An afternoon with… Nick Brewer
E2E music feature writer Lydia exclusively interviews Nick Brewer.
So, remember in my last article I introduced you to the talented Nick Brewer and his new EP, Flat 10 ? If you read that post, I’m sure you remember me saying there’d be more fun to follow in the next week. Well, here it is.
On Sunday afternoon, I met up with the East London rapper to have a good old natter over a green tea and a skinny mocha. I really got an insight into not only Nick Brewer as an artist, but Nick Brewer as a person. I must warn you, its a long one – so make yourself a cuppa and check out what he had to say about his past, Flat 10 and his future.
So Nick, tell me about Flat 10. How did the title come about?
Well, my first two Mixtapes were called Alone With My Thoughts and Alone With My Thoughts Part 2, so I was thinking of all these ‘thoughts’ things. I ended up talking to my mate about it and he asked me what Jo’s flat number was. Jo [of The Confect] is one of my producers and lives at flat number 10. So it was just like, yeah. Flat 10. It represents exactly where I am. I’m not in a flashy studio; it’s just me and my friends doing what we love. Flat 10 just seemed to really make sense.
Have you got any personal favourites on the EP?
It’s weird because some of the tracks I’ve had for ages and some were only made a few days before we put the EP out. My favourite is probably ‘In The Quiet’ featuring George the Poet. If someone wanted to know exactly what I was about as an artist, I would play that song. It captures who I am. I’ve known George for a few years – he’s a good friend and a great guy. We are both coming from different perspectives on ‘In the Quiet’ and both have our own stuff to say. So yeah, probably ‘In the Quiet’. Right now, anyway.
Even though it’s just a snippet, ‘Me & My Pen’ is probably my favourite. As a writer, it’s important to understand your writing process, what it is that inspires you and when you feel most inspired.
Yeah, definitely. It took me ages to come to terms with the fact that I was a rapper. I never saw myself as cool enough. I was always the quiet and posh one out of my friends, but one thing I have always done is write lyrics. I am quite an open person and I can be open through my lyrics. It’s great because people can relate, even if what they are going through isn’t completely the same. My favourite artists are the people I can relate to. I relate to the likes of J. Cole and Drake and although our lifestyles are completely different, the beauty of lyrics allows you to relate. There’s such power in words. ‘Me & My Pen’ is going to be on my next EP and I guess I just really wanted to think about the reasons behind why I am doing music and the message I am trying to convey.
One thing I have noticed is that you’ve stopped using the name ‘Brewer’, and now go by your full name, ‘Nick Brewer’. What are the differences between these two personas?
I was having this chat with my mate the other day. I’ve had some really bad MC names in the past. Looking back, I just wasn’t cool. Still, everybody just used to call me Brewer. I didn’t really think much about it – it just made sense. However, when I turned 22, I thought that since my music is all about me, why don’t I just call myself who I am – Nick Brewer. It’s like the evolution. I’m maturing as a person and I’m a man now. I’ve got to take who I am seriously and what I think represents me the best.
When did pursuing music as a career really click for you?
I would say in 2011. I worked really hard on my second mixtape and although the people that heard it liked it, it didn’t necessarily do what I wanted it to do. After that, I kinda figured okay. I like making music but maybe it isn’t for me as a career. I went through quite a bit that year though and it really changed me. I thought you know what, if I want to do this, then I have only got myself to blame if I don’t. So around October 2011, I started to take myself more seriously and became a lot more consistent. There have been times since then when I have thought this is long, but I am still holding on to that belief.
Absolutely, when you have the talent and it’s what you are passionate about, you just have to run with it.
This is it. I love making music. There are a lot of things that I don’t like about it, but when I’m in the studio, I love it. No matter how many people it is – whether it’s 10 or 100 – when they can relate to what you are saying? That is such a sick feeling. I don’t even know you and you don’t know me, but somehow we are going through the same thing even if it’s in the smallest way. I just love making music, I really do.
I won’t ask you which artist influences you the most because that is too obvious. Instead I’ll ask what was the first song you heard that made you fall in love with Hip Hop?
My Dad used to buy me singles back in the day if I was well behaved. He used to buy me some really bad ones as well. Then one day he came home and I don’t know what he was on, because he bought me Puff Daddy’s ‘I’ll Be Missing You’. I was about 9 and I just thought, this is sick. I had no clue what rap was, but I loved it. Singles were sick back then too because they were like mini albums. I just used to bang this CD for time. I thought Puff Daddy was the best rapper ever.
Well, this is it. I had a friend who was like an older brother and he told me Puff Daddy isn’t actually good and I shouldn’t be listening to him. He told me to listen to Nas and Big L and a whole load of other artists. I’ve got to give ratings to Puff Daddy though, because he introduced me to Hip Hop. Having said that, I think the first album I connected with was Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP. I don’t know what my mum was on.
Your mum bought it for you? Seriously?
I don’t think she really knew what ‘parental advisory’ meant. There’s a song on there about Eminem wanting to kill his mum. She didn’t clock it.
She probably should have given it a little listen in Virgin Megastores before she bought it!
Exactly. Literally, I just learnt every lyric – lyrics that I didn’t even know the meaning of. It was just sick. From then, it was on. Big L, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas… I just really got into it. My friend opened my eyes to all of this Hip Hop and it was like, wow. This stuff is incredible.
That’s sick. I guess we have got mum, dad and your friend to thank for that!
Yeah. Also, where I lived in East London was the same place that More Fire Crew was from. ‘Oi’ came out when I was in Year 8 – some of my mates were in the video too. I wasn’t involved, but it suddenly felt like we were part of something. We didn’t know it was Grime then, but we were on it. I got some decks and it was literally all we used to do. There was also an instrumental by Musical Mob called ‘Pulse X’ and I remember searching through pirate radio stations just waiting to hear it. Me and my mates were just like yeah. We’ve arrived. We’ve found ourselves.
This is a slight digression, but did you watch the MOBOs this year?
Nah, I didn’t. I would have watched them but I was rehearsing for my show today.
They showed clips of some of the best performances from the past 18 years. Obviously Craig David ‘7 Days’ was in there!
Born To Do It was such a sick album. I remember back in the singles days, my Mum said she would buy me either Craig David’s ‘Fill Me In’ or Sisqo’s ‘Thong Song’. I went for ‘Thong Song’ I’m not going to lie. That was such a tune. But ‘Fill Me In’ and ‘7 Days’? Nah. That album was sick.
Craig David was 18 then as well, it’s so crazy.
I can’t believe it. It’s the same with Nas and when he put out Illmatic. He was so young. I’m 24; I need to get a move on! I guess you can’t really anticipate something before its time though.
That is very true. We’ve kind of digressed but this leads me quite nicely to my next question. What’s the ultimate goal for Nick Brewer?
While I would love to be a multi-platinum selling artist selling out arenas, it’s more than that for me. I work with young people and I remember being a young person. I remember being 14 and seeing Wiley walking down my road. I literally idolised this guy. He inspired me and I want to be able to do just that. Your past does not have to define your future. I had so many people telling me that I wasn’t good or that I shouldn’t rap and I believed them for so long. I’m a white, middle-class, church-going guy who studied History at Uni – I shouldn’t be a rapper! But as I said, don’t allow your past to define you. To sum up, I hope that my music can inspire people. That to me is more important than any sort of recognition.
At E2E, we’re all about empowering the youth of today and encouraging them to think outside of the box. What would you say to any young people trying to pursue music?
Keep practicing. I’ve made so many bad songs. I made one last week – it happens! Don’t get disheartened, though. Don’t worry about YouTube hits or Twitter followers, just work on perfecting your craft and being different. There are so many rappers talking the same old talk, so you have to be different. There only needs to be one Giggs, or one Drake, or one Kendrick, or one Skepta. They are sick at doing what they do. So find out what you are sick at and run with it.
What are you working on now? What can we look forward to in the near future?
I’ve got another EP that’s almost complete which will be released in January, and I’ll be releasing the first track from it in December. I am also doing quite a few shows and videos too, so if people are interested, look out for all of that. It’s all about consistency now. There will be no more coming and going. My head is screwed on and I know what I need to do.
You can stream Flat 10 below and download it via his Bandcamp here!