Loki aka Darren McGarvey is described as “one of Scottish hip-hop’s most admired and imitated voices” who returned back on the scene with new LP “Edging Back God” drawing acclaim earlier this year.
He returns to Inverness as past part of the Church Street Hip Hop Night on the 2nd of November, we managed to ask Loki a few questions ahead of his visit To Mad Hatters.
Your work with and the philosophy behind Volition is inspiring, how is the organisation going?
Volition is slowly getting back on its feet after a difficult transition period. The whole principle is basically put the young people in charge….thus doing myself out of a potential job……so you can imagine this idea is not too popular in the multi million pound community arts sector….where work is outsourced from the community at over inflated prices and often devised and delivered by people who haven’t experienced poverty.
Volition is an attempt to illustrate a new mindset but its also very challenging and I could really do with some help. We have a new group of young people coming in and hopefully will partner with an existing organisation….freeing me up to focus on activities on the ground. My love for it means I could never walk away….even in the toughest of times.
How do you see the Hip Hop culture evolving in Scotland?
Authentic hip hop from Scotland is now considered cool. Artists who seek fame actually mimic what we do now because imitating americans is universally derided by most people. We took hip hop and ran with it. Ironically, I care more now about what people think than I did back then but I think my lack of concern at the time was exactly what was needed. The inner cities are full of young people sharing our music with each other…debating whose verse is good or bad and not just that but also getting into the culture themselves and expressing their ideas. That’s the end game for an underground emcee.
We really helped grow the community and we did it by being completely true and authentic. Its a pleasure to see new artists emerging and I for one won’t be letting my nostalgia get in the way of showing these new artists respect.
Your support for the likes of Hecktor Bizerk and Stanley Odd is well documented, are there any new or emerging acts that have caught your eye?
Hector have probably been the biggest inspiration to me this last while. For me It was a crash course in dealing with envy. They are just so good and my old act simply wasn;t going to cut it anymore….the novelty of a drunk lunatic wears off for most people. I have the utmost admiration for them and their work ethic. They have reminded me of the value of self belief and humility….which life kind of kicked out of me after a while and I became very bitter and unhappy.
Stanley Odd and Hector are the new upper tier of Hip Hop in Scotland and its a relief to know that those 2 will be the first port of call for many new fans. It doesn’t get much better to be honest. As for new artists Stacy Novelist is an exciting prospect, I admire the girls because it’s a lot harder for them I think. Same with Erin Friel. Both are excellent emcees but also beautiful vocalists and great writers. Ciaran MacKay is the best young emcee in the country by a long way in my opinion. That might bruise a few ego’s….deal wae it!
The Skinny described you as “in many ways Scottish hip-hop’s Chairman of the Board”, how do you feel about that label?
Well I wasn’t going to be the treasurer thats for sure! In truth though, I was flattered. To be honest I have lived in a very narrow world for a long time. I have never been truly aware of my influence or standing in the eyes of others coz I have always had a distorted self image. I worked on the assumption that nobody liked me and went on the offensive.
People mistook my cocky tone in raps for confidence and bullishness, but I rapped like that before I had even achieved anything…because thats what hip hop to me sounded like growing up…it never dawned on me that a lot of other emcees would grow to resent me…I always assumed they’d understand it was part of my facade, but we were all young men and eventually egos clash.. Truth is…I have always felt like a struggling underground emcee…fiercely competing.
Now my perspective is a little more in line with reality. I see now that I’m one of the biggest artists in Hip Hop up here and that there’s no need for me to keep asserting myself or ramming my talents down other peoples throats. Oddly enough, I have become everything I always wanted to be..my aspirations have always been more humble than my rap persona. I just wanted to be the best underground emcee in Glasgow when I was a kid .
Rap was the first time I ever felt I had any power in my life….. and I got drunk on the tiny little bit of power I thought I had. Massive ego…..no self esteem. Other rappers hide it better than I ever could. Things are different now. I’ve learned that recognition is worthless unless you value yourself as a person. Now I try to let compliments go to my heart and not my head but I’ll always have a competitive spirit.
How important was your latest release ‘Edging God Out’ and it’s reception to you?
It was extremely important. Each song is a journey of its own into a specific point of time….trying to capture exactly how I felt. My views on life, hip hop, politics, love and obviously my addiction….all poured into this one work. I know its too long and i know some songs could have been left off….but it was a very personal project for me outwith music. For me it was important to remind myself of who I am and what I believe…not as a rapper but as a man.
I aspire to be honest with myself in my music and I hope listeners got that when they listened. It was a release strictly for the hip hop community who know me. Now I’m focused on finding new forums for my art while staying true to myself and the art form. My horizons are broadening…and Edging God Out was simply me tying up the loose ends before I go nuclear.
You can buy Edging God Out through Bandcamp.
With your strong political views and reignited musical career, I guess 2014 is going to be busy for you, what are your plans for next year?
I will release a new album in the first quarter and then push it all the way up to the referendum. My album is dealing with the question of independence in ways you may not have heard yet. Songs that take place at dinner parties…songs that take place in a possible future. Maybe I’ll write Tommy Sheridan’s obituary….on this record. Who knows? Point is….Im 100 percent focused on presentng the debate in an engaging, but challenging and entertaining way. If everyone likes it…..I haven;t done my job as an artist.
I want to fulfil the promise I showed in my early years and I have a lot to prove to myself and I hope this shows in the new music. I’ve been at a disadvantage the past year because getting sober has meant less live shows….so I decided just to really up my song writing game as I can devote time to that while I adjust to my new lifestyle. Now though, I think I’m finally ready to get out there, like a completely new person. I have never worked so hard at writing in all of my life, nor has it ever been as satisfying.
Your trip to Inverness sees you joined by quite an array of talent, is there any of the acts you are particularly looking forward to seeing?
Rebecca Wallace is probably my favorite scottish artist and has been for a long time. I actually first seen her in Inverness in 2009. She literally blew me away and I’m still recovering from it to this very day. Her songs are so well written and she has a real keen ear for harmonies. Her music makes me think about love in a more forgiving way. Scotland’s best kept secret if you ask me. Also looking forward to hanging out with Gasp away from the home turf. It’ll be nice to get out of Glasgow for a couple of nights.
Shout outs to Butterscotch from the Wall of Ding. See you at the gig.
You can catch up with Loki on his website and of course at Mad Hatters on the 1st of November where he will be joined by Damaged Goodz and more.