“I want the youngers to make the most out of life” – a very direct answer to what is the message behind Eerf Evil’s music but honestly, it should come as no surprise. The London born artist has consistently shown that there is no ceiling to what can be achieved and looks to be a role model for those in the same situation. From his thought-provoking tracks to his high tempo bangers, he looks to go against the grain and seems to have perfected the formula within his own lane.
First up, to understand the MC today, it’s all about exploring the journey. Growing up in Croydon, South London, Eerf was taken under the wing of a youth mentor at the age of 16 which opened up his eyes to assisting in his community – from youth work projects to helping in autistic residential homes. From there, a hunger to learn grew and understanding that “knowledge is power” almost became his life mantra. While hesitant to the prospect of university initially (“I was all about community empowerment and didn’t feel I needed an institution to give me validation”), he persevered and attended university in East London, not getting a degree in Psychosocial Studies but learning about himself and why he wanted to make more positive decisions compared to his peers. With a clear vision and a new place to call home, music became an outlet.
“I take the experiences I had growing up and use them to my benefit”
Music has always been a big part of Eerf’s life, making music since he was 16, experimenting his sounds and trying to find his own voice within. However a significant shift came in linking up with regular collaborator Srigala for the first time in 2017, expanding the creative process far past an hourly studio shift and YouTube instrumentals; “it was the first time I’d ever seen a producer sample, chop up beats and bring in musicians – we could shape the music the way we wanted”. This freedom allowed the duo to work beats around his flow, forever learning and improving to create a unique sound. From Eerf’s releases, it’s clear that storytelling is a big part of his craft, looking to provide a window into a lifestyle that the people and the media have chosen to neglect (“we want to show a picture of where we’re coming from”). His 2020 release, “Young Brother” explores topics of identity and fate which actively uses his narrative as a young Black male growing up in the UK to expose a larger societal problem. Lyrics such as “Ethnic cleanse within the ends, stop and search is detrimental” may be delivered by Eerf but he very much feels like the messenger for a wider conversation. “People don’t want to talk about the vulnerabilities to what can happen – they don’t want to talk about doing a robbery and you’re scared stiff, or when our friends are dying and the emotions we’re going through. They don’t talk about being robbed and how that makes me feel or the relationship with the police when you’re stop and searched a thousand times.”
One reason that really validates Eerf’s standpoint is his role outside of music – a professional youth worker who looks to help the next generation. When speaking about this, Eerf maintains that for him, it’s not about “giving back” but tackling issues in his community head on – from youth violence and gang culture; “I can use my life experiences to address those things. I can be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. We want to nuture that greatness”. He perceives that reality can be warped for youngers and that within his role and more specifically within music, he looks to tackle those perceptions and stereotypes. While Eerf Evil is not a gimmick, the role he plays is that of a “superhero” in his own words, utilizing his platform to show a different side to the music while progressing and developing himself as an artist as well.
Another project which Eerf is heavily involved in is the Silhouettes Project, a platform set up to support up and coming UK soul, hip hop and jazz artists. The community led project, which released a compilation of music at the back end of 2020 also provides a recording studio and live venue located at the Total Refreshment Centre in East London. It was set up to provide a network to those who needed and ‘The Silhouettes Project Vol. 1’ included the likes Kieron Boothe. Lexi Amore and Enny. The project highlights the needs of creativity, especially against the backdrop of further cuts to arts funding and the closure of countless community and grassroots creative organisations – “We were overwhelmed with the responses and the project showed that it could really be that alternative space for music creators. Volume 2 is in the works but covid is slowing it down – we want to bring together familiar faces, new people and bigger artists”.
With an artist so focused on community and collaboration, it would be easy to assume that the past year of restrictions and lockdowns would have had a detrimental effect on his creativity – “we respond to experiences and if we don’t have experiences, I can’t create music. I need that connection with my community, connection with my people’s and just like fun experiences to reflect on as well”. It’s clear that he doesn’t want to force anything as through these unprecedented times, it can be the hardest thing to motivate yourself and stay inspired, even impacting on mental health health as well; “This new project took two years to make and that didn’t come through making it happen regardless, there was a process to everything. I feel like I’m always gonna be doing music and it’s gonna be a part of my life so why am I working to someone else’s deadline”.
“There’s no expiration date to quality”
‘Ends & Beyond’, a collaborative project alongside Srigala, which released earlier this year, showcases Eerf at his finest, actively seeking the opportunity to showcase a range of sounds, collaborate with his favourite artists and really step up the plate in terms of his arrival on the scene. Featuring the likes and sounds of Kofi Stone, Tolushorts and Elisa Imperrilee, each guest spot seems measured and considered, each drafted in for a reason. Again for Eerf, the project highlights wider societal issues from police brutality, colourism and gentrification. The soundscape is brooding, with the feel of the hustle and bustle of London at the very heart of it. Since its release, it has been praised across the board from fans and critics as well as being selected in the Top 5 EPs by BBC 1Xtra. The release and its response has not surprising for Eerf but highlighted the importance of marketing and promotion;
“We’ve been out here for a minute! It’s about time the industry recognized what we’ve been doing. I think when you know the lane you’re in and you know what you’re producing and bringing out is quality, its all about getting it into the right hands. We realised that having a team and management is not something that all artists do well so by having that, its pushed it to the next level”.
While reflection on his journey helps to understand Eerf, how does he think he has developed as an artist; “it’s all about progression for me. I don’t look at numbers, I don’t look at social media I just keep going . This isn’t just hype for me, it’s not about my ego – it’s just that I love music. So I would have to say progression and just constant elevation, – you got to be a pupil in this game”. Thinking about what’s next, a tour would be the logical next step, pending restrictions, and for a live show, it’s all about the connections for the fans. One element that really highlights Eerf’s uniqueness is his relatability – despite his specific and individual experiences. By retaining an essence of genuinity at the heart of what he does, fans have resonated with his music and his aspirations in general.
With 2021 off to a great start following the release of the EP, Eerf Evil’s year looks set to be a big one but in truth, he’s just seeing a balance; “I feel like the start of year has been quite pressurized so a nice balance would be good. Its also about growth – my mental growth and spiritual growth and seeing the people around me grow as well. Hopefully we can create more music and and get out there for the people“. With a positive and a transparent message to the music and a strategy and game plan to his work, this year could see Eerf Evil take over the scene, one track at a time.