If there’s one thing Essex band Bilk aren’t short of, it’s confidence. The trio have had something of a breakthrough year, playing Reading & Leeds, and are now setting their sights on even more ambitious climes, with their debut album set for 2023.
Until then, though, the band have released a brand-new single today, ‘Be Someone’. As its title suggests, the track expresses their desire to make something of themselves in this music biz. As part of our series on emerging artists, we speak to lead singer Sol Abrahams who, true to the band’s character, doesn’t hold back.
How did you guys form?
I was doing Bilk with other musicians for a couple years before I even met Luke and Harry. Shit didn’t work out with those guys for various reasons. We went through about six different drummers because I could never get along with them and the one bass player I had before Luke fucked off to become a lawyer or something.
I knew Luke because he came to one of my early gigs and I met him briefly after the show. He then later came round for a rehearsal. We both liked Harrington jackets and early Green Day so we got on pretty well. Then it was me, Luke, and this other drummer for a bit but shit went tits up with him so that’s where we found Harry.
Harry was playing in a pub cover band at the time, who Luke knew of; we were actually going to try out the singer of that band as Luke knew him through college and we heard he was decent at drums. But obviously it made more sense pretty to just ask the actual drummer, who was Harry. Harry came round for a jam and after round two rehearsals we knew it was a good fit. Since then, it’s been the three of us.
Describe your sound in three words.
Direct, ballsy and real.
What’s the best show you’ve played so far?
I couldn’t say an exact best but for the sake of answering the question I’d say playing the 100 Club in London was definitely up there as one of the best gigs. I felt a strong connection between myself and the crowd during ‘Daydreamer’, watching all these mad young teenagers jumping up and down, knowing it must mean something to them.
That’s what I rate about doing music, the fact people can relate to the shit I write about. It’s a good thing to know. The stage got rushed too at the end of the gig during the encore and it was chaos. Security were trying to get everyone down from the stage but our fans weren’t having any of it. It’s refreshing to see authority become powerless due to the power of the people, especially when it’s empowered by music.
How was Reading & Leeds for you this summer?
It was banging yeah. It went exactly how I imagined it would really. We turned up to the festival as real underdogs, I think, just ‘cause we’re a smaller band doing something a bit different that only a certain amount of people know about right now.
We’ve got a bit of a cult-like following at the minute with how die hard our fans are and that showed at Reading and Leeds. We made our mark on that stage and brought the energy. The whole place was packed and going off.
You’ve got a track ‘I Got Knocked Out the Same Night England Did’. What do you rate England’s chances are this World Cup?
I don’t know and, to be honest, I don’t really care. England always lose anyway so I’m that bothered either way. As long as I don’t get some prick smack me in my head from behind again, I’m sweet. Plus, I don’t even care too much about that tune anymore.
I know it’s a good song and the fans rate it, and I’m glad of that, but I like to keep it moving with the music and that song was from a while back. I like to move on and let the music grow with me. My mind is all about the album shit right now. That’s what I feel really represents not only who I am as a person and a writer but us as a band too. It is a good song though.
What’s your new track ‘Be Someone’ about?
‘Be Someone’ is about my journey trying to make it in music and wanting to be someone in general; wanting to do something extraordinary and unique with my life and not just live the same existence as a billion other people before me – the same old 9-to-5, rat race shit.
It came from a place of motivation I suppose. I had a load of shit going on when I wrote it: I had distractions around me, I was on-and-off the dol and having to deal with that. People were doubting me and telling me I wasn’t going to be shit. The song just came out of saying, ‘You know what, fuck all that. I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna make it happen.’
The song can lend to anyone’s aspiration in life; whether you want to be a fireman or a fucking egg and spoon race champion. For me personally, it’s music. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else in life but music. It’s what I’m about through and through.
You’re described by some as epitomising “British youth culture as it stands. What do you think of British youth culture currently?
British youth culture is just youth culture nowadays, I think. It’s almost like, how can there be “British” youth culture when you walk down a high street in Britain and see a kid walking into a Taco Bell. Britain is so Americanised now and it’s only getting more like that. I think as well, with social media, it means that not one place really has as strong an identity as it might have done in the past.
For example, you go on TikTok and you’re seeing people from all across the world and how they dress, what music they listen to and the slang they use. I spoke to my dad about this the other week; he was saying when he was a teenager, his reality was where he lived. Now it’s just everywhere, meaning it naturally dilutes the identity and culture of places.
You formed in Essex. What’s the music scene like there?
The Essex music scene is really shit. We’ve had a few decent artists come out of Essex, but broadly it’s wank. There’s barely any decent venues, I don’t know any other bands really apart from us and people just hate on it. People won’t even take you seriously if you say you’re in a band here. I go to Manchester or Glasgow and people rate it.
People up north almost think I’m boasting sometimes when I tell them I’m in a band just because it’s seen as such an “impressive” thing to say up there. In Essex however, it’s completely different. I used to get laughed at in school for saying I was starting a band.
On the plus side though, there’ll be a few more artists and bands coming from Essex in the next couple years I reckon. You’ve already got Just K, a rapper also from Chelmsford, and a band called Soaked who are from Leigh-on-Sea, who are also good.
You’ve had over six million streams on Spotify so far. Obviously it’s not all about that but what have you made of the success you’ve had so far?
Fucking hell, I didn’t even know it was that much. But what I make of our “success” is that I’m happy with how things are going. At the same time though, I just want people to hear this new album now. It’s our debut album and with the production, the songs, the lyrics, the music, everything else… I think it’s our best yet.
I just want to get that shit into people’s ears because it really feels like us. It’s a true representation of us as a band. Also, I’m happy about where we’ve come so far because, at the end of the day, I’m just a normal bloke from Essex who wasn’t born into any of this.
I’ve never had a major leg-up from anyone like some of these bands who have dads who are celebrity musicians or rich parents. My dad’s a London cab driver and my mum does beauty from home. I went to a normal school in a normal suburban city and to get somewhere with the music is a pat on the back for myself, I think. That’s simply because I write good tunes with real lyrics. I don’t write bollocks.
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And quite simply, we all work fucking hard for it. So I’m happy with the path we’re on; however, I do think we should be much bigger than we are. I think we’re a lot better than most other bands and artists that are bigger than us right now and I think what we’re doing is important. I want as many people to hear the music as much as possible; get it out to the masses and go as far as we can with it.
Are you ambitious as a band? What’s the end-goal you want?
I basically answered this in the last answer but the end-goal is just to go as far as we can with it and make an impact. I want to make our mark on music and inspire people. I want to have a good time and live a life that’s a bit different. I want people to listen to our tunes and it make them feel a certain way.
I want it to do for other people what my favourite artists and bands do for me and be mentioned alongside my favourite artists and bands. I’m gonna start singing ‘Be Someone’ at this rate so I’ll shut up. But you get the picture.
Which other emerging artists excite you right now?
I quite like some of Amyl and the Sniffers’ stuff. I think some of that is good. And I know he’s not really emerging but I’ve rated Slowthai’s music for a while now too. To be honest with you though, not really much else excites me. This is a big reason why I do the band stuff in the first place: because there wasn’t a lot else I felt I could really get behind so I just thought, ‘Fuck it, I’ll do it myself’.
I wish there were more current artists and bands I could support and really be into like that but I won’t lie to myself just to be the nice guy who loves everything and everyone. You’ve got to be honest and the truth is, I’m not bothered.
What’s next for you? And where can people next see you play live?
We’ve got more tunes to drop – tunes from the album that we’re eager to get out there. Our debut album is coming out on 10th February next year and then, after that, we’ve got a UK tour for the album. That’s going to be chaos and the tickets are already going quick so we’re all looking forward to getting back on tour again.
We always have a laugh when we tour. That’s that, really. Singles, album, tour and some other shit that we haven’t told anyone yet that’ll be announced on our page very soon.