"I’m going to keep on trying to understand me and put that down into audio value. And if it keeps on having an effect, then I’m going to keep on doing it."
Kid Bookie is gearing up to release his long-awaited debut album 'Cheaper Than Therapy', and it's quite the statement.
Bringing together all of the heart, aggression, attitude and passion that exists within hip-hop, rock, metal, grime and hardcore, it's a confessional, cathartic and deeply catchy collection of songs from one of my scene's most unique and uncontrollable voices. From the tender to the terrifying, it is art in its most raw and real form, and a first big step in what is set to be a fascinating journey for Bookie.
We sat down to chat about the record with the man himself, and what ensued was an incredible discussion on life, inspiration and how important it is to own every aspect of who you are...
What mental process did you have to go through when it came to bringing all of your passions into one place as Kid Bookie?
"Rock music is a science. It’s not a case of just picking up a guitar and wailing over some progressive chords. There are so many other parts to it that you need to consider when you’re making it. And because I grew up with it first, my brain was always subconsciously learning things. The maths, the theory, the equations of how to make a song go up. There was so much shit in there that I didn’t understand properly until I started making music, but that’s where I was also able to leap in doing those things but also being myself.
"But it’s weird how taboo rock can be as well. When did it become the norm for me to come out of my shell to make rock music? That, to me, shows that there is a genuine issue somewhere. That happens nowhere else in no other genre. You see people rolling down the shops, windows down blast 50 Cent, but I have to be cautious when I’m blasting Slipknot? What the fuck is that about? It’s weird to me. So that’s why I want to challenge myself and make myself and the people around me uncomfortable with what I produce. I love making people go through those feelings because those are the moments when you start to uncover who the fuck you are."
Is that feeling what started to drive you when it came down to putting a collection of songs together that could represent you in the form of an actual album?
"Yeah, 100%. I get messages every day from people of colour saying, ‘I don’t feel like I need to hide the fact that I listen to rock music anymore’. And I do get a lot of messages like that, so I know that there is a thing broken within there. And the more that keeps happening, the more I seem to realise that I’m a beacon for something important. I might not be the biggest in my field, but I seem to inspire people to be authentic. One of the things I care the most about on this planet is not being scared. When you’re not scared, you start to embrace the true nature of your character, and those things are your superpowers. Being yourself is the most heroic thing you can do, and it affects everyone around you. Because it makes you feel comfortable, and once you’ve gone through the uncomfortable parts and found your plateau, that’s how you can then become a superhero for somebody else. It’s about giving yourself the chance to feel that way."
And when you have a vessel to inject that and experiment with it, then that’s how you have found your comfort. And that’s just from talking about your life and your experiences in the most open way possible…
"Art is always supposed to be transgressive. Even when it comes down to me experimenting and putting myself into different styles of music, that then becomes transgressive. I know it’s an over the top sentiment, but if you want to change the world, you need to deposit parts of your ethos into as many different corners of the planet as you can. That’s what the beauty of being a musician is. You get to travel and show who you are to so many people, and if they adopt your ethos, they carry that with them. That’s how music shapes the times we go through and the world we live in. I’m obsessive about those processes. This is the lens I see the planet through, how I consume it, how I rationalise it, and how I spew it back out."
And throughout all of that, you’re still learning and growing and finding things out as much as everybody else. There isn’t an ultimatum or a conclusion to any of this. It’s an ongoing process…
"I don’t like things feeling safe. I don’t like feeling like I didn’t question something. I feel like we are in a butterfly state where everybody wants to show off their wings. And we are all captivated by the beauty rather than the sound that those wings are making. I get it because we want to see the beautiful side of life. But that’s not what I’m about. My boots are dusty and old, and I’ve got dirt under my fingernails, and that’s the way I am. It’s not how everybody has to be, but it feels like many people are only standing up for the quota they have been out there rather than standing up for it. Maybe someone might think the same about me but put us all in a room together, and let's see what’s what when the layers are stripped away. This is all about rewriting the rules so that somebody can come along after us and rewrite them again. It’s never supposed to be the same. The cog is never supposed to be working all the time. It needs to be fixed and changed again and again. It needs to be reshaped."
What would you say that you have learned along the way of this journey that you probably weren’t aware of before?
"I think I’ve learned mainly about the actual ownership of who I wanted to be. I believe music is essential for that. When I used to make music, I felt like I had to make something to fit in with the places I had been to, and I never really knew how to be in those places. It was music that I never really cared about, I guess. So making music that I loved made such a difference. Going back to the science of things and moulding things together, making chemistry, seeing what happens. I’ve got to this place where the things I love have shown me so much about myself that I’m not scared to put it down on paper. I’m not scared to share the traumas of my life because of what those things have given me. This is my life experience on this spinning rock, and I have my past and the potential of a future. So I’m going to keep on trying to understand me and put that down into audio value. And if it keeps on having an effect, then I’m going to keep on doing it."
It’s funny how things slot into place when you allow yourself to be that open…
"Exactly. The moment I declared that I was going straight in with everything that I say and do, that’s when the pieces started to click. And that’s why I’m so adamant about telling others to do it. That’s the muse that I feel like I need to be for others. The thing is that we have grown up on the legends of this game, and they have spoken about so many things that have shaped us. So how can I say something that they haven’t already done? The world has changed so much, for the better and the worse, and you need to continue asking questions and finding things out to make sure that the people who can hear me are happy."
How does it feel for what Bookie is to be as big a part of your life as it is?
"Nerve-wracking because sometimes your sword feels like the strongest thing in the world, and then others feel limp and soggy. That’s just the beautiful part of living. I wake up and feel like everything is wonderful, but the human way of experiencing this world doesn’t work like that. That’s because you are constantly battling expectations and romanticising every aspect of what you are putting out into the world. I feel like Kid Bookie is the culmination of everything I wanted to be making when I would listen to the artists who raised me and want to do the same thing. Making that name and then putting our music under that has made me into what that name is. I feel like I’m the person I need to be at this time, but I will continue to evolve. I want to make sure that rock music is exciting for anybody and everybody, and that’s what I’m going to continue doing. I don’t know who I am to the fullest, but I will keep on finding out."