By Annya Pabial
Drum and bass and grime artist MC Trigga, aka Tundy Smith, gave an insightful talk on his experiences in the music industry at Manchester Met, as part of the ongoing Home Festival.
Keen students welcomed the MC to the university and listened intently as he spoke about the highs and lows of his life. Trigga opened by discussing about how he first made his name known in the drum and bass scene by speaking on a pirate radio show, playing his own music alongside other tracks from upcoming artists. At the same time, he was performing in various clubs around Manchester in a further effort to get his name out there. As he produced more songs, his name grew and soon many people in Manchester, Bradford and Leicester knew who he was.
Soon afterwards, however, Trigga was caught in a gang shooting and was shot twice in the back and in the head, resulting in the loss of one of his eyes. He recounted the months spent in depression and the anxiety he suffered after his injury, having lost all motivation and confidence in making his music. While it was an impossibly hard time, he spoke about how he realised he couldn’t spend the rest of his life feeling that way and so started to emcee again. “In 2002, I was at the Commonwealth Games, I represented Queen and country,” he told the audience. “But in 1998, I was laying on my deathbed.”
It was clear to see how passionately grateful Trigga is to everything music has done for him: “Without music, I can tell you 95% sure that I would be dead or in jail. It gave me a place to vent and gave me that headspace.”
To the aspiring musicians in attendance, he imparted considered advice: “You’ll be told ‘no’ a million times so you gotta fail. You’ve got to be willing to fail in anything you’re doing.”
Finding and helping new artists is something Trigga is incredibly enthusiastic and diligent about: “This is what it’s about, me being here looking to grow people.”
Trigga is also very active in growing Manchester’s resources for the underground and rap scene as a whole by working on establishing more agents, managers and music lawyers in the city so that artists don’t have to travel to London to create music. He is also working on introducing something similar to Charlie Sloth’s ‘Fire In The Booth’ in Media City, called ‘The Voice of the North’, in which forthcoming artists will be exposed to the general public. He said, “It’s coming together nicely but it’s just a matter of time. It’s all about getting the right people in the right seats.”
It was abundantly clear that Manchester is of great importance to Trigga: “People ask if Manchester is a northern powerhouse; I believe it is. It has been from the get go […] It’s producing power. It’s creating stars and has been from the indie and rock days.”
Along with finding the next grime stars, Trigga also helps out at various youth clubs around Manchester to help teenagers to develop their musical skills as part of a government funded project.
The artist also mentioned that he is nearing completion of his autobiography, having already written 98,000 words in the space of two years, working on the project intermittently between his other commitments. Aiming for a total of 120,000 words, he seemed very eager to publish it to further give insight and encouragement to young individuals looking to make a name for themselves.
Towards the end of the talk, Trigga spoke on the stereotypes, misconceptions and often harmful connotations that comes with rap and underground music as a whole and how they affect both artists and the wider public. For him, producing a type of music doesn’t necessarily mean you adhere to the lyrics you write, and that they aren’t necessarily reflective of your actual personality: “I don’t think music has ever had that intention, it’s there to gas you up, give you energy and a vibe.”
Trigga was very well received by the students and staff in attendance, and left them with an optimistic and encouraging message that seemed to resonate with everyone: “It’s my scene forever. I love it. It gives me the most energy.”