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The Skints


From East London squats to big stages all around the world The Skints have definitely fostered something truly special in a sonic and a community sense with their unique ’tropical punk’. 

The Skints have been blurring the lines between reggae, ska and harder-hitting punk for over ten years now. They have never really fitted into any boxes and they don’t really care for them that much either. From East London squats to huge stages all around the world they’ve definitely fostered something truly unique. 

"It is hard to describe yourself but at the end of the day you just can’t take yourself too seriously.” 

I’ve followed them on this journey and attended their headline festival slots as well as felt their fans sweat in the independent venues across backwater towns. They’re even rumoured to have been playing up to 150 shows a year at one point which is quite frankly a lot. 

I caught up with singer and pianist Marcia from the band while she was relaxing on a getaway. We naturally started discussing the uniqueness of The Skints as outliers. They were recently coined “tropical punk” by their producer Prince Fatty who was the instigator of a lot of laughter, “Well, it’s hard to be in a band when you can’t define what you do but it’s also very cool. Every song sounds different so it is hard to describe yourself but at the end of the day you just can’t take yourself too seriously.” 

They have been operating in this space for a while now, in between ska which has an interesting relationship within the more macro music genre space and hardcore which is quite niche and often gatekept. It comes as no surprise that they’ve been “listening to lots of Turnstile” as well as pulling from “more nerdy reggae compilations”. Marcia confesses a laid-back approach to these influences admitting that, “Both Josh (the guitarist) and Jamie (the drummer) are the big genre nerds. Now Josh is out making dub plates these days and deep diving hard into reggae so I often find myself referring to him often.” 

There’s something special about a band that has been together for a long time and The Skints definitely have that too. “We met at school. Josh and I met in reception at 5 years old. We met John, the bassist, and Jamie in high school and became The Skints as it is today.” 

They are also an example of building a pretty comprehensive knowledge of a genre and then very much making it their own while fostering a community from the ground upwards. “We’ve been doing what we do for a while now, 15 years in fact. That is a long time to have been doing this and not being signed to a major record label. And personally, it makes me very proud. You can’t really do that unless you have a community. I don’t see it very often and it proves that ultimately if you have people willing to come to the shows that you can consistently tour and keep doing it. I think that’s my favourite thing.” 

As well as being eclectic in taste their community represents diversity across generations and beyond. “It’s something we notice at our shows. That there’s no one look, age, style or gender to a Skints fan. It’s so brilliant and it’s something my family always comments on.” 

There was a turning point in Marcia’s career and it wasn’t always smooth sailing. After being raised on classical music she eventually threw the sheet music out the window in favour of Trojan compilations bought for her by her parents. “I studied classical flute and piano until grade 8. I then started a music degree and got as far as the final exams at the end of the first year. The Skints were touring by this point with The Slackers and the dates clashed. I chose The Skints. I still love classical music and play it. When I’m on tour I’m playing the flute in the corridors. I enjoy the diversity. I wouldn’t have been able to have developed my ear if I hadn’t learnt classical but if I’d stuck at just classical then I wouldn’t be able to play in the way I do now.” 

"For years now I’ve been turning up to festivals where I’ve been the only girl on the bill and because of that, there’s been zero provisions made.” 

Even though there are only four band members they sound sonically massive which is something that I mentioned to Marcia. She replied humbly that she was flattered and attributed a lot of it to Paul Russell, their sound engineer and secret “fifth band member” who has been in the background elevating things for over 13 years. 

They’ve crowdfunded albums and had huge support through merch sales from dedicated fans. Since these humble beginnings, they’ve managed to have the opportunity to travel the world. “Mexico and Japan were particularly great experiences. We love the food from there. I also love going to America and we’ve been lucky enough to go there quite a lot too. I really enjoy the people and it is becoming a bit of a second home.” Maybe you can expect some sushi or tacos coming to a Skints show near you. 

The conversation then turned to discuss the representation of gender and gender inequality in both headliners at festivals and recently in showcases like the Brit Awards. “This is something that we’ve been noticing for a really long time. For years now I’ve been turning up to festivals where I’ve been the only girl on the bill and because of that, there’s been zero provisions made.” 

Her story echoes the shared frustrations within the music industry, “Every summer this conversation is coming up and I’m not really seeing much changing. I’m kind of getting less and less surprised. We know there are plenty of amazingly talented, non-binary, trans and women acts out there.” 

Marcia continues to tell me that once a festival couldn’t even provide her with somewhere to get changed that wasn’t in view of the audience?! This is totally unacceptable. As we know underrepresented artists shouldn’t have to carry the torch for this. It is all of our responsibilities as writers and publications as well as punters, organisers and sponsors to step up to do the right thing for them. 

Times are tough with the cost of living and all sorts of shit is currently getting thrown at everyone all of the time. There is lots of advice floating around but this was Marcia’s to young musicians starting out, “It’s difficult you know what the right thing to do is because things are so different now to how they were when we started. Everything seems to be more online these days with TikTok and Instagram. When we were coming up we just got in the van and played and played and played. The advice we always gave everyone was just to get out on the road and start playing shows.” 

“It’s just hard because being online seems to be what people are putting value into these days. I really value my experience on the road and we have been touring since we were legally children. I feel like we can tour anywhere in the world now. We’ve played so many terrible shows in so many terrible places as well as great ones. It’s hard to say that this would necessarily work for everyone though.” 

We wrap up the interview with Marcia excitedly telling me that the band are all still living close to each other in London and are kicking off a co-headline UK tour with Gentlemen’s Dub Club where they’ll be playing The Roundhouse in Camden which has been a dream for her for a while. She also mentions that they’re working on exciting new things with Toby from Gentlemen’s Dub Club. May The Skints’ calm and carefree cultivation of a more open and interesting community surrounding their music long continue.

The Skints will be touring throughout February and March. To keep upto date

Words by Callum Ritchie
The Skints
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