Everything you need to know about the much-loved Dalston club.
I got the message just before 7pm as I arrived in Camden.
“In a Sainsbury’s round the corner with S-X”.
I pull up Google Maps, type it in, and realise I probably didn’t have to. When I got down there I greeted the team and S-X before he offered to buy a homeless man some food, and hid away 2 competition tickets outside the Roundhouse for some lucky Instagrammers. We’re there for a few more minutes before heading up on our entourage vibe back to The Camden Assembly, the venue for S-X’s first ever London show.
Following the producer-turned-performer’s first Show #1 back in his hometown of Wolverhampton, a rammed 400+ crowd fully entranced by his mellifluous sounds, Show #2 arrives on the heels of Reasons, a 10-track, grippingly ardent, soulfully piercing project, both production and content-wise, released at the end of March. His journey as an artist follows the success he’s had (and still is having) as a producer for some of the biggest names in music, from Childish Gambino to YMCMB. Whilst it’s been little over a year since his artistic initiation, the features on this project (Lily Allen, Neeve and JME) indicate the strong presence he has already established in the industry, and the path to stardom being carved.
We were navigated by a warm promoter, up and down through the narrow, windy staircases to the dressing room, where bags were dumped, and industry conversation ensued. A couple of extra mics were floating about and I asked who they’re for – “JME and Lily Allen” was the offhand response given. I glanced over to JD (photographer for the evening), his sentiments of awe matched mine, but I felt comfortable enough to express my astonishment, at both the names, and the breezy manner in which they were delivered.
“Is Jammer coming too?
“Nah, unless he bought a ticket.”
S-X begins to get ready as we greet each other properly. I asked him how he’s feeling, his first show in London and it’s a sell out. His excitement, although recognised, was well-contained with a slight hint of nervousness. With around an hour and a half until he graces the stage, a colossal bassline of muffled Hip Hop and R&B hits beats below our feet, vibrating the worn yet somewhat charming wooden floorboards and wall of the compact venue. Things were heating up and the excitement in the room doubled when he showed us his first ever tour poster for his upcoming UK dates in November.
A few more family and friends roll in and by the time 8pm hits, it’s honey and ginger time. Whilst S-X is preparing for the vocally taxing show ahead and warns (humorously) every one of the potential consequences should his newly purchased iPhone charger go missing, we go down to check the room. There’s a steady flow of fans already moshing, its steamy, illuminated with neon blue lights as DJ Friktion has the room bouncing in anticipation.
Back to the dressing rooms, and, “Hi, I’m Lily”. Her presence was one of humility given the pure scale of her hit-riddled catalogue. “Hi, Sunjay”, I mustered all the strength I had to not ask for a photo, as she hugged S-X, slouched in the corner sofa, and pulled out her phone, asking the man of the moment if he’s excited. JD and I glanced again.
“Yeah, to think I’ve been doing this for only a year now, I’m excited for this.”
The two, who collaborated on the opening track ‘Something Better’ of S-X’s Reasons project, are currently working on an album for Lily, although talk of this was kept to a minimum during the night. With the chemistry on stage between them, however, early on during his one hour set, it would be clear to see.
As show time swiftly approaches, the undertone of consternation, which had been lingering about all night, although well-suppressed with S-X and the whole team’s calming aura, began to bubble, especially with the imminent arrival of Jme meaning a quick change of setlist was required. The message was conveyed to DJ Friktion. S-X walked down and prepared to be ushered to the stage.
Breaking into the anthem, 2017’s Plans, which has hit over 1.2 million Spotify streams, the charged room bounced and howled towards a white hooded, trademark shorts-out S-X. The constrained energy had been liberated, as the single preceding this year’s project followed, EveryTime.
Despite the obvious signs of success thus far, S-X’s progressive track is yet to off-course his humility. Whilst such the trait is consistent every time I’m in his presence, these moments never cease to offer somewhat anchored inspiration. From taking photos with fans before the show, to shaking his head in disbelief that a front-row fanatic was sporting his tee, then of course, not to mention his admiration when joined on stage by Lily Allen a few cuts in, having just been chilling by the exit door for the first few tracks.
I followed Lily out of the room and one track later, I’m stood next to Jme as he grabs the mic, asks if his featured track, Nowhere, is next? The venue manager confirmed it was, as he began to sway in sync with the track intro. Seconds later, we open the door to blinding iPhone camera lights, guide Jme along the side of the crowd, and he jumps on stage and starts sailing through his jarring verse on the relatively serene track. Before anyone had the chance to let it sink in, he had disappeared back downstairs and into the night.
After a few more cuts from Reasons, I head to the back of the room at the bar, take a lean, and digest it all. S-X then breaks into a bass rippling The One, the final track off last year’s Houseclothes project. Closing in on an hour, the set is drawing to a conclusion, although not before the maddest mosh pit The Camden Assembly has probably ever attempted to handle with Still I Get (My Money), 2017’s final hit. Closing with a penetrating Turn Me Down, the next single off Reasons, before of course a firmly demanded Plans, encore.
We climb back up to the dressing room, leaving an eager clammy crowd behind. S-X takes a towel as I congratulate him, he was gracious, yet seemingly unsettled. I couldn’t help but sense his hunger for more, or perhaps the next show, already. Most of the team follow shortly behind and it becomes more of the party vibe we had hoped for, handshakes, hugs, and jubilant words being shared. DJ Friktion arrives up with his backpack ready to go. They hug and take a seat as they reflect for a moment on their attempt to get out of Birmingham on their trip to LA. More family and friends arrive and the celebrations are in full swing with the appearance of a magician, blowing us away with some madness.
Here though, stood probably the most prominent juncture at the beginning of S-X’s journey as a solo artist. Surrounded and grounded by day ones, friends, family, and industry folk. His talent is undeniable, his hunger, adjacent, and his next stop? Tour.
The tour kicks off in November, snap your tickets here: ticketweb.uk/s-x