“This album won’t get radio play”: Blizzard talks beats and mental health 

From enfant terrible of the grime scene to respected producer and multifaceted songwriter, Manchester’s Finest catches up with a master of rhythm and flow to talk about musical influences, dark themes, and his long-awaited new album, Demons Living Rent Free. 

By Martin Guttridge Hewitt | Last updated 29 September 2023

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Bradley Green has come far since first garnering attention for beats and rhymes in the late noughties. The South Manchester-raised MC turned heads at an almost unfathomably young age, spitting bars with Slayer and Shifty as part of the grime collective Mayhem by the time he reached his teens. Now approaching 30, between then and now plenty has happened, including stints on the legendary rap battle video series Lord of the Mics, and a relocation to London for work in the music industry.

Today, he’s back in our ends, living in Bury, his wife’s hometown, having left the capital behind in favour of returning to his native city region. Friday 29 September sees the release of his first major project since that move, ‘Demons Living Rent Free’. Catching up with the rapper and producer to discuss the project, and then grabbing some shots at iconic Northern Quarter spot Koffee Pot, it quickly becomes clear this is as much about new experiments in sound as it is personal catharsis. 

Blizzard Koffee Pot

“In London, I’d really got into producing and also got to hear a lot of live music at some amazing gigs, so I’d started from a really narrow, sort of grime place, and wanted to branch out. Quickly this started to become more experimental, leftfield if you want to call it that,” says Blizzard, citing the likes of Pink Floyd, Brian Eno and Talking Heads as having a significant impact. “I also found it was easy to be oblivious to what was happening in Manchester. 

“So when I came back here I was like ‘What have I missed?’ ,” he continues. “Then I went on a mad journey trying to find the answer to that question. It took me into unexpected places, not necessarily new names. Doves, who have been going years but I’d never paid much attention to, Inspiral Carpets. I then began finding ways to make new music with a Manchester feel, but incorporating everything else I had been exposed to. Ambient, weird, funky, R&B, whatever, but still feeling like it’s a Blizzard album, you know?” 

Style isn’t the only markedly different thing about the record. When we ask if many other people were directly involved in making the album, Blizzard is clearly — and understandably — proud to call it a one-man production crafted in the single room of his home studio. But he’s also quick to namecheck trusted allies in the Manchester scene that he relies on for feedback and advice, including Britizen Kane and Superlative. Even with strong ties and trust, though, handing over demos of the new material was a signifiant moment in itself because of what the record deals with. 

“If I didn’t show anyone the music at all, and get them to comment, I think it probably wouldn’t work. It needs to be taken in as a listener would take it in. But this was the hardest one to send out to people as it’s so deep, so dark in points. It’s almost a worry about people’s perspective of me because of what I’m talking about: being suicidal, with no shame. Mental health is quite stigmatised still, and people still don’t understand it. I feel like I have some understanding myself, but what’s depressing or depression to me might be just another bad day for someone else.


“This is changing, and, you know, the grime scene specifically has always been very bravado. Nobody really talks about the real life shit, self-esteem, anxiety, substance abuse, that kind of stuff,” he continues. “There are snapshots of it in there, but not a whole record. Because people know they won’t get played on the radio. This album won’t get played on the radio, and that’s fine. It’s not intended for that purpose. It’s there to be heard in one hour, front to back. That’s how I want it to be received. 

Emphasising that point, we learn that in addition to digital distribution, a limited number of CD copies of the album are also currently available. The idea of authenticity soon comes up, that long-established currency within the art and music world which is famously elusive and impossibly hard to define. Nevertheless, when an artist presents the most vulnerable aspects of themselves on record you’re in the right ball park. Tentatively, we ask Blizzard if he believes it’s becoming easier to reach audiences with authenticity because they are so aware of how manufactured much of the industry is, from ghostwriters for chart-toppers, to fully manufactured and strategised artists, and — most recently — automated songwriting and arranging. 

Blizzard Manchester

“I think every creative is always fighting against a big machine, people with tens of thousands of pounds more to put into a big single campaign. Sometimes it’s hard to listen to the radio for more than an hour without having deja vu at hearing the same songs before, and increasingly there are so many samples of things that have been out before,” Blizzard replies. “I really don’t agree with forced nostalgia, and feel a lot of people I’ve spoken to over the years agree on that. Music should be made for real, authentic moments and give a snapshot into this person’s life. So when I start listening to an album, I’m also listening to a person’s thoughts and what they actually have to say.” 

Or you can purchase ‘Demons Living Rent Free’ as a limited run of 100 CDs here.