There are 17 obvious reasons slowthai's debut album was just nominated for this year's Mercury Prize. Each track on Nothing Great About Britain is worthy of some kind of award – Best Use of a Glue Sniffing Sample for "Doorman", Literally the Best Song of the Year for "Toaster" – so it makes sense that, combined as a one whole lairy, snarling body of work, they got the nod.
Last week, Sonos held an event in Soho where they broke that latter tune down into all its composite parts – drums, vocals, guitar, those beautiful pitched-up vocals that throb out behind the chorus – and played each through a glowing statue that pulsated in time with the music. Guests could then walk between each structure and hear every element of "Toaster" close up.
Once I'd done that myself, I had a chat with slowthai about growing up in Northampton, as part of our 'Share Location' series.
VICE: What's the worst job you've ever had?
Slowthai: Working as a labourer. I was shovelling cement for fucking £20 a day and coming home feeling like a wreck.
When was your first snog?
I remember I kissed Stephanie K in the bushes at lower school. There was a little climbing frame and one of those big trees that looks like a Christmas tree – it was bare tall. I was kissing every girl up in there. I was relentless in lower school – I was playing kiss chase and I was getting chased by gal. That's not even a joke – I would be like, "Argh," running, like, "Leave me alone, I don't wanna kiss you!" And they're like, "Come on!" and they grab me. That was in, like, Year 1.
Year 1's when you're like six?
I snogged a girl when I was six. You know what, it freaked me out, 'cos the girl kissed me with tongue. I was a weird kid as well – I was proper boukie. There was this girl called Paige, and this other girl who moved here from China, and we used to play Dragon Ball Z, and then the girls would want to play unicorns. I'm playing as [DBZ character Goku] and they're kiss-chasing me as unicorns, and I'm like, "Kamehameha!" and they're still chasing me, and I'm like, "You've got to fall and die!"
What's your go-to date spot?
I like to keep it interesting, so I always go to a different date spot. I go for a walk, I do different things. If you do the same thing with every person you meet, you're a bit of a sleazeball, because if it didn't work out the first time, why are you gonna go and do the same thing the second? I think a lot of people are shallow and they just want to fuck you anyway.
Can you remember your first time smoking weed?
My first time smoking weed was outside Lings [estate, Northampton] shop and all of my elders giving me what they call a blow-back. So they put the cherry in their mouth and then they flip it around so the roach is out, and then they cup their hands and you just breathe in all the devil's smoke. Then I did a bucket and I whiteyed.
Where did you first live when you moved out of home?
I first lived in a flat with my mate Billy and my mate Raff. It was a one bedroom flat, so we had to variate every day – one day someone would get the bed, the other person would get the sofa and the other person would get the floor. Then we'd all switch. I'd sofa surf a lot; I'd go and sleep at Jack's – Squidgy Black, I call him in "Polaroid". Just anywhere, bruv. I'd do all-nighters… I've always been one of those people that, if I had nowhere to go, it wouldn't bother me because I'd just roll around, look for a way to make money and then I'd get a hotel.
Talking of money, do you remember the first thing you were given for free because of your newfound fame?
I tell you what the first thing was: weed. Someone gave me weed at a show.
Nah, that doesn't count – that's a shit thing. Everyone gives weed away like it's fucking the plague.
Where was the first place you got served underage?
Oh, thank god it's closed. I got served in the East Midlands District Working Men's Club. You could only get in there if you were a member, and I got in there not a member and I still got served. I also got served at the Goldings [Road] pub.
Did you have a fake ID?
My boys would just open up the back door, and then once you're in there they're not gonna ID you. But I'd be tracksuited up, and that was the time when you couldn't get in there without shoes. So I'd be in there with Air Max 90s and I'd be going up to girls, like, "Rahhh," and they're looking at me like, 'This guy is a kid,' and I'm like, "It doesn't matter – age ain't nothing but a number."
Have you ever been barred from anywhere, pubs or clubs?
I got barred from The Fiddler's on Welly Road [Northampton], I got barred from Balloon Bar [Northampton] because a bottle hit someone on the head and they thought it came from someone I was with.
What's the most memorable tattoo you got in the UK?
The one on my dick. I'm joking – I ain't got one on my dick. The one on my wrist, a music note, because I did that with a girl called Hannah at a house party when I was 15.
Stick and poke?
Stick and poke. We stick and poked it with India ink – it's pretty good.
What's the first thing you stole, if you've ever stolen anything?
This is a lot of incrimination – if I get locked up it'll be a conspiracy, man. I think the first thing I ever stole was a Beyblade, because I couldn't afford them, and every kid at school had them. As soon as I got in yard, I felt that guilty I just dashed it down the side of my bed.
What's your favourite place to play in the UK?
So far, it's either Manchester or Birmingham. No, I tell you what – Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham are all tied.
Because they're all mental and they all understand what it is – and Birmingham is kind of Midlands, so I feel like they've got the same kind of headspace as me.
Have you played Northampton in the last few years?
Yeah, we played this year. When I next play Northampton I'm going to do a festival and make it a big thing – like, a spectacle – because they don't get nothing in Northampton.
Read more from 'Share Location' – where we interview musicians, actors and public figures about growing up in the UK – here.