Jordan Cardy has ideas. More ideas than the average Google Results page. At eighteen, this Essex kid will write and record in any circumstance, and there’s a chance everyday strangers could find their chit-chat at the heart of a hit single.
In early 2014, sick of trying to form pop-punk bands because nobody would turn up to practice, Cardy made his first RAT BOY mixtape. A seething mess of ragged guitars, police sirens and dodgy samples, few things arrived more unhinged. That’s not going to change one jot, despite the recent attention.
Cardy writes and records everywhere. In a tour van, on the road, in big-wig meetings. “I could be recording this,” he smirks. On his hit list for a second mixtape, he wants to get spoken word samples of “when you get off the tube in Camden and someone offers you drugs”, asking his mum for a tenner (“she’s like ‘I ain’t got no fucking money!’”) and industry bitching sessions (“I was a meeting recently - they were slagging someone off and I just recorded it”). These outlandish aspirations don’t compare to the top of RAT BOY’s bucket list - getting a feat. from Frank Ocean. “He lives around here, right?” asks Jordan. “I wanna try and find him, record a conversation with him on my phone and then put it on a song.”
Fresh out of college - where he got bad marks in art for spending the whole time making music and mixtape cover art - Cardy recently quit a job in Wetherspoons to sign up for this music lark. “I worked in the kitchen. I was too weird to work on the front of the bar…” he remembers. Now the attention’s firmly on taking his bonkers first work to new heights. Inspired by his favourite album, The Streets’ ‘Original Pirate Material’ (his brother played the record daily in his Vauxhall Nova - of course) RAT BOY wants to tell stories in the space of one release. “I’ve got massive ideas, diagrams on the walls, trying to work it out,” he says.
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he claims. “Just guessing it. It’s all out of time, too. No metronomes and shit.” On paper, RAT BOY is the kind of project that would usually come unstuck, have its wheels fall off before getting into second gear. But there’s a momentum behind this chancer that’s going to take him very far indeed.
"I’ve got massive ideas, diagrams on the walls."
And are you based in London now?
It’s too dear in London. I still live at home. In Chelmsford, I get loads of stuff to write about. There’s always something going on. I always write when I’m out, even if it’s just on my phone. I can’t write sitting down at home, so it’s just tons of shit, all on my phone. I have to go through it and try and find what fits. I always record my mates’ conversations. I could be recording this. I was a meeting recently - they were slagging someone off and I just recorded it. I could just blackmail everyone.
Have you finished school?
I was working in Wetherspoons and I left my job there. I worked in the kitchen. It was sweaty… I was too weird to work on the front of the bar. I asked, and they didn’t get back to me for six months. I left when all the music stuff was picking up.
Would you ever want to get other people involved in new material?
Yeah, like Gorillaz do. I wanted to try and find Frank Ocean. He lives around here, right? I wanna try and find him, record a conversation with him on my phone and then put it on a song.
Were you raised on all kinds of genres?
My dad and my brother always listened to The Streets. My sister’s into weird music. But I grew up listening to The Streets. It’s well relevant, stuff that’s actually going on. I remember being in my brother’s car when ‘Original Pirate Material’ came out. He played it over and over again in his Vauxhall Nova. It’s a good fit. That’s always been my favourite album. Even the third album - the one people aren’t too keen on - I like that one too. I’d love to do a concept record like that second one.
Do you think about the lyrics side, or do you come up with it on the spot?
My next mixtape - I want it to be a story. I’ve got massive ideas, diagrams on the walls, trying to work it out. I’m trying to get my mum to shout at me just so I can record it. I asked her for a tenner the other day - she’s like ‘I ain’t got no fucking money’. I’ve got two hours’ worth of stuff now.
So you’re always thinking about where something could fit?
I’m always writing. Just like going on the train here. That’s all I do. And I can’t wait to go on the road - I like writing on trains and big, long journeys. I tried to write in the van, but we were just going mental in the van on the way to Nottingham.
Photos: Phil Smithies. Taken from the May 2015 issue of DIY, out now.
Rat Boy will play Live At Leeds (1st-4th May), where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.