Blarx: Wouldn’t it be nice…
Former Le Swap and Acland Burghley student talks London life – and reveals the story behind a music video that features a certain local newspaper
08 August, 2019 — By Róisín Gadelrab
Carl Blarx makes gentle hip-hop rhymes, with thoughtful, storytelling lyrics
A CLOSE look at the new video for King’s Cross musician Carl Blarx’s single, Be Nice, reveals the singer peering out from a familiar newspaper as he watches events unfold.
Blarx – aka Maximillian Muir – is hiding behind a copy of the New Journal.
“I had this last-minute idea to have me popping up in some shots poking my head over the paper,” says Blarx. “Then on the day I realised I hadn’t got a paper and (friend) Robbie said, ‘we’re outside a shop, they’ll have newspapers in there’.
“The CNJ was a perfect coincidence because it was all shot round here, my first video as well, so I quite like to let people know where I’m from. It all came together exactly as it was meant to.”
Blarx says he is still finding his style but there are definite themes emerging – gentle hip-hop rhymes, honest, thoughtful storytelling lyrics and chilled instrumentals seem to be his trademark.
Speaking from his Cromer Street home where he lives with his mother, also a singer, the former Le Swap and Acland Burghley student is a little torn as to where he identifies with most, having spent most of his life in King’s Cross, apart from an interlude in Kentish Town, his second home.
“I spent a lot of time doing the whole Heath thing, running around, getting a little chase from park police then heading off to some weird spot in a hidden foresty area and smoking some skunk,” he says.
“I can never decide which is more important to me, they’re constantly one-upping each other.
“I say my heart’s kind of in Tufnell Park but I grew up in Kings Cross.
“But then people say, ‘ooh get you, you must have a lot of money’.
“F*** off, I don’t feel like I have to explain myself. Anywhere in London you have council blocks next to three-storey buildings.
“Me and my mum live in a council estate. It used to be a one-bed but we moved things around. I’m not rich, I just live in King’s Cross.”
Be Nice was shot in and around King’s Cross with the help of friends and family and features neighbouring Steven Lee supermarket.
“I was writing, producing and on the day directing, which was quite stressful but fun.
“It was all zero budget apart from a bit of money I gave to the people for letting us shoot in their shop. It was really cool, a really nice day. We met at 9am. My mum, the night before, cooked up a bunch of really nice food, so everyone’s stomachs were full. Everyone in the video I’ve got a lot of love for, I hold them all in high regard.”
A still from Blarx’s Be Nice video, which features a copy of the New Journal
He says the single’s positivity is an antidote to how people in London can treat each other.
“A lot of the time, people don’t really have time for anyone else in London,” says Blarx.
“There’s a lot of rushing around trying to get somewhere, thinking someone looks too dodgy to stop and talk to them, super-quick judgments. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s true but completely natural, as humans, people feel comfortable about things you understand, your mind is quick to put together an idea to make you understand.
“A lot of the judgments you make are often just bullshit. That song is about we need to be a bit more empathetic – and stop, especially with homeless people.
“I work in a pub in Soho, so often you see homeless people asking for money and some people are really rude.
“Most of the time people don’t make eye contact, like they don’t exist – probably because it makes them feel guilty.
“People are quick to assume the worst of people – they need to be a bit less quick to pull out the swords or shields.”
Blarx knows what it’s like to be the subject of suspicion.
“I’m pretty sure I look like an approachable person but I definitely feel I’ve been walking behind someone and you can feel certain things, especially with young black people. You get put in a box by people in society, a box they don’t even realise they’re putting you in,” he says.
“I dress a certain way. If I was walking around in a tracksuit it would probably happen a lot more.”
On one occasion, while smoking outside his workplace, Blarx says he was “suddenly surrounded by five police officers quite aggressively pushing me to the side, saying what you doing out here?”
“I said I work in the pub,” he says. “They asked in the pub and of course they said I work there. They said I’m sure you know there’s a lot of drug dealers around here. I said, ‘you’re telling me I look like a drug dealer and he said, ‘you don’t look like you fit in’. In London!
“Even when I was younger it happened a lot. People wonder why a lot of black people question the police but it makes a lot of sense.
“But I guess I’m luckier than a lot of people who came through the 70s and 80s, the situation was a lot different then.”
He adds: “Personally I don’t feel necessarily resentful to anyone or the world but I’m not really sure – there’s definitely moments where I’ve felt like that but it all kind of goes back to that thing of people making sense of the images in their heads.
“It’s not a great thing to directly blame people because there’s deeper reasons behind anything and that’s the direction you need to think if you want to think in a more proactive or productive way.”
Blarx promises there is more music coming.
But he adds: “I hate rushing.”
• Hear Blarx live at his online gig next Friday on Threads Radio and keep an eye on his Instagram for gig announcements.