Next Wave #1156: FelixThe1st

"I’ve always had music around me..."

“I can get further in life and be my happiest if I’m not trying to be someone else!” As an artist who embraces individuality and self-expression to its maximum capacity, FelixThe1st isn’t one to compromise on remaining true to himself and his artistry. Dominating any stage with his captivating presence and signature face paint, the London-based creative is a genre-bending artist gunning for those who feel as though they don’t fit into society’s standards. 

Growing up in a musical household, he recalls: “I’ve always had music around me, my parents have a wall of CD’s that I used to go through. It had a lot of old groove, reggae, soul, house, and garage. I had a really diverse introduction to music”. However, FelixThe1st originally started out as a dancer and ended up performing behind artists in reputable shows like the The X Factor as early as 16 years old. Freestyling on set amongst his peers, he was encouraged to pursue his love for the craft and eventually started booking studio sessions.

Always one to experiment with his sound, he’s a huge advocate for the UK underground scene and referenced the likes of Skepta amongst others as his earliest influences. “The people that made me want to make music were Lancey Foux, House of Pharaohs and King Krule. As soon as I heard Lancey, I thought he looked like one of the mandem, but his sound was completely different.”

On a path to set himself aside from others, his love for wrestling influenced his signature look. “When you look at my make-up now it’s difficult to see where it’s come from but it’s a homage to wrestlers and rockstars. I didn’t want to look like the version of me dancing, I wanted to separate it. So, I started looking at eye masks etc but when I saw the face paint in wrestling and various artists in the rock world it suddenly clicked,” he explains.

Recently gifting the world with his debut mixtape ‘i hope you never fit in’, this 13-track project is a true reflection of his artistry thus far. “It’s got influences from the alternative scene, a lot of shoegaze, rock, and R&B influences, as well as a hip-hop foundation. There are quite a few sounds on the tape, but the most important instrument is my voice and that strings it together. In the Black community people can shy away from the fact that rock played a big part in the development of Black artists, so I went back to my roots and embraced that, as well as showing that Black British music isn’t just one sound.”

Paired with a head-turning cover with Felix hanging upside down from a bridge in France, this mixtape emphasises his versatility and overall prowess. “I know people wanted a specific sound for my first tape, however I wanted to give my best unfiltered version of myself. With the music that I have coming, I thought it was a great way for me to prove that the genre thing is getting old.” Continuously verifying his worth, FelixThe1st is an artist to look out for over the coming year.

Words: Elle Evans // @elleevans98

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