Northampton rapper Dizmack returns to the fold after a short break with perhaps his most interesting work yet, and there’s plenty more to come. Strap yourself in for an in-depth interview; trust us, it’s worth it.
How would you describe your sound in 2019?
I’d like to think I’m still making lyrical, meaningful, I’d say emo music. Its still very truthful and personal. I couldn’t really put it into a genre, as I feel like I’m make so much different kind of sounds. It’s a bit difficult to put under a genre. I’m influenced by all sorts. I don’t tend to listen to grime or hip hop, I’m more into bands and indie music. Anything with feeling. I try and just create good music really: go into the studio and see how I’m feeling and whatever the vibe is that day work with it, and try and come out of my comfort zone. The new songs are quite melodic, the format is in a more traditional song format, what with loads of pre-hooks, post bridges, stuff like that.
What’s influencing you the most right now?
Just life really. I live a very unconventional life. I deal with ADHD and Aspergers on the day-to-day, but then I’m a practitioner of Chinese medicine working towards my doctorate. And then I get to live a bit of a musician’s lifestyle, so between those three elements it gives me all the ingredients I need to cook up my music.
The ‘Spectrum’ EP from 2017 was a big moment for you, musically and emotionally. How did you feel after its release? Did it get a strong reception?
That’s really personal for me. It’s kind of a life changer really, because it was my first proper release that I’ve been working towards for a while. It was the end of a chapter and the start of a new one. I lost my grandma a week or so before it was released. Then it was released on the anniversary of my grandfather’s death. Because it came out the worst time: Christmas, getting prepared for the funeral, and burying my grandmother. There’s a lot of emotions. Plus ‘Spectrum’ is about me being on the autistic spectrum. I was just going to the studio and cashing in on my moods really. I didn’t really have a plan. There wasn’t a direction for the project. It was like “well I’m going through this, this down feeling today, let’s document it”. Because my moods are so all over the place, it’s kind of crazy. I could be happy this morning and then proper emotional later. It was interesting making it. It helped me grow a lot. It was good to touch on certain things, and get certain things off my chest, and put it out in the open. It helps coming to terms with getting the diagnosis of having Aspergers and ADHD. It took a lot out of me. But it needed to be done, because I had so much to touch on and music I wanted to make. I felt like until I touched on certain things it was never going to happen. It was very emotional; good and bad. It just came such an unfortunate time. There was a lot going on and it summed up how my life was and all of the stuff going on. I say on ‘How About That’ “I’m both happy and sad”. That sums that up. I was going through some of my hardest times of my life, but then I achieve something that I wanted to achieve for a while, and really worked hard to do it. I feel like I did achieve that. It’s hard to be happy about something when such a big event happens in your life, and it puts everything into perspective. But it kept me going. Soon as I got that out I finish my follow up EP a couple of weeks later, which I have been sitting on for a while. It set the tone for that because the next one is ‘357’, which is the acupuncture formula for emotions. It’s quite fitting. It’s funny how universe, God or whatever you believe in kinda gives you all the ingredients and aids you on your journey. I think it was more of a case I’d finally done it, and people were happy that I got it out and there’s a body of work for them to listen to. I can’t complain. It showed me that I’m doing what I should be doing and I need to keep at it. Plus ‘Spectrum’ is 1 of 3: the plan was to do three projects in the year. Put them all together and you’ve got an album, so I’m keen to get the other two parts out that have been recorded for over a year now. Hopefully by the time you get the third project you see the bigger picture, and it will all make more sense.
Fellow NNer Izzie Gibbs is a regular collaborator, you both appearing on the Foreign Beggars tune ‘Toast’ last year. Tell us about that relationship.
He’s actually my younger cousin, so we’re always on the phone, always creating. He’s currently producing an EP for me now. We’ve got a few things in the works. I worked on his last EP. It’s always great to have a family member you get along well with. Plus we’re both on the same things, we are both very similar. We’ve got a collective called Camotage. When we do our things we roll under the name Two. We are working on a joint project called The Amazing Adventures of Two, which will be him and I. It’s been fun. Obviously I’m on the road with him, gigging with him a lot. He took me to America to do South By Southwest. That was great. He’s took me on loads of tour dates: Bugzy Malone, V Fest, the lot. I’ve got to touch many stages with him. We’re constantly talking about ideas, sending each other references: what we like, what we should do. His basically the little brother I never had. And I’d like to think I’m the older brother he never had. We are so tight, to the point that we’re on the verge of communicating via telekinesis and telepathy because we just seem to get it. We can look each other and we both know what we’re on about. He’s a blessing, he’s an amazing artist. The best little brother I could ask for, and a good friend. Definitely someone I can turn to. It was great to appear last year on the Foreign Beggars album, and Big Narstie’s. Obviously we did the Channel 4 Big Narstie Show together and performed the track. I couldn’t ask for a better relationship, nor I couldn’t be any tighter. Hopefully there’s a lot of great music to come from both of us this year; it’s only going to get bigger and better.
You’ve had some changes on the backroom side of things, which has hampered you releasing new music. What can you tell us about that? What have you learnt?
Life is full of surprises for me. I’m constantly learning. Finding out more about myself and life. I’ve learnt loads about the music industry, and being on a label. There was no problem on the label side of things, they’re like family. Big Narstie is one of my best friends, so it’s all love there. I’ve just realised that what with my life and having Aspergers and ADHD I just like to have things a certain way. I like to have control and to be able to implement my vision. I’ve noticed sometimes on a label, or whatever, you have to deal with outside people who don’t always get it. People can’t see your vision. I know what I want to do, from start to finish: how I want it to be presented, and what I’m aiming for. I found it difficult waiting: making so much music, waiting and then getting things done. I don’t think people saw my vision, and knew want to do with me, or where to put me. I just thought I know what I want to do, I know where I want to go. I’m capable of doing it. I’ve got a lot of music, so let’s just try and do this my way and have full control over it. I’d much rather that than try and do it a way I’m not fully comfortable with, and that doesn’t work out. I’ve got nothing bad to say about my situation. It just wasn’t working for me and how my life is set up at the moment. I just wanted to be more of myself, and embrace the weird side of me. I’m a proper artist, and I’m not really interested in image and all the other stuff. I’m about making quality music with meaning, and getting it out there. Everything else is secondary. It’s all love. Big up to everybody at Dice Records. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve got good memories. I’ve got to do some great stuff that wouldn’t have got to do otherwise. I wish everybody the best, and hopefully my thing goes from strength to strength now, even though it may be a bit different and a bit weird to some people. I think that’s a good thing, because it’s unique and that’s who I am. So I can’t do anything better than by being me, and doing things my way.
Tell us everything about these new songs, ‘Leanface’ and ‘Stress/Basic Procedure’.
The new singles are quite old actually, recorded almost two years ago now. It was just music from the sessions I’ve been doing that I hadn’t done stuff with. Obviously with my odd situation certain things are meant to go a certain way. It didn’t turn out like that, and and I have ended up sitting on a lot of music that I want out before I push these next EPs out. There’s no time like the present really. ‘Leanface’ was produced by Izzie Gibbs and Spooksville. Trolley Snatcha brought it all together with a final mix and some arrangements, adding a few sounds here and there. ‘Leanface’ is about THC or CBD-based syrup that I drink to help manage my Aspergers. Obviously there’s a big thing going on about Lean, which is made with promethazine and codeine. I’m not for any of those kind of things. I like to keep it natural. I don’t take medication for my conditions, and I find that cannabis and CBD helps, so it’s about me being a bit of a herbalist.
‘Stress/Basic Procedure’ is a weird one. I was actually at my cousin’s funeral, and I came home still drinking. I’ve had a couple of bottles of champagne; I ended up playing Monopoly with a friend all night. Then still being drunk and going to the studio, and just continuing drinking. I had a song that I was working on that I was struggling to finish. A kind had a bit of a meltdown, what with my emotions being high, I got a bit tearful. Then obviously I felt stress. I made a phone call to one of my friends, and he was basically like “suck it up, go in there and make something new”. So it was just kind of messing about, playing with sounds and what not. So I got ‘Stress’ locked in, then I started working on something else. This time I was so drunk I could barely stand up, and that turned out to be Basic Procedure. Trolley Snatcha was playing the beat, and I was just freestyling. I didn’t write a word for that. We freestyled and dropped in and and ended up with that. I thought they complemented each other, so let’s give them a two-in-one.
We are using them to try and build up a bit of momentum into this next EP. So I’ve got a few more tracks to come out and then we can start with ‘357’.
Obviously people like slowthai and Izzie are doing great things locally. But any brand new producers or MCs in Northamptonshire that you rate, that you want to give a shout out to?
I’m out of the loop with who’s coming out of Northampton at the moment. I like DeBe, he’s got a lot of stuff going on. I follow the Northampton band scene to be honest, I’ve got a lot of friends in bands. I’d say Born Stranger and Kinships are favourites. Rest In Peace to Matthew King and Daniel Padmore; they were both musicians I had the pleasure of working with, and friends of mine.
It would be the same people that I have always known, like your Ill Murk and Jam D and CP. Audio Nurks, he’s got a nice project coming out soon. He would be a good one to watch. I quite like Weirdoe and Samuel Lox, I like their sound and what they’re doing. Also you got producers like Harlz and Spooksville. Oh and Kaotic, my favourite lyricist and brother from another mother. We’ve been through a lot together and he’s a genius when it comes to music. Slowthai and Izzy are flying the flag really hard, so props to those two – they’re doing their thing.
How’s the acupuncture going?
It’s going great. I’m a fully qualified acupuncturist. Just about to start my masters and work towards my doctorate. So hopefully once I go back to that it will be two years, and then I will be a fully qualified doctor of Oriental medicine, which I’m excited about because I love acupuncture. I’m getting great results: it helps a lot to feel like I’m able to give back. I’ve got something of substance that actually means something, and can make a difference in not only my life but the people around me. Health is wealth. Plus I’ve got loads of knowledge, loads of stuff that will serve me for my lifetime, and serve my friends and families. It’s helped with the diet. Plus it’s the way I manage my own condition. I don’t take medication. That’s where ‘357’ comes from, it’s the acupuncture formula for emotions. That’s the name of the EP coming next. Acupuncture is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m hoping to have a clinic in due time. That’s part of the bigger plan. Just keep going on from strength to strength. I went back to be a supervisor this year, I’m going to be a lecturer. I’ve also been esquire-ing for the Knights of Truth this last year. So I believe I will be knighted in October. It’s crazy; I think back five years ago and I was the patient going to get assessed for mental health reasons. And now I’m practically a doctor, and managing myself. I’m my own GP, and I take care of my family and all of that. I take the most pride in that, because I started it when I was in a really bad place and I struggled. At times I thought my life was going nowhere. So to go through it and come out the other side and build on it and now taking it to even higher levels is is a big thing for me. Plus I was recording the music at the same time. I’ve really applied myself in the last few years to get this stuff done, and fix up my life in all areas. I’m just grateful and thankful that I didn’t mess my life up too badly, and had the opportunity to redeem myself and right the wrongs.
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
To show the world how good I am. And how the high standard of music is, the levels that I work at. I have a really good understanding of it. In all areas, not just personal stuff. Stuff I can work on with other people, the writing stuff. I definitely want to have a career and get all my projects out, and be consistent and deliver. I feel like I’ve got a lot of people waiting on my music, and asking for stuff and what not. Now I just want to get it done. Get that out, get my doctorate, get a clinic. Try and merge the music and medicine together. The EP series seemed to do well. I’m a big advocate for mental health. Just trying to do right, be a good responsible adult. An upstanding member of the community. Do my charity work for the Knight’s stuff. I would like to get to the position where I can actually do some stuff, where I’ve got money and backing. I could do stuff for other people, for the Next Generation. whether it’s music or medicine. Youth club, whatever. I just want to be able to make a difference. Give back to NN, make it cool. And just live a full life. Be a nice person. Get my music out to as many people as I can. Do some features. Try and see how far we can take it. I definitely want to be doing some live shows. I just want to get these next projects out, and start some new material. See where we are at. Then hopefully aim for a headline show. I believe I will probably be going on tour with Izzie when he does his tour. Right about now it’s just about getting the music out, the visuals out, and trying to work to the level where I can do my own headline show, and start doing something a little different because I’ve got so much music that covers a few different genres and styles. I’d like to be able to breakout an hour set into three 20 minutes. Give them some of the jump up, give them some emotive stuff, meaningful stuff. Then probably do some stuff with a band. That’s the ideal vision of my show, how to break it down. I’d also like to do a documentary series called Travelling The Orient, where I travel the Oriental cultures. Cover music, medicine, martial arts, fashion. I see it as a Vice style kind of thing. Go out there and bring a few friends, maybe Izzie and Big Narstie covering all areas. But base it around medicine and then try and build from there. I’d love to end up as a celebrity acupuncturist. Trying to get my music into a state where I’m recognised for that. And then cross it over and be like a Dr Hilary Jones type fella.
‘Stress/Basic Procedure‘ is out now via the usual digital platforms