Meet Mrley, the Artist Bringing His South London to the Masses [Q&A]

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Photo: Amy Peskett

London exists as the heart and soul of Mrley's explosive fusion of alternative rock and rap. It's not a commercialized or idealized version of the infamous city but one that evokes all the grime, candor, and intoxicating thrall of the artist's native South East London. First revealing his tenuous love affair with the city in his raucous debut single, "My Side of London," Mrley introduced himself as a voice more than capable of carrying forward the city's storied history and ever-evolving landscape.

With a sound that calls to mind everything from The Clash, slowthai, to KennyHoopla, Mrley's aesthetics are familiar, having recently come back in vogue thanks to the likes of everyone from Machine Gun Kelly to vintage leather jacket resellers. But make no mistake, Mrley is no culture vulture. In the span of two singles - which serve as teasers for his highly-anticipated debut EP Love You London, set to release October 22 - the South East London artist has proved a veritable tour de force, whipping up a maelstrom of mosh pit made catharsis accented by pointed insight.  

We had the chance for a transatlantic catch-up with Mrley ahead of the release of his debut EP to discuss everything from the supposed resurgence of punk to penning a love letter to South London.

Ones to Watch: Who is Mrley?

Mrley: I'm a 24-year-old from South East London and I spent most of my time skateboarding and writing music.

Who would you say are some of your biggest influences, in or outside of music?

My dad, he worked night and day to make sure I had a better start in life than he had. Without knowing he would be there for me in hard times I might not have taken the risk of focusing on music as a career.

Your debut single, "My Side of London," arrived as an anthemic, explosive introduction. What was it about "My Side of London" that made it the perfect track to introduce Mrley to the world?

It's just me having a realisation that the rich kids will do anything to be like us whilst we are doing everything we can to one day be like them. And it's my love letter to South London, which will always be the best part of London.

And what do you hope people take from its follow-up, "So Much to Say?"

"So Much to Say" is special to me as it's a blend of all my sonic influences for this EP. It dares to have rap delivery over punk rock in a way that I hope fans of both genres will relate to, and start to understand a bit more about the sound that I am creating.

To you, what does punk look like today?

Punk to me today looks and sounds like Playboi Carti, but in reality the grime scene has a more DIY and punk ethos than most of the people who identify with the genre, so I think the true essence of punk is dead. I can't even call myself punk - I've just accepted new terms and conditions on my iPhone… there is nothing punk about accepting the invasion of your privacy! I feel that as humans we need to physically connect more before a movement as strong as the punk era will ever exist again.

And why do you think punk music has seen such a resurgence?

I think it's seen a resurgence people because 99% percent of music out today is recycled. You have the major labels still sampling the same old dance records, the rap scene has reduced to a dictionary of 100 words, and the indie world is now at TKmaxx buying clothes to look like Liam Gallagher. There's a whole new generation that hasn't experienced punk being popular in their lifetime and haven't experienced anything designed to take down authority and empower the individual. It's probably just exciting for kids to be different to the masses just like it was in the '70s… sadly, I don't think the ethos of punk is in resurgence as quick as the fashion.  

What's next for Mrley?

I'm trying to have a good time learning and making music but I'm not trying to forget about my job as an artist, which is to bring joy and make people question what is in front of their eyes. I can't wait to bring the sound and energy of London to America.

Who are your Ones to Watch? 

Sam Akpro, he is one of my favourite musicians and he stands for something important. I can't wait to rise up alongside him as a Black British rock artist.

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