8-11/6/23 Hradec Králové Park 360

Kid Brunswick says that his new EP The Fall Pt 1 is about loss. Take the anthemic malevolence of his recent single Blow – that’s about losing all your money (and your mind). Then there’s the frenetic rock of Heaven Without You, which is about losing yourself to an abusive relationship. Or the rattling low-end of the title track, about a heart-wrenching break-up. But really, what’s powering this remarkable comeback project from the 24-year-old West Londoner born Harry James is lost time. He knows that the diehard fans who have flocked to his discordant meld of rap, rock, industrial, metal, electronic and trap have been waiting long enough.

We’ll get to the hiatus later – first let’s hone in on the here and now to Kid Brunswick’s first project since his acclaimed XFOREVER and Stained releases in 2021. Everything on The Fall Pt 1 is imbued with James’ desire to push things further than he’s done on any of his previous releases. “It’s not as clear-cut as Prescription Kid or 4AM,” he says, referring to his pair of 2020 singles, “I wanted to write something that felt like part of an actual album. I need to put out stuff that makes me feel something. I don’t want to be boxed into a genre, I want to make what I want to make.”

The Fall Pt 1 is a captivating listen that pulls you in from the off, the snaking title track inspired by the sound of the alien ships in War Of The Worlds (the Tom Cruise version). “I wanted a guitar sound like that,” says James. “I wanted to make a song that sounded like the world was ending.” The adrenaline-veined singalong Blow – no prizes for guessing what it’s about – is a track “embracing the chaos,” James says. “It’s a track about trying to escape the situation, trying to stay sane. I wanted to make a dance tune that people could chant to.” Heaven Without You documents a toxic relationship, a blistering meld of trap and rock that is a “dark song people can connect to”, whilst baby, i’m not ok is a gliding, synth-heavy R&B bop. “It’s my Drake moment!” laughs James.

If there’s a song that sums up the entire EP, and James’ whole approach to making music, it’s the sprawling epic DEPRESSION. It’s a track he’s had floating around in various incarnations since 2020 but this is its definitive form. “It’s recycling stuff and making it where I am now, recycling the same emotions that still apply to where I am now, but then doing stuff that’s like, ‘let’s push this forward, let’s do something different.’” The idea, he explains, was that he wanted a six-minute song that could be made into a short film, a piece of music that reflected the multitude of feelings you go through during depression. “There’s different stages, it’s not just one emotion, I felt like I should make it believable, that it needed to go into the emotions and the feel.”

In many ways, the EP is both a result and reaction to everything that Kid Brunswick did before, plus some other stuff he didn’t do but had to deal with anyway. Let’s rewind back two years. It’s 2021 and Kid Brunswick is picking up the sort of acclaim and co-signs that would power your average young artist’s ego through the next decade. He’d just released his XFOREVER mixtape, partly created with Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, and everyone from Kerrang! to Radio One to Bring Me The Horizon was saluting its brilliance, tipping the producer-singer-multi-instrumentalist (you name it and he can probably play it) for stardom. But then came an unforeseen hiatus, brought upon by a split with his previous record label. It knocked him sideways.

“XFOREVER got a load of attention and people I looked up to were promoting it, it was all a bit overwhelming,” he says. “But then I had to make a decision to try and fight and get out of my record deal. I was shelved, basically. It stopped me writing. I had no inspiration. I wrote one song in a year and got really down. It was weird because I was on a high for so long.”

Now when James thinks of XFOREVER, he sees it as the end of his first phase, the conclusion of a “long, weird journey trying to find out who I am”. The Fall Pt 1 is the start of a new era, a sound representative of the artist he sees himself as in 2023, daring, ambitious and imaginative with its mix of trap beats, spiky riffs, sonic experimentation and razor-sharp melodic hooks. “It’s taken me a while to regroup and get back together, but I’m more calm and in a better place,” he says. “I’m ready to go again. I want to make something more interesting. Before, there was all these raw emotions I had to get out and they’re all still there, but I can control them instead of letting them overtake me.”

There is a drive in James that he can’t explain but that’s always been there, compelling him to make music. “I wanted to do it more than everyone else around me,” he says, recalling his teenage years. “Everyone else would do it as a hobby but I went down an extreme route. I thought, ‘I’m gonna get a record deal and then get a studio and I’m going to live at the studio.’” And that’s exactly what he did, the mad scientist locking himself in the lab, first at a studio in Ealing and then relocating to another in Acton.

He threw himself into music as a way to avoid going out and having to make friends. “It’s what started it, I was just at home making beats the whole time. But then eventually I got friends because of it! Rappers would get in touch and be like, ‘your beats are insane!’.” When a period of substance abuse was followed by a spell in rehab, he wrote and recorded XFOREVER as a way of making sense of the situation. “It was all about self-discovery,” he says, “like, ‘what do I want to make? What do I want to do?’.

His worldview shaped by teen years listening to both Nirvana and Linkin Park as well as hip-hop trailblazers such as the OVO Sound scene in Canada, James’ sonic vision imagines a place where hip-hop and rock are perfectly intertwined. “No-one has really done it in rock where they’ve stripped it down to a purely rap set up, like where Playboi Carti or Travis Scott just have a guitarist on stage with them, but doing it in a way that’s rock, it’s heavy, it’s metal. It’s about trying to do something new, something that hasn’t been done before, or not done in my mind the way that I think it should be done.”

It was with that sense of adventure that James got down to work on The Fall Pt 1. It was made in a studio he set up in his mum’s shed – he moved back home after relapsing in a bid to get on the straight and narrow again. “I wanted to get well and change how the situation was going,” he says.

Now he’s on the up again. The Fall Pt 1 is the sound of an artist bursting open his sonic horizons. He’s raring to go. “Right now, I feel as inspired as fuck,” he says. He’s ready to make up for lost time.