York has a new record label with a difference.
Musication provides a platform for musicians who have experienced homelessness, addiction or mental health difficulties.
Set up by social enterprise Tang Hall Smart CIC, Musication’s first signing was rap artist D.Ni.L. After his debut album This In’t A Party came out in May, it won widespread acclaim and has helped get his life back on track.
And there are more exciting projects lined up for the next few months – one of the label’s newest artists is a Big Issue seller from York.
Born in Croydon, D-Ni-L was brought up in York. And for the past 20 years he has battled drink and drug addiction.
He spent four years living in hostels and sleeping rough, and his 13-track debut album is a strikingly honest depiction of his experiences.
“The first time I got drunk I was 11 years old and I slept rough with a mate,” he said. “It was freezing and we had a crate of lager to share.
“After vandalising the local library we decided to break into the grounds of our old infant school and broke into the Wendy house to try and stay warm.
“It was still cold so we set fire to the curtains while we were in it and ended up smoking ourselves out! After trying to sleep on a bench we ended up sleeping behind the library we’d vandalised earlier.”
D.Ni.L adds: “From day one, I was alcoholic.”
Singing, spitting and screaming
Though he played in a wide variety of local bands, the last nine years have been spent in a cycle of abstinence, relapse and hospitalisation as well as an increase in the use of hard drugs.
For This In’t A Party he spent the last 15 months prolifically writing material for the album, buying back musical equipment he’d sold for food and alcohol.
A mostly self-taught musician, he plays drums, keyboard, bass and guitar and can be found singing, spitting and screaming vocals within his diverse musical range.
His music has found a large and appreciative audience – his track Suckle has been watched more than 111,000 times on YouTube.
Following D-Ni-L’s breakthrough, Musication has plans for more musical success.
Coming at the end of this month is Resistance, which features Sinbad, a famous face on the streets of York where he sells the Big Issue, on the Djembe.
Teaming up with the chief executive officer of Tang Hall SMART CIC Sue Williamson, plus Mike, Alex and Neil, Resistance will present their perspective on the human condition.
There will be tracks from 3will, a breakthrough Grime rapper, and Komorebian who’ll be releasing his music in September.
And D-Ni-L is bringing out his second album Suicide in Sips, which is a new direction for him as he branches off into rap metal and more experimental music.