Next Wave #905: Murkage Dave

In Association With Tommy Hilfiger

Murkage Dave is an outsider. He always has been, but now, for the first time in his life, he is carrying an ever-increasing army of outsiders with him.

Now in his early-30s and, prior to releasing his debut album ‘Murkage Dave Changed My Life’ last year and a handful of sporadic material in the years prior to that, David Lewis was well-known in the scene as a promoter and DJ, first in Manchester, and then back in his native London.

His name remains from the Monday Murkage bass, grime and dubstep nights he used to run in the North West and, after toiling with the appeal of a rebrand, he came to realise that all that came before who he is today is actually what defines him as an artist. “[Mike] Skinner told me not to change my name, because it’s closer to what I’m about than anything else I can think of,” he ponders, shaking his head at the idea that he had ever entertained constructing an artifice between Dave the man and Dave the artist.

His music is refreshingly honest, confronting anxiety and masculinity, revelling in nostalgia and drawing beauty from introspection with an emotional freedom not usually afforded to black male solo artists in the UK. He explains: “When I was growing up, the people who made the decision on who would get a deal were not from the community. They would categorise black artists to fit certain archetypes, and what gets pushed by the industry is sex and violence. It’s not up to those people anymore.”

Dave wholeheartedly rejects the notion that male masculinity cannot be complex, or at least the notion that people one wants it to be explored by black artists. What’s more, he has the wisdom and self-confidence to do something about it.

“None of the people I felt like I needed to impress need impressing anymore. It’s just me and the audience, and I speak to them every day.”

The directness of Dave’s lyrics, coupled with lush, genre-bending instrumentals, his sullen town and furrowed brow, is what makes him stand out, and encourages a pertinent feeling of closeness between him and his fans. His music is for him, and also for anyone feeling isolated in what Dave calls our “hyper-connected but totally insincere” world.

With no posturing, and no bullshit, Murkage Dave has a very real potential to change and guide many lives, not just his own.

GET 3 SONGS: ‘King Of First World Problems’, ‘Keep Up The Bad Work’, ‘Car Bomb’

FACT: Murkage Dave used to swim at national level for Lewisham.

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Photography: Sophie Mayanne
Fashion: Zarina Shukri

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