UO X Champion: Meet The Artists
The exclusive Urban Outfitters x Champion collection is here. Shot in Peckham, the campaign features the next generation of upcoming artists who are shaping the London music scene. Meet them, find out what they champion and where to listen to their latest tracks.
Puma Blue is the alias of singer/songwriter, producer & multi-instrumentalist Jacob Allen. From his bedroom in South London, his music has become acclaimed for his darkly poetic lyrics, lo-fi sound and signature warped guitar tone. At live gigs he performs with a four piece band, blending downtown jazz sax with J Dilla influenced-grooves and a heart-wrenching vocal akin to Jeff Buckley and Billie Holiday. In addition to Puma Blue, Jacob also makes music under the monikers Boss Nass (formerly Twisted Loco Nightclub/Butch Slims) and Ruby Bliels, which are focused around hip-hop and ambient/avant-garde music respectively.
Denzel Himself is an interdisciplinary artist from outer-London. His gothic, hardcore, take on hip hop makes him no archetypal rapper, and has elicited plaudits from i-D “the unconventional future star we’ve been waiting for”, Noisey “your new favourite rapper”, Hypebeast “an auteur in every sense of the word” and Wonderland hailed him as “the new face of Punk”. Described as “Dilla’s brain in Manson’s skull”, Denzel has carved his own distinct aesthetic and sound, a result of the synaesthesia he experiences, and an undiagnosed psychological disposition which both skews and intensifies the way he views life and art.
Listen now at https://soundcloud.com/denzelhimself
Benny Mails is a South-London-based artist of restless creativity. Brought up in the midst of London’s grime scene whilst also listening to heroes like Nas on the one hand and the discovery of his family’s funk and jazz records on the other, his early experiences of playing live weren’t that of a typical MC: Benny breakdanced and performed contemporary dance from a young age, with surreal teenage encounters with the likes of b-boy legend Crazy Legs and the Zulu Nation.
What do you champion?
‘Always champion yourself, the world is yours.’
Nilufer is on track for a huge 2018. Her breakout anthem ‘Baby Luv’, was named one of Pitchfork’s songs of 2017 in a year that also saw her surpass 5m Spotify streams, share stages with The xx, Broken Social Scene and Mitski and win praise from The Guardian, The FADER, i-D, Noisey, Nylon and BBC 6 Music. The reasons for her current ascent to success, however, are easy to grasp. Since her 2016 debut EP, Small Crimes, Yanya’s raw, romantic, soulful indie – hailed by the New York Times as full of “mounting intensity” and “devastating hooks”– has grown in ambition, her unique way with sumptuous melodies and evocative poetry constantly sharpening. We caught up with her at the Champion shoot to find out more…
How would you describe your music?
I would describe my music as raw and quite dark I think as well – someone said ‘romantic’ the other day which I really like. It kind of shows the way I was thinking, maybe some of it is a bit away with the fairies. (laughs)
What inspires you?
Pretty much everything – thoughts that I have throughout the day inspire my writing, conversations, names, films, books. When you see a word written down, it can read as something else entirely in a song title, lyric or text – it can have a double meaning. I love that.
Where do you start in your writing process?
I normally start on the guitar. I’ll come up with the melody and then a few words, but only one or two – and then I’ll start to make sense out of that. This then develops and becomes a whole sentence or a phrase, then I build on that really.
When do you feel most like your true self?
That’s a good question. I don’t really know…what is your true self? You never know when you’re really being yourself, I feel like myself now but you can change, it’s always different. Sometimes you just want to go home and be ‘yourself’, but what does that mean? I am who I am so, it’s all part of the journey.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t be afraid, have more fun, everything goes very quickly and it just gets faster. But if you try to enjoy every moment, it lengthens your day, it lengthens your time.
Feeling inspired? Shop the exclusive Urban Outfitters x Champion collection.