INTERVIEW: ARGH KiD “My ambition was always to put poetry to music”

From the latter-day saints of rock to the anodyne poseurs of the Later With... green room, mainstream music in this country some time ago began to wash around our ears like so much weak tea. And at the same time, old Britannia – her pause button pressed three years ago – grew dissipated and beset on all sides by the nervous and the indecisive, and represented, as ever, by a drove of elitist donkeys. Consequently, mounting dissent – both cultural and political – has become a way of life yet a rare few like ARGH KiD (a.k.a David Scott) have been able to vent their spleen.

No one is speaking for the people right now,” Scott tells me, “and it seems that everyone, be it in parliament or the media, has their own agenda.”

Having been described as a street poet and a hip hop artist, Scott is also very much in John Cooper Clarke’s stylistic camp; that is, the sound is punk and wrapped in layers of demotic prose from which he’s able to distil a socially conscious lyricism.

The singles ‘Frank’, ‘Neighbours’ and ‘R10t’ have turned heads and raised a few eyebrows, which is no mean feat in today’s risk averse industry. “No radio station will touch ‘R10t’ because of the political climate we’re in, despite a fair amount of national DJs saying they love the track.”

Evidently, station chiefs – terminally convinced of their own omniscience – have no desire to ruffle feathers. But if not now, then when? Scott cites Bob Dylan, Eminem and Paul Weller as influences, as well as Morrissey “before he turned into an arsehole“, and says that he’s always been drawn to the lyrics of a song first, his musical tastes too eclectic for him to be able to nominate a favourite style or genre within which to work.

His is a newer form of protest song. “I don’t want to associate with a particular genre because that’s then getting into a box it’ll be difficult to get out of. And it’s important to write with humour and satire too, so I like comedians like Richard Pryor. Comedy is missing in music these days. It’s an undervalued tool. I never knew I could be a performer or write music but now that I’m here I just try and push things forward.”

He’s disciplined in his writing but prefers to write “in his head“, committing lyrics to paper when recording in the studio. “I live by a canal and people give me a wide berth when I walk past them rapping to myself.”

Currently unsigned and having rejected a clutch of unworthy offers, he refuses to sell himself short. “There are a lot of sharks out there so you’ve got to use your shit filter to be able to work out who to trust. I was working at Blueprint Studios in Salford and it was there that I met Steve [White]. While working on a couple of tracks, I managed to sample one of Steve’s drumloops.”

So he’s keeping perfect company. Buoyed by the Mancunian fraternity, Scott’s a performer whose growth in stature can be attributed to a level-headedness and an ability to contextualise his place in music. Having played with the likes of Gaz Whelan (Happy Mondays) and Steve White (The Style Council, Paul Weller), he’s heading in the right direction and at a crucial juncture in the life of the nation.

The homeless crisis in Manchester today isn’t being addressed which means that government doesn’t work, full stop. It would take something miraculous to sort out the major problems facing this country but who could lead us, I really don’t know. I feel that politics should be localised, city by city.

Politically, I stand outside the mainstream parties. When Corbyn became [Labour] leader, I did think that there was finally someone people could get behind but when he did Glastonbury and hooked up with Stormzy it all became very reminiscent of that Tony Blair and Noel Gallagher thing. And then when he followed up by having a lack of presence in the referendum, I felt he’d let down a lot of people. Brexit has exposed just how divided this country actually is. Before Farage came along people had always harboured prejudice. Now they just feel bolder about airing their views.”

Scott, therefore, with mic in hand, will challenge hypocrisy as and when it appears. “Today’s protest movements seem like days out for those protesting with their placards, going out over and over again and nothing ever coming of it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results with the UK still suffering from a case of a stiff upper lip.”

Which is not the sort of lip that Scott is interested in as he continues to perform with a live band, planning to further hone and expand the ARGH KiD line-up. “My ambition was always to put poetry to music. And I’ve never had an aspiration to play Wembley. I’m aware that I’m in a very fortunate position right now. I feel I have momentum and I’ve managed to get gigs lined up for next year. Yeah, I’ve got an angry voice but right now I think that’s resonating with people.

I’m majorly pissed off with the world at large and I don’t think I’m the only one. I’ve got young children and I feel it’s my role, somehow, for them, to leave the world in a better place than when I found it.”

Jason Holmes