Singer, songwriter, producer and rapper Scott Hendrie joins us for a SoundCheck session and interview, where he talks ambitions and takes the piss out of talent shows.
You’re most likely to have come across Hendrie aka Fullmarx via a LADbible Facebook video, in which he’s sat, quite unabashedly, at a family gathering performing a song called Sex Face. This video has been watched over 10 million times.
But there’s more to Hendrie than the stuff of infectious memes. His first album as hip-hop artist Fullmarx, Welcome to the Greys, which has a coming-of-age feel to it, was released in April last year with a second, Population Some, in the works. The irreverent lad that sings sex songs at barbecues is only one frequency of the Scott Hendrie spectrum.
A spectrum which is inherently musical. Once a choirboy—an unlikely starting point for his journey to hip-hop artist, for which he cites puberty and an introduction to Tupac as key milestones—he “just loved to sing, no matter what it was”. His dad was a drummer who could sing in four or five octaves, and he remembers running round with his cousins as kids, carolling as his granddad played the organ. It was an atmosphere that “ingrained that spirit of music into me”.
"Under the Wall"
But writing is his passion. Favouring the medium which allows for his most incisive wit, he’s frank about his ambition to become internationally recognised as a songwriter. Songwriting for Hendrie is an almost transcendental experience. It’s his happy place: “I can sit in a studio on my tod for days and days. I feel like it’s quiet in those moments—quiet enough for me to have conversations with whatever it is beyond this life.”
Whatever-it-is seems to hit him over the head hard at times, muse-like. He speaks of songs coming to him when laying floors (the day job, which he describes as “backbreaking, sweaty, lung-full-of-concrete, shit work”) in near completion as if from “some abyss of creation that I’m attuned to”.
So passionate is he about songwriting, and confident in his prowess, that he wants to write for the A-listers, like Adele. But convincing the right people in the industry that he’s got that in him is made more difficult because Fullmarx as a persona is, in his own words, “a bit of an edgy guy who’s pissed off at society.” Which is not an ideal channel for songs he’s written which are “a bit more from the heart” and which reveal “a bit more vulnerability”. Especially when you’re best known for being that guy who sings about sex in front of a family audience.
Further probing suggests that Fullmarx is more than a persona; it’s an outlet for someone who, like many of his generation, feels a sense of disillusionment, “At the core of me there’s a sad man pissed off at the world, and dissatisfied by it and the people in it.” When asked about what he’d most like to change about the world, he responds that money should be publicly owned, visibly holding back on a subject he says he could talk about for hours.
That’s not to say he’s about to go moping around like Morrisey or rant incoherently like a Gallagher brother. Sure, he carries some resentment—namely, the disaffection felt by most artists in the face of inferior successful musicians—and hints at a lack of mentorship when younger for missed opportunities. But he’s not above joking about his frustration: “I’m 27 and still living in Eastbourne/that’s beyond all sense and reason,” he raps in Worst Enemy, a song that came to him mid-lecture, as someone ranted at him about how to live his life.
That he likes to stay positive is something he says his dad taught him, “Nobody likes to meet a miserable person four times in a day. [But] if you’re that guy who’s like ‘Hello, mate!’ then they’ve got time for you forever.” Which is a pretty hard mask to wear when you want to make music full time but are stuck fitting carpets, "Earning stupid money that just ties you over to the next week, and then the next week". Ultimately, though, with a skill like his to "write songs [that] make people laugh or cry" as he sees it, there's no reason why Hendrie can't make that transition with Fullmarx.
Check out Fullmarx's latest collab, with Lewisham hip-hop producers Hybrid Freqs, That's Mine here.