Next Wave #1132: Frozemode

London crew with their own much-hyped alt-rap mixture...

London-based alternative rap trio, Frozemode, are quickly gaining a cult following. Formed of I.V. GATLIN, Lisong and Cho-Hollo, their hair-raising, moshpit-inducing live shows at underground UK venues have earned them a place as one of the most hyped homegrown acts this year. Completely unchoreographed, their performances are cohesive and slick, with each band member exuding his own unique vocal style and stage presence. “We’ve done a decent amount of shows now, so there are things that have just worked each time. It hasn’t really been conscious, it’s just happened because we know that it works,” GATLIN tells Clash.

With only a handful of singles out in the world, Frozemode played a whopping five shows across the course of three days at The Great Escape Festival in May. Now, as testament to their rapid growth, the group are set to play Reading & Leeds Festival on the BBC Introducing stage this weekend. 

New track ‘Vermin’ fuses trap and rock, taking the band into new territory while flexing their rap muscles. “We started in this game as rappers. Obviously, we love the punk stuff, but we wanted to have a track that really showed our roots,” GATLIN explains. “At the end of the day, we’re rappers, we’re not really a band, we’re not a rock group. That hasn’t currently been represented quite as much so we want to show that off a little bit. So this one’s still grime-y, it’s still gritty, it’s still got punk energy, but it’s slightly more low key, a little bit more subdued.”

“All the same instrumental themes are there, we’ve still got the rock guitars and stuff, but I think it’s more part of the track, rather than being at the forefront of it. So we’re shining more as rappers,” Lisong adds.

Like their live performances, Frozemode tend to wing their creative process too. Needless to say, it’s been working well for them. “We always go in open-minded and see what happens and let however we’re feeling carry us to the track, keep it quite raw in that way,” GATLIN shares. 

Each member always writes his own verses and bars, inspiration striking at the least predictable of times. “Sometimes I’ll be asleep, and I’ll wake up, and I’ll have an idea, or sometimes I’ll really be trying, and I won’t have anything, or I’ll be in a gym and I’ll be halfway through something and I have to stop and quickly go write some bars. I feel like it’s just about letting things come to you,” GATLIN says. 

It’s from these lightbulb moments that some of Frozemode’s best tracks have been born, Lisong reveals. Nevertheless, the group are learning how to create in a more controlled environment, understanding that writing rooms and production sessions will soon become a mainstay of their process as they continue to grow and release more consistently.

Frozemode are keen to make their mark on the UK hip-hop scene; the ambition is practically oozing out of them. They have their sights set on a Glastonbury slot next summer, and are aiming to release an EP or project within the next year. How are they planning to navigate their rise while retaining their underground cult status? “I think in one sense, we are here at the right time,” GATLIN ruminates. “The rap scene is changing massively. Obviously, experimental hip-hop has been around forever, but the commerciality of it is consistently rising. People like JPEGMAFIA are reaching heights commercially that experimental hip-hop hasn’t really reached in a while. So it’s not necessarily just being underground, we just want to get as high as we possibly can. And that doesn’t mean we have to be on Drake’s level or whatever. We’ll see where our path takes us. But we just want to fulfil our potential to the max while still keeping our integrity and doing what we love. I think that’s the most important.”

Words: Aimee Phillips
Photo Credit: Nicolas O’Donnell

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