Photograph by Vicky Chan
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The Grime Violinist – a one of a kind artist reimagining a genre

Meet Tanya Cracknell, AKA The Grime Violinist, the classically-trained musician best known for her violin covers of grime tracks. 

Cracknell is a part of the emerging female grime scene, and is unique in that she is the only violinist in the world to focus on playing grime. She lives in Hackney Wick, close to the home of grime, and is a part of the area’s creative community.

‘I love Bow and Hackney Wick’ she explains. ‘Being near where grime originated inspires me, and the creative community in Hackney Wick and Fish Island gives me constant enthusiasm to continue creating. I love the warehouse-oriented atmosphere.’

After learning to play the violin aged seven, and loving grime throughout her teens, Cracknell saw the opportunity to combine her two loves. ‘Coming up with my name was easy – it was just merging my two things together.’

String instruments are an important part of a grime track, and Cracknell is among the best. She has appeared in videos with Lethal Bizzle, Lady Leshurr, JME, P Money, Asher D, Novelist, Jammz, and many more. She has performed at festivals such as Glastonbury and Boomtown, and at venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Roundhouse Camden, and the Hammersmith Apollo.

Cracknell has had a love for grime from a young age, ‘There was just something about raving to grime that really I really connected with. It’s free in a way most music isn’t.’ 

Grime is a male-dominated genre, but Cracknell isn’t deterred by her gender. She exudes a calm confidence; maybe something that comes from knowing you’re the best in the game. ‘Sometimes it can be difficult being the only woman, but most of the time, I don’t care. I just go, play my music, and see what happens.’

Although not originally from East London, Cracknell went out in Watford a lot when she was younger. Watford had a strong grime and garage scene at the time, and this is where she got lots of her early inspiration from.

Not only does she play grime gigs on a regular basis, but to keep well-practiced (and well-paid), Cracknell still plays the occasional classical violin gig. ‘Without fail, I perform two or three times a week, every week.’

As well as working on her solo career, Cracknell works for two music charities, Spitz and the Young Urban Arts Foundation

With upwards of 20,000 followers on Instagram, the Grime Violinist is clearly doing something right. Like most burgeoning grime artists, her career so far has been without management, but her first solo EP, Grime Violinist Instrumentals, will surely be turning heads.

Grime isn’t for everyone, but Bow and Roman Road are the home of grime, and Cracknell is developing her own special place in that world. Watch this space…

You can keep up with Tanya on Instagram.

Portrait of Tanya Cracknell aka The Grime Violinist in front of street art in Bow, East London
Cracknell in East London. Photography by Vicky Chan
Black and white photo by Dan Holland of Tanya Cracknell aka The Grime Violinist performing at Hootananny
Cracknell performing at Hootananny. Photograph by Dan Holland

If you like this, you might like our pieces on Cafe East and Rhythm Division, the spiritual home of grime.

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