Northants teenage singer, rapper, and producer thinking silly has been impressing many with his latest tracks. With album unfortunately essential out now he gives New Boots a rundown of the tracks.
New Boots: How did you start making music?
thinking silly: My desire to make music initially came from my admiration for the rapper Eminem. My mum introduced me to his music, as well as the film 8 Mile when I was around 11 years old, and I fell in love with his work instantly. Shortly after I ended up writing and releasing some rap songs of my own onto YouTube; and as you may expect from an 11 year-old, the songs weren’t very good. I ultimately deleted all of my work just a couple months after I had started, despite the small amount of attention I was getting. A couple years passed, and my love for music grew even more. I developed a new admiration for what was, at the time, an upcoming wave of emo-rappers, such as XXXTENTACION, Lil Peep and Trippie Redd. These guys, along with a few other musicians, such as Freddie Dredd eventually inspired me to make music once again. I used the GarageBand app on my iPhone and beats I found on YouTube in order to produce four singles under the name slanted face. Whilst these songs were still not at all good enough to earn me any real recognition whatsoever, it was clear that I had improved. My friends told me that the music was slowly getting better, but that the name slanted face was awful and needed to go, so I came up with a new name, thinking silly, and went from there. Eventually I transitioned from using an iPhone to using a microphone, a laptop, and FL Studio.
How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
The sound I’m working on at the moment is very much inspired by the likes of Tiny Little Houses, EDEN, Christian Alexander, LESANE and Billie Eilish. I’m trying to combine elements of peaceful, yet passionate lo-fi music with elements of rock. I want to incorporate more of my guitar playing into my pieces, and ultimately create a sound that feels like something new.
What was the reaction like to those 2019/2020 singles?
I’m very pleased with how my music did back then, but no matter how well a song of mine does I constantly want to make something better than my last release. I’m nowhere near where I want to be in the grand scheme of things, and whilst I’m aware of how long it may take for me to ultimately fulfil certain goals of mine, I have no interest in taking a break of any sort, or relaxing any time soon. I want to prove to those around me that it is possible for me to get somewhere with this. I don’t want my ambition to be treated as if it is stupidity.
Tell us everything about this album, unfortunately essential.
The name is intended to convey my disliking – yet appreciation towards – the period of my life in which the eight songs on the album were written and recorded. I was a very immature and ignorant person whilst I was working on these songs, and at the time I was entirely unaware of this. I feel a lot of frustration towards the person that I was not too long ago, and I still feel this frustration from time to time in regards to the person that I am today; as I’m sure we all do, now and again. Nonetheless I feel as though my past will always be an essential part of my identity.
I love when an album starts off with an energetic song. I also love when an album starts off with a song that people are familiar with, as it usually eases them into the project nicely. My song ‘Mikolaj’ is a good example of both of these things. Thanks to Jack Marlow’s production the song has a UK garage vibe, which is a genre that often revolves around dancing and just having a good time, really. Hence why I decided to use such simplistic lyrics. I wanted them to be as straightforward as possible, so that people could already sing along to the song by the time that they had reached the second chorus.
The second song on the album is ‘Strangers’, featuring Louie Jacobs. My verse on this track foreshadows the self-destructiveness that becomes extremely apparent towards the end of the album, and Louie’s hook acts as the sequel to Mikolaj’s ‘party’ kind of atmosphere; his tone is portraying the blurry aftermath of a party.
This transitions into the album’s interlude, ‘acne’, a song about feeling as though despite what anyone may tell you, you are the only person who understands exactly what you’re going through. I specifically used the term ‘acne’ to convey the story that I was trying to tell, because most of, if not all of us have dealt with acne at some point in our lives, yet to some of us it means nothing, and to others it’s an extreme point of insecurity.
Next up is ‘Never, Pt. 2’, which includes another appearance from Louie, and is arguably my favourite song on the project. ‘Never, Pt. 1’ was about the common idea of never giving up, and continuing to pursue your goals, and me and Louie wanted to continue this theme in a manner that was more appealing, and much more mature. This one was produced by another great friend of mine in Eth, who is without a doubt one of the most underrated producers that I have ever encountered.
The fifth song is what inspired around 50% of this album, and I’ve never in my entire life enjoyed working on a song more than I enjoyed working on ‘Such Great Things’. This is Louie’s third and final appearance on the project, except for his backing vocals on ‘don’t flinch’, and he is responsible for the the majority of the song’s production. The song is massively inspired by Billie Eilish’s ‘bitches broken hearts’, a track which internally develops such an amazing feeling when you listen to it at the correct point in time. I soon became desperate to make a song that at least somewhat channeled that same energy, and for this album, I decided to place it as far away from the more energetic songs as I possibly could. I want you to be able to feel relaxed whilst listening to this song, and I also want my more affectionate side to be present within my discography.
Next up is ‘i hope’, which is the most experimental piece on the album. The song was formatted around my tendency to overreact when I have disappointed people that I care about. The lyrics that kick off the chorus “But in my head everything falls apart” essentially demonstrate this tendency, and what it results in. The initial version of the song was much more simplistic and similar to ‘Such Great Things’, but it felt very lacklustre, which led to me ultimately adding more diversity to the instrumental, and editing my vocals more than i usually would.
This idea of falling apart internally is developed, and reaches it’s climax in ‘don’t flinch’, a song which was initially about a rather disturbing concept that ultimately resulted in a fictional character’s suicide, hence the gunshot at the end of the track. In a way, this is the album’s outro. This is the end of a certain persona that was developed through ‘thinking silly’. This is an exaggeration of the point at which I realised my own flaws and mistakes, and decided that the person I once was didn’t deserve to be here. Listening to this song can be a very difficult, yet a very satisfying experience for me, as whilst it reminds me of things that I’d rather forget it also reminds me that the past is in the past – and that I am lucky enough to have a future to look forward to.
Now that this fictional character is no longer with us, it’s time to reflect on their journey, through ‘ready, set, start over’, a song about my hatred towards the person I once was. Hence the lyrics “Not a fan of the man I became/It’s a shame they won’t know how I’ve changed”, referring to those that I have had disagreements with in the past that will only remember that particular version of me, rather than who I am today.
Are you part of a wider scene locally? Any shout outs?
Louie and I are working on the development of the ‘Hotel Rexford Collective’, a group of underground artists and producers. We’re yet to recruit enough individuals to be able to do exactly what we intend to do with the project, but once we’ve reached a suitable number of members, we plan on releasing a mixtape of some sort, in which every single member is present, and showcasing their abilities.
Lockdown: how it worked in your favour, artistically?
The first lockdown, back in March 2020, worked massively in my favour. I had an abundance of free time and took full advantage of it by contributing to the TSLJ album [a collaborative project, which stands for ‘thinking silly’ and ‘Louie Jacobs’], creating the ‘MAUVE’ EP, and even filming a music video for the song ‘Wake Up’. I recently deleted the majority of this content, despite my appreciation for it at the time.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
The Balcony by Catfish and The Bottlemen, who are one of my two favourite bands at this point in time; the other being Radiohead.
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I’m going to continue to make what I believe is the best music I’ve ever made, and become more intelligent in regards to how I promote and distribute my work. I feel as though it would be silly for me to set too many particular goals, due to the unpredictable nature of being a musician, but there’s definitely a few milestones in my head that I hope to surpass in the near future.
unfortunately essential by thinking silly is out now via the usual digital platforms