Hannah George | 15/08/2023
HATC joins up-and-coming underground rap trio Insincere as they tell us about how they have navigated the music scene as young artists, especially in an age so driven by external validation and social media algorithms that are dictating the way music is being made in 2023.
Insincere found an audience through teasing their first studio single, "Angels Don’t Fuck", on Tik Tok, which went viral last year in anticipation of its release in February 2022. Since then, the trio have continued to create music with their latest release, "Painkiller", which, too, has been a great success for them.
Sitting in a busy coffee shop at the heart of Notting Hill, I sat with the trio to chat about how they have navigated the music industry as young artists. Wanting to know more about how this trio formed, I opened up the interview by asking them precisely, ‘What is your origin story?’
Alex- “It started with me and Orlando. We had to do a project in school, so I want to make a song, then Grace heard about it because he did poetry and wanted to join.”
Orlando: “We all went to the same school in London.”
How has growing up in London influenced your music?
Grace: “I think quite a lot, mainly just the whole culture of being a kid in London, and secondly, in terms of music, the underground scene, getting involved in that and going to many gigs has inspired us.”
What have these influences been regarding? Drawing inspiration from other artists?
Alex: “I found a lot of random inspiration online, but mostly a lot of American music, more 90s music, but then I started listening more to the London underground music scene.”
Grace: “Yeah, we were never fully involved in the scene, which meant we got to listen as fans, which helped us decide where we wanted to go with our music.”
How accessible have you found the underground music scene to be?
Grace: “It's all about your interest; we haven’t networked. It is more about people we already know.”
“Going to the shows of the artists that you like. A friend of mine, the first time I met him, I was at Pirate studio, and then it just became this natural thing building these relationships.”
How has it felt growing up and creating music in this social media age?
Orlando: “Oh, it has affected everything, especially with TikTok, because you are reaching such a live audience, and that’s how everything happened for us, but getting into that cycle of TikTok is a terrible thing to start chasing.”
Grace: “Yeah, we fell into that a bit.”
Alex: “It was in our first year, and we was a toxic relationship with it because no matter the amount of effort or how good it was, it didn’t affect how well it did or how many likes it got.”
Grace: “Loads of good things have come from it, but it kinda got to the point where we would be in the studio and it like this pressure of will this do good on Tik Tok and that should never be part of it."
Alex: “The thing is when it comes to developing artists, you can push money into it not going to do anything, and that’s basically how the TikTok thing works; I just feel like it's (UK music scene) not what it used to be.”
I think many artists have struggled with this in recent years, where everything is driven by short-form content and virality. Having shared their struggles with this social media rat race, Grace mentions “I think we realise we can't just blame the industry for the way things work; you need to be accountable for yourself and do it your way; there's no point worrying about all that shit.”
Orlando: “Yeah, when we started to chase that, we would put all this effort in and think something is amazing, but it wouldn't get the views.”
I think there is this false idea of meritocracy, especially when it comes to creative endeavours, the idea that the more effort and passion you give something, the better it will do. I share this disheartening reality as a fellow creative, and I think it's important to recognise these feelings we have to navigate in such a capital-led time. Insincere have a way of reclaiming integrity in their work by working through these feelings, stating ...
Orlando: “I think going through this time where we are making mistakes, we aren't chasing this thing anymore because it felt disconnected from who we are as musicians.”
Grace: “It is also about understanding where your validation comes from; you must have faith in yourself first. I don’t want to focus on the content; we are artists. That’s what we do; that’s not what an artist is.”
Orlando: “I want to reach a point where the external validation doesn’t matter.”
How has your creative process changed from creating that first song together in school to now?
Alex: “Different bits, especially per year, have different jumps. We first started out using garage band (laughter) and just tried to master producing, and there was this gap where we stopped creating. Still, when we came back together, we just kept making music, not understanding what we were making but making it regardless, and when we finished school. One of them was "Angels"; we still didn’t know what we wanted to do. We just knew we wanted to make music, and it hasn’t been until the last year we have created a tactic more.”
Orlando: “At this point, we started out creating music for fun, which was just pure, and I want to get back to that. We are getting back to that because we lost that; I want to get back to that place where, like, you have no idea what's going to happen with the music, whether it's going to blow up or if it's just going to be for us.”
Alex: “It's about getting back to where we started.”
What has been the most stand-out moment of your time as a band so far?
Orlando: “ I enjoyed Royal Albert; that was the first time we ever performed.”
Alex: “It was just like producing and having that first session in the studio. It was like being a kid in a sweet shop; that’s when I was also like, wow, I'm here. I'm being given this space to create in this big studio. It was so cool, and that’s also when we made our favourite song.”
It was a pleasure to talk to this inspiring trio and become enlightened about how it has been for younger up-and-coming artists to insert themselves in the UK music scene in this social media era; I think their takeaway from this experience is grounding, restoring integrity in their music and seeking that passion to create removed from external validation is utterly inspiring and we look forward to seeing where this trio go.
Photographer Eli Wing
Styling Alice Gee
Assistant Umbreen Rajah
Assistant Hannah George