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INTERVIEW: The Last Skeptik
Laura Blake , November 22nd, 2019 08:32

As he releases break-up album 'See You In The Next Life', The Last Skeptik talks to Laura Blake about writing his rawest work yet

The story of heartbreak is one as old as time itself. The searing, unearthly pangs of longing, and the inescapable and unplaceable pain. Most of us seek out the classic coping mechanisms: hedonism, distraction and ice cream, but for some everything gets channelled into the art. Finsbury Park born hip-hop mainstay Corin Liall Douieb, better known as The Last Skeptik did exactly that. After experiencing a particularly traumatic parting of ways with his ex-girlfriend, it propelled the music producer towards the mic, opting out of collaborating with the talents he usually works with (the likes of Kojey Radical, Giggs & The Manor) and rap it all himself.

With his hauntingly titled new album ‘See You In The Next Life’, Douieb has crafted a body of work that is so dazzlingly honest that it reaches every part what it means to fully experience a break up and be left alone, battling with your mind. Yes, part of that is getting drunk and hating people at a house party, and part of that is not leaving your room for days. And yes, some of it so dark and raw that it is difficult to listen to. The Last Skeptik caught up with tQ to speak in detail about the break ups, mental breakdowns, surviving within yourself and levelling up amongst the barrage of self hatred and tears.

‘See You In The Next Life’ is a beautifully produced yet brutal album. You can feel the pain in your voice as you listen. How necessary was creating this for your therapy?

The Last Skeptik: It was vital. I don’t know how I could have survived without processing the past year by writing these songs. I made a concerted effort that even when I was at my lowest, I had to document it not just to try and sort through the mental knots, but also provide advice and hope to my future self that I am capable of surviving something like this. Each song was a marker of a stage of the sadness that I went through. It’s bigger than just a break up. We all suffer in a multitude of different ways, and whilst this record was truly catalysed by heartbreak - its about a lot more. Dealing with the grief and loss when a good friend of mine died. Dealing with my own struggles with my anxiety and compulsively negative thinking, and also trying to understand my place in this world when I feel so much like i’m on the fringes of it. There’s moments where I’m just angry at the music industry, or my housemates. When you have a big momentous earthquake happen in your life, every gut punch amalgamates and hits you at once - and every experience is made even worse because your entrusted support system has been whipped out from under you. Writing this album brought me reason to get up again when I was on the floor.

There’s a lot of sadness and self awareness on the album, and only really one song which brings out the harsh side. Were you careful for it not to seem embittered?

TLS: Completely. All along the process of writing it I was making sure it could never be construed as a record that dickhead incels would listen to and use as fuel for their woman hating fire. There’s no name calling or pettiness and the song you’re talking about - 'Beg (I Actually Hate You)' - I even considered taking off the record, but opted against doing so as I think that being angry is a truthful and real part of the journey of parting with someone that you love, and if I left it out, I would be doing a disservice to the complete image of each angle of it. The lead single 'You Make Me Wanna (Kill)' took on a life of its own and resonated with so many people I think because it was the opposite of being embittered. It was looking at it from the point of wanting to kill the memories of someone you loved because to have them still in there was too painful. More of a necessity for being able to survive it, than out of anger.

The opening line the first song ‘Don’t You’ is particularly heart-wrenching and relatable - ‘I guess it’s the end, no more in-joke texts to send.’ Why was this break up so painful?

TLS: That’s a tough question to answer. I personally I had reached a real transition point in my life. I wasn’t really alive. I felt like a robot on autopilot and needed a new direction but had no idea where or how. I was ready to give up releasing music as a whole and I didn’t have any excitement for anything. Heartbreak was the foot stomping out the dying embers of my cigarette butt. I needed to completely be destroyed to rebuild and see exactly with clarity what I had to do next. Nothing is worse than being stuck in a limbo. So even though I am so grateful for experiencing it all now I’m out of the worst of it, there is still no denying that it fundamentally changed me as a person and set me off on a path to really look at the way I was “doing” love. Thats a weird phrase to say, but I really have been gifted the opportunity now to take space and figure out what the hell it means to love myself and someone. And I feel like the answer is calmness and not over the top lust or romance.

Definitely. The last time you spoke to tQ, you mentioned ‘being kind to yourself’ as a big piece of advice you give to other people suffering anxiety. What advice would you give yourself after listening back to See You In The Next Life?

TLS: Keep on writing. You don’t ever stop having personal challenges in your life, and you don’t ever obliterate your demons. You just have to learn to manage them somehow and let them operate freely in the background. I say all of this but I don’t know the answers, I just really hope this album helps people as much as it has helped me. Even if it’s just for the 43 minutes that you’re playing it for.

You’ve transitioned seamlessly from being behind the boards as a producer and a DJ to being comfortable on the mic - were you always studying rappers?

TLS: Always. I started out rapping before I ever produced, when I was like 11. I just never knew how to say in words what was in my head. Working with so many incredible talents, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to see how the do it, and find real inspiration in how they put their truth in to songs. Although not a rapper (he’ll rate me for specifying that ha), I’ve been hugely inspired by Murkage Dave and his journey from DJing and hosting to becoming this singing force of nature. Made me really see that it's possible if you love your craft and speak with talent, confidence and purpose you can achieve anything that’s in your head, and re-invent yourself no matter who puts up walls in front of you.

What advice would you give to a younger you?

TLS: No matter how much worrying you do, it’s still going to happen. So if you can’t beat fear - just do it scared. And maybe do lots of sit ups so that future me can reap the benefits without doing any of the work.

Do you have any favourite break up songs?

I definitely do. Fiona Apple, 'Valentine' is a serious all time painful one. Anika, 'I Go To Sleep' is another. But to be honest, I made this 'cause none of them worked and I had to create my own self soothing, very specific sad-boy music.

Listen to The Last Skeptik's new album, See You In The Next Life, out today.