Rat Boy: we meet British music’s controversial new star
Press shot (credit: Phil Smithies)

Rat Boy is one of the most intriguing and talked-about new names in music. Dan Jeakins caught up with him for a lively discussion

Chelmsford’s Jordan Cardy, better known by his stage name Rat Boy, has been making waves in the music industry since releasing his debut mixtape in 2014.

Already a controversial rising star, depending on who you ask he’s either a promising talent who combines hip-hop with punk, indie and dance, or a Jamie T wannabe soon to collapse under the weight of his own hype.

His tour bus, parked up backstage at Y Not Festival, is kitted out with a Playstation 4 and mixing desk.

It’s an impressive set-up. Cardy jokes that “we sell a lot of drugs on the road” to pay for it.

“We’re occupied in this tour bus, compared to being in a van where we had nothing to do except fight each other.”

Volatility is something that’s alluded to a few times throughout our conversation.

Cardy’s band jokingly bring up an incident with their touring cameraman (“you hit him in the back with a chair”). Cardy half-complains (“don’t tell him that”), but there’s little indication he’s truly worried about the story becoming public knowledge.

The band, he reveals, has a habit of getting in trouble on tour. I mention that Circa Waves are playing on the main stage that afternoon.

“I don’t think their tour manager used to like us,” remarks Cardy, “but I think they get the fact that we’re d*cks now.

“Liam [Haygarth, guitarist] kind of annoyed their tour manager – he threw a full can of Red Stripe outside the third floor of this building and it landed near him or something.

“We’ve p*ssed off The 1975’s crew too – I stripped during their soundcheck.”

Cardy is very active on social media, and recalls taking issue on Twitter with a review I wrote of his performance supporting The Cribs in Norwich.

“You’re a pr*ck, who even let you in here!” he laughs, before re-assuring me he’s joking.

“I like to point out when someone’s wrong.”

He’s very responsive on social media.

“We used to be, but now we’re above everybody so we’re at the point where we can ignore fans,” he jokes. “As long as they have no opinions and just buy the records, I’m happy.

“Wait, is that recording? We’re in it for the people! We don’t do it for money, we do it for the love!”

It’s only when Cardy comes round to talking about his music that the conversation begins to get serious.

A self-proclaimed control freak, Rat Boy’s DIY attitude extends to all aspects of the act – he’s in control of production, artwork, music, lyrics, videos and everything in between.

It’s for this reason that his agreement with Parlophone, the major record label who picked him up after the viral success of his first mixtape, is a perfect fit.

“I don’t like not doing stuff. They get I don’t like doing the same thing all the time and they support that.”

Often labelled an indie act, Cardy often feels like he and his band are incorrectly classified.

“We were into indie rock a year ago [on early singles ‘Sign On’ and ‘Fake ID’] – now it’s more about hip-hop for us.”

Rat Boy are still working on that all-important debut album, but there’s a litany of side projects too. After the interview, Cardy insists that I turn off my dictaphone to play me a trap song he’s been working on, which the band plan “to take to America so it blows up”.

Featuring heavily altered vocals that turn Cardy’s flow into something that sounds akin to Young Thug or Future, it’s a track unlike anything the band have done before.

“We’re going to put it out under a different name,” he reveals, whispering the secret alias in my ear. “Keep that to yourself.”

Cardy’s at his most excited when talking about Rat Boy, however. He reveals, after some hesitation that he might be offering too much, that “the album’s a concept with different characters, which we begun introducing in the ‘Get Over It’ video”.

“It’s going to sound like a radio station which goes through different eras…with a presenter and that.”

It’s a very ambitious-sounding album. One, you feel, that could either send Rat Boy into the stratosphere – or ensure a fade into obscurity.

There’s very little that’s clear cut about Cardy. That, you’d have to say, is what makes him so exciting.

Rat Boy’s latest single ‘Get Over It’ is out now. Catch him live at the following dates:

Sep 16: Sheffield, Leadmill
Sep 17: Manchester, Albert Hall
Sep 18: Newcastle-upon-tyne, Newcastle University Student Union
Sep 19: Glasgow, Barrowland
Sep 22: London, 02 Forum
Sep 23: Oxford, 02 Academy
Sep 24: Birmingham, 02 Institute
Sep 26: Portsmouth, The Wedgewood Rooms
Sep 27: Cambridge, Junction
Sep 28: Bristol, Anson Rooms

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