An Interview with Figure.09
Figure.09 is a one-man hip-hop, rap and grime artist with routes in the Birmingham Metal scene. He released his latest album Yellow (The Life & Times of Dan Carter) in August 2019 and has been playing shows around Birmingham and building his following ever since.
I caught up with Dan just before doors at the album release show at The Flapper, Birmingham, to chat about all things Figure.09:
Introduce yourself to the readers!
Hello! My name is Figure.09, I am a Birmingham based sadboi grime MC – I guess that’s the best way to describe it. You might know me from No More Pain, I’m sorry if you do.
So, why has it taken so long to put together this release show!?
Honestly, I wanted to get a bit more of a following before I did my first show. I released my first album in 2017 and then didn’t really do much after, I was kinda busy with you know, real life, and other bands and stuff, and then this year I decided I want to take this seriously. So, I released the album, did a few more shows to push that, and then kinda work off the back of that, try to give myself a bit more of a following. I wanted to try and get the best line up possible as well. I really think that tonight’s gig is one of the best line ups in Birmingham, in this year’s history I would say – to me personally anyway. I’ve had a hand in everyone who’s playing tonight. I wanted it not only to be only one of the best environments possible but also make sure that some of the best Birmingham talent is on show as well.
How’s the feedback been about the album so far?
It’s been great! The feedback’s been really decent. The most feedback I’ve had was probably from the Ghost video. I think that that’s been the biggest thing I’ve had and I’m really happy about that because that was me really showing what I was about as an artist. Obviously, the first thing you put out as an artist it what forms people’s initial opinion of you. I wanted people to know that I wasn’t just like a typical kind of “I got money” kinda guy. So, it’s been really good. This is the project that I feel I’ve had the most feedback on, and I’m really happy that people have got a lot of good things to say about it.
What’s been the best show that you’ve done so far?
Gassed Up probably. That was my 3rd Figure.09 show. I was second on, so I wasn’t really expecting much, but the turn out was pretty great and I got a lot of good reception, the crowd was great, I didn’t mess up which was nice. It was just a good atmosphere all around. I think my music does kind of resonate with the hardcore scene because of the themes of mental health and stuff, and the more aggressive songs, so I think it’s a good blend and that’s why it’s gone down so well with the hardcore scene. Obviously I think there’s still things I wanna do and heights I want to achieve, but I’m glad that a scene which isn’t really the most receptive to this kind of music has really taken me in with open arms and I’m really grateful for that.
So, I was told to ask about Skepta?
Basically, I was told he produced a song or something and to ask about that, so I am.
Um, Skepta has not produced one of my songs! One of the first things I ever released was a remix of a Skepta song called “Blacklisted”. That was on my first mixtape album in 2017. That’s one of my favourite Skepta songs so I felt like that was something I wanted to put my own personal stamp on. Skepta is probably one of my biggest influences music wise, he’s always been an artist that never really does what anyone tells him to, he’s just been himself and he’s been a huge success because of it and that’s just one of the most inspirational things to me – and he’s got bad boi rhythms, can’t lie. Many many reload bars.
I was told you’ve got connections.
I’ve met him! But it wasn’t anything like, I don’t have connections to Skepta or anything! I just met him once and he was really sound, we chatted about music for like 5 minutes. He’s a really cool guy, one of the best live shows I’ve seen as well. Also, go and by Grime MC if you haven’t, because JME is sick as well.
Let’s chat about the album – what was the idea behind it as a whole?
So basically, I wanted it to be like, not a concept album, but I wanted it to be a really autobiographical look into my life and how I feel about things. But at the same time, I didn’t want it to be so people might feel alienated, so the concept of the album is that it picks up from Cheshire Cat exactly where Casket left off. A lot of Casket is split apart by skits and people talking and the into to Yellow is the same thing. It’s me, Sam from Baddreams, Chris Kelsall [Loose Ends, Blossom & Burn] and Reece who I recorded the whole album with [Reece Hayden, Bay Ten Studios] having a conversation. So, I wanted to carry on straight from there. Thematically, I think it’s just kind of about finding your place I guess as a human being. Like, all of the different emotional rides you have in day to day life. It’s not all negative, there are some really positive songs on there. I wanted, as the album progressed, for it to get more… what’s the word I’m looking for? Not depressing but... (me: real?) yeah, I guess so because life isn’t all roses. I think a big influence on the album as well was death. The albums name actually comes from yellow roses which are the colour of roses given at a funeral for a suicide victim, so death way definitely a big theme. That was kind of my own way of personal closure. The idea behind the album is just me talking about life, I guess, and just showing off some of my influences be they musical or nerdy or anything else. I don’t talk about things that are fake, the only things I talk about are things that have actually happened to me and things that I see in my life and stuff.
Do you have any favourite tracks to perform?
Um, it’s not one of my favourite tracks on the album but I think Salem Witch Trials is one of my favourite tracks to perform. That song is very influenced by the kinda early 2000s/10s hip-hop – Odd Future and things like that, so that’s one of my personal favourites to perform. Kaiba as well, just because it’s really hype-ey and I can have some fun with it. I like performing Exile as well because it’s a chance to get more serious and people seem to really enjoy that one as well. There are no songs that I really hate performing, other than the longer ones which I’ve tried to abridge tonight. There are some songs on the album – which I’m performing in full tonight – that I’ve not performed live before and I’m feeling a bit apprehensive about that, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
It’ll go great!
Is there an artist/band that you’d love to perform with?
With regards to collaborations, next year  I really want to hit that hard. There are loads of great Birmingham artists at the moment. One guy who I’d love to work with who I’ve performed with in the past is Mayday – he’s someone who’s really helped me realise that you really have to put in as much as you can into music. He’s such a great musician, his passion is great. There’s an artist called Naomi Dawes as well – incredible voice. Sam [Baddreams] as well, again, great voice. But again, I like doing my more aggressive songs, and me and Harry from Blossom & Burn have been talking about doing a song for about a year now so hopefully, that comes into fruition. Really, it’s not that there’s no one in particular that I wan to collab with, it’s just that if I think that we could make a good song together, I would 100% be happy to collaborate.
As far as like, dream collaborations, a song produced by Tyler [Tyler, The Creator] would be incredible. But I try not to have things in place to set goals as. My biggest goal this year was just to do this show, I think next year I’ll have a sit down and think a bit about bucket lists, but definitely want to be doing more collaborations with local artists.
Quickfire: one song as a soundtrack to your life
Probably a song off my album, because that’s about as honest to my life as you can get really. But maybe, Jimmy Eat World – Disintegration because that’s one of the best songs ever written, but I don’t really like Jimmy Eat World. This is so hard! Actually, Manga – Outburst 004. Manga is one of the best slept on grime artists ever and that song really describes how I have felt at a lot of times in my life.
What’s next for you in 2020?
I wanna get the next EP done. I haven’t got anything set in stone, but I’m going to take a bit of time off over the festive season to get that all sorted out. I want to be doing as many live shows as I possibly can, get my rep up, make my network stronger and just take it from there really. The biggest goal is the EP and then doing as many shows as I can. Shows, music and merch as well. With merch, I’ve never wanted to produce it if people weren’t going to buy it, but I feel like I’m in a position now where the will pick up a piece so probably looking at that within the next few months too.
Thanks so much to Dan for talking to me!
If you’re a band, artist, promotion company, record company or even gig photographer (especially local to the Midlands) drop me an email - which you can find on my contact/pr page - or dm me on insta and we can chat about working together!
Thanks for reading!