At the centre of this is Caroline SM. Before the inception of New Gen and with the UK’s urban scene in full blossom, she deepened her involvement with online media platform GRM Daily. Climbing the ladder from writer to editor she was now curating Next Gen 10; playlists filled with the sounds of artists tipped to mark the face of UK music in the coming years.
The shows continued to sell out, the playlists continued to rack up listens and the radio following continued to swell. In a matter of months New Gen had become one of the most exciting hubs in London’s emerging music scene. That was not enough for Caroline, or her team, however, who were wildly ambitious. They wanted something more long lasting, something to definitively capture the time period. So instead of pushing on with playlists and singles, they set focus on an album. Taking the energy of Next Gen 10, New Gen Live and New Gen Radio, alongside a global platform provided by XL, the crew pushed forward with creating a full length body of work. With XL matching Caroline’s ambition to push boundaries and create honest, interesting music, and already stocked in a rich history of supporting unconventional and often unorthodox music, they were ready to record.
“We went into the album with the same principles as we did with everything else,” Caroline says. “How do we give people that ‘what the fuck’ factor? Like, how did they make a musical, original, cohesive body of work with 17 completely different artists? That’s really the point of New Gen, we have to push the boundaries.”
So for nine months, the New Gen Studio became a creative hub for London’s most promising musicians. It was a space for MCs and songwriters, mixers and engineers to contribute to the New Gen vision. The likes of 67, Stormzy, Ray BLK, AJ Tracey, Nines and Avelino all dropped in and out, recording and writing music, flitting between sessions, working closely with the in house production team, with Caroline herself, with Renz the executive producer. The melee of talent continued working away arm in arm under one roof, carving a project comprised entirely of original music. It’s anchored in the half space between trap, grime and new wave R&B, the melting pot which has typically come to represent the New Gen sound.
“All of the producers we worked with, all of the artists we worked with, we all had this massive desire, a common goal to make the scene better,” she explains. “This moment we’re living in is so important and we wanted to capture it accurately.”
And so, with a purpose to define a generation, the New Gen are set to release an album. For the artists and producers, mixers and long-time supporters, the project time stamps a special chapter in British music, tying the strands of the New Gen movement into one cohesive body of work. Meaning that those new to the sound, new to the radio and the shows, will be served with the most fitting introduction into a movement that has swept the capital over the past year, one that will surely define the years to come.
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