When I first looked up Shotty Horroh, I had no idea what I was getting into. All of the articles I found talked about a long history of battle rapping. And then I listened to Salt of the Earth… and found an indie rock album mixed with rap, discussing the political and socioeconomic issues currently plaguing the UK.
I’ve been listening to “Danger” more than anything, but the whole album is the ride of your life. Shotty splits his time between his native Manchester and my native Toronto, so I had to chat with him about the differences between the two music scenes, the shift he’s made between genres, and the bands that have inspired him to get to where he is. You can find the full interview below.
(and you can find his Canadian tour dates here!)
You released your album “Salt of the Earth” back in October. It’s a pretty drastic genre shift from what you were making before. How has the response been from your audience?
Awesome. My audience has been super receptive towards it. I’d say that the guitar in itself is a very loud, scary instrument which maybe could give off a feeling of a drastic change, but if you look at the tempo structures… it’s still quite similar. A lot of the kick patterns & snare patterns are similar to hip hop music. I just wanted to do something different within the constructs of indie music and within the constructs of hip hop as well. As much as it is a very big change, I also feel like you can get enough of the Shotty Horroh that you’re used to if you were a fan of my hip hop stuff. Still very much a child of hip hop, as much as it is indie rock. Fans have seen that and been receptive towards that and been really good about it.
I feel like it’s a cool combo of the two. I like it, it’s interesting. Have you found as you’ve made that transition from battle rapper to rock n roller… are there big differences between the audiences that you’ve been pulling in?
Different age groups I guess now, we’re getting a bit more across the board ages. It’s more of a spectrum. We get younger fans and older fans as opposed to being — at one point, I had the demographic that was similar to me. Men from northern England and whatnot, and that expanded. Yeah, now it’s just… with this album it’s expanded into a lot more people. Different types of people. Some people you shouldn’t stage dive onto. *laughs*
Well I think — were you on an episode of “King of the Dot”?
Yeah I’ve done a bunch of them, I’m cool with the guys. Got a good relationship with Travis and the guys who helped build that company. I did a couple of battles on there, it was good for my career. It was one of the reasons I came to Canada, which eventually turned into me working with the best label on the planet and the best manager in the world.
I had a teacher in school who would make us talk about it every week when we came in. I barely knew anything about it going in, and by the end of the year I’d learned so much. So then when I was looking you up, I was like “hey I actually know what this is!”
Do you remember who the teacher was? Was he involved in battle rap?
I’m not sure, he was a hip hop booking agent. His name’s Chris McKee (Chris – if you’re reading this… 👋) But I feel like it makes sense that this album is accessible to more people. With the battle rap community, it wasn’t really something where I could be like “ah yes, I casually enjoy this” whereas your new album, it’s more accessible to a wider range of people without the barrier to entry.
Yeah definitely. I find my friends my age singing along in the same way I’ll find my auntie or my mother or someone singing along.
How did you end up spending so much time in Toronto as opposed to anywhere else?
Toronto was like… I just fell in love with the place. It’s such a good melting pot of everything. People from different walks of life, the music scene is amazing, even sports teams. It’s a super celebratory type of place, everyone’s up for a party, Patting each other on the back and being a community about things. The country is just beautiful itself. I just came out here, fell in love with it like that. I got my management team, we put a lot of work in. So now it’s four years later, I’ve been coming to this country for a while and loving it. I’ll be coming back here forever, I think.
That’s great, I’m glad you like it so much. How’s the music scene here compared to Manchester?
I think there’s a lot of similarities, to be honest. It’s a lot of community, just a lot of support. Obviously there’s competition, different genres… but I think it’s really good to have a place where new music can thrive because when you have such diverse cultures and different views and different instruments, you’re only going to come up with new genres. I think Toronto and Manchester have been like that. I look to places like this and find they have a lot of similarities. Very unique but very similar to each other.
Yeah, I feel like it’s cool how collaborative Toronto is too. Everybody knows each other, everybody’s working together on everything. It creates a lot of really cool art.
Yeah definitely, and then the support when it comes to the live shows or the pop-up shops and stuff like that. There’s all these subcultures and sub-communities and all groups of friends that are really active together, and that’s what a “scene” is. That’s what it’s all about, y’know what I mean?
I know you’re a huge Oasis fan. How do you think being such a hardcore music fan affected your connection to music and how you built your career?
I feel like guys like Oasis and Joy Division or Stone Roses, these types of bands… they came up in the same type of houses I came up in, same types of people, same type of life. Coming up with the governments that we had and still continue to have. Britain was a hard place, especially for a guy from the council estate and whatnot. It’s a hard place to prosper and do stuff, so when you see guys from the same place as you doing well, prospering, selling out shows on the road, going multi-multi-platinum, winning award after award, and then giving back to the community and making a place somewhere better for everyone else… that was inspiring. That’s just something that stuck with me forever.
Who are some current artists inspiring you right now? What’s an album that we should listen to that you’d recommend?
Right now, I don’t really — I’m finding it hard to find time to listen to rock n roll bands. I always have the guys I like, like The Blossoms from Manchester, or The Blinders, City Lights, Evergreen. But also at the moment, I’m listening to hip hop as well. UK drill music, an artist called Digga D and an artist called DigDat. The UK drill scene is really cool and exciting at the minute. So I’m listening to a lot of that. Also a lot of classics like Oasis, Stone Roses… they can never come out of the collection.
The UK always seems to inform what’s going to happen in Canada a year from now. So I always like keeping track of what’s going on over there cause I know it’ll eventually make its way over here, and I’ll already know about it.
To be honest as well, I think it’s starting to be a two way street. Toronto’s bringing so much to the table now as far as culture, image, fashion, sound and lifestyle. They’re bringing so much to the table themselves and the rest of the world is starting to follow suit with Toronto. It’s hand in hand now. I learned a lot here about music, stuff I can do with my songs or fashion. A lot of people in the past did definitely take influence from England all over the world. I feel now that Toronto is definitely contributing their part of the sauce.
It’s kind of nice that we’re finally a player on the chessboard. We’re actually influencing now. So what’s next for you this year?
We’ve got a 19 day tour going across Canada to see all the great people. Super looking forward to it. Keeping a healthy body and mind for tour, working on new music all the time. Yeah man, that’s it. Just keep rock n rollin’, innit?