival for a bit and then head back for the show.

JD: So how was the Yesterday’s Gone tour?

LC: Yeah, it’s been cool. We’re kinda still on it in some sense with festival season. We just got back from Australia, which was crazy, mad playing all around the world, but it’s nice to be busy.

JD: And your summer looks pretty full… you’ve got [Field Day], Bestival…

LC: Yeah Bestival I’m hyped for. We’ve got Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds. Basically anywhere where people are, I’ll be this summer. Which is cool, I like it like that.

JD: There’s been a lot written about how close you are to your family. Has the travelling made it harder to be as close to them?

LC: It’s really tough, you know, but I know what I’m out here for, and at least I come back and am able to look after them, you know. My whole thing is that, I’m away working, for them. I’m also doing what I love to do, don’t get me wrong, and my mum doesn’t always understand, she misses me a lot. But I’ve got to get it crackin’, you know. I promised my mum I’d look after the family so that’s what I’ve gotta do.

JD: Does she get down to enough of your shows?

LC: Yeah yeah, we’re gonna bring her to Glastonbury I think. Might get her to do a little something. But yeah she’s coming down with a few friends. She was supposed to come down in the tour bus, but I’m not sure that’s such a good idea, all the guys will be in there you know…[laughs]

JD: You never know, might make them behave themselves?

LC: Yeah maybe, but we’re playing a few shows before and a few after, so you know we’ll already have that tour-bus funk, you know, so I said I’d get her a driver with a few mates instead.

JD: And then what’s next, back in the studio?

LC: I’m in the studio all the time, when I get time. I just haven’t had that much time recently. We’re going to finish festival season, and then go back on the final tour of this album I guess, taking it all the way through the UK and Europe, and then we go back to Australia at the start of next year.

JD: Then maybe a well-earned break?

LC: Yeah maybe chill out for a week, hopefully. Maybe go to the beach for a week. Then get back into it.

Loyle Carner Interview

You can stream Yesterday’s Gone below (you should), and check out tour dates for the upcoming UK leg of his tour here.