Ghostpoet talks to eFestivals

Hyde Park's British Summer Time 2016 interview

By Garry Alexander | Published: Wed 6th Jul 2016


Friday 1st to Sunday 10th July 2016
Hyde Park, Park Lane, Kensington & Chelsea, Greater London, W2 2UH, England MAP
from £59.50 - £72 - SOLD OUT
Daily capacity: 65,000
Last updated: Fri 8th Jul 2016

I'm backstage at Hyde Park with Obaro Ejimiwe aka Ghostpoet who has kindly given me some time to have a chat about today's upcoming gig and wherever else the conversation goes in 10 minutes.

Welcome to Hyde Park. Have you played here before?
Thanks, I have never stepped foot in Hyde Park.

Not even as a punter to watch a gig
No, never. Not even been to the park before.

What does it mean playing here today?
Laughs, Not much, it's a gig innit (sic). I love playing gigs, if anything it's nice playing on a bill with so many great bands. I love Warpaint, I love TV on the Radio, I love Massive Attack. I love Loyle Carner (currently playing in the background). There's so many great acts. Patti Smith, I actually had a conversation with her on the phone. Long story.

When was this?
It was when I worked for TFL (Transport for London) and she called up for some directions and I deduced over the conversation of about half an hour that she was Patti Smith. Really funny.

Have you mentioned it to her today?
I haven't seen her yet. She probably won't remember. It was a long time ago.

How did you manage to get on the bill with Massive Attack today?
Through an agent asking if I wanted to do the gig and I said 'Yes'. That's it really (laughs). I am a massive fan though, pardon the pun.

Have you adapted your set today or have any guest on stage with you?
Nope. Playing with a full band and to play as well as we can. Hopefully people will like it.

Are you looking forward performing any songs in particular today?
No, I think I still do like playing them all. I'm getting to the point now where I kinda need to write some new shit before I get bored. But I wrote them. They have got me to the point where I am today. I can never hate them. Just wanna spice them up a little bit.

Your latest album 'Shreddin Skin' had some fantastic guests. Was it a collaboration or you directing them?
It was more me directing them and what I wanted really. With guest vocalists, I've written the lyrics and it's kinda in my head, the feeling of how I want this particular voice to work for this particular song. I work along those lines, I don't try to dictate exactly how I think it should sound or presented but, I have a clear idea of what I want to do so that definitely comes across.

When I look down the track list there's a varied mix of talent (Nadine Shah, Paul Smith – Maximo Park, Melanie De Biaso, Etta Bond and Lucy Rose). Were there any memorable moments in particular?
Thanks. It was all memorable. It was all good. I know Nadine Shah a lot better now, she's a friend. Lucy's (Rose) a mate of mine, she played on my last record 'Some Say I So I Say Light' (Dial Tones) which was cool to work with her again. Everyone else I worked with for the first time. They were all very nice I was very lucky in that respect. I like working with nice people around me and I got real lucky with who collaborated on the record.

Any collaborations you'd like to work with in the future?
I'm not like that really. I like (collaborations) to be organic, meeting people and getting along with them and taking it further rather than let's do something strategic because it could work for both parties. There's so many new acts and old that I would work with or like to be on a bill with, it's a broad spectrum.

Has 'Brexit' inspired you to write anything recently
Not really (laughs). I'm avoiding that for now.

Do you ever look at your social media and see how many likes or tweets you are getting to gauge your popularity?
I'm obsessed with social media but, I don't try to work out how big I'm getting. I don't think I'm big at all. In the big scheme of things. Somehow I've been able to carve a career out of it and that's all I am looking for. I obviously want to reach big audiences but, I really can't gauge how big I'm getting with social media. But I'm obsessed with social media. Love it. Think it's great. I was into it way before I was doing music so I've always been kinda the tech internet nerd. It's an excuse to do more.

You were nominated for the Mercury Prize for a 2nd time last year with 'Shreddin Skin' (1st time with Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam 2011). How was that?
When I was younger I was a fan of the Mercury Prize and if I'm honest I always thought how great it would be to get nominated but, you never know if it's going to happen. I've been lucky to have been nominated twice. I don't look at it like a competition, battling against other guys. For me it's like a celebration of music, you know. I've always been a fan of what it represents, a celebration of the album process. Nobody else does that now in terms of awards. I was a judge for the prize a couple of years back. It's nice to be a part of the history of it.

Is it on the level or rather are there politics within the group?
It is. I went into it, not that it was dodgy but more 'How is it decided?'. And it is very transparent. I love it cos it's a discussion with musicians and journalists, people involved in music talking, arguing, verbally fighting over their choices and why this should win. It's difficult especially for the artists, think they have 2 on the panel. For us it's like we know the process of making a record so it's difficult to say 'That's no good and this is good'

Because you know what effort goes into it?
Exactly, and I find that tricky for me to say 'That one shouldn't be taken to the next round' because, who am I to say that? But it's part of being a judge and you've just got to get on with it. Seeing the process behind the scenes it definitely gave me an extra level of respect if there is one.

You can catch Ghostpoet at Leefest 28/7, Standon Calling 30/7 and Bestival 11/10

interview by: Garry Alexander

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