The soon-to-be UK rap heavyweight stops by to talk message, influence, and his upcoming mixtape.

Photography by Elliot Hensford

Photography by Elliot Hensford

If you’re not clued up about French The Kid by now and you’re a UK rap fan, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself in the mirror. French truly has it all; bilingual barring, meticulous yet ethereal melodies, eclectic instrumentals; there is a sense of encompassment in French’s rousing style – the lingering scent of stardom in the air.

Raised between Essex and South West France, French’s cross culture background allowed his musical understanding to elevate past many of his peers. Mixing culture and style with focused ambition, the rapper has devised his own lane with the UK scene, amalgamating the tendencies of drill, road rap, wave and more to concoct a sound that is driven, vibrant and often emotionally potent. First emerging towards the backend of the last decade, French has long since gained the respect of his UK rap contemporaries and its respected platforms, boasting meteoric stats on various freestyles, unleashing a respected and versatile project in Never Been Ordinary, as well as collaborating with some of the scene’s biggest hitters. His eye now feels firmly fixed on wider mainstream acclaim and its ensuing commercial viability.

Ahead of his long anticipated new mixtape, recently announced to be entitled NO SIGNAL, the evolving artist hits the ground running with his first single of the year “SINGLE PLAYER”. Produced by Lovelife and Ben Stancombe, we find French at his reflective best, flaunting his suave melodic ability on one of his most kaleidoscopic and silk-laden releases to date. It’s more and more apparent that French holds no barriers when it comes to honesty, refreshingly open about struggles with loneliness, and the significance of the close friendships in his life.

Taking time out of his increasingly busy schedule, we caught up with French to discuss his multi-cultural upbringing and its influence on his music, his upcoming mixtape, and the message he is trying to convey in his music.

Watch the video to “SINGLE PLAYER”

Read the full interview below

What inspired you to pursue a career in music and how did you get started in the industry?
Yeah, so I always grew up listening to music. My mum’s a musician. I’ve got a very strong Irish family that are all into music. You know folk, Irish folk music, stuff like that. So I’ve always been around it. She used to play Jimi Hendrix and used to play, like Two Door Cinema Club, all these different genres. I think eventually when I did start to rap, I think it all kind of just locked into my brain and it gave me an upper hand on trying to find out different sounds, you know. But it was only when I came back over here that I started doing music, I was 16. I moved back over to England. I was in France before. And I just got drunk one night with my boy in his flat in Ilford, and we put on I don’t know if you know it but, the Pound Cake beat. We put the Pound Cake beat on, we decided to start spitting bars and I’d never really freestyled. I was just sitting there having a go and I think at one point I accidentally said a French word because my brain was still working in French and it rhymes with the English word. And he was like, bruv you need to write that down. Literally. And then the rest is history to be fair.

Were you listening to much French music when you were growing up as well?
Yeah, obviously all the stuff that was on the radio and that lot. You had people like Jule, Purnell, you know, they’re all different, all these different people. So I listened to them as well.

Can you tell us a bit about the creation process behind “White Wine” and how it came together with M1OnTheBeat as well?
Yeah. So obviously everyone knows M1 and I think it all came about because in a session, I must have heard that beat and straight away and I knew exactly, it was the one. I was already humming as soon as it was playing the beat without even writing anything down. I was already humming the chorus to it. So it was one of those things that sort of swept itself up, like it just kind of happened.

How has your heritage played a role in your music?
I’ve been brought up around travelers my whole life. I think people get it twisted thinking I am a traveler. I’m not a traveler. I’m Irish. Both parents are Irish. Families Irish. But yeah, it’s a good community and I like to show it.

Yeah for sure, it’s a real individual story. I mean, it’s a story that I’ve certainly never witnessed in the industry. What sets apart your flows in your music, and how do you approach writing your lyrics? Can you talk about the collaboration with Clean Bandit and Rema on the single “Sad Girls” and what that experience was like?
Yeah. So with me, I’m just a musician. You know, it’s not like I rap for money. And I’m a pure musician. I really. I just love music. I eat, sleep, and breathe music. So. You can play me anything and my thought process, my writing process will always adapt to whatever that is, because I enjoy every part of any music. I always find a way to enjoy music and adapt to that type of music. So when the Clean Bandit thing came through to be honest, I was there when they were making the beat and It was just a process in itself. It was a massive process in itself because I felt like I was part of even making the beat, which was crazy because it’s Clean Bandit. Clean Bandit right! It was already crazy to be in the studio with them. I’ve never actually made a record from scratch, especially with people like Clean Bandit. So. Yeah. I just felt I leveled up pretty much, and really differentiated myself.

Was that your first time being in a proper studio space? And Clean Bandit is a few people, right?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. There’s a few of them. They all play different instruments. Um. No, do you know what I will always prefer doing that [being in a studio space], and especially recently. I get on with a producer called Twin Two, who is very talented, very, very talented. But the reason I liked him is because he lets me implement what I have to say on a beat as well, because I like making beats as well. And I think it’s massive. I think working on a beat from start to finish, yourself with the producer makes a massive difference, honestly.

Yeah, and for sure, I mean, the amount of creative control you would have over it as well, surely you can execute the vision so much better when you’re both on the same wavelength. So yeah, it makes sense. You have received a lot of support from Radio One, one extra and KISS. How does it feel when you started receiving recognition from those big hitters?
Yeah, it was cool. It was cool, man. I appreciate it. Obviously a lot. As I say, I started this just because I love music. So everything else is kind of a bonus to me, you know? But I really do appreciate it.

Your debut mixtape. “Never been Ordinary” received so much success and critical acclaim being the second highest charting debut mixtape in the UK this year. How does it feel to have such a successful release?
Yeah, it’s sick man, it’s sick, it’s funny because a lot of people didn’t really notice me, I don’t know, if you know then you know, but all the tracks on that mixtape we kind of just threw them on there. It was really like it was full of tracks that I’d done years and years ago that I just never released. So it’s just mental. That’s why this next one I’ve leveled up I can’t lie. This next one’s proper. But yeah, seeing the love on ‘Never Been Ordinary’ means a lot definitely because obviously it’s my first, and probably means the most to be honest. I’ll be honest.

Does it add an element of pressure when you’re coming into this new mixtape, or does it just get you more gassed to release the next one?
Yeah. Cool. Cool. Listen, I’m not really bothered about all that stuff anyway. I don’t ever feel pressure in music, you know? Music. It shouldn’t be a pressure thing anyway. But obviously I just. It’s just all different sounds. So this new one is going to be a completely different sound to the last one. But still keeping it French, you know? So I’m just I’m just excited literally, that’s all I am.

Your daily duppy freestyle, that has 20 mil plus views. How was it to see such a response to that, to that 20 mil? I mean, that was your real big limelight moment when it dropped right?
Yeah. No, it was sick. It was sick. It was funny because I knew it was going to do something. I knew it’d do well, but I didn’t realize what it would do. I never thought it would be on 20 million plus fucking views you know what I mean, but 20 million people. The feedback we got from that was crazy. I just remember when it got released I had to turn my phone off. I’ve never fucking had anything like that in my life. It was mad. I like to say this to up and coming artists. We also didn’t take advantage of it being like a wonder. You know, we kind of sat back. We let it kind of happen. We didn’t just start releasing tunes on top of that straight away because. It’s a lasting game, you know, And I didn’t want it to just be like, Oh, this is French the kid. This is what that French kid is known for. Whatever comes out next, we don’t really care about, you know. So it’s massively important how we moved forward from that moment.

Can you talk a little bit about the process of switching between English and French in your lyrics and the importance of the two languages and your creative vision.
Yeah. So as I said, when I first started, I was drunk, done it, it sounded cool. And then from there it’s just become kind of like my thing now. But yeah, it was more like when I first came over here [the U.K.]. The creative side of it is when I first came back over here, I was still sort of thinking in French. So I was implementing it as soon as I actually fully started writing properly, like, I want to do this. I was writing in French anyway, but a lot of my old bars were mostly French bars and then bits of English bars. Obviously, I hadn’t been in Britain for a while, so I had to kind of catch up on everything, you know. But then I kind of found a good little balance. And yeah, I think creatively it’s just it’s just starting to get better and better, especially for like the melody side of things. I think the French fits perfectly with the English parts for melodies.

That’s interesting, though. You said you were still thinking in French, I read something a bit ago and it was saying that, like people that are bilingual have different personalities, like depending on which language you are operating in, like, can kind of change what that person’s like.
Yeah no it can. I can see that. I think it is like a voice thing as well. I think it’s a voice. I think your voice can change how people perceive you. People can see you differently depending on what voice you have. You know, obviously, like, my French voice is different to my English voice. So it might be true. It’s funny, though, no that’s true.

Yeah it’s mad interesting. What is the most important message you want to convey with your music?
Just believe in yourself, honestly. Believe in yourself. If you honestly feel you can do something, just do it. You know, dreams. Dreams are only dreams if you don’t chase them. What is a dream? It’s a goal. If everyone can envisage a dream and can get to that dream. It’s not a dream, it’s a goal. So. And goals are doable. So I would just say I believe in myself. Don’t worry about what everyone else has to say about it, because they probably won’t say nice things about it until you actually make it. So just be yourself as well. 100% because people like you for who you are. Be true to yourself. And. And yeah work hard, but also work smart as well, so.

Yeah, that’s good. How do you approach creating the music videos and what was it like working with Oliver Jennings on the “White Wine” video? Do you feel you’re comfortable behind the camera? Like what’s the kind of process that goes into it?
I could probably do more when it comes to the videos myself. But when you get people like Oliver Jennings, you don’t really need to do much, because his input on the videos alone is just impeccable. So yeah, that’s why we’ve used him quite a bit. But yeah, being in front of the camera, it’s still, I’m not going to say it’s still weird, but it’s like. I don’t know. There still is like a kind of block there. Even though I’ve been doing this for a while now, there is still a little thing there. But, you know, I suppose we’re getting used to it each year. But yeah, I don’t think anything can take away how awkward you feel in front of the camera.

Now feel free to be as closed or open with this next question as you want, but it’s about any upcoming projects or collabs that come with the new mixtape.
Um. Oh, so. So I’ve got a 16 track mixtape so far. It’s going to be released very soon. Very soon. So watch out for it. I can’t really talk about collabs, not because I don’t want to say which ones are there, but just for other reasons. But yeah, this is when I say this is different it is just like I’ve put time into every track. So yeah, it’s good. It’s cold. It’s very, very cold, that’s all I will say.

Perfect. So what advice would you give to any up and coming and aspiring musicians trying to make their break?
Um, it goes back to the message I said before about the importance of just not worrying when to release. Just like remembering it’s a long game. It is the long game, and you’re going to have massive opportunities, especially with labels. Well, I’m not signed to a record label and I went through a massive amount of time being broke, mad broke when I had labels coming up to me offering me money. But you know what? It’s just in the long run, it’s just not worth it. You just have to believe in yourself. Honestly, if you honestly think and the people around you think that you can do it, you just have to just hold on and just be patient and just do it. Do it in your own time because you’ll appreciate it later on. Don’t get locked into labels at the start of your career. And then it just leaves, you know? That’s one golden rule, I would say.

The independence side of things in music is absolutely huge. Like, you really can reap the rewards of it like.
Yeah, you can. And you know what? It might not be as much all in one go, But I’ll tell you what it’s a great way to live, honestly, if you’ve got no worries about having to release. You kind of just release what you want, you know? Yeah. And you get your flowers for it eventually. I’m only getting mine now. It’s been like this for like four years, and I’m only starting to get flowers now.

What are your goals?
I don’t really care about these awards and all these shows, and I really couldn’t give a shit, to be honest. But I just it’s more of a message, you know? When I started this music, I was in a very dark place and I feel like it really took me out of that dark place. honestly and and I think it also you can be so musical, but it also. It kind of makes you realize how much it helps you and how much you actually get better at music while being helped, you know? Yeah, but goal-wise like, yeah, all these awards don’t really mean nothing to me, but. But good for everyone that’s getting them, you know, good for everyone. If that’s your goal then good for you. Literally.


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