Imposter Syndrome is Meeson’s most personal and emotional work yet. Though they will try to silence him, he must be heard.
As 2022 draws to a close, the brightest star of Worcestershire’s underground electronic scene finally burns out. Serpent Raptor’s thirteenth and final album will mark the end of ten dynamic years in the music industry that he has been repeatedly cornered out of. They told him to quit several times, he’s been banned from multiple open mics and dealt with the darkest emotions that life can offer. But for over a decade, Grant Meeson has battled on through this industry, producing the brilliantly raw and powerful Industrial Synthwave of Serpent Raptor.
The new thirteen-track concept album features the classic solemn melancholy of synth strings showcased in much of his electronic production. He delivers brooding layered vocals supported by relentless, weeping arpeggios, driving on for one last time. Grant’s energy rages in his words of anger, always articulated so cleverly. Underneath all the sinister passion lies the most beautiful voice, reminding us that music is a conduit. Something to relate to and help others with- something best expressed and not kept inside. Like Kraftwerk say: ‘Musik als Träger von Ideen’ (music as the carrier of ideas).
This man is skilful. Upon visiting him at his home last week, he blessed my arrival with ambient versions of ‘Are Friends Electric?’ And ‘The Model’ on his Yamaha Electone. He is just as talented as his pioneer influences. His lyrics are so gracefully cutting. He sings tales of pain with elegance, layering vocals in a way so perfectly woven between rhythms. He releases his soul in animated live displays, channeling intense heavy metal personas. The work of composers such as Hans Zimmer and John Williams has had a profound influence on Grant also, showing itself in the grandeur of his ballads and storytelling abilities. No matter how much gloom a Serpent Raptor tune might have, you’ll always be left humming to his catchy melodies. This man is a true original.
We recently took a walk in the estate of Tolladine in Worcester, where he grew up. He told of the formative years of a damaged young man. We both wondered whether we would still be so creative without our traumas. We don’t think so. We have only been given the ability to feel it all more deeply. Abandonment, loss, memories, time. Grant’s dedication to the musical documentation of these experiences is incredible, but trying to succeed in the Malvern music scene has proved especially difficult where a fearful village mentality has looked to exclude the unique Raptor.
It began with the open mics at The Great Malvern Hotel, headed by a man by the name of Enzo. Quite an exotic label for someone churning out Bob Dylan cover after Bob Dylan cover at the weekly gigs. Despite people enjoying the ‘breath of fresh air’ that Serpent Raptor was, Enzo decided to slowly push him out. Beginning with that fake PR smile and ‘maybe you shouldn’t come every week’, to impressing a ban because his music and image scare people.
‘I mean I’m called Serpent but he’s the real snake’. That was funny from Grant. Enzo began to refer to it as his open mic, which really acted as a stage for himself. This became a bit of a pattern. How sad that egos should get in the way of creativity so excitingly untethered. It reeks of insecurity and fear of difference. The village mentality is choking the electronic scene right at its roots, suffocating the reach of Grant’s unpredictable, magnetic force as a musician.
‘You have to book… you can’t book’. Grant was turned away multiple times. It’s all beginning to feel a bit League of Gentlemen. Boz Za lead the Worcestershire and Herefordshire EMOM where I met Grant and played on the same bill as him that night. His performance was rich with the real essence of life. Full of heart and rich with substance, he stepped out clad in black clutching his Alesis Vortex Keytar, with the stage presence of Keith Flint and that quiet Numan confidence. What a vision. Boz wouldn’t allow Grant in my place when I couldn’t make the next gig. The argument was like a Monty Python sketch.
‘You can’t play this time because you played last time.’
‘So anyone who played last time won’t be playing this time?’
‘That’s not what I said.’
Open Mics do not exclude. You grown men could at least have the balls to be direct. I think many would agree that we don’t need old blokes clinging tightly onto the limelight, gatekeeping this scene. You run backwards towards long gone days of glory, desperately avoiding change. This type of oppression would’ve been enough to put anyone off trying the first time, let alone the third or fourth. We need innovation and the pioneering spirit of unstoppable youth steering this ship. A true and vibrant music scene could then be given the chance to flourish. All this creativity so excitingly untethered is being choked right at its roots. The village mentality has poisoned the likes of Serpent Raptor’s unpredictable, magnetic force with its insecurities. Out with the gatekeepers.
Grant’s fantastic history of works is an inspiring legacy that will always remain. It’s been a pleasure getting to know him as a friend. Telling his story has become imperative. To fight through the hate mail and death threats and your own family telling you to give it a rest whilst staying 100% true to one’s self is the most rare and Rock ‘n’ Roll thing. He knows he won’t please everyone as a niche artist, but the man has a spirit that you can’t buy or work for. Imposter Syndrome will showcase the greatest of Serpent Raptor and is not to be missed.
I asked Grant whether he thinks he’s done enough for his music. He referenced something Hans Zimmer remarked about making songs being like chasing something you’ll never accomplish. True. We don’t really arrive at any sort of ultimate success. We just enjoy everything along the way, because the way is only made ultimate by death.