The current COVID-19, global pandemic has left a lot of music-lovers feeling something close to overwhelmed. Times are changing; cancelled tours and live shows, homemade videos and regular interaction with fans via Instagram Live, it seems that isolation (and, well, loneliness) has given the music world a real community feel.
The lack of human contact will never slow down the internet and the streaming platforms we used to take for granted before the world changed. Since the UK has been on lockdown, we’ve been treated to some strong releases: Nafe Smallz blew us away with his Goat World EP; Skepta, Chip and Young Adz went Top 5 with their Insomnia album; and now East London rap star Yxng Bane has blessed us with his new mixtape, Quarantime: The Lost Files. One of the head boys of melody-driven, “wavey” rap, Yxng Bane has delivered hit (“Rihanna”) after hit (“Vroom”) under the Disturbing London imprint for the last few years, and he’s hoping to do the same with this latest drop.
We hopped on the phone with Yxng Bane to see how he’s getting on during lockdown and to find out some more about Quarantime: The Lost Files.
“When you’re a young kid and you come in the game—like, I was mad young—sometimes you just need some time to yourself.”
COMPLEX: So, how are you coping with the current lockdown?
Yxng Bane: I’m alright, man. I’m a bit of a homebody anyway, so I’ve been alright. It’s just adapting to it, really; it’s being told that you can’t go out, which has made it a lot harder. The fact that I can’t just get up and go out is hard, because I’m constantly going to the studio or going somewhere.
Have you been listening to any new music during lockdown?
I’ve been listening to my own stuff, really. I always listen to my own tunes in the car and all the unreleased stuff, because I’m always in the studio… There’s a lot of songs, you get what I mean? [Laughs]
For sure. With the new record being called Quarantime: Lost Files, is it just a coincidence because of what’s currently happening, or has the name changed as a way to keep up with the times?
I mean, it didn’t even have a name! Like, with this project, I literally just hosted a listening party on Instagram Live and I just thought I’d play some tracks that I hadn’t released. And from the reaction I got, I thought I may as well give it to the people because, in truth, I owe them music.
This is your first new project since HBK dropped in 2018. Do you think the time you had out was worth it, like you needed it?
Yeah, because when you’re a young kid and you come in the game—like, I was mad young—sometimes you just need some time to yourself, so I feel like I needed it. But now, life is good, baby! [Laughs]
So with the listening party you did on Instagram, and with so many people tuning in, do you think this will turn into a better and more effective way of promoting music, post-corona?
It can definitely be a good way to push and promote new stuff. But for me, I see it as a more organic and effective way of connecting with the people who listen to the music in a more authentic way. Like, I’ll have a camera and I can turn it on anywhere and I can connect with people like it’s FaceTime. So it’s the closest thing we can get, really, if you get what I mean? But yeah, I think IG Live is an effective way of communicating with fans, and that’s what marketing is.
Back to the project, on the track “Gang Sh*t”, you switched it up and jumped on a drill beat from M1 On The Beat—which was a suprise to a lot of people. With drill being so popular nowadays, who from that scene are you currently listening to?
From the new generation, I really like the 67 lot, of course; I also like M1llionz, OFB... That’s about it. But yeah, I like M1llionz a lot right now—oh, and Loski! Loski is cold.
With Lost Files in the project title, it begs the question: how old is the material that’s going out? Had you been sitting on the tracks for a while?
Oooh, let’s have a look! I don’t wanna tell you any lies [laughs]... The tune with myself and Headie One came out at some point last year.
Have you got a favourite track on the mixtape?
I like different tracks at different times. It depends on the day. You know a Bane project: it’ll take you through a bunch of different emotions, and I feel like exactly that. It depends on the day and my mood, to be honest.
Looking at the features on the tape, are the guys involved all your friends, or did you plan out in advance who you wanted on there?
Yeah, the guys on the tape are literally just my pals. With everyone, I have an authentic relationship with them and we’ve all been friends for a while. We’re always cooking anyway, so it all made sense.
How do you think the future of the music industry is going to change after lockdown?
This is something I was talking about with the boys yesterday, actually; like we don’t actually understand that this is a moment that’s gonna go down in history [laughs]. Like, the whole world has stopped! And even when we do go back, things might not go back to normal—or it may take a while for it to turn back to normal—but we’re definitely gonna remember this for the rest of our lives.
How much are you looking forward to touring the new mixtape?
ASAP! I can’t wait, bro. I just can’t wait to put the music out there. I can’t wait to get on the road, man. I’m sick of isolation now! [Laughs] I can’t wait to get outside.
I definitely hear that. Is there a place you love performing at the most?
I’m not sure. I think I like performing in the UK the most, still. But obviously, I love performing in Africa and Europe as well—but yeah, definitely the UK.
Which city ranks the highest for you when it comes to touring: London, Birmingham or Manchester?
It sounds mad because I’m from London, but I perform in London very rarely so I probably prefer performing in London.
When can we come to expect to hear the debut studio album, then?
Soon! Actually sooner than you think.