One warm evening this summer I met up with MC Pinty for a couple of pints. Stood outside a pub in Camberwell, Pinty sipped Guinness as he told me about his background, musical influences and plans for the future.
MC Pinty’s got a distinctive style. It matches the garagey productions he tends to rap over and his stage name couldn’t suit him any better. But surprisingly the moniker has nothing to do with beer – it goes back to MC Pinty’s schooldays, when he earned the nickname for drinking pints of milk, a habit he continues to this day. The name has stuck for good reason. It perfectly captures his laid back approach and unpretentious, party-starting appeal.
When MC Pinty arrived he told me he was a bit ill. He’d just got back from a string of gigs in the UK and abroad where he’d picked up a case of festival flu. Although “battered on the inside”, Pinty assured me he was still striving forward. He’d played five shows in the past two weeks, so it was no surprise that he was a little knackered. In fact, he told me in the last year he’s been to France more times than he has been to parts of England outside of London. MC Pinty’s only just turned 21, but it seems like things are kicking off a bit for him.
Midnight Moods, MC Pinty’s first release, came out in March last year. More recently, he performed the album in full on Tim and Barry’s live streaming show, Just Jam. Alongside his partner in crime, producer and DJ Maxwell Owin, the set sees Pinty ride enthusiastically over a range of different sounds and vibes. You can see they’re both relaxed and really enjoying it. “I thought I might as well have fun it with it. “It was in a little room with some people I didn’t know and just my boys. I pretty much played it to my boys”, he told me when I asked about the performance.
The music MC Pinty makes could only have come out of London, so naturally it’s not easy to categorise. He hasn’t got any issues with people calling it garage, but it would be a mistake to simply label him a garage MC. His lyrics are too clever and he’s as comfortable in reflective mode as he is in lively, Mic Controller mode. In terms of influences, Pinty was quick to mention The Streets, which makes a lot of sense. But another figure we talked about, pioneering Drum and Bass MC, Skibadee, is another helpful reference point in describing the musical tradition Pinty is pushing into 2016. At any rate, Pinty’s just as much a lyricist as he as an emcee in the classic British, sound system culture sense. When you listen closely it’s clear he has something to say.
“It was in a little room with some people I didn’t know and just my boys. I pretty much played it to my boys”
MC Pinty’s wide-ranging sound is why the tracks on Midnight Moods also refuse to fit under a single umbrella term. Songs like “E’s” and “Moonlit Duty” are 100% UKG-inspired. But album opener, “This Just Life, is alright”, produced by Pinty’s schoolmate Archy Marshall (A.K.A King Krule), bears the red-haired crooner’s signature woozy stamp. Other tracks, like “Go to Bed Pt.2”, veer into the realms of house and techno. But most of all there’s a fun-loving, uplifting vibe that permeates through everything. “Planetarian”, which showcases Pinty’s freestyley delivery and fondness for phrases like “bo!” and “cor, blimey!”, is a case in point.
London is probably MC Pinty’s biggest influence – and not just in terms of his musical style. He has grown up surrounded by talented, motivated people: along with fellow Brit School graduate Archy Marshall, Pinty’s mates with electronic soul singer Jamie Isaac, not to mention many other up-and-coming producers and DJs. “Pretty much all my friends do something creative” he told me. You could say MC Pinty’s circle of friends have spurred him on. “You spend so much time with somebody, you’re bound to be influenced in whatever way” he said. He raved about other affiliates like Sub Luna City and Twinkat Soul but was especially positive about his DJ, Maxwell Owin – “he’s the nicest, most helpful guy and he’s got so much time to give.”
The capital’s clubbing culture has heavily influenced MC Pinty too. While working a job at a pub, he also put on nights in the railway arches in Loughborough Junction, the once dodgier borderlines between Camberwell and Brixton. The parties are where he did some of his earliest live performances (there are videos out there if you know where to look). “Those nights were like the best thing I’ve done. It was our spot – me and Twinkat Soul. It made for the best nights”, he told me. It’s clear the arches are hallowed ground for him and his eyes lit up when he reminisced about clubbing there. “A lot of shit went on in that place” he told me.
We ended up spending a while talking about Loughborough Junction and his experiences partying there. The area’s actually where MC Pinty was born, so he spent some formative years there before his family eventually moved to Peckham. He did the launch party for Midnight Moods in the arches only last year, but the venue has since been shut down by police. Even though there are other similar spaces nearby, he’s against trying to relive the memories of the spot somewhere else. Plus, these more legitimate venues cost as much as £1000 to use. “It wouldn’t be the same” he said. This all only seemed to add to the arches’ legendary status for Pinty. “I wish I had it now. It’s like that real. It’s sad to think it’s gone” he told me.
“Those nights were like the best thing I’ve done. It was our spot – me and Twinkat Soul. It made for the best nights”
Talking to Pinty it seemed part of what made those Loughborough Junction arches so special, apart from the obvious vibes, was the fact they’d been around for so long. In fact, while setting up for a party, Pinty once stumbled upon a concrete slab that turned out to be a bonafide rave relic. When he picked it up, the tagged underside showed graffiti dated 1993 – all the more astonishing when you consider Pinty’s age. “That place has been around for so many years. I was born in ’95. It hadn’t moved that whole time. People have been throwing parties in that spot for over twenty years. Walking home from there – that stuff, when I’m writing, it’s still a reference in my head.”
The loss of the arches is clearly a big one for Pinty. When I asked him about his thoughts on the future of venues like this he told me he feared “that whole feeling of London could get lost soon”. But at the same time, he freely admitted you can still find it to some extent – “you get the best and the worst round here” he told me. He relayed another revealing anecdote, about asking his dad as a child how the local area’s posher and grimmer bits could sit so closely together. His dad gave the classic answer: “That’s the beauty of London I guess”.
Growing up around so many talented people has helped MC Pinty make plenty of useful connections. By the sounds of it, he’s constantly forming fruitful musical partnerships across genres from house to hip hop. Whether friends of friends, cousins of friends or just straight acquaintances, there’s no shortage of musicians inviting him to their studios. We even bumped into a producer he knew as our conversation drew to a close. Overall, you can tell Pinty’s deeply focused on music and has plenty in the pipeline. But after spending so much time abroad, Pinty just seemed excited to be back home. He has a new EP out soon, which I’m told promises something a little different, so there’s definitely more to come from him in the near future. Right now, it looks like for MC Pinty the glass is half full.