"It's Changed Me As A Person" Clash Meets Pinty

"It's Changed Me As A Person" Clash Meets Pinty

Chatting gentrification, Johnny Cash, and lyrical honesty...

Pinty has been drawing attention as an MC since way back with his DIY parties in the Brixton arches. The young musician’s sound and style has become synonymous with Peckham’s music scene - his first EP ‘City Limits’ came out on Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section International label, and he’s also got a monthly show on Balamii, the radio station that broadcasts globally from Holdrons Arcade. -

ith his newest release, ‘Tomorrow’s Where I’m At’, Pinty’s introspective lyrics and garage tinged flow are paired with the hazy, subdued four to the floor beats of producer Tomos, another south London local, and the finished product captures a snapshot of urban life that many will be able to relate to.

Clash spoke to Pinty over Zoom to talk about some of the behind the scenes of ‘Tomorrow’s Where I’m At’, Pinty’s musical and non-musical influences, how going through therapy has impacted his creative process, and more.

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You played Jazz Cafe over the weekend, How was that?

Great. Yeah, it was quite interesting because everyone was sitting down, and I think if it was any other venue it would have been quite different, but because it’s Jazz Cafe it’s quite swanky anyway, and we crafted the performance so it could fit that crowd a bit more. It was a bit more intimate and shit and the pressure was off because I didn't have to make people dance. I could just talk to people.

Have you got a favourite track off your new EP?

Well, the one that means the most is probably ‘Off’, the last track. That’s kind of the song that it’s all about basically, it kinda wraps up the whole EP.

There’s a lyric I particularly like from that song - “yeah we’re all built on systems, but right now I need to move out of this dimly lit kitchen”. Could you explain the thought behind that line?

With music it isn’t like you’re in one place the whole of the song, I kind of like jump about, and I think that shows how my mind works basically. I kind of jump around all over the place, just drawing on different experiences, and kind of putting them together. and that was like, when you’re having crazy thoughts, or like deep talks at an afters and you’re just like… what am I doing here, it’s too late now! But you can have some of the best talks you ever can have with people at the afters. Whether you regret them the next day or whatever, at the time it's nice, it’s a special thing.

A lot of your influences come through very clearly, like house, garage, UK dance and jazz music, but what are your curveball musical influences?

You know what, I’ve actually been listening to a load of country music recently, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash and all these kind of people. When I was younger I was like “ah if that’s not hip hop, if that’s not this, then I can’t like it.” I used to be friends with indie kids at my school and they used to listen to Crystal Castles and all these kind of people, and I remember thinking like meh. Then like 10 years later when my girlfriend showed me a Crystal Castles track, I was like: “Oh my god these guys are fucking sick, I get what all the fuss was about!”

I was so ignorant when I was younger. Because with all types of music, if it’s a motive anyway, it can touch you in some way, and the country music thing, it’s just the way they can tell stories, follow a narrative for three minutes straight and you know everything about the character in the story. There’s this one song by Johnny Cash called ‘A Boy Named Sue’, it’s so clear, and so funny, and then at the end there’s a big twist.

So it’s mostly the lyrics that you're taking influence from?

Yeah, I can’t say that you can expect any country/folk music from Pinty, but yeah I think it’s the stories, and also just the people that them, like they’re all fucking mad. I was watching this animated programme called Tales from the Tour Bus and the first series is about all the country musicians, and the second series has like Prince, and yeah their whole lifestyles were just absolutely mad, they were all off their heads half the time, and made hella wonderful music that’s lasted the test of time. It’s just really interesting learning about their music.

Have you got any influences outside of music? Other art and things like that.

Yeah without a doubt, I went to see an Andy Warhol exhibition, and the front cover of my EP draws complete inspiration from that basically. I went and saw the exhibition with my mum, and it was good because it told you a lot about his life and that. I also watched a documentary on him around the time as well.

So the cover of ‘Tomorrow’s Where I’m At’ is inspired by an Andy Warhol piece?

Yeah, the repetition and the deterioration. It was like one of the big pieces at the end of his exhibition, and it was just like the same picture over and over again, but then as it went on it just started to deteriorate. I saw that and I was like that’s sick, and it just so happened that I had all these little pictures of myself from when I worked in a primary school.

Every single day when I went to work, at like eight in the morning, they took a picture of me and then printed it out onto a little name patch, and then I ended up getting hundreds of these because I worked in a school for like year and a half, two years, and what was quite cool is that over time the faces started to deteriorate because I just carried them around. Sometimes they would get washed, sometimes coffee would spill on them. And I thought I’m gonna use these at one point, I don’t know what for, and then I was like bang it makes sense now. 

Something that is constant in your music is your voice, but the instrumentation is quite varied, where do you feel like taking your sound next?

The next project I’m working on has a big list of names, like, it’s gonna be a big old project basically. I’ve found working with different people just completely rejuvenates your mind, going off different people’s energies and things, and I’ve found recently that my whole work rate has completely changed really, as soon as I get a piece of music I just write and write and write. I don’t like the idea of putting out something that sounds the same, my voice is always gonna sound the same, y’know, it’s your voice, but I don’t like the idea of putting out a project that sounds exactly the same as last time, so I’m definitely going really left-field next time.

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The theme of gentrification comes up in your music, and you’ve talked about it in other interviews as well, how do you feel about Peckham and South London at the moment?

It’s interesting. I used to be a lot more angry about it, and vocal when I was younger, as you get older you, realise these things are kind of out of your hands — there’s not actually too much you can do about it. And it’s not all bad, that’s the thing, things have to evolve and things do have to change. I think once you get a bit older you learn a lot basically.

Do you think that people who move to the area, like young professionals and students, do you think they should be more conscious of the impact that they have on the people who live there, or do you think the responsibility lies more with the local government?

Look, when you move into an area, I think you should know where you are moving into, without a doubt, like, I think that just should be normal human function. If you can see someone’s lived there for however many years, then you should have some sort of respect basically. That’s what the song ‘Another Lost Soul’ is about — when my dad used to live here when I was younger, he’d always say hello to all these kind of people, and so these people I’ve almost grown up with — and some people might see them as like winos or just crazy people on the street, but these are real people. That song’s about the story of someone I kind of know and just people completely overlooking them, not really having any sort of care.

It’s quite funny — I remember I was in a restaurant one time, me and my mum were sitting in Forza wine in Peckham, and it was her birthday so I took her out, and it was really nice, we loved it. Anyway, we were sitting next to this couple, and the whole idea is that you share food, it’s a really nice concept for a restaurant.

We were sitting there talking to a couple, and the guy was like, “yeah so y’know, we started out in Shoreditch, but then that got too much, so then we moved to like Hackney Wick, then that got too much, so then we moved to Brixton, and that got too much, so now we’re in Peckham!” And I was looking at him like, bro you really don’t even realise, you’re the fucking problem! He was so ignorant to it. I was just like how the fuck is this guy serious, like, he really can’t hear what he’s saying. It was eye opening, that was like a really prominent moment, because it was like, if these people don’t even realise what they’re doing it’s just like a lost cause.

Your music is quite nostalgic but feels very new as well, do you find yourself thinking about the future or the past more often?

That’s a pretty good question, I guess it’s like everyone really - our past is what’s made us, but we live in the present, and we live in the future, so it’s kind of a mix really. This project and why it’s a lot more personal is because I’ve been going through therapy for the last year basically. I started last January. And that was really really life changing, it put a whole new perspective on who I am, what I think I am, and all these kinds of things. When you do therapy, the whole thing is self-reflection and looking at the past, and when I’m like telling stories it’s always about something that’s happened in the past. So Yeah, I guess my music is definitely deep rooted in my past.

How was therapy?

Yeah so, it’s a long process, but yeah it’s been great. It’s changed my whole outlook on life, without a doubt it’s definitely changed me as a person, that’s just kind of what it does, and I think that’s why you can hear it so much in the music. I don’t know if you’ve ever done it before, but it’s a long process, it is work.

After I had multiple deaths happen around me it was all quite intense, so then in January I was like right, this is all a bit mad, and then I made ‘Found It’ probably in February? And literally scrapped a whole other piece of work that was kind of ready, I was like yeah that’s not what I need to be doing right now, I just focused on this project.

Obviously, at the beginning, I didn’t have the whole idea of it thought out, and then as it built up I was like right, I know what to do. Like in ‘Off,’ there’s loads of bars that reflect quite directly on things that happened in therapy, and I wrote the bars before I even had these revelations.

That’s quite mad, so your writing is obviously very therapeutic? Even subconsciously.

Yeah without a doubt, it all kinda makes sense it was like “yo what the fuck!” It was crazy... yeah, it’s quite a magical thing really. 

What are you doing the rest of this year? What’s next?

Music music music man! I’m just very focused now, I’m very driven at the moment... I just wanna do as much of it as I can basically. I had some really big moments this year, it’s been great... so, I’m just looking forwards, and trying to do as much as I can.

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'Tomorrow's Where I'm At' is out now.

Words: Gabriel Hynes
Photo Credit: Holly Whitaker

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