Machine Gun Kelly – Elitist Genre Gatekeepers ‘Always Lose’
Machine Gun Kelly's latest song, "maybe," pairs the musician with Bring Me the Horizon, another act who knows a thing or two about blurring the genre lines. And during Kelly and Oli Sykes' chat with BBC Radio 1 Future Sounds host Clara Amfo, the pair shared some strong feelings about those that try to limit what music artists are supposedly accepted to make.
Kelly started his music career as a rapper, but with the help of Blink-182's Travis Barker he crafted 2020's Tickets to My Downfall, which saw his transition to playing pop-punk music and ended up being one of the year's top selling rock records.
Likewise, Bring Me the Horizon started off death metal, but have evolved in recent years to include more pop and electronic influences incorporating a variety of styles into what they sound like today.
Speaking with Amfo for BBC 1's Future Sounds, Kelly (as transcribed by Louder Sound), first mentioned the gatekeeping that goes on in music while speaking about the decision to change the title of his forthcoming record to Mainstream Sellout.
"It feels brave because, when I said the name originally after I changed it [from its original title, Born With Horns], everyone was kinda like, 'Oh, are you sure you wanna almost, like, call it like it is?' I'm like, 'Yeah, absolutely.'"
He went on to add, "It feels like taking the power back. There’s such an epidemic, and has been for years, of rock ’n’ roll gatekeeping, or punk rock gatekeeping or hip hop gatekeeping...and you know what I realized? The gatekeepers always lose."
Sykes chimed in, sharing a bit of his own experience once stepping beyond their original sound. "We obviously relate on a massive scale as well," added the singer. "We started off as a death metal band but we were ‘never death metal’, we’ve never been ‘metal’ enough for the metal community, we’ve never been ‘rock enough’. We’ve gone through this whole thing, so we completely get it and vibe. To me, it’s like, gatekeeping is quite a funny thing. With everything that goes on in the world, I like how some people’s biggest cry is that they think someone shouldn’t be in a certain scene…it’s just a mad thing for people to get upset about. But it’s fun to poke fun at that."
Bring Me the Horizon have seen gatekeeping concerning their music take place via social media, with the resurgence of their song "Can You Feel My Heart" in 2021 thanks to a TikTok revival quickly doused by gatekeepers claiming that those who didn't like the band dating back to their first album weren't real fans.
Having appeared with Sykes earlier this month at Emo Nite in Los Angeles where they debuted "maybe," Machine Gun Kelly officially released the studio version of the track earlier this week. While the song is more pop-punk leaning, MGK appears to be making a more diverse record than its predecessor. So far, he's also released "Emo Girl" featuring special guest Willow and "Ay!" with a guest turn from rapper Lil' Wayne.
Kelly's Mainstream Sellout arrives March 25. Meanwhile, Bring Me the Horizon continue work on their next Post Human EP, which is said to be "more influenced by emo and screamo."