‘Nobody can put out a song in January, and then July, hits 20k streams and then have a headline show in November’: An Interview with MTRNICA
Interview and Photos by Karan Teli
I’ve met a lot of artists. I’ve met a lot of artists who believe in themselves, which is something you have to do. But, it’s hard to make that belief transfer onto someone else; make them believe in you, solely based off what you say and the way you say it. 19-year-old MTRNICA is not like another artist I’ve met, and the confidence and belief he displays is like no other I’ve personally experienced from a quote-unquote ‘new artist’. That confidence and belief even rubbed off on me. When I was in the studio with MTRNICA, conducting this interview, halfway through even I was saying to myself ‘I can really do anything.’
Even though he came from a musical family, music wasn’t always in his life. “I’ve been producing from when I was like 13. Maybe 12. I used to play football though, I played for Crystal Palace. But I always said to myself ‘I’m gonna be a star in whatever I do’ so if I wasn’t making music I’d probably be a footballer.”
So why did you change to music?
I didn’t even think music was an option for me, because I can’t rap for shit. The first time I clocked that was Travis. He’s good at rapping, but you know where it’s not the primary focus of the music. Even Kanye with 808’s. But it was the experience I had that made me start music. I remember I went to Watch The Throne. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even listen to Kanye back then. To this day I remember there was no opening act.
There wasn’t even a DJ either. Just some random playlist. I remember that too.
I don’t think there’s anything that will top that.
That feeling when they came out on two different pillars.
Oh my god! I remember it so clearly, when they were playing HAM. I remember he had glow in the dark Yeezys. I didn’t know what the fuck was going on. And then the music. I just loved the way the base hit. When the orchestra of HAM plays, and you see the sharks on the pillers, I was like SHIT. After that I said to myself ‘I wanna do some shit like this.’ Next day I told my dad I wanna start making music. My whole family was supportive. They encourage me to do what I want. I remember once my coach was yelling at some over some dumb shit, I took my bib off and told my mum come pick me up. I was falling out of love with football anyway.
How long does it take to learn to make music?
Honestly how I wanted it, I only properly figured it out like a year ago. I could craft things, I was making electronic music too.
Have you always been open minded to working with people?
Yeah, I didn’t grow up with many friends. In primary school I was the man. Come secondary school, I went to a private school. No joke, there were about 5 people in my year group. There would be people leaving every month. I started making friends on Kanye To The, people I’m friends with to this day.
Is that how you met Casper?
We just met on Instagram. I had an idea for a video and we were just like yeah lets do it. I’m always gonna shoot my stuff in Croydon. It’s like a dystopia, something out of Blade Runner. The mixture between urban and retro. It’s where the whole aesthetic of what I do comes from. The whole video was us walking through Croydon. I just wanted this shit Neon. I told him throw mad colours on it. I feel like me and Casper have influenced a whole aesthetic. With On Revenge and even Pain, we created something that hadn’t been seen before over here. What we did was fucking original.
In the new generation of music, it’s hard to have a conversation without social media being involved. But with MTRNICA, you feel the importance to live energy and real life. Social media doesn’t control him.
How important is Instagram?
Its not that important. I realised that this year. It can’t dictate your every move. It cant change your vision. What you see on there is 90% smoked mirrors. I realised that after my show. Ive got 7000 followers and I get like 400/500 likes on a creative photo but 1000 on a photo of my face. I never liked that.
I hate that shit.
The main priority is what I do. Its about the music. I dropped Pain and then after that, I tried to adapt to what else was going on, to things I’d seen on social media. That’s where I fucked up. I put out Ransom, but it’s a product of letting social media get the best of you. Instagram is a deception. People tell me I should be chasing clout.
That’s horrible advice.
It’s really bad. People think that’s the only way. I see Instagram as a business investment. Some people do it for an ego boost. A lot of people get lost within it. You started to think you’re the shit. Look at me, I’ve got 7000 followers but sold out a show of about 200/250 people. It doesn’t make any sense. That’s just the reality of it. After my show, I just wanted to reinvent myself. Like I cut my hair, no more coloured dread shit.
And you had that look for a minute. Even before OBJ was in the league.
Get me. If you don’t fuck with me because I changed the way I look, then you’re not about the music.
What do you want people to know about you with your project?
My aim is to express myself. Be able to be me. For people to see that they can be them without being afraid to be them. Music is about expression, but people are in it for a cash grab. People can hear my music and be inspired to create in whatever way they want. They can express themselves. My music touches nerves and I like that shit. There’s no gate holding me back. Nobody can put out a song in January, and then July, hits 20k streams and then have a headline show in November. At my show, I sold raw tickets. I didn’t have 35 +1’s of my friends coming. You can’t dispute that.
MTRNICA went on talk about the things that inspired his project, and why it’s something that can touch anybody.
From not fitting in, to being in a toxic relationship, to being told I can’t do something, those are all things you can relate too. Those are some of the things that inspired this project. Sorry I’ve gone off in a tangent. I’m just expressing myself.
What do you love abvout the cinema so much?
Its escapism. Its one of the only places, you switch your phone off, you’re with a bunch of people you don’t know. Theres no other place like that. Car adverts inspired me to make Electronic music. I’d hear that and I would see how its brought to life. It’s a good environment.
Would you change anything in 2018?
Nothing. Everything I did took me to this point, plus I did the things I said I was gonna do. I remember when I said I was gonna have a headline show, people LAUGHED at me. They thought I was deluded. I just believe in myself. If you don’t do that, this shit will not work for you. If you don’t think you’re the best, then what’s the point? I always had that belief. Now I’m in a zone where I know exactly what to do.