It’s a wet, dreary morning in late November. I could have been on my way back from Amsterdam, however I had to turn the trip down to stay at home and let some builders start work on the house. DAMN YOU SPONTANEOUS GETAWAYS. I need something to ease my head, and in his latest single Birmingham artist T8PES asks the question ‘How Much Do You Want It?’ So, I’ll guess I’ll find out.
The first bar whisks me from my dark, rain-battered Stratford living room and plonks me straight into the lights and madness of an Ibiza rave pool party. It’s warming and contagious. I find that typically in most cases of ‘crossover hip hop’, lyrics are all too often forgotten. It seems the art of lyricism is getting harder to find in hip hop enthused genres – however this song simply takes that allegation and throws it with a ‘boom bap’ straight back into my face. The lyric, “as I channel the spirit of John Lennon at the Caver,” just warms me. These are clearly students of the game; T8PES and Mike 110 love music, and it’s easy to hear in this single.
The beat continues to fuel the song as I find myself skanking just listening to it. After the first hook I force myself to pause the track so I can go and get my speaker, to play this louder. I think perhaps more emphasis could be placed on the hook of the piece from a production point of view, as the volume is fairly one dimensional (taking into account that is typical of rave music), but it feels T8PES has more than enough ability to adapt this song into his own fusion genre of rave and hip hop. It’s clear that homage is being paid to old school rave culture and the breakdown of the piece shows T8PES donning his cap to perhaps my favourite element of classic hip hop… disk scratching. The scratching perfectly delivers the samples used into the track and it sounds effortless.
‘Howe Much Do You Want It?’ is a track with so much inspiration, it’s almost like looking through a photo album, picking out your favourites, and creating a collage of memories (or in this case a symphony of sounds). It’s a stamp on hip hop culture saying classic still exists, and that’s a beautiful thing.
‘How Much Do You Want It?’ – T8PES (feat Mike 110)
‘How Much Do You Want It?’ by T8PES is out on general release from Friday 29th November. For more on T8PES, visit www.t8pes.com
NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.
To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.
Words by Ed King / Pics courtesy of Bona Fide Mangement
I’ll be honest, when I read ‘a hip-hop infused pop jam’ on the promo copy for Ed Geater’s latest single… my heart sank. It’s the first track of his new EP, IN, coming out on 1st November, and something about this six word description just didn’t sit right.
But why? Geater has embraced hip hop across his portfolio, whilst VITAL (the MC who appears with Geater on ‘Four Sides and a Pointed Top’) is an artist that will always grab my attention. And despite Geater’s six string melodies that have tugged at my heart so beautifully before, the man is an awesome beatboxer – as well as a seasoned champion of Birmingham’s roots and rhyme scene. If anything, I should be excited about the words ‘hip hop infused’ and complicit about it being a ‘pop jam’ (I have learned through heartbreak, long car journeys, endless decorating, and significant amounts of whiskey on my own that even I can find some pleasure in some ‘pop’). No, I can live with all of that. So, again, why the rock in my stomach…?
The truth is, right now, I’m a little scared of change. I’m tired, and in the hushed words of half of the Game of Thrones cast… winter is coming. My cultural and emtional shutters have come down and I want obvious familiarity, I want comfort. I want red wine in musical form. I don’t want to think, feel or challenge myself in any way. I want Ed Geater to do what Ed Geater has done for me before so I can lazily roll over and demand my brain cell absent belly rub. And OK, perhaps I had some issues at the term ‘pop jam’.
‘Four Sides and a Pointed Top’ starts with a short, echoed, guitar riff – quietly clinging to the background. Then an orchestrated cacophony slides into the spotlight, with Geater’s trademark acoustic splendour and broken beat backbone making the fire brighter and the hearth all the warmer for it. To continue the metaphor. But the real power and beauty comes at 16secs in, when Geater’s vocals strut confidently across the track – with a timbre comparatively unrecognised but sounding gloriously mature. I honestly had to double check it was him. It is. And it’s good, from growling deep to falsetto… it’s so, so good.
The music, melody and production then lead the charge. We are treated to a second verse, a second chorus. And just past the two minute mark VITAL steps in with a brief but quietly ferocious verse, delivered with the confidence of man in full control of his lyrics and voice. Tempered, beautifully tempered; it sits as the perfect jewel in this collaborative crown and a direct reminder of the vulnerability that even the strongest of us can suffer. It is also the beginning of the end, as all aspects are embraced for the final run and we are softly reminded that Geater has, in fact, been beatboxing throughout.
‘Four Sides and a Pointed Top’ is one of Ed Geater’s most accomplished tracks; it’s near perfect. The only real downside is that I’d like it to be longer, not as the uber-radio friendly 3min 21secs song that is has been gifted to us as. I’d also like to hear more from VITAL (their voices blend wonderfully) and the subject matter could be a little more prominent for a narrative junkie such as myself.
Plus, my future self is now wondering how it will sit alongside the other two tracks when Geater‘s IN EP is released at the beginning of November. But that’s the strategist in me. Right now, I’m just happy. I’m lying on the sofa with the following YouTube link on repeat. I’m warm; I’m content. And there’s not a trace of stone in my chest.
‘Four Sides and a Pointed Top – Ed Geater, featuring VITAL
Ed Geater releases his latest single, ‘Four Sides and a Pointed Top’, on 27th September – out via Bronx Records. Ed Geater will be releasing his new EP, IN, on Friday 1st November. For more on Ed Geater, visit www.edgeater.co.uk
“When you don’t fit in a box, how do you target your audience? How do you target your demographic?”
T8PES released his eponymous debut album on Friday 24th May, following a rafter packed launch party at The Castle & Falcon in April. But the man behind the moniker, Jimmy Davis, is no stranger to a stage or two – having been a stalwart of the Midlands music scene for years, with artists including Ed Sheeran citing him as an influence.
Now recording and releasing as T8PES, his new 8 track LP stretches from rap to hip hop and rave to grime – featuring collaborations from Luke Truth, Ricardo Williams and Holly Fitzgerald to name but a few.
Flowing with honesty, self analysis, harsh truths and dark humour – alongside the occasional roll call of Birmingham’s evolving club scene – T8PES is a deeply personal journey and a melodic memory lane stroll through the highs and lows of Davis’ bittersweet life experiences.
Having reviewed the album for Birmingham Review back in May, Abi Whistance and the Leeds based music magazine To the Local invited us along to their interview with T8PES – ahead of his support slot for CityLightz at the O2 Academy Birmingham.
There’s a reason I struggle to get into grime et al, and I know I’m the top dog of sweeping generalisations when I say this but it all just feels a bit shallow. For me there is nothing relatable about gang tiffs, stacks of bills and a burning desire to be a Hugh Hefner-type. And from the mainstream circuit this is pretty much all I’ve picked up on.
I’m no expert in the realms of trap, rap and hardcore either. But I think that’s probably a good thing. So with little emotional investment in the genres, I can objectively say that T8PES is on to a winner for both novices (like me) and your more well-established grimeheads – with this debut album feeling exciting for a sound that I thought was one swift kick away from the bucket.
Walking the tightrope between love and hate treacherously close at times, T8PES has crafted something that perhaps shouldn’t work, but just does. Acid house and grime don’t exactly go hand in hand at first inspection, but the combination leaves me questioning why the hell I hadn’t heard this kind of thing before.
In actuality, I guess I have. But it’s the nostalgia and familiarity of this eponymous album that earns it the title of ‘a good listen.’ Fans of The Avalanches gather round and bring your 12” of the Mondays’ ‘Hallelujah’ whilst you’re at it, T8PES is mixed with enough pre-millennium dance hits to keep you going all night… even without those eccies.
But it’s not just the familiar nineties sound in tracks like ‘How Much Do You Want It’ and ‘Gotta Believe’ that gives this album the wistfulness of a time gone by, it’s the discussion of the trials and tribulations of teen-hood too. A mature reflection on growing up, T8PES has written a record that’ll strike a chord with most – tackling difficult themes of drug use, alcoholism and the effects of bad influences, featured on an album that feels like a coming-of-age tale.
I think it’s important to note that this may be one of the most well-produced debut albums I’ve heard in a long time too. Home cooked electronica and remixing have been polluting the scene for a while, making it a bit too easy to publish rubbish and a hell of a lot harder to find the gems. And I’m not saying that a Soundcloud system lockdown needs to be put in place to stop the sick bucket of low-quality artists from (God forbid) overflowing, it is pretty indisputable that the cornucopia of self publishing platforms have made it more difficult to identify the best of the best.
I can’t really whinge on about that for too long because the cream supposedly always rises to the top, and T8PES has sailed right up onto my radar with this debut album. But what it truly boils down to is a radio-friendly combination of EDM and rap that manages to keep a hold of the substance so many others lose in the process – with stand out production, and some solid variation in sound that leaves something for everyone here.
Not to blow anyone’s trumpet or anything – but I think we’ve just hit the grime jackpot.
‘Hope & Pray’ – T8PES featuring Holly Fitzgerald
T8PES is out on general release from Friday 24th May. For more on T8PES, including links to online sales, visit www.t8pes.com
NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.
To learn more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here.
When asking the ‘average’ person what their interests are, we’ve all heard the standard pastimes rattled off: socialising with friends and family, sporting activities, travelling, having a pint at the pub… And as I enter into the world of professionalism and small talk, I’ve realised this is a safe, relatable, and most importantly a socially acceptable list to recount in those awkward moments of introduction.
But it was after I inadvertently blurted out that my main interest were “serial killers”, with wide eyes and possibly over enthusiastic tone, in a work conference icebreaker not so long ago that I felt the pang of peer review and social acceptance. I don’t necessarily mean this is a bad interest, as I know many people who share it, but at the end of it all aren’t we all trying to fit in?
Due to this fascination, I’ve amassed bits of knowledge on Jeffrey Dahmer over the years from various sources: podcasts, autobiographies, biographies, films, interviews and documentaries. So, when I was offered the chance to sneak a first peak at the new biopic on the serial killer, My Friend Dahmer, I was genuinely overjoyed – jumping on a train from Bristol back to Birmingham to make the advanced screening at The Electric Cinema, as organised by Film Hub Midlands.
My Friend Dahmer is based on the 2012 graphic novel/memoir by American cartoonist John ‘Derf’ Backderf. Derf was an acquaintance of Jeffrey Dahmer’s throughout their time at Eastview Junior High and Revere High School from 1968 to 1978. The film adaptation doesn’t show this entire timeline or solely focus on Backderf’s friendship with Dahmer, like the graphic novel, but rather follows Dahmer throughout his four years in high school, charting his binge-drinking, the separation of his parents, his fascination for dead animal experimentation, and his desperate cries for attention to gain acceptance amongst his peers. The film shows Dharmer’s life up to the time just before his first human murder, two weeks after his graduation, ending with him picking up his first victim – hitchhiker Steven Mark Hicks.
My Friend Dahmer is also presented through the eyes of Dahmer himself, as opposed to the singular perspective of Derf in his graphic novel. Director and screenwriter, Marc Meyers, explains this switch was because “we’re all most interested in the life and descent of Jeff Dahmer. It’s the mix of Jeff’s school and home life that is the most compelling and important part of the story“.
Meyers does a great job with this film, carefully executing a cautionary tale that could have easily descended into the common pitfalls of the serial killer genre, such as glamorisation, dramatisation and desensitisation. Yet the way he captures Dahmer’s declining psyche, using subtle editing throughout the film, at times feels nothing short of masterful.
Meyers utilises all available factors, such as sound, the transition between frames, and the use of both establishing and close up shots, to create a deliberate and careful portrayal of Dahmer’s chaotic decent to the point of no return. I’ll admit, however, on occasion at the beginning the film felt slow and I was initially frustrated we were getting a lacklustre portrayal of the situation. But as My Friend Dahmer enters into its second half you realise this is a deliberate move to show the progression of Dahmer’s character and how he eventually gets to the point that he does.
During his school life, Dahmer was notorious for regularly faking seizures and mimicking cerebral palsy through speech impediments and certain ticks, in a bid to attraction attention from his peers. This worked too, as Derf and his classmates formed a “Dahmer Fan Club” due to how entertaining and interesting the found their ‘friend’ Jeffrey.
Derf, along with other peers, paid Dahmer to do “his act” at Summit Mall one afternoon; Derf has stated the event went down as “legendary”, as Jeffrey Dahmer spent around two hours terrorising shoppers by shouting in their faces, flinging their food trays from tables, and faking seizures in the middle of the complex. I felt this scene did a great job of summarising the tragedy that was Dahmer’s teenage years; the disconnect he had from everyone, his desperate need to fit in, and how he ultimately was nothing more than comical fodder amongst his peers.
Meyers could have easily set this up as a purley comical scene, but uses it as a pivotal point within the film to show the severity of Dahmer’s rapidly declining grasp of normalcy. Again, the editing is great here and shows the raw emotion by using a series of close-up frames that focus solely on a tormented looking Dahmer. Quick fades and dissolves are then used to fit the crescendo of a piano instrumental in the background, effectively building the emotion of the narrative and conveying an increasing despair without any dialogue.
However, the main highlight of the film is indisputably Ross Lynch’s performance as the younger Jeffrey Dahmer. Lynch was previously known for his work on the Disney Channel, and this departure makes his delivery even more surreal whilst showcasing the wider berth of his acting skills. Lynch manages to pin-point Dahmer’s character, not only in his immediate appearance (Lynch is virtually unrecognisable with his mop like hair and large glasses) but in his slouched posture, his introverted mannerisms, and most strikingly his facial expressions and eye contact which convey emotion in each scene without saying a word.
Meyers also finds balance in his execution of Dahmer’s character, showing the stereotypically introverted and sinister Dahmer but also his collected and composed nature in a very self-aware way. This is reflected in the story of how Dahmer called the President’s office on a school trip to Washington and arranged a meeting with his friends and Vice-President Walter Mondale. Lynch re-enacts this with a great calmness and slight arrogance – the more confident side of Dahmer gives the character further depth and an indication of his multifaceted personality, which became a vital part of the man in later life.
Lynch’s performance is also made so captivating because many of the experiences and situations Dahmer faced through adolescence are those that can be commonplace for any teenager, such as loneliness, negligence and the struggle for acceptance. This humanises Lynch’s character, as it isn’t hard to relate certain aspects of his demeanour to someone you know. Backderf even stated that Lynch’s portrayal of Dahmer will “make viewers uncomfortable because it’s so familiar.”
My main gripe, however, is that I feel My Friend Dahmer portrays the ‘Dahmer Fan Club’ to be more compassionate than was perhaps strictly true – especially judging by Derf’s own account in his graphic novel, which repeatedly stated that generally they excluded Dahmer, didn’t give him much concern, and pretty much kept him around for entertainment.
However, in the film there are a handful of scenes where members of the group question if it’s “meanhow [we] treat Dahmer” and later on that they should “leave him alone”. None of this is reflected in Derf’s original recount and feels as though it has been thrown in to the film to make his peers appear more sympathetic, or to make them seem more like invested acquaintances than they were.
This is demonstrated most prominently within the penultimate scene between Dahmer and Derf in the car outside Jeffrey’s house; Derf, after disassociating himself from Dahmer due to his overbearing weirdness, hesitantly discusses heading off to college and Dahmer’s future plans. At this point in Derf’s graphic novel I was practically begging for someone to ask Dahmer ‘are you okay?’, but it never came. By introducing the disjointed, flippant interests in Dahmer’s welfare at this stage in the film adaptation it felt unnecessary, disingenuous, and took away the severity of hopelessness and isolation of the central character.
Although also towards the end of the film the narrative shows Dahmer’s former friends and his parents all leaving him, instilling the audience with a heart-sinking feeling as we expect the inevitable. The scene where Dahmer’s mother, Joyce, leaves with his brother, David, is done in such a blasé way it almost becomes comical, with Meyers using this to encapsulate the tragedy of Dahmer’s teenage relationships and how utterly alone he really was. After Joyce leaves, the scene is deathly quiet as Dahmer falls to the floor and cries. You can see the angst and conflict in Lynch’s face, so much so you could arguably mark the point where all hope is lost for Jeffrey Dahmer.
There is a further absence of any full discussion about Dahmer’s struggle with his sexuality. There are a couple of scenes in My Friend Dahmer that hint towards this inner conflict, but this could have been expanded on rather than being just an undertone as it is such a vital part in the killer’s motives and central to the whole character of Jeffrey Dahmer.
I also have a feeling the film may hold more appeal to those with a pre-existing interest in Dahmer. For those with little interest in the notorious serial killer, it may seem slow paced and potentially anticlimactic and we don’t see any of what Dahmer is most known for, so I would recommend reading Derf’s graphic novel for a bit of background.
This being said, My Friend Dahmer carries a lot for all film lovers to enjoy, such as the aforementioned performance from Lynch and the evident craft put into each scene; the colour pallet for the film is really enjoyable, recreating the era through a sepia quality and giving a portrayal of Ohio within the late-sixties that feels authentic and rich.
Overall, Meyers presents an honest look at Jeffery Dahmer’s unsettling and upsetting childhood. The film neither excuses nor sympathises with his actions, but still shows the extent to which Dahmer’s traumas and inner demons grew through the negligence of those around him, and eventually consumed him, in a process that is both fascinating and heart-wrenching to watch.
My Fiend Dahmer offers its audience a glimpse into the serial killer’s adolescence without assigning blame on certain events or situations that lead to his fate. But rather the narrative explores the factors that shaped Dahmer into the individual he became, without trying to answer the ‘nature Vs nurture’ debate – a conversation arguably best left to both the audience and wider society. Something to remember during that uncomfortable small talk at the office Christmas party.
My Friend Dahmer – official trailer
My Friend Dahmer is out in general release from Friday 1st June – coming to both independent and mainstream cinemas across the UK. For more on My Friend Dahmer, visit www.filmrise.com/film/my-friend-dahmer