Last November South London’s A2 released his eagerly awaited LP ‘BLUE’. An eleven track body of work, with sparse features yet a strong statement of A2’s versatility and expressionism as an artist. To date A2 has been renowned for being low-key, yet his introspective and vulnerable lyrics, paired with his soulful-electro beats, have struck a chord with listeners. But what more is there to A2? What makes him tick, and more importantly, what’s next as he embarks on a new Purple season?
A quick Google search of South London musician A2 and you’ll see the words ‘enigmatic’ and ‘elusive’ surrounding his name. In your head, a picture will form of A2, you will easily begin to picture an artist who reveals very little of himself and is deliberately obscure. Avoiding the limelight isn’t a new tactic devised by musicians. It’s almost a little cliche. It’s almost ironic but unsurprisingly some musicians are shy, almost introverts who simply want to make music. But in real life, A2 is anything but that. In fact he’s surprisingly chatty, and far from the quiet, subdued figure I was expecting.
While A2 may have previously shunned the spotlight, this wasn’t a deliberate ploy, but a cocktail of a fear of failure paired with his natural, reserved character. “I wanted to make music, but I didn’t want to do shows and all the other stuff or be on social media hard. I thought, If this shit doesn’t work I can’t be this guy who used to do music…I was always 50/50 – I didn’t want to go back to reality and be known as a failed artist”.
Standing at over 6ft, wearing glasses and trainers, physically, A2 isn’t a figure you’d expect to fall into the background. “I am naturally reserved. If I’m in a situation with loads of people you wouldn’t even know I’m there. Which is mad because I’m tall… I just chill and fall back in those situations,” A2 explains as we’re seated in the offices of Disturbing London, “A lot of stuff now is loud and in your face, and when you don’t get someone who’s loud and in your face it’s refreshing”. It’s precisely this chill factor that has won A2 his listeners.
Nothing leaves my laptop until I think it’s ready for everyone to listen.
Since he released ‘Oxymoron’ on Soundcloud over 4 years ago, he’s released a handful of EP’s, performed at sold out shows and shared his eagerly awaited new project ‘PURPLE’. During this time he’s harvested a steady fanbase, of both men and women who relate to his lyrics yet consistently and eagerly await their next A2 fix.
“Nothing leaves my laptop until I think it’s ready for everyone to listen,” A2 declares when I question him about the delay before the release of his previous EP ‘BLUE’. “I feel Blue was always like 70% perfect to me. I’ve never given a project where I’ve felt this is 100% – I always feel I could do better on it. I think thats a good thing, it means I’m always trying to hit a level – I always wanna get to a higher place – that perfectionism means I don’t wanna release anything lack”. While features on his last project were scarce there was one collaboration, ‘Southern Comfort’ which saw A2 link up with Atlanta artist 6LACK; “It was a link up of energies, we’re similar people and we got in the studio… I’m scare with features – that link up was good. I need to genuinely feel they’re a dope artist and that the song we make will be good, not just like any song with two artists” A2 explains.
Birthed on a diet of slow jams, played by his mum, dad and sister, A2 is a firm believer in the art of R&B, which is evident in his music. “I feel like expression and real emotions are important, too many people don’t do it” he explains. It’s the expressionism, that’s so firmly attached to R&B’s roots that appeals to A2; “I feel like with this type of music at the moment, sometimes the expression isn’t there. It’s not every day is a party, not everything is angry, stabbing or trying to chase someone down… People must have emotions like love and caring and issues they go through on a daily, it’s not always party time”.
In a time where black British masculinity in music is often stereotyped by images and lyrics of guns, drugs and generally being ‘about that life’, A2 provides a fresh and honest insight into his feelings. “I tend to draw on real experiences” A2 continues, “whether it’s me being frustrated – as long as I have a nice beat to express on then I’ll perform it. Otherwise what will I speak about? I feel I’d just make shit up”.
A2 is evidently passionate about the way his fans have established a real connection with him; feeling and empathising with his music is almost a form of catharsis for A2 as well as his listeners. He goes on to add: “Any music I do after this could be different — I might do a party tune – but at least my listeners can realise I gave them that straight vulnerability… More people should do it, it’s life”. To put it bluntly, A2 is brutally honest.
It’s not just the songs of yesteryear that have shaped and sharpened A2 as an artist. A2 is a man of what he describes as the ‘new sector’, a key player of a new wave of artists who are honing their own unique sound. “I feel theres a new sector of people who are killing it and I feel they need the light shone on them” A2 says, “so I’m trying to. If everyone can come through like some Avengers type shit it will be fun. It’s new and refreshing, and it hasn’t been done before — this type of alternative music”. A2 then reels off a list of artists, trailblazers if you like, which he feels are pushing this alternative sound in the capital, from Lancey Foux, House of Pharaohs, Ocativan and Dotty. “I hate to call it alternative – but that’s exactly what it is” A2 concludes.
I’m trying to just kill everything, leave the place in a mess.
While the summer season comes to a close it would have been wrong to think A2 would rest during winter’s return, “I’m trying to just kill everything, leave the place in a mess” A2 says with a smile towards the end of our interview. “I’ve been quiet for so long. But now it’s time to make noise. Everything you see me on or around I just want to kill it. I want to kill the winter, terrorise it. Less personal, less slow tempo and really fuck up the clubs”.
The next A2 season is already proving to be a cold opener. The new release of his new 5-track EP ‘PURPLE’ is testament to that “Avengers type of shit” with the lead single ‘Flair’, ft Octavian, Yxng Bane, Suspect who join the ranks and leave the place in a mess!