Rat Boy talks about the making of his debut album SCUM...
We’ve been reading about Rat Boy for a little over three years now, his much-loved mixtapes and the raw power of his early singles, but it’s only today that he finally gets around to releasing his debut album.
For his first LP, which is simply titled SCUM, Jordan Cardy (as he’s known on his birth certificate) has kept to the ethos he established on his early mixtapes. The album features 25 tracks, eight interludes and a collaboration with rapper Mallory Merk and whips through at a rapid pace.
We spoke to Cardy about making the album, how it’s inspired by his upbringing and why Beastie Boys and Gorillaz were a big influence on the album...
How did making an album compare to the way you’d imagined it would be?
“I didn’t really know what to expect. We didn’t do in the conventional way you’d make a record, a lot of it was done in my bedroom and a lot of it is self-produced, so it’s not like that’s a route many artists take. I have learnt an awful lot though.”
Were the songs written and recorded over a big chunk of time?
"The oldest song is two and a half years old. I basically wanted the album to be the last two and a half years, how my style of music has evolved, I’ve got into a lot more funk and hip-hop and that’s featured more and more in my what I do.”
Did you call in any outside help to make the album? Or have you produced the whole thing?
“I worked with my band on a few of the songs, Stephen Street did one of the tracks and ‘Knock Knock’, I wanted a US hip-hop style, especially with the drums, so I worked with DJ Dahi, he’s Kendrick Lamar’s main producer.”
What was the song that took the longest to get right?
“Probably ‘Get Over It’, it has this sample of an old funk band on it and we ended up not being able to use it so I had to remake it myself. By the end, it took about six months to get right! We had something stupid like seven mixing sessions.”
Were there any songs that came together really quickly?
“‘Everyday’ that took one night to make and finish. That’s more like it.”
What kind of album do you think it is lyrically?
“It’s very inspired by my upbringing, there’s a lot of stories about growing up in Essex. I tend to just write about what I know about. I’m always writing notes, so when I’m coming up with the lyrics and melodies, it’s a big copy and paste job. I get bored with doing the same thing everyday, I’m always making loads of different things at the same time.”
There are 25 tracks on the album, including eight interludes, why did you decide on that way of doing things?
“I think because it took so long to put the album together, I suddenly realised I had a lot of songs that I really liked. I want it to feel eclectic, I was very inspired by Gorillaz and Beastie Boys, how those records take you on different journeys, so it’s basically using a radio station to bring all these different genres together and try and make sense.”
Was there any pressure from your label to slim it down a bit?
“It was a lot longer before. I had about 200 demos on my computer. I think I’ll end up releasing another mixtape. I’ve got that many songs. These are 25 that are kind of in the same world, the others might fit together in a different structure, the others were darker, more aggressive, less in this world.”
When did you decide to call the album SCUM?
“It’s just a word I’ve always liked. It’s the name of my clothing line and I really like the way the word looks. My first ever song as Rat Boy I sampled that Ray Winstone film called Scum and I like keeping that idea going. I’ve never had another title.”
Finally, are you already thinking about album number two?
“I’m always writing. I’ve got nothing else to do. I want to try and work with a few different producers next time, I never want to make the same record again. I’ve been chatting to DJ Dahi, I only had him for a day last time and I’d like to spend more time with him, I’m chatting to a few more producers so I’ll keep at it.”