The Simple Things: Jeshi and Kelvin Krash talk honesty, technology & politics
Though ‘Electric’ isn’t on the LP, the blistering, energy-fuelled track driven by Jeshi’s potent lyricism gives another window into the pair’s singular skills as musicians. As irony would have it, when they were in the studio writing it Kelvin said it conjured up an image of Top Boy – low and behold it earns a sync in the fourth season of the series.
Taking it back a few years, it was 2020 when Jeshi broke on to the scene with his Bad Taste EP. He’s since gone on to work with the likes of slowthai, Celeste & Vegyn, haver his music featured in the Chanel Cruise Show, and now he’s exploring more collaborations on his LP and, of course, with Kelvin.
‘Electric’ is not the only tune Jeshi and Kelvin have worked on together though. Back in 2021 the pair released ‘Sick’ – a track about being in a vicious cycle of self-destruction – which, just like this new single came complete with a stirring, visceral visual accompaniment.
It’s no wonder really, Kelvin comes from a film background and his productions have that cinematic quality too. This knack for crafting beats that stick with you long after the song cuts has led him to work on scores for brands like A-COLD-WALL*, Louis Vuitton, Diesel, and Beats by Dre, and most notably with rappers like Playboi Carti, Giggs, A$AP Rocky & slowthai – joining the latter two artists on tour.
After the release of ‘Electric’ the pair got together to talk through their collaborative work, the importance of visual, technology’s influence on younger people and the need for more honesty in the world…
Jeshi: How are you doing, Krash? How’s life?
Krash: Things are happening in the world now. I guess things feel a little bit normal.
I feel like every week something is happening. People just can’t wait to do stuff. Especially in the music world. It felt a little slow before.
I feel there’s almost a little domino effect happening within music where one artist is dropping that sparks the “okay” to release music.
J: Yeah. No one wanted to drop because people were scared, now it’s kind of like working in the opposite way, when you see everyone going for it, it makes you want to go and not sit around on your ass.
K: Yeah. Also, as musicians, we kind of need to reflect what’s going on in the world and if nobody’s doing anything, it’s kind of hard to talk about nothing.
J: Especially in lockdown, you are sitting at home trying to write things that are interesting and things that are going to speak to people. But if there’s nothing interesting going on in your life. As you said, there’s nothing to feed off, which is hard. Now everything’s back on, which is good. What are you looking forward to now that everything’s back? Is there anything you’re looking forward to? Shit that you’re doing or life stuff in general?
K: Yeah. I’m looking forward to releasing all the music I’ve been making for the past few years. It doesn’t feel like a lot of time since the pandemic started. A lot of things in my hard drive just need to come out. So I’m excited to put out a lot of music. How about you?
J: Man. You spend so much time sitting around working on your stuff it’s such a good feeling to get it out in the world. I think it’s a beautiful thing where you have to release something that’s your baby in a way, and then it’s not yours anymore. It’s everyone that it belongs to. Up until that last minute, before I drop something, I’m always in my head thinking I should change this, or maybe I should change that. And I think when that just gets removed and the options taken away it’s so freeing… So I’m looking forward to putting this album out and, I don’t know, just making more stuff. Once I’ve done something I just want to completely tear that up and just go and do something that feels completely new and exciting.
I don’t want to make the same thing again. I’ve done that now. I’m just super excited about whatever the next phase is now. I don’t know what that is, man, but it might be my country album haha. Who knows?
You’ve put out a lot of stuff that I love. Out of all the shit you’ve done, what are you most proud of?
K: Thing that I’m most proud of? Recently?
J: Yeah, anything ever in your fucking life haha. Nah, let’s keep it music, keep it recent.
K: I’m really happy that this song came out the way that it did because it was just natural. We made it, we liked it and we just held it and then it was placed perfectly in Top Boy. I always thought the song sounded like Top Boy. It might sound like “oh yeah you’re only saying that because it’s in the series” but it always sounded like that to me so when it was time to send off some music that was like the top choice. A no brainer but it just reminded me of when I saw the first series and where I was at in my life.
I wasn’t really making music for a living. I was just like, oh Top Boy is sick. But I made beats for fun. I always thought I could do something in that show, just talking big. But never really saw it happening. Now that it’s happened, it’s just kind of like, oh yeah, this is cool. But sometimes you have to realise and step back and be like, “wow, I actually kind of really wanted this to happen”. I dreamed something like this would happen. It’s a show that we all saw that resonated with a lot of people. I don’t think we’ve kind of had that before. There’s been other attempts and stuff, but it’s never been this good.
J: Some of the other attempts to kind of portray that side of London, I think sometimes it just feels a little bit distasteful and just like it almost takes people in that environment and paints them in this inhumane way. What I love about it and something I think about a lot is that people who are not from that world at all can form a really good emotional connection when they watch that show. They see that these people are just people like everyone else. They care about their family, they try to look after their people and it’s no different. It don’t paint people like monsters.
Getting your song synced is sick but I think it always means more when it has significance to our lives. When you’re young, you think “what are the things you’d love to get your song in? Like Top Boy or GTA haha.”
It’s like those things where, I was eleven years old and I would have wished this would have happened. For it to actually happen?! It’s easy for the magic to wear away from things as you get older once you’ve seen things and had experiences. But as you said, it’s important to step back and be like, this is actually mad.
I think it’s interesting you saying it made it that it made you think of Top Boy straightaway, because for me it wasn’t really going through my mind. I just remember being in the studio, just making it and thinking “oh my God, this is so hard”. I think that’s all that was going through my head.
J: People probably wouldn’t know that it was actually the first time that we linked or made anything. We linked at your studio and we did a couple of songs and we were happy with them. I mean, it’s always hard when you link someone for the first time and it can be quite hit or miss because it’s this weird thing where you’re not even really friends like that yet. When you click that’s always a fucking blessing because you can actually get in and it can kind of be effortless. Sometimes it’s like you’ve got to try so hard to make it that. But no, that was a good day. “Electric” was the last one we made that session, and I’m just happy we didn’t call it a day after the first two.
K: Yeah, me too. One thing I always do in a session, especially if I’ve never done a session with someone. I’ll always try to make the most of it because I feel like I failed otherwise. I need something good to come out, especially the first thing you make. I think “can we just make one good song first?” so we could just kind of just not be so tense.
J: I have another question for you, I remember another song that we did called ‘Sick’. I remember when we made that you had a different film in mind. I’d never even watched the film before. But you were like, this track just reminds me of this movie Harry Brown.
K: Yeah! I’m from a film background. I started out making videos when I was 16. That’s how I knew a lot of people that took me down different paths. When I started doing music, a lot of them were people that I could call on and that then led to other things. The film stuff really opened the creative door for me where I could talk to a lot of people who had clothing brands or were musicians etc. It just opened up a lot of doors. Back in the day, everyone used to say a guy with a camera in the ends could go anywhere and be ok. If you have a camera, it’s always going to be blessed.
But that’s kind of like the approach I have when listening to music as well. I’d like to visualize what the song could be and if it’s not really giving me something, it’s not as special to me because most of the time something will give me some sort of visual spark. Some people say they see colours, but I tend to see something reminiscent of a visual or film. “you’ve got to soundtrack the movie, man”. My style is usually cinematic as well. You man! Your videos are crazy. Like it’s hand in hand, man. An artist who has good visuals can never go wrong. How are they important in your work?
J: I think visuals in general are so important on two levels. For as long as I can remember, when people listen to my music, what people always say is that the way I write is really visual. I think that’s important with words and with production to be able to illustrate a world where people can see what you’re talking about, they could see a space and you don’t have to show them.
What I love about those songs making you think of Top Boy or of Harry Brown is like, both of these are like British movies based in London, which is where we’re from and how it should feel. Not like a sunny day in LA or some shit. I want the shit that we make to feel like where we’re from and feel like what it looks like when I look out my window and through my mind.
I think your film background also paid off massively in the video we did for Electric too.
K: Yes. I’ve always wanted to shoot a video like this, with tower blocks and stuff like that.
J: Why not? We were blessed enough for you to have a camera where we could just go out at one in the morning or whatever, just running around like shooting stuff for it.
K: I need to ask you questions. What the hell is going on? Haha. What’s the hardest song you’ve had to make and why?
J: There’s probably like a bit of a cheap answer, but I think any song that was hard to make, I never finished making. I make music because I love it before anything like, yeah, it is a job, but to me that’s not what it is at all. I do it because I love it and have something to say. So I need to be loving what I’m doing. I think when it gets to the end when it gets to mixing and mastering you know it can be quite tedious but when we’re in the room creating, I don’t think it should feel hard. It’s like you’re in a room with good people. You should be doing what feels good.
K: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. We’ve collaborated a lot. What’s your favourite track we’ve made together?
J: Right now I would say Electric. I think it’s exciting when you first get something out in the world, you see it resonating with people and just seeing it connect gives me a whole new sense of appreciation for it.
K: Yeah, it was just sitting on the computers from how long ago?
J: Things get a new life. When they’re out in this world, people are playing them and it’s on TV and all this different shit. It just makes it feel ‘no pun intended’ electric. Whenever we link up, I feel like we do good shit. What I’m looking forward to is a shit we will make in the future. I feel like now, especially out of the rut of being stuck inside and getting this out it’s time to go super saiyan.
K: What’s one thing you want people to take away from your upcoming album ‘Universal Credit’ and why?
J: I think the biggest thing for me to take away is that “it’s okay to be broke”. I think sometimes people are stigmatised so much for not being where they want to be in life yet or needing help. Especially because of the internet and social media. Like, people just look at that shit and think they need to be where they want to be right this second. If they’re not, then they think they’re worthless. I think it’s about normalising life’s struggles and not always being okay. We ain’t always got some overnight journey to happiness or success. A lot of the time it’s a rough road. I think that’s what I want to show you.
J: Let me ask you something, bro. You’ve got an insane number of Reddit threads about you. Do you read them?
K: Okay, so I’ve been told by my manager about a few of them.
J: Oh, really? What are people talking about?
K: I checked them out and they’re talking about tracks I’ve made and just talking about me. It was kind of weird in the beginning because I wasn’t really used to that stuff. No one really did that before. I mean, if you google me it’s probably just my Instagram and stuff that comes up. One thing that popped up a few times was they were trying to deliberate what sounds I used for certain tracks. They were like, “does anybody know what synths he used here?” I was like “this is crazy”! Like you guys are really having a whole conversation about what it could be. I’m just sitting there like, no, that’s wrong and that’s wrong haha.
J: Haha but that is sick though, that people really care. It’s easy to like something on Instagram or whatever because it’s just there you don’t have to really do much. But I like that people actually go out of their way to find out something or show love.
K: It’s really nice to see that there’s some kids out there who are just excited about stuff that I’m doing. I kind of saw that and it made me want to engage with whoever was out there. I requested that somebody create a discord for me so we can have a little community where we can just talk about things, you know what I mean? Like if there’s something that I’ve released, they could just talk directly to me or talk amongst themselves.
J: What is discord like? Because I’m out of the loop. Is it just like a space where everyone can be in?
K: It’s like a community, a private forum. Anyone can have a discord just talking about “Jeshi” for example.
It’s on a topic, then there’ll be subtopics. So there’ll be “music”, “news”, “music releases”, just different things to do with that topic. And then the people will just be in there talking about it all day. But I think it’s important to engage with people like even on Reddit. These are people who are going to go to your shows, support your stuff, be on your socials and watch your videos. I think it’s really important to scour the Internet on all these random sites. If anybody is talking about you, it’s good to engage with them because they are human beings behind the computer. It’s really cool to see people caring enough to have a conversation about stuff that you do.
J: Yeah. I think it is so important if people fucking go out of their way or just even want to let you know that what you’re doing is important to them. I always have time for them. It’s all good having a million plays or ever, but that’s just numbers on the screen. I think sometimes that almost makes you forget that these are real people who really like what you’re doing or this means something to them. I’m we can be out doing shows again it’s so nice when you actually can meet these people in real life and actually chat to them. I think it’s important to always just take the time just to talk to people.
K: You’re a super honest artist and your music has been especially honest recently, especially with regards subject matter and delivery. Why is it important to you?
J: I think it’s like an epiphany I had at the end of 2020. I had all these grand ideas in my head of like, what was going to happen and what it was going to do. Long story short, things didn’t go how I thought they were going to. So I sat down and I really examined everything I was doing and I thought about for me as a listener, like what I like to hear and who I love and what I love about them. I think sometimes I was going 5% under the layer of who I am as a person and it’s not something you really do consciously, you just make stuff and it’s just like fun. But after that I thought, no, actually, I owe it to myself and I owe it to people who are listening to really give you as much of myself through the music and through everything I’m doing as possible. It’s the only thing I can give you that no one else can.
That’s something that’s always on my mind now. Most of my favourite artists have done that. I spent so much time listening to them. It’s like you feel like you know them because they’re giving up so much of themselves through it, which that’s the kind of shit I love. So that’s the kind of thing that I want to bring to the world.
K: As you should.
J: What do you think the world needs more of?
K: Honesty, at this point. Because we have so many outlets available at our fingertips that have been pushing us to paint this inaccurate image of what our lives actually are. It’s very uncool to show what your life actually is. Most people aren’t living a life which is visually pleasing for people to enjoy. It’s kind of a crazy thing to say. Our lives should just be our lives. Whatever we feel is important to us or what we love. That’s for us to decide, not for us to put on, for people to be appeased by, you know what I mean? And I feel like a lot of people aren’t honest because people don’t want to see honest things. People want to see things which they like.
But that’s not reality for most people. So honesty, I think, leads to more positive things, being good to people or trying to help others who would need it. People being honest about their situations and not lying about their lives, you know what I mean? It’s just like honesty. And I’m speaking specifically for a younger generation. I mean, growing up, I had a pretty honest childhood. I would go outside, play football or ride my bike with my mates, just do young stuff. But now everybody wants to go shopping and spend thousands of pounds. The most I would ever spend in a shop was like £110 on a pair of Air Maxes if I could get them.
J: And even though I was not spending a million pounds and it felt like you’re spending a million pounds.
K: Kids are getting shit that cost way more than I was getting when I was a kid. And they don’t really care about it that much because it’s not enough, because it’s going to be something else that comes out next week, the next Jordan, or like, the next luxury brand that drops another collection and it’s like, “oh, my God, I need that”. It’s just never ending. And it’s like your life can’t afford this, you know what I mean? So I want more honesty in the world.
J: That’s the thing everyone these days are trying to keep up to. Just unattainable things. People can never feel good because there’s always someone they’re looking up to who has more or is doing better. So people just aren’t ever satisfied. I just think we just all have too much information all the time, which is a good thing in some regards. I think sometimes, especially for young people it can be damaging. When I was young, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know what was going on in the world. I didn’t know anything beyond the two mile radius of where I lived and what my friend was doing that evening. Just playing football with my friends, running around causing trouble, my mum will be ringing me to be home on time I’d be running around on top of garages. I didn’t know anything and I didn’t really care. And I think that’s what being young should be. But nowadays you’re bombarded with information as soon as you’re like 10/11, you know everything. You’re looking at what people are doing and how perfect their lives are and it makes yours feel so insignificant.
I’m happy that when I was younger, the most advanced thing I had was that Sony Ericson and I used to shake it and the song would change. I felt like I had the most advanced technological thing ever. Just the fact that it could have music on it was so good. Nowadays it’s like nothing.
K: You know what I’m going to get? An Ipod.
It’s so good just to have a device with over 10,000 songs. It’s still crazy. Who has over 10,000 songs on their iPhone, bro.
J: That don’t even mean anything to people anymore they’ll be like, well, so what if it could have 10,000 songs? I can listen to any song in the world right now. What I think was better pre-streaming is you actually had to make a bit of effort to get the songs.
K: Yeah, it’s too easy. And I think you kind of take it for granted sometimes. I don’t want to be on the Internet to do things. I might not want to go on my phone or the computer, but because everything is there, you’re kind of just forced to do it. And I like separating certain things in my life from my phone and stuff. I don’t like being on there because I’m already on there quite a lot. So when I do want to just be at home and just kind of clean up and just do regular stuff, I don’t want to have to still be on my computer just to play music.
J: I remember, like running to HMV and getting CDs, being so excited, ripping open, going through the book and you’re putting it on and you are sitting there and listening. There’s no distraction. That’s it. You’re looking and you’re listening. And now that doesn’t really exist. If you care, you still will. But it’s hard, even for me. I’m someone who tries to make the effort of listening to things properly, but you’ll be listening to something then you get a tex or call and the music stops. Then by the time you get off, you’re all distracted. You forgot what you were even doing that start doing something else and that immersive moment just kind of gets ruined
K: Honestly, when you’d like an artist, You’d go to the store and buy their album. Go through everything, read all the credits and be like, oh, my God, that person played violin on that track.
K: Okay, question for you. One thing you do as Prime Minister and why.
J: If I was a Prime Minister, I would get rid of the lot of them, myself included. The whole system is just fucked up. I wouldn’t want to be a Prime Minister. It’s ridiculous. Sometimes I’m at home and sometimes I put on the House of Commons just for entertainment, it blows my mind that it’s real when they’re all there arguing and shouting at each other like, a GCSE debate Club or something. Crazy that this is actually the people who our lives are in the hands of. It’s mind blowing and it’s like, I don’t think it’s just here. I think the world, it’s like all these things are based on these super systems and they’ve never been revamped for the modern world. A load of people sitting in a room who have no relation to a lot of normal people. They don’t understand what people are going through, but we expect them to represent us.
K: Yeah. I mean, you could say that not even just for this Prime Minister but for a lot of leaders in the world.
It’s been the same sort of infrastructure for the longest. You can see when there’s discrepancies in a country with the younger generation and how those old infrastructures just don’t work as efficiently today. It’s just really hard for our generation to communicate with the older generation because they just don’t want to understand that things are not the same as they were before. We have so much technology, we have different ways of living now, and those systems are pretty much expired, man. We have to have more one to one contact and conversations to understand each other.
J: There’s nothing human about it. We’re in the future in so many ways, but it’s like when you look at this system of like, the red team and the blue team and it’s like everyone has to pick a side, and a lot of times none of these people are right but it all becomes this thing of this tribalism of what side am I on and what side are you on? It’s never actually a conversation about what’s best for people and all that happens is we suffer because of this constant political battle. It’s never really about the people, unfortunately.
K: Anyway. This is the world.
J: What would you do if you were Prime Minister?
K: If I was Prime Minister, I would listen to the kids, bro.
J: Yeah. That is the perfect note to end on. That’s good.
Electric is out now to stream. Photo credit: Ellis Earl.