South London heat is intense. It doesn’t tend to stick around long, but the atmosphere finds a way of lingering. It’s an intensity you can hear in the music of two-piece noise-punk project Scrounge, quite literally in the case of ‘This Summer’s Been Lethal’ and ‘Hit’, the first singles from their debut mini-album, Sugar, Daddy. Recorded at a friend’s near-airless studio on the hottest day of 2021, both tracks consist of a dense slalom of machine-gun percussion, disintegrating drum machines and corkscrewing guitar, topped off by singer and guitarist Lucy Alexander’s snarled vocal. Taut, frustrated, but not without melody or tenderness, it sets the tone for much of Sugar, Daddy.
Since meeting at Goldsmiths University in the middle of the last decade, Scrounge – Lucy Alexander (vocals, guitar) and Luke Cartledge (drums, vocals, electronics) – have been trying to express how it feels to be a young person living and working in a fast-changing metropolis, balancing the constant pressure cooker of making rent and staying healthy with a desire to make art and properly engage with the communities that actually make London what it is. They spent the first couple of years of their collaboration gigging hard across the capital and occasionally outside it, taking Megabuses and tubes to shows; eventually, they boiled down their ideas into a brand of sharp, concise art-punk that introduced elements of folk, techno and industrial music into a more familiar cocktail of noise-rock and riot grrl influences. This work culminated in their debut singles, ‘Etch’ and ‘Crimson’, and their debut EP, Ideal, released via Fierce Panda.
Now, they’re set to release their debut mini-album, Sugar, Daddy, a living, breathing document of all that experience as a band so far. The title and artwork comes from a realisation Lucy and Luke had that as a DIY band, with full-time jobs, radical politics, and a lack of access to the kinds of resources that are often just beneath the surface of apparently organic creative projects, they couldn’t be relying on any mysterious benefactor to make this thing work. It’s sometimes easy to forget that ‘DIY’ has a material meaning. In a society stratified by class, frothing with bigotry, and radiating with naked hostility at the idea of ordinary people expressing their creative and intellectual ambitions, sometimes you have to be your own sugar daddy.