It’s taken Antony Szmierek nearly a decade of teaching children with special needs for him to realise that he’s “not just a teacher”. Described by 6Music host Lauren Laverne as “the best thing [she’s] heard all year”, Szmierek’s making a name for himself as a fusion of Mike Skinner and Simon Armitage: pure poetry laced within UK dance music.
He wore his favourite colour – green, if you’re wondering – when I met him in a cafe in his home city of Manchester. We sat side by side like school children as I learned more about his world as a musician-come-school teacher. “Music is so similar to teaching. They both involve a room of people that you want to make feel special. All you’re doing is listening to people and observing things. I am essentially an empath, I feel everything super deeply and I think from teaching I can easily put myself into someone else’s shoes. I take something everyone else ignores and then turn it into music”.
Taking full advantage of his summer holiday, Antony Szmierek’s spent the last few months gracing the stages of festivals with his bandmates. Performing an undeniably electric set, the band holds the crowd like no other, with a blend of easy-going rap, spoken word, and dance music which has taken the industry entirely by surprise. Antony recounts Glastonbury as one of the best gigs of his life mentioning that “we were going on thinking, one: no one’s gonna come, two: people would be going into the bar, getting pints, then leaving. I hadn’t seen the crowd before I was on stage and then I came out and I was immediately like – fucking hell. This is mad!” Since his Glastonbury debut, his success has spiraled to heights greater than West Holts Bar.
We spoke for a long time as we sipped better than average coffee. He didn’t mind jumping around in conversation as we discussed literature and music with intermittent intervals of reading our own poetry. His favourite book is Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – I guess that’s why he calls his fans hitchhikers, so named in homage to his breakthrough single ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Fallacy’. “It was the first book I read as a kid that got me into writing. His writing style is quite dry and funny and it’s definitely something that’s influenced me”. Known for his ability to collect memories and stories from the experiences he has had during life, his music is an eclectic mix of narratives – all caught in his metaphorical net.
Working his way up from the 6Music B-List to Radio One’s Future Artists, Antony Szmierek’s received backing from Jo Wiley, Steve Lamacq, and Lauren Laverne. He featured on BBC 6 for a live session last month and showcased the launch of his latest single ‘The Words to Auld Lang Syne’ where he and his bandmates performed the single in conjunction with its release. Remixes from the electronic oat gang Porij and Szmierek’s bandmate Robin Parker highlight the track in a new light, emphasising his keen interest in multi-genre dance beats.
With an EP coming out in November and a debut headline tour to go with it, new material from the Manchester all-rounder is promised to align with hip-hop, garage, house, and indie, providing a vibey bed for his rhythm and poetry. Coming at everything as first and foremost a fan of music, 2023 marks the beginning of what is set to be a burgeoning career for Antony Szmierek.
Words: Isabel Armitage
Photo Credit: Alexis Panadis