Celebrating a number one album that deals with “the ups and downs of being a human”, we chatted to Slowthai about his mental health struggles, crying while watching soul and how he dealt with suicidal thoughts.
Slowthai is sat in his studio – a basement room in the house in Northampton he shares with his fiancée and his mum – with a wide smile on his face. Wearing a vibrant purple dressing gown, he’s talking excitedly. And with good reason. It’s the night before his second album, Tyron, will be declared number one album in the UK charts. Though it’s not been confirmed, it seems fairly certain. “I don’t wanna be like, ‘yeah, it’s happening’ and then i jinx it. It seems pretty certified but you never know.”
He got his moniker because his name is Ty (Tyron Frampton) and he spoke slowly as a kid. But here he speaks quickly, his thoughts zig zagging around. He talks about his mental health, how the album “is about the ups and downs of being a human” and how he wants the message to come through that you should ‘never be afraid to be yourself’. The fact this album uses his real name underlines how personal it is – a collection of songs that see him explore who he really is with a refreshing frankness.
TYRON was not the album he had planned to make, but because of everything he was going through it became the album he had to make. “I’ve mapped out the albums I wanna do but the album that I wanted to be my second album was a completely different thing. I can only talk about my experiences and I was just generally feeling like shit and it became clear that’s what I had to talk about.”
“I wasn’t really enjoying what I was doing. I was just autopiloting through it.”
The year that saw him burst into the spotlight with his astonishing debut Nothing Great About Britain didn’t bring the happiness and contentment he’d imagined. “I’d gone from literally being no one to then being in the spotlight… [and] I think I felt maybe getting to a point of success would feel a lot different. So my expectations of things were different to what they actually were.”
The touring lifestyle and the excess it brings also took its toll. “I was exhausted. I hadn’t really enjoyed or taken anything in, I hadn’t appreciated or been grateful for everything. I don’t know if it was just travelling all the time, or just abusing my body and my mind, taking too many substances—using them just to feel like I’m having fun when I wasn’t really enjoying what I was doing. I was just autopiloting through it.”
“When you just live like that and you’re not just comfortable, it starts driving you a little bit mad.” Things all seemed to come to a head after a now-notorious incident at last year’s NME Awards when he tried to be funny with host Katherine Ryan but the joke turned sour. He quit drinking after that and decided to make some changes.