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

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There are people who work within the North East music scene who have asked me to do a song and I’ve agreed, and then they’ve sent me a dick pic and I’ve had to say I’m actually happily married. No song has ever come out of that!”

When we meet for a socially distanced catch-up in Middlesbrough, Leddie MC is not in the mood for mincing her words but, known for her steely disposition forged in the still heavily male-dominated regional rap scene, this shouldn’t surprise us. “I used to get threats and stuff. Men don’t like it if women are in the spotlight more than them. It’s only in the last few months that I’ve felt more included but then I recently did a podcast and someone contacted the producers and said the only reason I get publicity is because I’m female. I’ve been doing this for fifteen years, I’ve perfected my craft, and somebody just thinks they can wipe it out with one remark. Good music is good music whoever makes it. If you like it you like it, if you don’t you don’t.”

As concerning as these sorts of allegations continue to be, particularly when it involves people in our regional scene, Leddie is keen to push on musically with her new Born Of Stone EP, which does also touch on some of these issues within its lyrics. For such a prolific artist (having already released four stand-alone singles in the last calendar year) releasing an EP now feels oddly like a pause and a chance to take stock; the five tracks represent not just a stylistic departure but a clear evolutionary step from 2018’s Raise A Glass album, now unceremoniously dumped from streaming services, as Leddie explains. “[Long-time collaborator] Alex Bailey decided he didn’t want to push the album and the more I listened to it I decided it didn’t really reflect what I want to put out, so I decided to delete it. I feel like I was at an in-between. There were bits I wanted to change and rerecord. I could have done it a lot better if I’d been able to.” However, fear not, the album is still available on the artist’s Bandcamp page along with the rest of her back catalogue and shows just how much the rapper has come on both technically and stylistically.

On the new EP Leddie mixes more live instrumentation than ever before with help from Be Quiet! Shout Loud’s Jamie Donnelly amongst others. “I’ll send a tune over to Jamie to put a bass on it but then there have been other times where I’ve asked him to put a guitar solo on something and he’ll refuse because he doesn’t think it needs it. I rope other people in but basically just tell them to do whatever to give them their own creative control.” This free-collaborative approach is a surprisingly trustworthy alliance but is also testament to the wealth of talent locally across all musical genres. The EP title track mixes layers of piano with lush blues guitars over a tale of casual sexism and the burdens of grief, while elsewhere They Don’t Make ‘Em Like You folds a dancehall vibe over a super-quick flow, and a cutting but funky Where Were You is Leddie at her most scathing.

I’ve been doing this for fifteen years, I’ve perfected my craft, and somebody just thinks they can wipe it out with one remark. Good music is good music whoever makes it

If all this betrays a surprisingly broad set of influences it’s partly because music is a family trait, as Leddie continues: “My dad is a Northern soul DJ, so when I was sampling tunes he’d suggest things. I like the musicality of it when it drops out, the solos and the little changes but it wasn’t until I started producing my own stuff that I really took notice of it.” This jazzy/bluesy energy is apparent throughout all five tracks. “I thought the EP tracks fit together nicely. I wanted to do a lighter sounding one and then a darker sounding one to mix it up a bit. I’ve tried to keep it so there is a bit of everything.”

It’s clear Leddie is going through a real purple patch, and recent global events have helped rather than hindered her creative spirit. “It feels like a pause because I wrote it all before I started writing even more in lockdown. I loved lockdown. I was doing loads of writing and being really creative, then when I went back to work it pretty much stopped, but I’ve got enough material.”

Looking forward with an optimism of sorts then, Leddie is clearly loving life at the moment. “Every single I’m releasing beforehand isn’t on the EP. I don’t want to release anything from it because with it only being five tunes it would be cheating a bit if I’d already released three of them. Then, I’ve got a tune with Eyeconic, one with Jister and collabs with people from all over the UK including Genesis Elijah, a soul singer called Greg Blackman who is unreal…” And, on playing live again: “I want to but not yet. I’ve been asked to do a lot of online gigs but I just think MCs rapping to the laptop camera doesn’t work for me, so I’ve said no a lot of times. Hip-hop is more crowd based and interactive with banter between songs, so watching people online I just thought I don’t want to do that. It lacks atmosphere for me.”

For a few fleeting seconds there is a silence as Leddie seems to muse to herself, perhaps reflecting on the year so far, before leaving with one parting thought: “I’m doing a tune to release on Halloween. It’s basically about COVID-19 but about them finding a cure and turning everyone into zombies – let’s hope so because I’m done with this!” And if that isn’t the realest shit I’ve heard this year I don’t know what is.

Leddie MC releases the Born Of Stone EP on 25th September


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