UNCO[V]ERED artists EYK are like Everyone You Know – if everyone you know has a keen ear for the vital sounds of post-millennial Britain, from The Streets to Arctic Monkeys and all hip hop points in between… and is able to mash those influences together by producing tracks in a bedroom and a garage… then top off those tracks with sharply observed lyrics and rhymes and bars about suburban heel-kicking and small-town raving… then manages to use all that to land a record deal within four weeks of putting their first tunes up on Soundcloud.
Just like everyone you know, right?
Everyone You Know are Rhys Kirkby-Cox (24, Man United through and through, a young father) and Harvey Kirkby (19, QPR till I die, a young studio geek). Technically – genetically – they’re half brothers, sharing a dad but not a mum. But really – actually – they’re just brothers, best mates and simpatico songwriters who produce beats out of an Uxbridge bedroom (Harvey) and craft lyrics in a Sandhurst garage (Rhys).
Rhys and Harvey kicked open the door with last October’s Cheer Up Charlie. Five banging tracks and two pithy skits, the seven-track EP showcases the brothers’ prodigious, self-taught musical talents and way with tunes that lane-hop and genre-jump with confident ease. They’re the Playlist Generation, loving this and loving that and able to channel all of it – but here blessed with an underpinning of four music-obsessed parents/step-parents with record/CD collections drawn from the best of R&B, vocal house, Britpop, east coast hip hop, rave and jungle.
As the brothers say, their name tells it like it is: Everyone You Know are “just normal people who do normal shit”.
Rhys started making music while still at school in Hampshire, using software and a laptop his uncle gave him. Then, while studying media/music/photography at college, he upped his game, honing his rap and rhyme skills. Harvey, meanwhile, had taken notice.
“He’s my older brother so I obviously wanted to do what he was doing, so I got into production. I started working with a guy in the States called Fresco – we met on Soundcloud, sharing beats. That was all hip-hop stuff. Then me and Rhys were just knocking about making tunes for four for five years.”
In 2016 they went from knocking about to knocking up an EP that was stoutly homemade but already ambitious: Faces ran to 11 tracks and two skits. “The skits are an insight into our lives, how our mates are,” explains Rhys. “Old school hip hop albums had skits – The Marshall Mathers LP, Ludacris – and I still get a buzz out of those. They piece things together.”
“But musically, that was kinda early stage, urban-sounding,” adds Harvey. “We were finding our feet and our sound.”
They sent the EP to some management contacts in London, friends of the dad of one of Harvey’s school friends. Two weeks later they signed with the management, who also look after Professor Green. Two weeks after that, after one quick rehearsal-turned-showcase in Shepherd’s Bush, they were offered a record deal by RCA.
Rhys: “They all said ‘no pressure, no pressure’. We were like, no pressure on you, maybe, but we’re shitting our pants.’
Harvey: “We had no social following – 26 on Soundcloud, barely 800 followers on Instagram. But something clicked.”
Cheer Up Charlie, recorded in a studio in Acton with a guitarist and their imagination, was the first fruits of that deal. Now it’s followed by another seven-track EP, Look After Your Pennies “banged out”, they cheerfully note, in only a handful of one-day sessions. The sublimely funky ‘She Don’t Dance’ – blessed with a soulful falsetto from Rhys – was the start-off track.
And there’s more, much more, where that came from. They have another “15 to 20” songs in their back pocket (“and three or four of them are total gems”), products of a ceaseless creative urge. Everyone You Know will continue to release EPs: they want to put out as much music as possible, to give “a bigger picture”.
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It’s a sound that brands have already cottoned on to. Adidas commissioned the brothers to soundtrack their most recent commercial, which featured Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba. Again, the brothers’ natural-born studio skills and up-for-it attitude came to the fore, with the track commissioned and completed in less than two weeks. Cue some nice clobber?
“We got absolutely f*ck-all,” Rhys retorts. “And they took four months to pay us. Stick that in there as well.”
“That’s why were wearing Reeboks and Diadoras,” smiles Harvey.
This is the world of Everyone You Know: straight-up, game-on, full-on, whip-smart and rave-ready. But, also, real. “You wake up feeling shit, that’s fine,” reflects Rhys as he considers what inspires him lyrically. “We all feel that. But it’s just not put out there for the world to see. There’s a lyric on Our Generation: ‘memory stored on an iPhone folder’. People are living life through their phone cameras – they don’t have the actual memory of doing or seeing something, only the picture of it. We’re saying: be present.”
“That’s what happens in our generation: you go on a night out, or to a gig, all you see is people using phones,” says Harvey. “But if I speak to our dad about the rave scene, no one had phones and they didn’t care about filming it. They were just taking it in and enjoying it. They were just having it.”
Being Present and Having It: it’s the EYK way.
UNCO[V]ERED premieres on Saturday at 12pm, straight out of the Official [V] Top 50. Channel 801, only on Foxtel.