meet london botb winners: the doberman boys

October 2, 2019
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On the 19th of September, East London metal-grime quartet, The Doberman Boys, slayed the competition at the AFROPUNK London Battle of the Bands Finals, winning the opportunity to play the main stage at AFROPUNK Joburg in December. But before they do — and before they drop their debut EP, which they are putting the finishing touches on as I write — we wanted to introduce The Doberman Boys to the world outside E13. Because if the union of grime and metal is truly on the come-up, this is the band that will give that pairing its bite. Listen and Read on!

What are your names, ages, and the instruments you play? And, where are you from?

Aysah Spades (Aaron to my mates), 29, bass, from East Ham in Newham, East London. Ricky Ramessar, 29, Guitar, from East Ham, Newham. SHAY, 29, Vocals, from Stratford, Newham, East London. Mo Abdelgadir, 25, drums, Hounslow, West London.

What are your favorite things about where you are from? (Especially when it comes to Black culture where you are from.)

Aysah: I love just how genuinely multicultural my end of the city is. Huge West-Indian community here. Many large African communities, too. Never really felt too separated from my parents’ cultural heritage, because I have been surrounded by it until I left for uni and travelling.

Ricky: Multiculturalism, guts, ambition, hustle.

SHAY: Definitely the multiculturalism, Newham in particular is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the UK. Everybody has a story, a struggle and a different outlook on life. A lot of us are second generation too, meaning we have strong ties to our parents’ respective Caribbean and African countries. The Black experience can be seen here from the music, food, culture and even down to the slang we use, come pay us a visit sometime.

Mo: The community spirit of the area, everyone’s living the same way and just trying to get by. People all want to better their situation (for the most part).

In your own words, give us a short description of the kind of music you make.

Aysah: Rock/Hip-Hop protest music written in the key of realness.

SHAY: Unapologetic raw Rap/Metal packaged with Grime undertones.

If there was one or two core thoughts or ideas that you want your music to convey, what are they?

Aysah: Freedom of will, and disobedience.

Ricky: The sauce is in the performance and the authenticity of the recording. Human error is beautiful and your imperfections are unique to you. Be courageous enough not to edit out your sauce.

SHAY: Dare to dream and go against the grain.

Mo: The music needs to be as powerful as the lyrics to depict how life is in urban London. People normally overlook the difficulties some populations face and I think our music covers those bases in a very real way.

What are your musical dreams and aspirations? Not fame-wise, but creatively. What do you think you can do with music?

Aysah: I want to experiment more and innovate the sonics of the current scene, so more people are willing to experiment and bring some more excitement and energy into everyone’s music libraries.

Ricky: We grew up during the birth of Grime and the peak of Nu-Metal. I hope to always embrace those roots while maturing our live sound and performance, and experimenting with different sonic palettes.

SHAY: I really want to explore lacing our music with some cool soulful jazz chords at one point, the contrast with the gritty metal we play will sound euphoric. I’d also really like to generally increase my instrumental skill set while exploring new production techniques.

Mo: I want to be able to collaborate with multiple artists and drum with the greats, whether we are sharing a stage or recording together. I currently work in education and have been trying to get more kids into playing instruments (especially drums), to show both schools and students the true value of music.

Name one artist that you would like to collaborate with? What do you think that collaboration would sound like?

Aysah: Would love to work with Flatbush Zombies. We would probably make some intense fast-paced metal track with deep 808’s. Blow apart any venue/festival stage.

Ricky: Rick Rubin. It’d sound like Jay-Z’s Black Album from East London, mixed with Slipknot Vol. 3 metal tones.

SHAY: Pharrell. It will probably sound like all the good things in life.

Mo: Kid Bookie – imagine heavier, lower tuned guitar and bass riffing and death metal double kick patterns, brought together by the combined lyrical aptitude of Shay and Kid Bookie – in one track. Groove, aggression and poetry all in one four-minute track.

Now that you’ve won the Battle of the Bands, what do you think winning could do for you? Anything in particular you are looking forward to in Joburg?

Aysah: I’m still blown away we won, still on a high. I hope winning encourages people to come see us live! The Doberman Show in Brick Lane on 18th of October is a great way to start, if you can’t make it out to Joburg! I’m hoping to do a bit of clubbing in Joburg, because I’m heavy into South African house/dance right now, Emo Kid especially.

Ricky: I love Nao and I can’t wait to see her. I’m excited to show Johannesburg (and Nao) why we won AFROPUNK London’s BOTB.

SHAY: I’m hoping this win will get us some new fans while opening up a lifelong career path for us. I feel like this is only the beginning of our journey! In Joburg I’d like to enjoy some great music and do a bit of sightseeing. Really looking forward to see Goldlink, Sho Madjozi and Burna Boy perform.

Mo: Winning could pave the way for us to play bigger shows with larger crowds. I want The Doberman Boys to be pushed out of our comfort zone and put on a stage where there is no hiding away from any fears or anxieties; our stage shows and performances will soon be grandiose and will match the greats of our time. Meeting the other acts and visiting some historical sites; Constitution Hill and the Apartheid Museum.

Anything else you want to say to the AFROPUNK audience as a way of introduction?

Aysah: Keep your minds, hearts, ears and eyes open.

Ricky: Shout out the London BOTB finalists Sans Soucis w/ Davide Shorty, Lady Sanity and Screaming Toenail, who deserved the Johannesburg stage as much as we did. Fly em out, AFROPUNK!

SHAY: Perception is your only strength and weakness. Be you unapologetically, eternally.

Mo: Come out, have fun and mosh.

London! Go see The Doberman Boys at the Doberman Show II, the hip-hop and rock showcase they are organizing at Cafe 1001 on October 18th. Gauteng! Go see The Doberman Boys when they come to your town to play at AFROPUNK Johannesburg.