ARRDEE: BRIGHTON'S BOY WONDER

PHOTOGRAPHY: ELLIOT HENSFORD / STYLIST: LEONA JAE / GROOMING: ELIZA CLARKE / INTERVIEW & WORDS: BUEZ HADGU

From the seaside shores of Brighton to a catalogue of singles in the UK Top 40, ArrDee’s rise to prominence in today’s music scene has been nothing short of impressive. The charismatic, personable, and confident character that burst onto the scene with his organic freestyles filmed in his hometown, has developed far beyond just having cheeky bars and a captivating flow.

“You'd think while you're in it all you're going to be thinking rah this is amazing, you're always having pinch me moments,” he shares, “but because I felt like I'm meant to be here, I just kind of naturally adjusted.”

It’s this confidence that he instinctively exudes that has allowed ArrDee to propel himself into such a strong position within our industry and maintain his position through following up each single with improvements on the last.

Following his debut mixtape ‘Pier Pressure’, the opportunity to connect with his fans is something he never seems to miss as he toured Australia, New Zealand, and Europe. A true performer in every sense of the word, it’s clear to see the energy he showcases transfers onto the crowd at shows.

t shirt: gaffer

Often recognised for his party antics and love for letting loose, he explains “I try and hold myself in a manner where I can be respected by adults, but also obviously I'm still a kid. I'm still loving. I'm still living.”

ArrDee’s ability to create hits in an almost effortless fashion have seen him collaborate with some of the UK scene’s biggest artists and utilise his broad experiences of music to put things together in a way that’s unique to him.

“I got the best of both worlds in Brighton; everyone was kind of friendly, it was a small little village, all about community.” He recalls. Armed with this unfaltering pride of coming from Brighton, he continues to beat the odds and wave the flag strong for the South Coast of England.

jacket: c.p.company @tobytides / tracksuit: gucci / trainers: adidas
Talk me through the past 18 months, what it’s been like for you?

In one word, busy. Crazy busy. Also, nothing like I expected it to be, especially with it being something I’ve dreamed of since I was 10 years old or even younger. It's all amazing and sick, it's not any worse or better than I thought it would be, it's just different. You adjust to it a lot quicker than you think you would init.

So, does that mean you always knew you wanted to make music?

I’d say so yeah, for a while, when I was like six or seven, I wanted to be a street dancer - that only lasted for a year - but it was all-around hip-hop music. The first proper memory I have of wanting to be something was yeah, a rapper. I think I made my first rap freestyle in the shower; I must have been in like year five or something, it was all with an American accent too.

Where do you think your love for music derived from?

My mum's like massively into music, we always used to sing in the car, she used to sing us to sleep if we were being too manic, all our family do like sing along shit every time we were partying and that. It was more rock music growing up because that’s what my mum was into, and then when I got into like year four, I feel like everybody in my school was obsessed with Eminem. I proper fell in love with all that, in ICT I used to just not do the work, quickly turn on a VPN, go on YouTube and slap him on.

tracksuit: daily paper / trainers: Adidas / sunglasses: @vieulux
Is that still a genre you listen to today?

To be fair, I don't even listen to that much music nowadays, because I'm doing so much, but my playlist is a variety. I've got house, drum and bass, rock, and some pop. I like pink, I'm a big fan of pink. I think especially now that I'm in the rap scene, I've got a lot less rap in my playlist compared to when I was coming up. That’s what I'm constantly around now so it's nice to refresh your ears and be tuned into different parts of music.

Do you think that’s a trait that’s helped you in your own artist development?

Definitely. I think it keeps me out of a box, because there's loads of sounds from me that people haven't heard yet. It also keeps me open minded, when you look at pop songs or radio hits and stuff there's certain techniques that goes into making a catchy song, which isn't that often seen or heard of in rap, especially back in the day.

What’s your writing process and beat selection like?

I don't want to make a song days after I’ve heard a beat. I don't want to hear it, then go away and come back because the first few words that come to mind when I hear that beat, that’s then the concept for me, don't let your head overcomplicate it. Let the music make itself rather than you make the music.

Would it be fair to say that Eminem is your biggest inspiration in the scene?

Yeah, we used to get pocket money and that, a fiver a week. My brother used to go get like sweets or whatever, I'd save up the fiver so that every two weeks I'd go and buy an album. The first one I ever bought was Eminem, it might have been 'Curtain Calls', 'Encore", or it might have even been 'Recovery'. I remember printing out the lyrics to 'I'm not afraid'. Even before I knew what a rhyming scheme was, I was highlighting all the different words that rhymed and that's obviously my young brain breaking down the concept of a rhyming scheme.

tracksuit: palm angels / trainers: nike / glasses: @vieuux

"I'm never leaving, if I was gonna, I reckon I would have already. I think it also keeps me humble. There's no 'boujeeness' to Brighton whatsoever."

What is it like growing up in Brighton?

Brighton is basically the heart and soul of everything about me, and my music to be fair. I always compare it to like America. If you want to recreate yourself, you go to LA and you can fucking change your name, hair colour, you completely reinvent yourself and Brighton's kind of like that. But where I was born, everybody is so open and accepting of everything, no one judges anyone.

Growing up, it made me very comfortable in my own skin from an early age, which as teenagers not a lot of people are, everybody’s trying to fit in and to not care about everything is like cool?

The seaside town really is your home, you’re not tempted by a move up to London?

I'm never leaving, if I was gonna I reckon I would have already. I think it also keeps me humble. There's no 'boujeeness' to Brighton whatsoever. Even like the VIP in clubs, it's five pounds extra to get in, it's not Mayfair. If I acted all famous or whatever, they'd cuss me, the mandem would slate me. We were kind of like the boys in town everywhere, and like you said it's a small town so everyone knows everyone init, it just wouldn't happen.

I heard you’re a big blue, has it always been like that?

I was a Man United fan originally – just because my dad’s a United fan – I've supported Chelsea since I was about 11 because my best friend supported Chelsea. I didn’t properly get into the football till the Euro’s. When we beat Denmark in the Semi’s, I bought the entire of Ibiza Rock Bar a pint and a shot of tequila. My accountant was not happy when I came back boy, we were having it off.

What other hobbies do you have outside of music and football?

I'm trying to get back into skating. I used to skate, Brighton's a proper skateboard town init, like hip-hop, graffiti, baggy jeans and all that. Proper Supreme vibes. I literally just bought a board. I need to find some places where I can do it privately for a bit to practice before you see me on one in a music video.

JERSEY CLASSIC FOOTBALL SHIRTS
How difficult has it been adapting to this lifestyle at such a young age?

I wouldn't say I'm your typical 20-year-old in terms of my mental age if I can say that without blowing smoke up my own arse. There are definitely certain areas that I could mature in, but I think I've always been a bit beyond my years. I've got an older brother that I, not had to be the older brother for, but he's got autism, so it took him a little longer to adjust, grow up and mature to certain things. So yeah, I was always a little bit older than what I was supposed to be anyway.

Big chains, watches, and cars might not be your thing, like you said, but million-pound property for the mumzy certainly is…

Yeah, again, like you said that’s for mummy init. I've always said from when I was 10 years old, I'm gonna take my nan to her favourite cafe every weekend when I'm rich and famous and I'm going to buy my mum a house and I actually ain’t taken my nan to that cafe yet so I gotta fulfil that part.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have of you?

I always say probably that I'm like this scatty, little, unintelligent reprobate that flies around drinking all the time and I feel like that's what a lot of people might see if you're not a fan. My fans, friends, people who love me, will know that there's different sides to me.

t-shirt: gaffer
hoodie: gaffer / trousers: palm angels / trainers: nike
Talk to me about all the experiences performing at shows this year.

I've been tearing my body apart. O2! You know what was crazier than the O2 bro? Wembley. 80,000. Crazy. That's the only time ever I've had a little bit of nerves before a show because it's not like when you're at a club, and you can't just shout 'who's ready to turn the fuck up' to gas them up. That was like a proper levelling up moment for me, it helped me put on a proper shows I've always been putting on good shows but that taught me how to put on a proper show.

If it weren’t for music where would be seeing ArrDee today?

Maybe acting? Something to do with entertainment where I'm in the spotlight. I'm a massive attention seeker, literally a performer. When my mum had parties and I'm meant to be in bed, I'd come down to sing for everyone and then I'd be allowed a little hour after bedtime because I'm putting on a show for the whole family.

What can we come to expect from you in the next few months?

Off the back off my tour, there’ll probably be some more singles. It’s been a long year so it’ll most likely be time to just take it easy, regroup, and get ready to do it all again in 2023. But who knows what the future holds? Hard work never stops.

jacket: c.p.company @tobytides / t-shirt: gaffer
Tickets for ArrDee's European tour are on sale now.