NN singer and poet J Carlyle took 2020 by the scruff of the neck and collaborated his way into our consciousness. With a statement single just out New Boots got some of the story from him.
New Boots: What’s your NN story?
J Carlyle: I was born in London and moved to Wellingborough at a young age, and basically grew up there. I moved to Northampton town two years ago.
How did you get into singing and writing? Who were your main influences in that development?
I’ve been writing for years starting with grime musicians and just continued from there, expanding my skills as a writer through different genres and styles, such as spoken word/poetry and songwriting. My inspirations include Wretch32, Kendrick Lamar, System Of A Down and Vybz Kartel.
‘Calculating The Ifs’ was a fierce opening salvo early in 2020, working closely with Rents. What was the reaction like, did it give you faith?
‘Calculating the Ifs’ was a project made with the intention of showcasing my versatility, and introducing who I am as an artist. I’ve received positive feedback on this project and it signalled the start of my career. Rents was a massive help, and big part of putting the EP together.
You teamed up with Great Adamz for the dancehall-centric ‘Forever Girl’ last summer, and it was a big streaming hit. Were you pleasantly surprised how far it travelled?
I was ecstatic at the response that track received. Its given me a reinforced sense of accomplishment about my craft, and has birthed a new level of expression with the new music I am due to release in 2021. Working with Great Adamz was a pleasure as we have a good working relationship and an understanding of each other as artists. Look out for more collaborations of us in the future.
The new release ‘Pressures of the Precious’ is a strong statement, pontificating on the journey over some low-level soul-jazz. Tell us about it.
‘Pressures of the Precious’ is a spoken word piece written by myself and a good friend of mine, spoke word artist JasonsCorner. It was written from our personal perspectives to highlight the experiences of young black men in the U.K., and the different arenas we contend with. Working with Luma Sounds who provided the jazzy keyboard sounds to compliment the lyrics. It’s a powerful piece that’s close to my heart.
How have you coped with the lockdowns/pandemic? Helped or hindered your creativity?
Honestly when lockdown was first announced I felt slightly discouraged as I had planned to do a circuit of open mics etc. But it has been a blessing in disguise. I’ve been to make links with new producers and really dig deep into my creative process creating a sound that I think the world can enjoy.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN. I love projects with a theme, and how he creatively showcases his message with each track.
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
One thing I would love to do is share a stage with the artists I look up to with a live band. Performing live is one of the greatest parts of being an artist in my opinion. Creating an atmosphere on stage and the energy being reciprocated by the crowd is an incredible feeling.
I have a new single coming out early February so look out for that. Announcements coming soon.
‘Pressures of the Precious’ by J Carlyle is out now via the usual digital platforms