T8PES, the alias of Jimmy Davis, is an alternative electronic hip hop artist from Birmingham. His forthcoming single ‘Hope & Pray’ is a scathing attack on political apathy, consumerism and privatisation in an increasingly despairing world. We caught up with him to find out more.
I’m taking inspiration from all of those tapes that graced my Walkman and stereo back in the day.
First up, tell us a bit about yourself - what first got you into music?
At junior school I had a real interest in beatboxing, singing and rapping - my nickname being the ‘human jukebox’. My mother owned a very eclectic and diverse CD collection, so my musical education was fantastic and included the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, U2, Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush, amongst many others.
After learning to play drums at 13, I then started singing in bands at secondary school and then DJing at 18, but it wasn’t until I was 21 that I wrote my first song and started to look at music seriously. So a latecomer in some ways.
Were there any particular bands or artists you took inspiration from?
I’ve been inspired by so many artists throughout the years but the ones that stand out are Oasis, The Prodigy, Immortal Technique, Elbow, and Kanye West.
How does the name ‘T8PES’ relate to your style?
So the name (pronounced TAPES) came from the fact that I used to own so many rave tape-packs after being heavily into the jungle/drum & bass and old skool rave scene in the late 90s. I wanted the name and brand to be representative of the sound I’m going for in the music I’m creating, which is heavily influenced by not only those rave pioneers and jungle sounds from that era, but also by so many other styles and eras that have at some point been released on cassette tapes throughout the years.
I’m taking inspiration from all of those tapes that graced my Walkman and stereo back in the day, I guess.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
I’d love to collaborate with Immortal Technique because he’s such a hero of mine. There’s a long list of others but highlights include: Liam Howlett, Sleaford Mods, Kanye, Kate Tempest.
Tell us about your new single ‘Hope & Pray’. What’s it about?
The song is a raw and honest account of what it feels like to be alive in 2019 - witnessing the destruction of the planet, the chaos created by modern day society, and the effect it has on us internally.
I wanted to create a meaningful piece of art that would resonate with people deeply from a social commentary perspective, but that would also encourage people to be honest with themselves about how life and the world makes them feel. I’m trying to impress on the listener that it’s ok to feel like social media impacts our lives negatively, or that our anxiety levels have gone crazy in recent times, or that rampant inequality makes us feel sad and selfish and helpless.
Starting a conversation that might lead to people making positive changes in their lives is the ultimate goal of this song.
When did you write it and where did you record it?
I wrote the music in 2017 and the lyrics at the beginning of 2018, both coming from that higher place of creativity that we can’t explain. I recorded the vocals at The Song Lab in Birmingham with my good friend Jonny Amos who engineered the session, and then did some additional production at my home studio with another friend Adam Evans playing guitar for me. I then sent the track to a wonderful local artist Holly Fitzgerald who vocalled the chorus.
How does ‘Hope & Pray’ build on your previous releases?
The three singles that I released last year were all quite uplifting and feel good tracks, so it felt like the time was right to go a little more in-depth and introspective with this release; give the listener another side to me.
Holly Fitzgerald features on ‘Hope & Pray’. What did they bring to the single?
Holly is such a fantastic artist, she brought those beautifully delicate vocals that the track was crying out for. There’s a very ‘girl next door’ vibe to her vocal on this song, nothing fancy or glamorous, and I think that makes it even more appealing.
It’s almost like the listener feels very ‘welcomed’ by her voice and this to me is that key thing that makes the hook so listenable. When she wants to Holly can bring power, energy and amazing range to her performance, but it’s great artists that can adapt their voice to a track and give it what it needs.
What are your hopes for ‘Hope & Pray’?
I’d like it to start a conversation online and in the media, to get people thinking about what is currently happening in the world and how we can try and change things. I’m giving all proceeds from sales of the track to Extinction Rebellion so I hope it raises awareness around that brilliant campaign which is totally volunteer run. Aside from those things I’d just like to see the song shine a light on the fact that meaningful music is so needed right now.
Finally, if you could wish for one thing to happen for you this year, what would it be?
Selling out my album launch party show at the Castle & Falcon in Birmingham on Friday, April 26th is the one thing I wish for this year.
Listen to ‘Hope & Pray’ on SoundCloud below. For news and tour dates visit the T8PES Facebook page.
Images by Matt Wilson Photography.