Remembering George Floyd with Marik Erskine
“I’m not an activist or a freedom fighter. I’m just a teenager who doesn’t want to grow up in a world where the colour of my skin is a defining factor of someone’s initial perception.”
His musical endeavours started at a young age. Spending most of his childhood in Antigua, Marik developed his craft in church events, blending genres like reggae, soca, and dancehall. He would showcase his talents in school, too – performing with a rap group he formed.
Almost a year ago, Marik gave a passionate and poignant speech to around 4,000 protesters in one of Leicester’s Black Lives Matter rallies, demanding systemic change and inspiring a city. During his speech, Marik called for a shift in government policies, education, and attitudes of British people in an address that was so moving people asked him to record it and make it available to share.
Now almost a year on, Marik has released a two-track single, which will include ‘George Floyd’s Song’, a track he wrote in the days following George Floyd’s death. You can stream both the tracks below:
Speaking with Marik
We caught up with Marik to find out more about his music, how he feels one year after the death of George Floyd, and what changes he wishes to see in today’s world.
What role has music played in your life?
It has shaped me into the person I am today. My experiences as a musician have taught me values I use in everyday life, even social skills through collaboration and performance. I love self-expression and connecting with people – and music is the brush I use to paint the picture of my world.
Why did you choose to study it over everything else?
Because everything else isn’t music. Seriously though, it’s the only thing that motivates me without a secondary motive. I just love making it. And I’d rather have a career that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning than one that I feel forced to go to because it pays the bills. All things are profitable through hard work.
What’s next for you musically?
More single releases, collaborations, an album maybe? Right now, I’m just doing everything I can. Whether that be performance, songwriting, or production, I’m here for it if given the opportunity to get involved.
Can you tell us more about the songs? Why and how did they come about?
George Floyd’s death was a catalyst for a lot of things. The inspiration for my songs was one of them. On top of the years of systematic oppression in the West, seeing it filmed up close and personal like that was really uncomfortable and haunting to watch.
How did it feel to give that speech at the BLM rally last year?
It felt empowering. I was just glad my words resonated with people because that’s why I wrote them in the first place. I appreciated the responses and kind words, but my main aim is for people to hear the message and act accordingly. If that can’t happen, there’s no point, in my opinion.
It’s been 12 months since the murder of George Floyd sparked international outrage – how would you encourage people to keep this energy and momentum going?
Keep speaking out. If you’re white, stand up for the minority when racially attacked without cause or reason. If you are the minority, don’t give the majority any extra reasons to target you. But don’t stay silent when they do without a reason.
Where do we go from here?
Forward hopefully. It would be a shame to go back to how things were before George Floyd (not that it’s much different, but we’ve started moving forward). I’d prefer to stay positive.
Incredible work from Marik, Check out more of our alumni success stories, here.