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Ill Tribe Hip-hop duo look ahead to sunny days in bittersweet new track

Created over lockdown, the new cut from Ill Tribe and Copius explores climate change denial and the destructive pace of globalisation.

Ill Tribe, the prolific Sheffield-based duo formed of singer-songwriter Bert Rogers and MC Mike Curran (aka Copius), are back with new track 'Sunny Days'.We asked them to tell us a bit more about the meaning behind the verses and the inspiration for the song's bittersweet title.

Tell us a bit about the new track, 'Sunny Days'.

Bert Rogers: It’s an ironic look at everybody’s love for hot weather and sunshine. As we wish for more sunny days it heralds the onset of climate change, and the song is a paradoxical look at social advantage and freedom – while questioning the carbon footprint of globalism. It’s a balanced lyric. On one side we have the environmental warrior and on the other, representing the climate change deniers, we have Donald Trump.

Mike Curran: Well said, Bert. I just tried to be the narrative, the voice of the voiceless. The storyteller of a globalised frustration. Sometimes you see pain, heartache and destruction in our society, on the news, in everyday scenarios and with the verse I wrote for this, I wanted to say something poignant enough to prick up some ears, relevant enough to be relatable to the here and now and to help raise awareness and provoke debate around the subject.

Freedom of speech is important, and without becoming too political, the fact that our right to protest in the UK has been withdrawn in a very uncertain time has left us all confused, hurt and burnt. People are scouring the internet for motivations that work. There is backlash and worry. We’re all trying to be a little more wary of false truths and false hope.

We are a nation of fragile resources right now – what with Brexit, the pandemic and everything that’s happened that points us towards the fact that we can still, will, and maybe should, rage against the machine.

Are the lyrics a direct response to the pandemic?

Bert: The main crux of the song is really the pace of capitalism and the climate impact. It’s not directly about the pandemic, but it mentions it as it seems to act as a massive distraction from the truly pressing issue of environmental destruction and climate change.

What's the process for the two of you coming up with new music?

Bert: There’s no set formula. Either of us can come up with an initial idea and we just bounce off each other until we make something we like. All credit to Mike – he has produced or started the majority of the tunes, but it’s the combination of the two of us that makes Ill Tribe what it is.

Mike: We both work incredibly well together first and foremost. Bert is an outstanding singer-songwriter too, so that helps!

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Our process is always changing and evolving but it fluctuates really. There's no formula. I could write something and bring it to Bert and Bert can write something and bring it to me. What’s really important is communication and organisation within the project itself. We’ve both got years of experience performing with previous outfits and have a track record of writing songs with meaning and depth. So the chances are when we both come up with ideas, the other immediately gets it and a song is formed. Previous band experience have given us qualities to adapt, though it must be said – and I know this is going to sound cliched – but the concept for Ill Tribe and the album itself, we found pretty early on. It was like the songs wrote themselves in a way.

On the debut album The Hill we have tracks named ‘Sonic Cure’, ’Screens’ and ‘This Modern Age’, and concept writing doesn’t come easy. Thankfully we’re both driven, able to adapt and not afraid to try new things, so I guess that's where the real magic happens. Well, it was for me anyway.

I always like to think of that Bowie quote: “If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”

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