i-D's music class of 2018: grim sickers

“You just learn as you go along by making a lot of mistakes. And you actually get quite good over time.”

by Georgie Wright; photos by Ronan McKenzie
22 November 2017, 10:41am

This article originally appeared in The Sounding Off Issue, no. 350, Winter 2017, as part of our Music Class of 2018 portfolio.

Grim Sickers is sick of Swindon. While the 28-year-old was born and bred there, the south-west town isn’t the most natural habitat for a six-foot-plus grime artist. “I just noticed I was different to everyone else,” he explains of his outsider status. “I feel like I belong in the city.” So now he commutes three or four times a week to London, and is planning to move there for good by 2018. No music scene in Swindon then? “If there is, it isn’t grime,” he laments.

It’s no wonder he’s contemplating a move along the M4, given that grime is where Grim’s making his name. A year ago, the success of his breakout single, the Swifta Beater produced KANE, led to three pretty decent milestones -- a paycheck that allowed him to quit his old job, a guest verse from JME and a video directed by Mike Skinner. His latest single Open The Till features similar blockbuster guests in Ghetts and old pal Skinner, in his current incarnation of The Darker The Shadow The Brighter The Light. “But I don’t want to be known for just features,” the man born Paul Dowman is quick to insist.

We’re pretty certain that come 2018, he won’t be. Grim more than holds his own amongst the company he keeps, a point he’ll only prove further with the release of his “80% finished” debut LP. In the meantime, he’s making the most of the countryside with a cooking show broadcasting to a Snapchat near you. “I’m still in the basics stage,” Grim grins. “You just learn as you go along by making a lot of mistakes. And you actually get quite good over time.” Sounds a little like making music, doesn’t it?

How’s the music life going?
I quit my job and I've been living off music for a year. It's up and down -- money comes in lumps and you don't know when the next sum's coming. So you've got to spend wisely.

You've worked with JME, how did that come about?
It was kind of organic -- I had a single that was hot at the time, and JME just basically asked to jump on it. It made my day. It all happened on Twitter, he kept tweeting the lyrics to my song. And the people on Twitter said ‘oh, JME should jump on my song,’ so I took it back down, did a video with him, put it back out and it blew up.

What about Ghetts and Mike Skinner?
Mike Skinner picked me up off the back of my hit single Kane, and I've worked with Ghetts quite a lot recently, and I just put them both on the track. Bit of old school, bit of new school. Ghetts is really popping right now so it's a good mix.

What else do you get up to when you're not making music?
Cooking. I've got a little Snapchat cooking show. I'm starting off. I'm in the basics stage.

How are you teaching yourself?
Just by making mistakes. Just by making a lot of mistakes. I'm messing around with a lot of seasonings right now. You just learn, as you go along. And you actually get quite good, over time!

If you could only eat one food group for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Caribbean food.


Photography Ronan Mckenzie (Collage by Kristina Britton) Styling Julian Ganio

Hair Naoki Komiya at Julian Watson Agency. Make-up Ammy Drammeh using M.A.C Cosmetics. Styling assistance John Handford and Nathan Henry. Hair assistance Kazuhiro Naka. Make-up assistance Grace Ellington.

grim sickers
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Music class of 2018
Class of 2018