Tickling our tastebuds with electronic abstractions and tantalising lyricism, Spent is the Glasgow-based musician centring queer experience in the age of the internet. They have been circling the cyberspace these past few years with their experimental beats and effective wordplay. Spent offers us more than music, creating an otherworldly experience through accompanying visuals. They have collaborated with a variety of artists – including Sam Sands and Ben Cole – to construct their cyberspace, releasing their debut EP Cybernetics whilst studying at one of the city’s most prestigious fashion schools.
Dabbling in sound design for the likes of Dazed and Illamasqua, Spent is an artist of many talents, musically multidisciplinary and visually concise. They have recently begun performing live, including a standout set at this year’s Birmingham Pride, and are set to cause a stir in the creative and queer scenes alike. Traversing the realities of queer actuality and a cyber society alike, Spent’s music dabbles in all from death to dating, parents to performativity. We caught up with the Cybersexy singer to talk all things Spent, and what’s next for this budding talent.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your music?
I’m just a little person, in a big world, making music and having fun with my friends!
You go by the artist's name Spent. Is Spent a persona to you or an accurate representation of self?
Spent definitely began as a character for me. At school, there were so many limitations on what I could do and where I could even imagine myself. Obviously, a lot has changed since then, and ‘Spent’ has become so interchangeable with ‘Teddy.’ Not only has my personal life expanded into the space that Spent provides, but the crossover has also brought a big sense of intimacy and honesty into the music, something that has previously felt a little disconnected.
Although you have been navigating London and Glasgow’s queer communities for some time now, you are still a fresh face in the music industry. How did your music journey begin?
I began making music around 15, just messing around on my computer, making type beats and funny edits for friends. It was always pretty insular and personal – I never thought of releasing things until I got into fashion school. I think I wanted to make an impact when I first turned up, so I released a song (laughs). Not a very good one in retrospect but it definitely achieved its goal.
Your debut EP Cybernetics has gained praise from the likes of Mix Mag and Coeval and led to a handful of live performances. Can you tell us a little bit more about this project?
Cybernetics was all about pushing limits for me. I wanted to push my sound design into a space I wasn’t accustomed to, and my lyrics to a point of abstraction, whilst keeping that exciting electronic sparkle all my favourite records have. The EP was so deeply introspective, a space of complete self-indulgence and exploration – I never thought once about the listeners' experience because that never really mattered. Being so unestablished in the industry, I wanted to use that freedom to just mess about with no constraints or formulas.
You created stunning visuals for each song in this project, including a stand-out collaboration with director Ben Cole. Can you tell us why you decided to create this series of videos and the concepts behind them?
Cybernetics was so much more than a short collection of songs for me, I felt I was doing the whole moment an injustice by just releasing it one Friday and letting go. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by so many artists, I really wanted to give away the songs and bring in a variety of new perspectives that’d only enrich the world of Cybernetics. Each video is so different yet so accurately depicts a space I never would’ve been able to show on my own.
Spent exists often in the digital realm, and both your musical style and lyrics centre around the cyber. Why is this a recurring theme in your art?
The digital space allowed me to fully express and explore myself in a way I never could in the physical. It was a commitment to the gig, really finding out how to get the humanity and emotion I felt whilst existing in purely digital form.
You haven’t slowed down after Cybernetics, releasing both Cybersexy and Eyes this year. The second single Eyes has a markedly different tone to your previous work. Can you tell us a little bit more about these singles and their inspirations?
I guess these singles mark my introduction to other people in my work. Cybersexy is about an online situationship and Eyes is about dealing with people’s stares. They were both about storytelling and conveying honest, day-to-day queer experiences. It was all about juggling the experimentation with accessibility so the listener could engage, whilst remaining exciting.
You have recently moved to Glasgow. Has this been an enriching move for you, both personally and creatively?
Love Glasgow! It has felt like such a beacon and comfort for me. The people and community here are so welcoming, I’ve really hit a new stride with my queerness and growth in general. I only really make music now for my friends and I want to soundtrack our lives, when we party, when we’re hungover, snuggle bugging, crying over boys and all the rest. It’s all about the humanity now, we just want to have fun!
Who are in your opinion the most innovative queer musicians making music right now?
You have displayed both growth and versatility as an artist. What’s next for Spent?
Live shows! And more music! I just worked out my live set, debuting at Jupiter Rising Festival in July, and at Birmingham Pride. I never really pictured my music in a live space, but it’s injected such a fun new element to it that I can’t get enough. It’s funny to see a crowd cheering and dancing to a big beat whilst I’m rapping about coming out to my parents and crying (laughs). I want to do more.