In the underground scene right now, no genre has such a visceral and interesting air about it than the up-and-coming artists working on an experimental genre known as cybergrind. Mixing the speed of grindcore, the quirky beats of chiptune, and the screams of emo, artists like Bejalvin and Blind Equation are carrying the torch of this bizarre yet intriguing venture in heavy music that we can't help but feel calls back to nu metal in its own way. Recently I got to sit down with the UK/US cybergrind band Thotcrime to discuss their influences, their relationship to nu metal, and much more.
June: Who would you say were the biggest influences on the type of music you make? What bands, artists?
Malady Jane: Everybody around us has a different answer for that.
Hayley: Well, I feel like when you [Malady Jane] first started talking about the band, Bubblegum Octopus is somebody you brought up.
Jane: Yeah, a lot of the older cybergrind bands like Bubblegum Octopus – and Blind Equation for me. And then the sort of chaotic hardcore like Sass, stuff like Duck Duck Goose and the Sawtooth Grin. Bands like that.
K: Whereas, when we started, I was listening to a lot of drum and bass metal like Pendulum, Modestep, and The Algorithm. So it was kind of like Mal approaching it from hardcore with electronics, and me approaching it as electronics with guitar. It was a, "You got some guitar on my electronics," kind of dealie. But now I think there's a lot more straight-up punk influence in it, and a lot more straight-up electronic stuff going on.
How would you say the whole nu metal movement has influenced you guys?
Jane: I think we all to an extent grew up listening to nu metal, whether it’s just actively being into that sub-genre or just hearing songs. I didn't have a huge nu metal phase or anything, but I was playing a lot of video games that had Static X and Slipknot and stuff like that in the soundtrack. So I think the more we started doing this, at least for me, I started looking back and getting more and more into stuff like that.
Hayley: For me, personally, some of my favorite vocalists have come out of that scene. Chester Bennington, Serj Tankian, [Morgan Lander] from Kittie – she's probably one of my favorites as far as screaming harsh vocalists. I would say, too, Chino Moreno, and even newer stuff where they're combining metalcore and pop music with nu metal; like Poppy. That genre specifically, has probably been one of the biggest influences on my vocals.
Kind of like bands like Omerta?
Hayley: Oh yeah, no, totally. I like their attitude, and I like the riffs, but I wouldn't say they're necessarily my main influence as far as stuff. But I love, as a contemporary artist, they're bringing back that really aggressive almost "FUCK YOU!" attitude that early Slipknot really had.
So earlier you mentioned growing up playing video games. How would you say video game music has influenced you?
K: For me, very, but I think the earliest music I was ever obsessed with was in Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and all that. And then as I got older and discovered things like Tony Hawk, it was like, "You can put real songs in video games, but why not do both?" So combining those video game melodies and chord progressions with the aggression of guitars has always been a thing that has influenced me. Having a band that leans into the electronic-y side of it gives a very great outlet for putting that into something that people will hear, rather than just pissing around in my room.
How would you say the hardcore and metalcore scene has treated you guys, considering you make a very, very different style of music than is normally played?
Jane: I think for the most part we've found a lot of people who are into what we're doing. We've gotten on bills with hardcore bands, metalcore bands, electronic acts, hyperpop artists, and usually people come around to what we're doing when we play shows with them.
Hayley: I think some of my favorite shows have probably, honestly, been with other metalcore bands. I feel like a lot of people, when they talk about our music, have this nostalgic kind of vibe for what was going on in MySpace between the time of 2004 to 2012. And so a lot of people gravitate towards what we're doing in a way where it's nostalgic but also kind of fresh. I feel like it's been mostly pretty solid.
Jane: I feel like we get a lot of comments from people being like, "Oh, you remind me of whatever my favorite band was in 2008."
Hayley: Yeah. Which is cool.
Yeah, bringing that up. I didn't really grow up around that era, but I do remember there were bands that were really popular back then that tried to put synths into metalcore music. They got ridiculed back then.
K: I think they were ahead of their time really.
K: Because the internet just became a thing that people were really using in the noughties, there was sort of this idea that the rockers listened to rock, the metalheads listened to metal, and the EDM kids listened to EDM – even though EDM wasn't a thing back then.
Hayley: No, not even.
K: But then groups like Shikari, and Pendulum, and I know that this lot love Attack, Attack.
Hayley: And IWABO, too, to an extent also.
Attack, Attack still gets a lot of mean jokes said about them.
K: But when they first came out, people were like, "Oh, you can't put synths on rock music." I'm like, "Well, Iron Maiden have been doing it since the 80s, so shut up." But I think now that sort of the internet has broken down those barriers between different scenes, if you will, or different cliques of kids, and you'll get hardcore kids that are like, "Oh yeah, I went to see Skrillex last week. It was amazing." You get Ravers who are like, "Oh yeah, I went to go and see Papa Roach last week."
I think this is the time where the kind of... It's not even acceptance anymore. People just don't really care. If it's got the vibe they want, then they'll find that no matter what instruments it's played on.
I think that's really the beauty of growing up in an era where I can go look for pretty much anything. I think that kind of thing is why people don't really care about genres anymore, because every hardcore kid, every metalcore kid I talk to will say some stuff like, "Oh yeah, I like Ariana Grande." It's like nobody cares anymore.
K: I feel like back in the day before we had Spotify and YouTube, people would go, "I like this kind of music, so when I go into a record shop, and I've only got X amount of money to spend, I'm going to buy music in genres that I know I already fuck with." Whereas in the world of Spotify and YouTube, you can take a chance on something different, and if you don't like it, you haven't wasted any money on it. But if you do like it, then that's another new rabbit hole that you can fall down.
Hayley: And I also don't think things were necessarily as segmented as people like to think they were. Getting into hardcore music back in college, one of my friends who was a writer at the time for a metal magazine – we would just sit down in her place, and watch Hate5six videos. She would throw on hip-hop records and talk about how there was a long history of hip-hop fans and hardcore fans kind of intermingled within those scenes. And so yeah, the internet has made things super ubiquitous, but at the same time, I don't think things were necessarily as segmented as there were before. It's just the barriers are broken down now.
Dot: And I feel like before we got [music] streaming, even around the 2000s or so, you still had blog spots, Mediafire, online share threads, so even then, you had the MySpace bands like Duck Duck Goose, Blood Brothers, whatever, who were still doing wacky stuff that wasn't serious, but also it was serious if they wanted it to be. But we're going to take whatever influences we want. We're just going to put it all together, throw it at the wall. Some of the stuff on Three One G Records, like The Locust, Holy Molar, just that sense of wacky, fun synthesizers. That thread was already going.
So once you get the connections to start getting all of your influences together in one place and just really breaking down the barriers of, "Okay, I'm not in a genre band. I'm just going to take all the stuff I like and make music out of it."
Is there anything that you guys would like to bring up or talk about?
Hayley: Trans rights are human rights. And also, fuck Ron DeSantis.
I was going to say that. I was going to say that.
K: May both of our great nations crumble.
One final thing, are there any bands or artists that you guys would like to shout out?
K: I'll probably shout out The Algorithm and Ithaca because they're just smashing everything.
Dot: CocoJoey, the tour with them has been so lovely. Listen to them. Their music is incredible. Been just a wonderful time. And then shout out Greed Worm, Shrivel Up, and Snuff out of Chicago. My buddy Ryan and Tony used to play in a Powerviolence band with them called Sty. They're still just shredding it in Chicago.
Hayley: For me, I guess I do have a handful of stuff. Shout out all the people in the Philly scene who've kind of accepted Thotcrime, and all the stuff that we're doing. Big shout out to GorboPap, my roommate, she makes really cool electronic music. Civil War in France, they're my homies. They make screamo chiptune stuff that's a little bit on the twee side. And then also shout out... I'm trying to think. Oh yeah, Boygrrl. My friend Mia, I have a project with her called DOGxTEETH. She's making some really inventive shoegazey, dreamy, dark pop rock right now, and it's really cool, I think people should be on that wave.
Jane: Shout out Blind Equation, Real Emotional cybergrind. Shout out 217 Hardcore.
Hayley: Oh, also, DJ Nusagi, one of my besties.
Thotcrime continue to blaze a path with their inventive new take on extreme music, and we here at the nu metal agenda cannot wait to see them do more. Check out their latest album D1G1T4L_DR1FT!
Connect with the band: https://linktr.ee/thotcrime