Moving from Liverpool to Newcastle to study, Left-Blank broke through as a breath of fresh air in the North East scene in 2019. His smooth flow and sharp delivery quickly started turning heads, making Left-Blank an artist to watch in 2020. Lee Hawthorn caught up with Lefty to reflect on his time in the NE, his start in Liverpool and what’s up next for the promising rapper.
As an outsider coming into the North East from Liverpool, what were your preconceptions of music in the region? Were you aware of any rap/grime artists already?
Somehow, for the first year or so that I lived in the North East I’d struggled to find the scene at all. My first contact with any local musicians was actually when Royzy Rothschild (whom I knew from Liverpool) was putting on an event in Gateshead at Station East, where I happened to meet 90BRO for the first time. I believe I asked him if there are any local rap events and he mentioned Kommunity which I couldn’t find much info about online.
Who were your first connections in the hip-hop/grime scene and what were your first impressions?
My actual first contact besides that was at the first NE Rising Cluny open mic where I met Arcane Soakes last year. The amount of rappers that actually turned up baffled me considering I hadn’t found anything going on earlier.
How has your perspective on the scene changed now?
I see now that the scene here is actually much denser and more active than any region I’ve seen. Back home events have died out and it feels a bit like promoters and venues have given up on us. Here that is definitely not the case.
You’ve received quite a bit of support from Wright Music & Management and NE Rising in terms of gig bookings. How important do you think performing live has been in helping you gain a following in the North East?
Well first and foremost in terms of those guys, I’ve come to realise that actually it’s not the artists that play the most integral role in keeping regional music alive. There’s great artists everywhere, but without opportunity to grow and thrive sometimes passion is lost and seeds don’t grow. I owe a lot to the lads at NE Rising, Wright Music and several other groups for really sticking their necks out for me and helping me when they didn’t have to, and I know they’ve done alot for other artists too. So massive props to all of them, always.
You’ve also received support from online influencers, as evidenced in your ‘NAMI told me that I am top 5’ lyric and then picking up Track Of The Week from NE Rising and RIDE Music for ‘Baltic’. How does that feel?
With the journalism it’s a similar thing to the promotion side of it with pages like RIDE, NE Rising and NAMI. It’s all welcome publicity and I thank them all for getting me involved in what they’re doing. Honestly it feels class to get the kind of feedback I’ve been getting recently. It’s been coming at a bit of a rough patch in my life, which helps as it feels like my passion is being reignited, partially thanks to the support I’ve had lately.
You have music on Spotify dating back to 2017 including an album from 2018 and you released an EP in 2019. How do you feel being branded as a newcomer given the amount of music you’ve released?
It’s all relative I’d say. Some have been going much longer than I have. I honestly didn’t expect to have such support at this stage anyway. I don’t have any huge problem with being branded as new because I’d say that my music has only began coming into its own in the last six months or so. I’ve been performing for around three years too, but if anything I’m glad to be getting recognised as anything at all, as it feels that I’m getting more love and engagement than I ever have, which provides the buzz that I started doing it for.
Is the video for ‘Baltic’ deliberately similar to ‘No Talent’?
Honestly, no. I must just have some subconscious desire to film myself rapping in marshes and fields. It baffles me that anyone has seen that video, mad quiff.
How established were you in Liverpool before you left?
I wouldnt say I was supported as much as I am here and now. Most people involved in the scene knew me, and I did a fair few shows. But around there I’m known as Jake Rosh’s brother, I’m glad to say round here, he’d be Lefty’s brother. He’s been active in the North West scene far longer than I have, almost a decade now I’d say. Though between us it seems we have what we need to run the North. I suppose I’m an optimist, but look out for the new collaborations and an unreal new Jake Rosh album coming very soon.
Has your success in Newcastle had any impact at home?
Its hard to say really, I don’t see too much of the North West scene when I’m home as it just never seems like anythings going on besides a few shows with the L100 collective here and there. The most recent show there was supporting the Pharcyde at 24 Kitchen Street with DJ 2Kind. There are some incredible artists that could rival the North East’s finest emerging though nevertheless. I’d definitely love to see some collabs going between both scenes too.
What plans do you have for the rest of 2020?
As of now I’m focused on singles and shows, but I’m always tempted to put a little impromptu project together. My love for music I’d say is based on albums, there’s something about putting together a cohesive catalogue of work that’s very enjoyable for me. Also, there’s some very exciting movements in the works with NE Rising’s ‘Inside’ too that I can’t really speak on yet but keep eyes on that!
You can catch Left-Blank performing on:
14th Feb @ Emporium
29th Feb @ World HQ