Distinctly British, rebellious in nature, and wholeheartedly focused on self-expression, all of these reasons can be attributed to the rising profile of the UK's underground music scene and the emerging talent that lies within it.
As anyone paying a close degree of attention would have predicted at the top of the year, the Afro-fusion sounds of the UK streets were to dominate the coming months as artists weaving in elements of Afrobeats, rap, grime and dancehall continue to captivate widely across the board of demographic and age range. Chief amongst these major new players is Yxng Bane, who is just as comfortable on gritty anthems as he is on radio-ready bubblers. Now signed to Tinie Tempah's Disturbing London imprint, the company has had to balance between launching its flagship artist's third studio LP whilst keeping ears to the ground for fresh new talent, adding the likes of Bane, rapper A2 and DJ Siobhan Bell to help capture the explosive zeitgeist of an ever-expanding musical landscape.
With Dr. Martens, an iconic British brand renowned for embracing a similar ethos, a clear connection here unites them with Yxng Bane for this year's STAND FOR SOMETHING Tour (three live shows, in three different cities) with Bane kicking things off in Camden on September 7. And having just sold out his headline show at Omera, London, his live presence is in high demand. On a current hot streak of street hits, genre-hopping and out-of-the-box placements, Yxng Bane is currently crossing over to the next level. Complex managed to tie the man down in-between a London studio session to find out what he stands for and what helps him to stand out.
What does Yxng Bane stand for? What's your message to the world?
Growth. I'd have to say Yxng Bane stands for growth.
Thinking along your journey and growth, what has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?
You know what? I'd say the biggest challenge for me has probably been not being home. Just being away for so long, it isn't easy.
Can you recall the time where you realised, "This thing is working! I'm now a legit recording artist"?
I can't say I've ever really felt like I'm here; I'm still not where I want to be, but I have sat down lately and thought, "Yeah, this is working."
Right now, it feels like it's the best time to be an independent artist. What advice would you give other aspiring artists trying to do the independent thing successfully?
Firstly, always trust your instincts—that's so important. Secondly, nobody will understand your journey better than yourself. Only you will know what's best for you—what's best for everyone else out here, may not necessarily be best for you. I'll always advise an artist to be very patient, very thoughtful before making any moves. Taking advice also helps, but it's always best to keep in mind what works for you.
To go further on trusting your instincts, can you think of a time you've stuck to that and it's paid off for you?
Every single time, bro [laughs]. No lie.
Tell us about "Diamonds", your biggest track of the moment. How did that song come together?
With K-Trap, we have a relationship away from the music. It was kinda natural, to be honest, and we have a few tracks together. With "Diamonds", I called him and told him to do something on it, so we linked up together in the studio and just recorded. All of my music comes from studio sessions, really. We might have a conversation about the direction of it before, then we'll just go in and make some magic on the spot.
Your most recent release is a dedication to Rihanna. What's the background on that?
[Laughs] Rihanna! Rihanna! Rihanna! She's a bad gyal! It's just me paying homage to all the young, hardworking and focused women, you know what I mean? I just wanted to pay homage, man.
Who would you consider to be an inspiration to you?
It's too easy for me to say someone like Jay-Z, right? More time, I'm surrounded by my true inspirations nearly every day: I'll be around G FrSH, for example, or even my baby sister. Some of the closest people to me, inspire me.
Tell us a bit about your relationship with [manager] G FrSH and what he's done for your career so far?
G is my darg, man! I wouldn't change our relationship for anything. It's meant to be! You understand that some things are just meant to be. He's like my big bro—that's family. I think we met in the studio... Yeah, I think we laid a track together a while back and, straightaway from there, we clicked and it all just grew.
How important is it for you to stand out from the crowd?
I think it's more of a natural thing; you should always just be yourself. If you try and stand out specifically, you probably won't stand out. We'll just go out there and be ourselves and that's how I try to be—with everything.
When it comes to personal style, how would you describe yours?
I'd describe my style as very experimental, and self-expressive.
How has East London shaped you as a person, and as a musician?
East London in general—and even more where I'm from—is very culturally diverse, which has allowed me to come into contact with people from all over the place since I was in school; on my estate, and even up until now. And, you know, everyday life experiences as well. So I'd like to think it's made me more interesting and rounded as a character.
Dr. Marten's STAND FOR SOMETHING Tour will be bringing three entirely different artists with one uniting factor—a unique spirit of individuality—to three of the UK's biggest cities for incredible, disruptive secret shows. First off is Yxng Bane, performing in Camden on Sep. 7, followed by special guests TBA in Manchester on Sep. 23, and Glasgow on Oct. 7.