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Yxng Bane
Yxng BanePhotography Richard Dowker / Styling Ben Schofield / Grooming Athena Paginton at Bryant Artists

East London rapper Yxng Bane is living his best life

He’s exploded onto the UK charts with songs like his viral ode to Rihanna – but the genre-hopping artist says he’s not feeling the pressure at all

“There’s no pressure on me at all,” Yxng Bane says with a smile, casually leaning back in his seat for Diadora’s Powered by Defiance collection. “I’ve got real ones around me.”

Inspired by the R&B, gospel, and hip hop music of his childhood and the everyday stresses and blessings of growing up in East London, Bane is one of the breakout stars of a hyper-fertile period for homegrown, authentic UK music. Alongside artists like Kojo Funds (with whom he collaborated on 2016’s “Fine Wine”), Hardy Caprio, and Not3s, Bane exploded in the early throws of 2017 after his remix of Ed Sheeran mega-hit “Shape Of You” went viral – an experience he refers to as the defining moment of his career so far. It paved the way for “Rihanna”, a song devoted to the women who inspire him, and a standout feature on Yungen’s UK Top 10 smash “Bestie”, a track widely regarded as one of 2017’s most memorable.

Bane’s music rushes between the smooth, infectious Afrobeat swing of tracks like “Bestie” and colder, grittier rap beats, as evidenced by his first EP, Full Moon. Crucially, he’s equally as comfortable pushing both, which lends itself to the crossover appeal of his records; from the streets to the suburbs, everyone is singing from Yxng Bane’s song sheet.

With new single “Vroom” already flying in the UK Top 40, it seems as though for Bane – relaxed and totally at ease as we spoke to him about the story behind the name, the secret to good style and a teenage obsession with G-Unit – life couldn’t be much better right now.

Where did the name Yxng Bane come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?

Yxng Bane: I’ve never watched the Batman movie you know, I just wasn’t gonna show my face originally and I liked the Bane mask. I went with the name, chucked the Yxng in front of it and spelt it differently. And that was it.

What sort of music was playing around the house when you grew up?

Yxng Bane: Old school R&B, hip hop, gospel. It was a very musical home, especially on a Sunday morning.

Any standout, favourite tracks that you can remember?

Yxng Bane: ‘Busted’ (starts singing the hook and laughing) and ‘Secret Lover’, both The Isley Brothers, they were big tunes. The first album I bought was 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Trying. I actually remember I bought the G Unit trainers, the G Unit game... I took the whole G Unit thing all the way, man (laughs).

What made you decide that you wanted to get into music professional? Was there a moment you look back on?

Yxng Bane: I think it was the ‘Shape Of You’ reaction, that made me realise I could make it. Never. It was almost an overnight thing, it was crazy. The video happened, SBTV happened and I started to think, ‘Wow’. Once the official stuff started happening, I realised people were actually with me.

Did you start out with an idea of how you wanted your music to sound?

Yxng Bane: Even now I don’t go to the studio with any ideas, I just go in fresh every time. As I’m living, I’ll note stuff down, things happening around me that might make me think, stuff like that. There’s a lot of personal stuff in my music too, so if you listen carefully, you can get an insight into what inspires me. I’m mainly motivated by family, friends, colleagues and by the world, the problems of the world and the great things in the world too.

How would you describe the tracks you're making now?

Yxng Bane: Honest, expressive, and unpredictable.

“You have to keep friends around you that’ll humble you and keep you focused, that way there’s never any pressure” – Yxng Bane

Artists like yourself, Hardy Caprio, Not3s, Kojo Funds and co are making a real mark on UK music at the moment. Why do you think that is?

Yxng Bane: It’s a new sound and there’s been an outburst of new artists and new music. It’s created its own wave. Don’t forget Afrobeats has always been around, it’s just now – I think maybe it’s just the way we do it – it’s connected. It’s our thing now, our way of doing it and we dip into different sounds and things around us to make it that way. It can even by just talking to my friends, that could be an influence on the way I record a certain verse or sound.

How are things going with your new single, ‘Vroom’?

Yxng Bane: It’s going well so far, I’m happy with how things are going. It’s at 36 in the charts today (at the time of writing), and I’m just loving the reaction and enjoying the journey. Big shout out to everyone living the Vroom way, and to everyone involved.

How do you cope with the pressures of being in the spotlight?

Yxng Bane: There’s no pressure at all, I got real ones. You have to keep friends around you that’ll humble you and keep you focused, that way there’s never any pressure.

Taking things back, you grew up in East London. How do you think the city informed and continues to inform your output?

Yxng Bane: When I speak in my music a lot of the time, it’s for our generation to listen to and resonate with. I feel like we have a responsibility to a certain extent to people who look at us as so-called idols or role models and London comes out in that. Everything about the city, when the sun comes out, when it rains, how busy it is all the time. There’s different parts of London that’ll inspire me as well, it kinda depends on where I am. I might go back to where I grew up or I might be out elsewhere and recording in different ends, which will make me in a different way. It’s a very inspiring city.

“(The key to good style is) to be free and expressive. To not be afraid of who you are, man” – Yxng Bane

What do you think of East London style? Could you describe it?

Yxng Bane: Being cockney to be honest, and there’s definitely a bit of that in the way I talk. West Ham as well (laughs).

Are you a West Ham fan then?

Yxng Bane: Nah, I was born into being an Arsenal fan unfortunately, but I can see the West Ham badge whenever I think about East London.

What do you think the key to good style is?

Yxng Bane: To be free and expressive. To not be afraid of who you are, man.

Looking around you now, are there any artists people should be looking out for? Who's on your radar?

Yxng Bane: EO, he’s just dropped that tune called ‘German’, I really like that tune. Also Raye, Young Adz, DBE, how did I forget them man, my guys! Sabrina Claudio as well, Stefflon Don, and also A2.

What is the rest of 2018 looking like for Yxng Bane?

Yxng Bane: There’s gonna be loads more music, loads more of what the ‘Vroom’ video is like really, how I’m in six places at once, that’s how it’s gonna be. I’m gonna be everywhere in the Vroom way.

Where do you see yourself this time next year?

Yxng Bane: I take it day by day, because you have to keep doing better. The rest of it is God’s plan.