There Are No Limits to Lancey Foux

There Are No Limits to Lancey Foux

Story by Nicolas-Tyrell Scott / Photography by Zach Apo Tsang / Styling by Oliver Volquardsen

Looking at Lancey Foux's feed, you're overwhelmed by pink. His grid is lit up with an array of hot magenta hues. His first two tape releases were even titled Pink (2015) and Pink II (2018).

For the east London-based artist, pink is ironically not his favorite color, but an important acronym. "It means 'Probably I'll Never Know,'" he laughs over Google Meet. "It's my favorite time, when I don't know so much. Knowledge is power, but also pain."

Foux's music is rooted in a yearning for escapism. "For me, when I started music, I didn't care enough to be dissing," he explains when discussing his first Pink release. "I always looked within myself, and asked myself what do I like: the cars, girls, wondering." The tracks are backed by a lo-fi, ambient blend of trap, onomatopoeic in places (see "Drip Drip Splash").

Continuing to take his artistic progression seriously, Lancey Foux collaborated with UK super-producer Nyge in between Pink's first and sophomore editions, adding a cinematic component to his trap foundation and sometimes fusing it with an electronic form of hip-hop. Standing alongside the likes of Kojey Radical, AJ Tracey and Jevon — now mainstays in various British rap offshoots — Foux holds his own, with his playful flow and sometimes enigmatic experiences leading the way.

Clothing: Jean Paul Gaultier, Shoes: Camper, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Long Necklace: Dior Homme, Earrings: Alan Crocetti, Bracelet: Shaune Leane

Clothing: Jean Paul Gaultier, Shoes: Camper, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Long Necklace: Dior Homme, Earrings: Alan Crocetti, Bracelet: Shaune Leane

Now 25 and established amidst a cluster of artists including M Huncho, IAMDDB and D Block Europe, Foux has also gained the respect of many in the old guard. Skepta not only took Foux on his SK LEVEL European tour in 2018, but has collaborated with the rapper on a plethora of releases including his FIRST DEGREE mixtape, released earlier this month.

"I've learned so much from Skepta, including discipline and how to really show up as an artist," Foux shares. "Performing day after day, at the time I didn't even know how that worked. But going on tour with him, I learned how to remain consistent."

Foux is a polymath, and his early interest in fashion — particularly punk from the 1970s — has led to a now-thriving modeling career. "Model" isn't a term he uses, though. "I never referred to myself as that — people put that label on me at the start," he states. Still, he's cognisant that music and fashion are inseparable and believes that they "complement each other well."

PAPER caught up with Foux to discuss FIRST DEGREE, artistic integrity and punk.

Jacket: Berluti, Trousers: Dior Homme, Boots: Louis Vuitton, Watch: Patek Philippe, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Long necklace: Dior Homme, Ring and Bracelet: Shaune Leane

Suit: Richard Quinn, Boots: Louis Vuitton

You have a strong hand in writing a lot of your own music, but I've heard you mention freestyling songs at the beginning of your career. How did you learn to write and get your freestyles into the stylistic format of a song?

After I realized I wanna do this, I wanna be better than I am, I started analyzing my favorite artists, whether it was Adele, Prince, Sade or Michael Jackson and the way that they would write their songs. The way they'd articulate their words, or write their lyrics and the way they'd use tone, I started to be super meticulous; even now it's still a process because people will tell me the stuff that I do now is insane but I'm always like, "It's not there yet." This is just the start of what I wanna do, on my next album it could be way more softer, or harder, depending on what mood I'm in. Sometimes, you're not gonna be ready-made, fans sometimes don't understand that, I'm always trying to be better than my last song. I have to keep that ethos.

In terms of your trap-infused blend of sounds, you seem to enunciate all of your words in comparison to a lot of your counterparts in your genre. Is this intentional or just a part of who you are?

It's just the way I speak. When I go to rap, it's only a little bit more clearer than how I usually speak. I've worked with a lot of American acts and people think they are [intentionally] mumbling but that's just how they speak, just like this is how I speak. That's natural to them. Having been around many of these artists, it's natural.

Corset and trousers: Richard Quinn

Trousers, jacket, shoes and bag: Louis Vuitton, Earring: Alan Crocetti, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Long necklace: Dior Homme, Watch: Patek Philippe

On the first Pink project, you weren't using as much autotune. What changed in between that project and your subsequent releases over the years?

You know what, I've always known how I wanted to sound, but it's been a technicality issue. When I first started making music, I lacked the knowledge, so I was paying £25 per hour and I didn't know that there was a whole process after you made the song. I was just so happy and gassed I made a song, walking out of the studio, it's only when I met other peers that they would ask me about who mixed my stuff and I realized the mixed and mastered process.

Even when I worked in America and worked with engineers and producers out there, I started listening to other music and wanted mine to be worked with on that sort of level. It's about the quality of the song; the things like wanting my melody to peak through. It's a very expensive process, a lot of people miss this part out. Every time I make a single song there's a whole process that I can't hide from to get it to where it's at. I'm still not at the point where I need to be at, I work with so many engineers now. It's all a process, that I don't even think ends — the search for quality. I'm still trying to get everything to sound like no one else.

Trousers: Givenchy, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Long necklace: Dior Homme, Earrings: Alan Crocetti, Bracelet: Shaune Leane, Watch: Patek Philippe

I remember seeing you years ago at a Ramriddlz show in East London in 2016 and your stage presence for an act in their early career was admirable. How have you been able to maintain such a consistent approach to staging and stage presence throughout your career?

I think it's really natural because I'm tall. Even if I wasn't a musician, people always are staring at me because of my height. Every time I shop, my whole life has been that — I always feel that look. When I'm on stage, I almost know that I've got their attention and they are locked in. They are going to keep looking at me. While I have their eye, I always think, "Let me make it worth their while."

On "Don't Talk" which features on FIRST DEGREE, you mention punk, particularly in the year 1979. When did your fascination with punk begin?

I knew about punk from really young. Where I came from in Newham, if I said I liked punk, at the time people would think "rah." It wasn't that I was scared, it was just that I didn't start implementing it [into my lifestyle] until I made music. I used to always see the Sex Pistols logos though when I was growing up, so I went on Google. Then I fully learned about them, The Clash, Gang of Four, learning about all of these British bands — not just the music though, the message. When I realized the message behind it, I hated school and the police would always be around. I'd think "fuck off." I guess I always had a feeling that I had a punk mentality.

People think I just dyed my hair this year — I dyed my hair red before I made music. I had a high top and all my friends were like, "What are you on?" I remember they just didn't get it at the time. I'd always wear these high socks with shorts too. Punk was that stamp for me that said "I really do this." I actually made a rock song and a punk song in 2016-2017, the rock one no one has heard. I really wanted to go on that route, but it was so two-sided because I was more a street guy, than a punk guy. Knowing me, I knew I affiliated more with a Skepta or Gucci Mane musically. In terms of style, I'm punk, but musically I just didn't think people would get me at the time. Now, I really want to experiment more with it, though.

Trousers: Louis Vuitton, Bracelet and rings: Shaune Leane, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Watch: Patek Philippe

Corset and trousers: Richard Quinn

What part of the spectrum of rock are you closest to artistically?

It's not screamo, it's more romantic, goth. It's rough in the vocal cadence, but the musical production is softer. There's an Alice Cooper song called "Killer," that's what I do. It's like super romantic, but with a rough tone. I'm lowkey in love with it, I need to release it so more people can understand.

On "MURDRR TALK," you mention that you can't be like Stormzy or AJ Tracey. I thought these particular references were addressing reverence. In your own words what exactly do you mean here?

The funniest thing is, I'm happy you asked this, because when I was making this song people told me that I couldn't make this because of [AJ Tracey] being my boy, but they didn't understand it. It was actually showing them both respect because they are sick artists, everyone loves them and they make music that a lot of people across the country are going to listen to and everyone in the country is gonna love and that are heartwarming. I realized though, that I'm not that. Not everyone is going to love me, I'm not the type to run around kissing babies or pleasing everyone. I'm just saying in that song that I don't wanna be [the biggest artist] in that way.

Jacket: Koral Sagular, Trousers: Givenchy, Top: Dimitris Karagiannakris, Rings: Shaune Leane, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Long Necklace: Dior Homme

Body suit: Jean Paul Gaultier, Headpiece: Jivomir Domoustchiev, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Long necklace: Dior Homme

If not wanting to appeal to all in that way, what is the ultimate form of success to you, then?

It's providing inspiration and having my own fans. If I have ten of my own fans and live by what I say and I inspire them to do good, that's what I love, that's success. If it's one hundred people, that's success. If I get millions of streams, but no one knows my name or what I stand for, then that's not success, that's a mathematical achievement to me. I used to think about millions of views or followers, it's funny because when I linked with Skepta it confirmed to me that I didn't need to worry about those things, because it will come in my way and with purpose.

A large theme of this project is drugs, which are mentioned across FIRST DEGREE. What's your relationship with drugs like now?

I have to be honest with you, I don't smoke weed no more and I haven't taken psychedelics for over a year, they are feelings I don't forget. That's the beauty of understanding drugs, not just doing them. I know how they felt so I can bring those emotions out in songs. If I did them everyday, I wouldn't be able to talk about it. My relationship is very controlled, that's just the way I am. Sometimes, the lyrics are more about what I've seen and what I've been around, not necessarily what I've experienced. I don't want my listeners to be doing drugs every single day, and I don't.

You're also thriving in fashion, proving that polymath careers are still possible. Talk about your initial experiences with fashion.

My dad would have his own dress sense, he'd only wear suits in his style: cuff-links, tailoring, everything. He'd also drive a seven series with cream interior, just in his own style. I'd always pick particular sweaters, jeans and accessories like him. Then looking at people like 50 Cent, he used to look so basic sometimes, but it would look so different too, even if it's bad, it was still different.

I'd always go on the shopping websites as I grew up and fill the shopping bags, even if I couldn't afford it — I'd always do it on Mr Porter. My dad took us shopping every two weeks and in places like Choice, I'd pick the most expensive things and my dad would always wonder why because I was so young. As I grew, I'd always wear different styles, like Vans when they weren't popular. Then when someone matched me, I'd switch it up. It's only when I went to college — St Charles — when I met this new group of people, they embraced my style and knew I had style. The girls would confirm that confidence is what makes the fashion too. Then my friend Kelvin worked at One Of A Kind and I'd visit all of the time to learn about the clothes.

Trousers: Dior Homme, Earrings: Alan Crocetti, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Long necklace: Dior Homme

Earrings: Alan Crocetti, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Long necklace: Dior Homme

You've mentioned that you don't like photographs of yourself. Is this part of yourself changing as you continue modeling?

I still don't like them sometimes. I think it comes from my mum. It's not that I like or don't like the way that I look, it's just weird. I didn't even like doing music videos for a long time. That's why I don't have a lot of myself. I've just never liked pictures of myself.

Is there a science to your runway walk?

No, you know what, most of the people at these shows must hate me, because I never listen to them. They'll tell me to walk really straight and I just do what I wanna do. If you see me on the road walking into this room, I just do that — I do what I'm doing. I know that works, I just do whatever I wanna do. It's my punk attitude, it's my lifestyle.

Trousers: Dsquared2, Earrings: Alan Crocetti, Head piece: Marco Tullio Siviglia, Short necklace: Hatton Lab, Long necklace: Dior Homme

In your opinion, what or who is the future of street style?

I think it's a free-for-all, there's no limit. All of these kids are waking up and making their own clothes and that's so sick. You don't need to go to the store for your swag now, your friend is gonna have it, or that girl you like will be making it. High fashion is still going to be there but you don't need to shop street fashion like you did before, you can just DM someone, "Can I get two shirts and some bottoms," and it's going to be cheaper than whatever it was that was in trend. You get to make the rules and that's amazing.

Photography: Zach Apo-Tsang
Styling: Oliver Valquardsen
Hair: Shunsuke Meguro
Makeup: Paige Cole
CGI: Golgotha
Retouching: Silo Studio
Production: Greg Smith