Artist Interview: “DRUGS & NICOTINE” by CRIM

Q: I read that you began making music at 12, being extremely innovative by using socks as soundproofing and a cardboard box as a recording booth. You’ve seemed to always love music, but what first got you into music? Is your family musical?

CRIM: Funnily enough nobody in my family has ever been overly musical. It was back in about 2012 I started forming a love for hip hop when I started listening to people like Eminem. I still remember being 9 years old and learning the fast verse in rap god and trying to do it faster to show my Mum. I later started discovering bands like Saosin and Slipknot and I was completely blown away because to 14 year old me it was like nothing I’d ever heard before. I then fell down a rabbit hole of constantly searching for more music that sounded like this. It wasn’t until 2015 that I actually started trying to make music. That was when my friend Rory who had started making beats at the time said we should try and make a song. We recorded all the tracks on a blue snowball in a plastic storage box filled with socks for soundproofing and during this year – two year period I wrote and created about 500 songs.

Q: Being young in the music industry, who are some of your mentors or inspirations?

CRIM:  I take a lot of influence from a range of different musicians. I grew up listening to a lot of bands such as Citizen, Knuckle Puck, Saosin, Title Fight and Brand New. However, it wasn’t until my teenage years I started to develop a love for modern-day trap music. Around 2015-2016 I started listening to a lot of music circulating around the underground Soundcloud scene such as XXXTentacion and the entirety of gothboiclique. It was through blending these 2 main sources of influence that I really started to find my sound. I also love finding inspiration within tv shows or movies. I’m a huge anime fan and find myself constantly finding inspiration in situations or storylines of the shows I’m watching at that time.

Q: This track is very emotional and your lyrics are brutally honest in discussing a failed relationship. Can you walk me through your typical writing process in creating a track, and specifically with “Drugs & Nicotine?”

CRIM:  For me creating music is an outlet. I believe songwriting should be a zen experience and that it should happen naturally. If I have to force a song to happen then I feel the process loses its purpose. I wrote DRUGS & NICOTINE all within one session and actually had the song for about 2 years before bringing it to my producer to work on a beat for it with him. I feel my music is just a direct reflection of my emotions during a certain period of my life which I think is why people relate to it because I allow myself to be honest and really open myself up to the world.


Q: You write and co-produce all your songs, which is extremely impressive. Take me through your process in making “Drugs & Nicotine”?

CRIM: With almost all of my songs I usually write some guitar parts and try to lay out some kind of idea for the song. Then I would send on the raw guitar stems to my producer Layen and we would sit on a call and fully flesh out my idea into a beat. However, with DRUGS & NICOTINE, I had this concept for the entire song but I was struggling to bring it to life so I got on a call with Layen and we sat for about 5 hours until we had a version of the beat that we were happy with. After hearing the beat I had this melody playing in my head and I started singing it to Layen and said “what if we added a string arrangement for the outro.” So he laid down the melody I sang to him on some violins. As he was adding some more violins playing the chords of the song melodies just started coming to me and he translated these into violin harmonies and cello parts as I sang them to him. As we finished this section I knew the song we had was special.

Q: How has growing up in Belfast affected the way you create your music?

CRIM: Honestly I don’t think it’s necessarily affected the way I make music but I feel it’s taught me how to push my limits and feel comfortable outside of my comfort zone. When I started releasing music I didn’t know anyone making the same music as me locally so I felt I was going to draw attention to myself from the start regardless whether that be for good or bad reasons I just had to take the jump and start releasing the music I wanted to release.


Q: What kind of advice would you give to other up and coming artists trying to get their names out there?

CRIM: Make the music you want to make and do what feels right to you. Don’t sell out your artistry for the sake of money and views because those things will find you when the time is right as long as you stay authentic to yourself. You also have to be ready to make plenty to of sacrifices and be ready to work harder than anybody else as there are millions of artists who want to be a musician just as bad as anyone else and if you’re not working as hard as them then it’s easy for them to take your place.

Interviewed by Melissa Cusano

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