Interview: Proper. Discuss “ASAP Rocky Type Beat”, Being A Person Of Color In The Scene

Posted: by The Editor

The Afro-punk band, Proper., recently announced their signing to the UK based label, Big Scary Monsters, and released a new single + video. Kayla caught up with the band’s guitarist and singer, Erik Garlington, to learn more.

The Alt: Referring to your band name, you’re reclaiming a quip you often heard (me too) growing up. Can you go a little deeper into what that means?

Growing up for me in the Midwest and South, where in the Midwest where I was, there weren’t many people of color, and in the South there were a lot, and it didn’t really matter where I would go, it was always “you talk really white” or “you talk really proper” or if my parents were white. So it was getting that inescapable feeling of wherever you go, people are going to think that. I just figured, “Why not take it back?”

How does that translate into making music and the goals of Proper.? Does it differ from Great Wight/does this feel better?

We’re still the same band, just a better name. I got tired explaining to people what a wight was anyway, I just assumed a lot more people watched Game of Thrones, but that’s clearly not the case. But yeah, same goals. We’re trying to do less of the whole “DIY” thing and more of trying to turn this into our jobs.

The parallels between the record title and the infamous Suburbia track are easy to point out. Did you find the record continuously on repeat while growing up? up/experiencing the subject matter of the album?

Yeah, I would say so, definitely the last 5 years. I remember listening and just thinking “They understand,” and it’s definitely why I went with the naming of the first album. 

Describe your single, A$AP Rocky Type Beat, to me.

Oh God, um…it’s just like when you’re doing well, like going to the gym and texting your friends back in a timely manner, and then when you kinda fall off the train and fuck everything up and think ‘This is the best that i can be” it’s kind of a relapse, I never did drugs or anything, but it’s kind of a G rated relapse.

Tell me how it came to be and what inspired it. 

It wasn’t a specific event, but it’s just like those moments when you look back and realize that you’re fucking up. So it’s wanting to be better and it’s like, “Oh, I’m actually not.”

Why did you choose it to be your first single?

It’s all over the place, I just figured it showcased just about anything you can expect from the rest of the record. Leave people wondering where the hell you could possibly go after that song, that outro is just really fun, and I think it’ll be cool once people get past the heavy part. Like, “Oh there’s more? It’s like a beatboxing part,” And I thought it was really cool. “Change our name, this is what you expect from us, get ready,” type of song. 

What are some of your favorite bands right now?

Oh God, okay. I always try to listen to new bands but go back to my OG bands. So I’ll do half and half. OG bands: Say Anything, The Wonder Years, kanye, chance. Newer bands: The Internet, Steve Lacey, Blood Orange it’s just really amazing to see all these amazing black musicians do acoustic guitar in a genre people don’t really expect to be ground breaking. Half the song on this record are learning R&B songs and thinking, “Why can’t I use that on a punk song?” And it comes out really well. But I guess not R&B wise, St. Vincent

What is it like experiencing the scene as a musician of color?

Well now it’s great, because we’re in New York. But back in the South, in Mississippi, Kansas City, it was always hit or miss. We would play “Not Black Enough,” and either people would get it or we would get heckled by white teens or drunk white men. It was really just entitled people thinking they could do what they want. But here, it’s great. Besides the whole…sometimes it will be, “We need a diverse bill, let’s ask Proper., but like…they’re trying, but it’s a grey area because you don’t know if you’re being tokenized, but it’s getting better, the scene is getting more diverse. 

Is there anything else you want fans to know about the upcoming record?

There’s nothing I can really say, because it’s a surprise. After this first single, we’re gonna keep people guessing.

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Kayla Carmichael | @kaylacarmicheal

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