BBC Introducing in Northampton to showcase county acts on Radio 1

Karl Phillips
Karl Phillips

Karl Phillips and the Rejects, Dizmack, Champagne Bubblee, Veins, The Drunken Mandem and O’mahon will all have tracks played on BBC Radio 1 this week when presenters from the county’s ‘Introducing’ show join Huw Stephens to showcase some of the best music being made across Northamptonshire.

Plastic Gangster is the latest single by Phillips and comes on the back of shows with The King Blues and ahead of a busy summer of festival shows for the ska-rap seven piece.

The Drunken Mandem

The Drunken Mandem

“Radio 1 is the best radio station in the world, not just the country,” say Phillips.

“Having Radio 1 airplay on your CV still really means something. No one can take that away from you.

“It might not be on a daytime playlist like Gaga, but it still counts. You don’t get any better than Radio 1 and I’ve gotta thank Lal Muttock from BBC Introducing for picking the track.

“We’re putting the single out on the same day, as I decided it was a good platform to launch it off.”

Plastic Gangsta is due to be played on Wednesday, May 10, along with Can’t Recall by O’mahon.

Before then, Train Of Thought by Dizmack and a remix of We Ain’t Going Home by Champagne Bubblee featuring the cream of Northampton’s urban MCs will be played on Monday night, followed by Ambi by Veins and Wicked by The Drunken Mandem on Tuesday.

Stephens will be joined on Radio 1 by Muttock and fellow BBC Introducing contributors Bubblee and Yoshe Watson.

“Plastic Gangster and is about a guy who thinks he’s a gangster but he’s just a mummy’s boy,” explains Phillips.

“Someone who likes to give it ‘all that’, but in reality gets a slap from his dad for trying to spark up in the house.

“In his head, he knows it really. The song is saying ‘stop being an idiot, it’s embarrassing’.

The accompanying video sees Phillips rapping alongside the gangster as he goes about his day.

“We’ve got a guy playing the role of the gangster and we made sure he was comfortable us making a bit of fool of him.

“The concept is I’m there, rapping next to him but he doesn’t know.

“I’m a fly on the wall in his life, one minute he’s flexing in his bedroom mirror, and I’m like, ‘what are you doing’.

“Next minute, he’s doing gun signs but his mum is shouting him down for dinner.

“It’s tongue and cheek. It’s not comedy, but there’s a humour to it.

“The chorus is quite ska, there’s horns on there but the verse is a bit more hip-hop in style."

Following his recent shows with The King Blues, Phillips played at Derby’s Ey Up Mi Duck Festival and is also gearing up to release an EP later this summer as well as playing numerous festivals.

“We’ve done alright this year,” he explains. “People always say you get out what effort you put in and I’ve made a bit of an effort this time for the first time in my life and maybe we’re reaping the rewards.

“Boomtown last year was great – that really boosted our profile quite a bit.

“It’s up there as one of the best and is getting bigger each year.”

Karl Phillips & the Rejects currently comprise of a seven-piece band with a brass section.

Phillips has been gigging for about a decade with different line ups.

“I did the metal rap thing for a while and my song Pink Champagne, which is probably my best known song, featured some horns on it.

“At the time, all of my songs were a bit too eclectic and it might have damaged my progress a bit.

“There’s a definite ska rap vibe now and I’m sticking to what we do best. It makes sense to bring the brass section into the live set up and it works a treat.”

Despite releasing an album in 2010 and the single Poster Boy about three years ago, Phillips admits mental health issues slowed the progress of his music.

“I had a bit of a mental breakdown a few years ago,” he explains.

“I didn’t play with a band for a couple of years. I smoked too much weed and ended up in a mental hospital. It was dangerous for someone like me who has an addictive personality.

“I went a bit mad. I haven’t touched it for five years now and feel great.

“It was a period when the music wasn’t a priority and I needed to get better.

“I’m back on the ball now and making the effort.

“My brain is rigged better now. I’m in a much better place and it’s paying off.

“Unless you win X Factor or your dad is a massive name in music, you have to make the effort.

“I was in denial, thinking the cream will rise to the top regardless of effort but I was an arrogant twit. I’ve grown up now.”

Currently signed to Medical Records, for Phillips, the priority is building the fanbase, getting bigger and better gigs.

“I could set up a tour now where we’re playing to about 30 people a night but we don’t want to do that.

“I want the headlining tour when we can go somewhere and sell 200 tickets in every town.

“We’re not at that point yet, but momentum is building.”

Tune into Huw Stephens on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night from 10pm this week to hear all the tracks.