Heavy Culture is a monthly column from journalist Liz Ramanand, focusing on people of color in heavy music as they offer their perspectives on race, society, influence, and more as they intersect with and affect their music. The latest installment of this column features an interview with Scarlxrd.
At this year’s Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn, 25-year-old Marcus Lucas Antonio Listhrop, also known as Scarlxrd, delivered a high-energy performance, complete with two backflips during his set. The onstage physicality only added to his vigorous blend of rapped verses and screamed metal choruses.
Scarlxrd’s music could be categorized as “trap metal” or “rap metal”, as it infuses elements of hip-hop with metal and other heavy genres. He cites Linkin Park, Slipknot, and Korn as musical and vocal influences while growing up during the height of nu-metal. Now, the UK musician is capturing his own strong following with his unique sound and style.
His forthcoming album, IMMXRTALISATIXN, is set to drop on October 4th. After wrapping up tour dates in the U.S. in September, he has gigs lined up all over Europe in October. He then he goes back to his native UK for more shows in November.
Heavy Consequence caught up with Scarlxrd for this month’s “Heavy Culture” column. He spoke about his new album, as well as his vocal influences, performing at AfroPunk, growing up in England, and more. Read the full interview below:
On performing at the recent Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn
This is my third Afropunk — last year we did Atlanta, which was amazing. We did Paris earlier on in the year which was phenomenal, a big crowd and now in Brooklyn, and it was the best one. We had such a good time. I feel like the Afropunk crowds, they’re very receptive and they’re willing to have such a good time and everyone that comes to this festival wants to have a good time. It’s a beautiful position for me to be in because the people that don’t know who I am or aren’t aware of what’s going on, they can come over and look and they might stick around, which is good.
On what he wants people to take away from his live performances
Authentic and honest energy. When I feel they could watch me and feel like I’m one of the people and I’m one of them, because I am. I’m a huge fan of music and a huge fan of live music. Growing up my mom dragged me to every festival she could in the UK. My favorite artists were the ones that could make the crowd have a good time and turn the entire place into a party, and I just want that kind of energy and vibe. I want them to have a visceral and raw experience and hopefully they take that away from what I give them.
On the first artist he saw live that made him want to be onstage
The first band I ever saw live was Oasis but it wasn’t until I saw The Prodigy live and that’s when I said, “Okay I want to do this.” By then I was a huge fan of Linkin Park, Slipknot, Deftones, Korn – I was in that 2000s era of nu-metal music.
On his family’s reaction to his decision of pursuing music as a career
By the time I decided to pursue music I was already quite independent, I was living on my own and stuff like that so the relationship with my parents had already entered the adulthood stages. At the same time my mom has always been super supportive from when I was in a band, she used to come to practice and tell me, “Keep going you can do it.” It’s the same thing with my dad; he follows my YouTube all the time and it’s funny because he follows the press and he’ll be like so and so said this and I’ll be like, “Dad, don’t listen to the press, it’s not true. They lying dad.” They have been tremendously supportive I have been quite lucky in that aspect. My family is really supportive in me pursuing my career in music and the performing arts.
On his cultural background
I’m a human being to start with. I’m quite proud of where I’m from. I’m proud to be British, I’m from the middle of England — Wolverhampton. That’s where I was born and raised and I carry that in my heart everywhere I go. My dad is half Ghanaian and half Jamaican and my mom is half Jamaican and half white, so I’m Caribbean and African in my blood. When we come together as a family we have our traditions, we have our curry goat and our meals. I love it and culturally it’s in me. England is a lot like that — it’s very multicultural in the UK and it’s so colorful. Growing up I had so many different types of friends — you rarely see race. I don’t see race when I look at people because of how I grew up.
On the musicians who influenced his screaming vocals
Chester Bennington from Linkin Park — rest in peace, Chester. He was a catalyst for me, for sure. When I started trying to do it, the first time I screamed, it was accidental and my bassist said it sounded like Chester a little bit. You go deeper and you learn and other vocalists – I love [Slipknot’s] Corey Taylor as well, he’s one of my favorite vocalists, the frontman of Lamb of God [Randy Blythe] is amazing, too. There are so many out there and they are masters in that field. Oli Sykes of Bring Me the Horizon, I just got off a tour with him, his voice is phenomenal — contemporary artists that scream, for me he’s top three.
On the recent single “UP.UP.UP”
I feel like a lot of music I have been making now has been very personal to my maturity and it’s growth-orientated. The subject matter of the music I made before came from a place of self-loathing and trying to express myself, and now I feel like going forward the music is more about the preservation of myself and the maturity of growing up and trying to grow into the man I want to be. So it’s like, I better focus, I better get my product up, and my music good — I have to get that money right and look after my family and that’s what the song is about. I’m not with anything that won’t aid my growth or help my situation. I don’t have time for it, so that’s what that song is about.
On what the rest of 2019 has in store
Lots of touring this year, we’re going to finish off the US, Canada then we’re going to go back to Europe. I’ve got IMMXRTALISATIXN dropping on October 4th and I’m very excited for that record — it’s been a long time coming. And then I’m dropping Acquired Taste in December and that’s another 16 or 17 songs for fans. We’re going hard this year, we’re getting prolific.
On what the word “immortalization” means to him
To me, it’s to have longevity past my physical being. There’s a responsibility you can put on yourself making art — you can choose to have your moment and go for it and never have it again, or you can immortalize yourself and impact people forever. Honestly, that’s my main goal with music — to impact and connect with people forever.