INTERVIEW: Bi:Lingual | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It’s a common complaint, certainly amongst those who claim to know a bit about music, that the mainstream is shit nowadays, and the various X-Factory clones clogging up the charts tells all you need to know about how and why. What’s less common is actually getting off one’s arse and doing something about it – step forward Dylan Cartlidge, afroed singer and lyricist of Middlesbrough’s (and possibly the UK’s) finest rap-metal crew, Bi:Lingual.

Essentially a college project which “got out of hand”, Dylan hooked up with George and Stefanos, two Cypriot brothers on guitar and drums and invited Aaron in on bass. “I hadn’t been in a band before and wasn’t even into rock music!” Dylan explains. “I was into chart music and rap. I hated anything to do with guitars and moshing. I had pretty traumatic teenage years and my outlet was rap. There weren’t many people in the UK who were coming out with an American style but not trying to be American – it was all about grime and stabbing people. When the guys’ rock ‘n’ roll and my pent-up aggression collided, it all came together as an outlet. Delilah [a superb piece of drunken observational songwriting which is half-sung, half-spoken] doesn’t have any rapping at all, and now people are used to us doing the rap-rock stuff we could branch out more – it’ll still be the same but more poppy songs and slowed down, it won’t all be just mad, aggressive rap.”

“When the guys’ rock ‘n’ roll and my pent-up aggression collided, it all came together as an outlet”

One of the topics that crops up more than once in Bi:Lingual’s music is their criticism of the state of the music business, particularly on the incendiary Subject Number. “We hit a point where we’d release songs that were quite popular but there would be run-of-the-mill bands around us doing a lot better because they’d got managers and booking agents on the strength of their just fitting the scene. We got very frustrated because we felt as if we had all this potential and nobody was willing to take a chance on us. Subject Number shouts about all the bands that are out there that are pretty awful, and also the state of music in general. It was a rant of a song!”

In a year when a charlatan like Kanye West can use the pinnacle of the music year to laughably declare himself the ‘No. 1 rock star on the planet’, the world is desperately in need of genuine talent like Bi:Lingual to cut through the hype and prove just how shallow and celebrity-obsessed the mainstream music scene has become. It’s not empty hyperbole to claim that a talent like Cartlidge, for all his down-to-earth manner and humble background, could easily – easily – be a bona fide rap star; he really is that good.

Of course, not everyone who is good makes it, so really, it’s down to you, the fan. Are you going to swallow the same old mass-manufactured, genetically engineered slurry that’s served up in easily-digested nuggets by the same shadowy corporations that control everything? Or perhaps you’d prefer to lose your shit in a basement to an angry young man with an afro from Middlesbrough. Step right up, step right up, come and get yer head sliced up.

Bi:Lingual release their new single, Skin, on 23rd August. The band play Newcastle’s Dog & Parrot on Friday 7th and Middlesbrough’s Westgarth Social Club on Saturday 15th August.

Since this interview was conducted, the band have announced their split. These will be their final shows.

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