Emo’s New Wave: Crim

Ireland may feel like an unlikely place for a burgeoning new wave emo scene to blossom, but Crim is reimagining the transatlantic slurs and smoke-fuelled trap of Peep and Ski Mask The Slump God through a metal lens.

Pre-pandemic Belfast experienced – for the first time in its history – live performances from a selection of internet-aged inspired artists searching for an artistic outlet for their most intimate thoughts and feelings.

Out of all of the artists to come through in this sub-genre surge, Crim – for me – has the most refined sound. His aesthetic, harmonies and vocal arrangement make him incredibly distinctive in a sub-genre were all too often songs and artists can begin to sound the same.

We caught up with the emerging artist to chat about his process, fans singing his lyrics and the need for collaboration.

When did you start making music?

I started making music around five years ago, and I’ve started recording and releasing across the last two. To me, music was more like a release. I wanted to make music to help myself as an outlet, but then as I started releasing music it was to help people who were similar to me and could relate.

When I listen to your music, I feel it’s a lot more refined than others belonging to the same or similar sub-genres. The harmonies and your high-pitched vocals are so distinctive. When did you start growing into your aesthetic?

I a lot of people don’t know this, I made five hundred songs before I ever released one, and not a single one of them was emo. It was all boom bap and trap. When I came to understand the rising underground SoundCloud emo rappers – like Bones and Peep, although I was a lot more X and Ski influenced – it was, like, this is where I want to take music.

Outside of trap I would have listened to a lot of bands like Modern Baseball and Citizen, so I wanted to do that, but make it more rock. From there it was just repetition; trying things I don’t like and really refining it.

That’s what I love about your sound, you can hear the direct influence from those bands.

Those bands have had a huge influence on the music I make, especially vocally. The way I write vocal melodies is a lot more rock than rap.

What has the reception in Belfast been like to your music? I feel people would stereotype Belfast as an unlikely place for this little melting pot of new wave emo artists to happen?

The reception was really surprising to me. I’m very grateful. My music was accepted so quickly. I was dropping tracks with little to no promotion at all and getting around five thousand streams.

I can remember going to the first Collision show, ran by Lewis Shields, and so many people I’d never met were signing my lyrics. That was the turning point for me. If my music can touch a hundred people in this room then I can definitely do it on a bigger scale.

Is that the plan then? Getting bigger and bigger? I know you have a lot of unreleased work, perhaps an album is in the works?

I’ve just been stock piling singles lately. This year, I just want to release consistent music throughout. My producer and I want to grow our fan base; we’re very fortunate to be working with a team now, so we can start planning stuff out.

I know you have collaborated with artists like Nickcantsleep and Cry, is there a focus on creating a scene here or is it just a group of individuals doing their thing?

I feel like there’s not enough collaboration. A lot of the artists have tried to brush over the divide, a divide that has always existed in this Northern Irish scene – that’s why Dublin and South of the border are so far ahead, because they know how to support each other.

There needs to be more collaboration and support here. There’s too much competitiveness here, everyone wants to be better than the next guy. They feel they need to pull others down to pull themselves up, like crabs in a bucket, if you get me?

Drugs & Nicotine (prod. iamlayen) will be released by Crim on March 5th

3rd March 2021