How did a bedroom producer from Manchester come to step in the studio with the likes of T.I., Travis Scott and Young Thug? The whirlwind success of July 7’s story is grounded in hard graft. But it doesn’t end there – after entering the game making beats for superstars, he’s stepped out from behind the boards to become a solo artist in his own right, racking up millions of streams worldwide.
Treading the same path as his heroes Pharrell and The Neptunes, July 7 has built his own sonic world that sets him apart from his peers. An early and steadfast determination to learn how to do things himself has meant he now does all the vocals, producing, mixing and mastering himself. The number seven, after all, is the number of perfection. “I can create whatever the fuck I wanna create!” he says. “I can be like, ‘Fuck it, lemme just play some guitar!’ It’s definitely a challenge, but it comes with a lot more freedom.” In this hyper-connected age where help is easily at hand, July 7 is taking self-sufficiency to another level.
Obsessing over guitar virtuosos like Jimi Hendrix as a kid, July 7 taught himself production via YouTube, voraciously making beats which he’d eventually send off to peers and artists he admired. If this story sounds familiar (there’s probably 10,000 kids around the UK teaching themselves to make beats right this second), July 7’s next steps are what gave him an edge. Rather than relying on samples or a shiny gloss that most laptop-built studios can automatically apply, his analogue approach puts the focus on real-life instrumentation as much as his razor-sharp electronic percussion.
While he was still in his teens, July 7’s glistening, sunny-side-up production got recognised and he was flown out to work with some of rap’s greats, with a series of pinch-me moments to come. “One week you’re in your bedroom making beats, next week you’re in T.I’s penthouse drinking Pineapple Ciroc with him,” he says. “It’s like, ‘Woah, how did this happen?’”
Fan-favoured cuts like ‘Pronto’, ‘Talk To Me’ and ‘Vibe with Me’ find July 7 firmly in his own lane, blending textural production with nimble melodies and a Latin swing. Something that makes his music special is that he’s always had an ear for global sounds. While his schoolmates were listening to indie landfill bands, he was spinning Portuguese, Brazilian and South African music as well as The Strokes.
The result is a sonic universe that’s sprawling and nomadic, drawing on all kinds of genres and styles. This diverse approach to music drew the ear of Afropop pioneer Mr Eazi, who instantly signed July 7 up to his emPawa initiative after hearing his work, as well as DJ Snake and Sango, who July 7 collaborated with on ‘Out My Way/Around You’. “It’s moments like that that prove that I’m on the right path,” he says.
Collaborating with Spanish artists in Manchester and learning the language, July 7 went one step further and flew to Madrid to immerse himself in the scene, meeting labels and networking. There he came to collaborate with an Iberian superstar, Yung Beef: “We were in the studio and he pulled up, he’s like a god out there.” The result was ‘Pum Pum’, a hip-shaking, evocative slice of reggaeton-indebted pop. “It’s an energy,” he says of this sound, “I really appreciate how organic it is – there’s an element of sexuality that connects to my music too.”
Never content to stay quiet, July 7 is in the midst of releasing a steady stream of new music. Drawing on tropes from genres like rock and death metal, he promises his next output is stuff that “absolutely messes your head up”. With July 7, you really never know what you’re going to get next. “I’m always chasing a new level,” he says, “I‘m always gonna keep refreshing my sound.”