As a county, Essex is sometimes thought of like a caricature. Crystallised throughout the 2010’s with the emergence of The Only Way is Essex, the area has a less than stellar reputation.
However, it wasn’t so long ago that Essex was the place to be. Going back to the early 90’s, Essex was the epicentre of the hardcore scene, with artists like The Prodigy and Smart E’s often playing the area’s underground venues. If we needed any further proof of its insider status, it also just happens to be the era and the location where this writer was born.
Fast forward 30 years, and there’s an Essex-based duo keen on tapping into a bit of that 90’s flair, albeit in less of a hardcore way. Enter Molly Rainford and Alex Kirsch, who at the beginning of the summer released their tune: ‘My Heart is a Broken Record.’
An upbeat house number with garage influences, this short but punchy track is the pair’s first collaboration. I ask them both how the track came together over Zoom a few months after its release, and it seems that while neither identify with TOWIE, when it came to making this song, the way was, in fact, Essex.
“We got introduced by the Salt Wives who wrote the track,” explains Molly. “They live locally to us and we love working with them because we don’t have to go to West London.”
This introduction spawned a long-term friendship with both artists realising they lived just three streets away from each other.
“Working with your next door neighbour, it’s the easiest collaboration going”, confirms Alex. “The only way it could have been easier is if I did it with my mum or something.”
Jokes aside, it really does seem that having a home in common had a positive effect when it came to making the track, which incidentally came together in just two weeks. This was reinforced when I asked Alex what his favourite thing about working with Molly was, “the fact that we’re both from Essex and Molly is up for a laugh,” he says smiling.
The Essex backdrop also does seem to have inspired the genre of the track with Alex stating that all his friends played growing up was house. Molly delves into this a little deeper: “It’s a great mix. While there’s definitely a lot of house in Essex, because East London is on our doorstep, we’ve got a lot of grime and garage influences too.”
On the track itself the pair are obsessed. “It just keeps getting catchier every time I listen to it,” laughs Alex. And it would seem their audience agrees, with fans sending in videos of them listening to the song in various locations from the gym to Westfield shopping centre.
“It even came up when I asked Alexa to play ‘house music’, the other day,” says Molly. “So, if Alexa likes it, I guess it means we’ve done pretty well,” she laughs.
“Alexa does know what the people want,” Alex agrees. I show my age once again here when I express my surprise that they don’t find this at all creepy.
Aside from the location connection, it was the easy camaraderie with Alex that Molly says made recording so special. “It’s so great working with someone who is a similar age to you and has the same drive.” Considering that neither artist was alive for the 90’s heyday I mentioned earlier, their relative youth in comparison to their burgeoning success is indeed something they have in common.
Alex, who is currently in his third year of University, fell in love with producing immediately. “I started sessions when I was 14, and I’m going be honest, the second, no, the millisecond I started I wanted to do it as a career. I never wanted to do anything else.”
This is much the same as Molly, who started recording at 13 years old after she got to the final of Britain’s Got Talent at just 11 years old. “I always wanted to sing on stage with Beyonce like Alexandra Burke,” she explains simply.
Now splitting time between music and acting, as “the only other thing I’ve ever wanted to be is Hannah Montana,” says Molly, discussing her dreams of following in the footsteps of other polymaths like Beyonce and Jamie Foxx.
The pair hope to work together again soon also, with Alex stating he wants to move more underground and explore music similar to that created by Swedish producer A7S.
As far as moving away from the Essex association goes, neither are chomping at the bit. Even at university in Sheffield Alex can’t escape people asking him if he’s had his teeth whitened.
Molly laughs at this stating that he should take it as a compliment. “There’s this idea of what Essex people are like,” she continues. “And if you strip back a bit of the negative associations with the stereotype, it’s just that we’re well groomed, love a night out, and are obsessed with music. So, I’m not mad about it, if the worst is white teeth, I’ll take it.”