The sounds of Scuti has been quietly bubbling away throughout the London underground rap scene. Tracks like “Skoowup” and “KitKat” have helped cultivate a small, but loyal fanbase who are obsessed with her unique take on the UK rap sound. Drawing from an eclectic range of sonical and visual influences, her end product is completely unique and distinct from her contemporaries. Scuti is not just focusing on releasing music though; mirroring the attitude of fellow underground pioneers like House of Pharaohs, she has always relished the opportunity to perform live.
From performances at small, intimate venues like Boiler Room and the Green Door Store in Brighton, to gracing the stage at festivals like Reading and Leeds, Scuti has been putting in work across the country. Brighton is just one example of the fruits of her labour; despite being from South London she has truly infiltrated the musical fabric of the seaside town. Every time she steps foot in Brighton, my own home town, she is treated like a local hero. Brighton is a microcosm for her ability to utilise her music as a vehicle to truly connect with people from a range of backgrounds and perspectives.
Taking the pandemic in her stride, the last two years have seen her focus on building up a catalogue of unreleased bangers, ensuring that when the world allowed, she would be able to return with a bang. That time is now. Recently, she’s been extremely busy, with the release of her genre-blending tape Intoxication, and her headline show at the Prince of Peckham. “Eating” is a particular standout off the tape, currently sitting at just over 23,000 views on her own youtube channel.
Off the back of this whirlwind of success, it seemed apt to sit down with Scuti to get the inside scoop on the person behind the music. Catching up on a zoom call, we talked about all things music, her come up, and what to expect from her in 2022.
First of all, is it scuti or skoowup?
“Any! Scuti or Skoowup baby!”
Talk to me about the difference – your twitter handle is Scuti or Skoo – almost seems like two alter egos?
“To be honest, I was making one of my first songs, and I said Skoowup and I just kept it after that. It was actually my dad, my dad started calling me Skoo, so then I was just like call me Scuti or Skoowup, I don’t really care.”
Yeah that’s interesting because that was obviously the inspiration behind “Skoowup” which I think is the track of yours a lot of people know. Do you feel like people are just starting to get tapped into you?
“Obviously i’ve had a bit of a following since “Skoowup” came out, but probably since “Eating” came out, more people are starting to tap in.”
Mad. I saw you’re already on 23k views for that, compared to your other videos it’s doing really well.
“(Laughing) It’s good still. It’s good because I wanted to drop it on a platform like GRM or something, but then I thought let’s just drop it on my own channel and see what happens, so it’s all good.”
It’s interesting you say that, I feel like a lot of people in the UK scene, you could put them in the same group. A lot of them all post on the same channels, all their videos look the same, I feel like you’ve done it in a really interesting way how first of all it’s all on your own channel, and secondly the sound, style, aesthetics, it’s all different. What’s been the inspiration behind coming from that slightly different angle?
“I think it’s just that I wanted to show everyone that I listen to everything. I know as an artist I can make any different type of sound. I know that I make different sounds depending on my mood, and I wanted to introduce that early.
“I think that’s how some artists mess up. They do the thing that everyone likes, and everyone likes them for that, so when they change, it messes up (laughing). And I’m not trynna mess up! My tings solid.”
Is it even possible to put a title or label on your music?
“It’s just me. I always struggle with that question if I’m being honest. I don’t know, it’s me because it’s a result of all the music I listen to, I feed off it all.
“You see when I was younger, and I used to get in trouble. My parents are seeing me do stuff that they used to do. They used to say to me, ‘take the good stuff and leave the bad stuff’. As in take the good stuff, focus on it, and leave the bad stuff. That’s what I now do with music. I take the things that I think good and forget about everything else.”
There’s all sorts of things we could talk about when discussing what makes you unique in this scene, but for me, one that stands out is your distinctly catchy, lazy flow. It sounds like you’re not trying at points, even though I know you are. I was wondering, where does that come from?
“To be honest, I don’t know where I got the flow from, but my earliest memory of it is when I was like ten or eleven, and I recorded some song called “Let’s Get It Started”. I recorded it with my uncle. He would always say to me ‘more energy, more energy’, and my other uncle, the one who manages me now, would always say ‘nah man, she’s got a lazy flow’, and then after that, I was like ‘ok, this lazy flow is a thing’ and I just decided to stick with it.”
Obviously your family and the people around you played a big part in your musical upbringing. Can you talk to me a bit more about that, is your family particularly musical?
“They’re not in the industry, but I grew up in a house with my dad and my uncles, and they used to rap as well. My uncle that manages me now, he used to be on all those pirate radios and shit, so I grew up watching them. They used to just have CDs laying around the house and that. My other uncle, he didn’t use to rap, but he used to play loads of instruments, like he had a drum kit in the house, just smashing up the drums.”
I can imagine with the drums around that probably helped your sense of rhythm when it came to your own music.
“Growing up in the church, there’s a couple members of my family who are pastors, so I’d be going to these conventions where they’re playing music for two hours and that. It was actually good, bare different instruments, it was hard. “
Was music always the goal? Could you have ended up doing something else?
“Nah, I was born for this bro. I was dreaming about this when I was a kid and that. I have other aspirations, but it’s always gone alongside music. I want to use music to do this, music to do that. There’s no life without music.”
Do you think we’re you’re from has played a big part in shaping your music as well?
“I don’t even know you know, because the people who have influenced my music have come from everywhere. Love to them, but most of the people who are in my ends are making the same music as everyone else is making. Even if they’re extra good at it, it’s still the same.
“All the people I like are outside the box. Like my good friend, he calls himself Ryoko Virgin now but most people probably know him as Virgil Hawkins, he was one of the first people that’s from South, who was outside the box that I saw and was like ‘rah you’re actually good, you’re actually making your own lane and it’s actually good, so this stuff is actually tangible’. Instead of every other example I’m seeing, where it’s like you’re just very good, if you get what I mean. Like your bars and that are sick, but it’s still the same music.”
Have you ever been tempted to do that? Stay within the box I mean. Because in my opinion you’ve been making quality music for a while, you haven’t necessarily hit the heights that some people who are less artistically focused have reached in a much shorter period of time. Has there ever been a temptation for you to put out something that you know will do a million views on GRM Daily for example, or something like that?
“If I ever get tempted, I remind myself of what you said – I’m better than these people! It doesn’t matter if it takes me longer to get there, I will get there and stay there. As opposed to me making that song, and then I don’t know what to do afterwards, I would rather have my foundation. That’s why I’ve just been building it up from the bottom up.”
I saw your Boiler Room set from 2019. I always enjoy those sets, how everyone is around the decks, you’re in the middle of everyone. What was that experience like for you? How do you look back on that time?
“I’ll be real, I probably look at that time different to everybody else, because for me, I overcame something. Two of my godbrothers had just died the weekend before, and I had just come from doing Reading and Leeds. Obviously my head is going crazy, I’m thinking I should have taken them to Reading and Leeds, why did I let them go do this, my head was doing all that nonsense. And then I’m also thinking I’ve never done no Boiler Room, they’re coming to see Rushy, they don’t care about no Scuti fam, what the hell.
“I fucked it up still, I can’t lie.”
You really did. As a natural performer, did the pandemic come at the worst possible time for you?
“Literally. It was bad timing, but same time everything happens for a reason. Like I have loads of songs now. I’ve been in the studio every single day for like two years. For example, after “Eating” I want to keep releasing now. Before, I probably would haven’t been able to do that, I would have been too focused trying to figure out which song to use etc. Now I’ve got bare songs to choose from, so it’s like ‘fuck it, I’m just gonna drop next month, I don’t even care.”
I wanted to talk about Intoxication. I thought it was a really interesting drop which blended a lot of genres. One track in particular which stood out was hearing you on drill on “How we do” I was interested in what the thinking behind that was, and what the process of it was as well.
“Ok basically, Cd Beats, or I think it was his manager, sent over a private soundcloud link, and then there were two beats. There was one which was garage mixed drill, and then the “How we do” beat, but it was just a loop at the time. I went and did a session with him, and I was like ‘what would you think if we were to halftime the melody at the verse?’. He did it, thought it sounded cold, and then we just made the tune from there. I met him, he was 17, and I just knew he was going on my tape.”
Do you get involved in the production then? How hands on are you in the studio?
“I’m mad hands on in the studio. I can’t lie, even if you’re another artist and you’re recording, I’m always gonna be like ‘ah nah you need to record that again’. I don’t even think I’m better than you, I just want it to sound the best that it can. Why are you making music for some hobby?”
One guy you’ve been working with who is bubbling away at the moment is Finn Wigan. He’s still pretty underground, but if you know you know. What was it like working with him?
“I don’t actually know who introduced us. I think it was someone called Theo Motive. He’s a DJ, but he also works at my label. I’m pretty sure it was him who linked us up. We were in the studio, I was having a bad day, and my manager, who is usually not in the studio, was at that session. He was like ‘come on skoo, you gotta make at least one song’. I’m proper like ‘fuck him about making a song’, I didn’t care about Finn making music with Backroad Gee, I was in my feelings like ‘who’s Backroad Gee? I’m Scuti” (laughing). I was so vexed that day, I was eating a KitKat, and then I just started writing the song.
I do this thing sometimes, and it’s not all the time to anyone paying attention, where if I’m not really feeling it I say ‘oh I’ll just finish it later’ and then never do. I was gonna just do that, but I sent the snippet to Walkz, and he was like ‘nah bro you have to finish that’. So that’s what made me finish it.”
Mad, Walkz the A&R to the rescue, love it.
“Yeah literally (laughing).”
So those lyrics, ‘why she got an attitude, I think she need a Kit Kat’, was that directly inspired by your own bad mood at the time?
“Nah, I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t know what it was. Sometimes I’m just thinking of my experiences and that. I used to be a bit of a scumbag. I used to have an attitude at all times, that’s where it came from.”
You’ve chosen not to do any collaborations yet – what was the thinking behind this?
“Nothing that’s like out out. Actually, I did a feature on one of Oscar World Peace’s songs, which I think is on his album. I have songs with Jim Legxacy and Virgil, but both are in my circle. That was when we were just dropping on Soundcloud, not really caring if anyone was listening. There’s a couple out there, but you gotta go on Soundcloud and all that. I used to be with a collective called 237, if you watch those old performances, you’ll see a bunch of old songs.”
Outside your close circle, are there any dream collaborations of yours?
I love Yung Fume. Talk to me about that.
“I think he’s cold. He makes me sing with my eyes closed (laughing).”
He’s super cold. He’s another who I don’t think is where he deserves to be based on the work he’s put in.
“They don’t want him to win. It’s bad, but he could make the coldest song, and it would have to be something like he got robbed or something, to make people talk about him, instead of the fact he dropped the coldest track ever. I’m still banging out “Movie”, I don’t even know when that dropped. That song didn’t even get that big, it’s cold I was so confused. Maybe he’s ahead of his time, I don’t know what it is.
“You see if I somehow became a bigger artist than him, I would be making sure if I’m touring, I would want Yung Fume to be there to support. Him and Digga D. If I ever got bigger than him, I would make sure people were tuning in to him.”
Yung Fume obviously did that thing a few years ago where he went out to America and tried to do his thing over there. Would you ever consider doing something like that, or do you think you need to be grounded in London?
“I don’t even care about London or the location ever. What’s important to me right now is that I focus on the fans that I have. Right now, the fans that I have, I have people message me from Russia, Italy, New York is fucking with me heavy. It’s like I would rather focus on the five fans in New York than focus on moving on to more people. Because if those five fans tell ten people that’s fifty people, if those fifty people tell ten people it snowballs, do you get what I mean? It’s more important to build your solidarity with the people who are fucking with you. For example, NorthSideBenjii – he’s from Canada, but he blew over here first.
“If you don’t have fans in London, why are you performing in the o2. Performing to who? It doesn’t make any sense. You should just go where you have fans. That’s what people will always do, just rush and focus on trying to be solid in America. Even if that works, then you gonna try come back to London to tour and it’s gonna be like where are your fans here? You just gotta pay attention to who your fans are and where they are. Especially now, there is technology to help you, even instagram is telling you where people is listening to your music from. All the platforms have algorithms to tell you where your fans are. You don’t need to be forcing it and going to America.”
I feel like traditionally, America was seen as this shiny place, everything is better there. But it’s not necessarily like that. I always say you gotta go where the love is.
“This is why I like Brighton. Every time I go Brighton, they fuck with me. I’m never nervous there, because I know I’m gonna fuck it up.”
What can we expect from you this year?
“Music. Just listen to my music! I feel like because we’ve had two years off almost, there needs to be a hyper focus, so I need to be putting out music all the time. We will then think about other avenues. I’m also going to be doing lots of shows, if you follow my instagram, you’ll be seeing when I’m putting on my shows and that. I’m always getting booked, there’s always shows to come to.”