Popular Ipswich rapping duo reach Number 1 in iTunes chart
- Credit: Nathanael Banks
A musical sibling duo from Ipswich are celebrating the launch of their latest album after leaping to Number 1 in the iTunes Hip-Hop charts.
Jerome Ingham, 34, and Byron Ingham, 27, have spent the year cooking up an album which has been eagerly awaited by the duo's supporters.
The album, titled 'Troubles Of An Empath', was officially released on December 10 and marks a welcomed return to the music scene for the brothers after bringing out their last album in 2017.
The pair, who aptly go by their stage name of Brotherhood, have been making music together for well over a decade and have caught the attention of a number of high-profile celebrities over the years, both in the music industry and beyond.
Remarkably, Brotherhood has always been completely independent artists; taking care of everything from recording and mixing their vocals, shooting and editing their videos, and distributing and marketing their music.
Between them, they've amassed a huge following on social media and have racked up hundreds of thousands of streams and over two million video views from all sorts of corners of the world.
Their music has been praised by the likes of Ed Sheeran, Anthony Joshua, will.i.am, Kyle Walker, Will Poulter, Macauley Bonne and Big Narstie along the way.
Considering that all of this was achieved from a makeshift studio in a bedroom in Ipswich, the brothers have an awful lot to be proud of.
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I sat down with the pair to learn a little more about their journey so far and what it means to be a self-made artist from a town like Ipswich.
Asking how it all began, Jerome reflects on his younger brothers' first steps into the world of rap music.
"I knew Byron had serious potential from a really young age.
"He was still in primary school when he first asked me to write him a bar. Around the same time, I was teaching my friends and people at youth club how to write bars and rap on beat and it could take them weeks to get it right.
"Byron came back the next day and already had it on point, which was unheard of. A couple of weeks later he had written his own bar which was better than the one I'd originally come up with. I could see then that the potential was ridiculous."
Speaking about their experience as independent artists, Byron says it has its benefits as well as challenges.
"The best thing about it is having complete creative control and having no pressure," he says.
"Ironically though, the worst thing about it is also the fact that there's no pressure, because there's no-one to push you and no-one to do anything for you. If you want to get something done, you have to make it happen for yourself.
"Most of the artists who say they're completely independent do actually have a manager but they have no label. We're independent to the point that we record the music ourselves, mix it ourselves, shoot and edit the videos ourselves, distribute it ourselves, do our own PR, arrange our own interviews and radio appearances - and the hardest thing about it is that it eats up so much time.
"These are the things which realistically require a team, but it does feel rewarding knowing we're making it happen without one."
When asked how he acquired the skills for the more technical side of his career, Byron chuckles:
"I have to be honest - I went to college for about three months for music technology and wasn't learning as much as I wanted to or as quickly as I wanted to. One day, I asked one of my tutors how he learned it all and he told me that it all came from one particular book. So I went home, bought the book and quit."
Byron then devoted himself to mastering his craft; investing in recording equipment and learning as much as he could from books and YouTube tutorials. Before long, he was a full-fledged videographer and mixing expert, with his work attracting praise from producers at the BBC, who have since worked with Brotherhood on a number of projects.
It's no secret that it can be harder to 'break out' as an artist when you come from a smaller town and are up against big-city artists with wider creative networks, but the pair say they're glad to be from Ipswich and proud of the unique identity it gives them.
"Being from a place like Ipswich means that once you break out, it's your selling point," says Jerome.
"It's unique in itself because there aren't a lot of big names coming from places like Ipswich, whereas there are endless names to have come out of London."
Nodding in agreement, Byron adds: "The internet has opened up more opportunities for aspiring artists because you can blow up just from one viral video and it doesn't matter where you're from.
"We've gone semi-viral before, and it's great that it happened, but it's not something you can ever rely on.
"It's like being a needle in a haystack. It's so important to be able to network and every time we've travelled to London and been around people in the industry, it's always benefitted us.
"At the same time, I truly wouldn't change being from Ipswich. The support we've had from the local community over the years has been amazing and couldn't be found anywhere else."
Whilst there isn't a particularly long list of A-listers from Ipswich, there's one red-headed Suffolk superstar everyone has heard of, and Brotherhood has been on his radar since before his sensational rise to stardom.
"Ed Sheeran actually tweeted us about 10 years ago saying he wanted to hear our stuff. We were already fans as we'd seen his videos on SBTV, which is where his breakout moment came from. We'd gone to see him perform for free in Christchurch Park not long before his career took off."
In honour of the release of 'Bad Habits' earlier this year, Ed Sheeran launched a competition on Instagram inviting people to record their own verse on the song and tag him in it. Byron entered from his own personal Instagram page and ended up coming second, with Ed sharing the video with his 36m followers.
The brothers say they would love to work with Ed in the future, and hope they can reach a point where a collaboration would be a "mutual exchange" as opposed to a hand-out.
"It would be great to get to a point where he was working with us because he genuinely rates us, rather than doing so as an act of charity," says Byron.
"Given that we already connected all those years ago, it would be an amazing full-circle moment."
Launching an album in the middle of a global pandemic is a unique challenge for musicians at any level, and the limitations around in-person events has meant that Brotherhood haven't been able to promote the project in the way they'd have liked to.
However, the pair say they are keen to get back to performing live when it's safe to do so, and there's only one place they'd make their official return to the stage.
"We haven't performed in so long now and we'd one million percent want our comeback show to be in Ipswich," says Byron.
"We've been asked a few times over the years to perform at shows and festivals but we've turned them down, because we knew that after such a long break we wanted it to be special and wanted it to be in our hometown.
"Hopefully in the near future we can put on a headline show here and bring out a few special guests too."
When asked what people can expect from the new album, Byron says he feels like the duo have "finally found their sound".
"We've taken our own advice and been true to ourselves; making music we'd want to make regardless of what's hot right now.
"We've covered a mixture of topics and tried to get an array of feelings across. From crime to relationships to racial injustice, we've really tried to make it a full, heartfelt body of work by pouring our own experiences into it and ultimately speaking about the things we care about, and I think there'll be something for everyone on there."
Brotherhood fans may have a hard time picking out a favourite song, though, as the pair struggled to single one out themselves:
"It changes all the time for me", says Jerome.
"I think that's a good sign though, because if everyone had one particular favourite, it would mean that the rest of the album wasn't very strong."
Troubles Of An Empath is available on all streaming platforms and the brothers say they have "never been so proud" of a project.
"We're beyond thankful to have peaked at Number 1 on the first day, but the job isn't done yet. We need people to keep listening if we want to stay there, so if you haven't downloaded it yet we'd be so grateful for your support."
To help the boys hang on to their top spot, listen to the new album here.