Archive for ‘Flavour Magazine’

April 14, 2013

Melanin 9 [Interview]

Melanin 9 dropped his first mixtape ‘High Fidelity’ in 2007 and has since become one of the most respected lyricists around in the UK hip hop scene. Ahead of the release of his debut album ‘Magna Carta,’ Flavour caught up with the rising star to talk music, beliefs, inspirations and more.

In terms of UK hip hop, what do you think about the scene here and the support?

In terms of growth, its come further than it ever has throughout the history of the urban music so to speak. A lot of artists are crossing over overseas and getting collaborations with US artists so it’s definitely grown. A lot of people from all over the world have started to recognise what were doing here. I still believe there isn’t much exposure for a certain type of style here in the hip hop scene. More artists need to be exposed who are doing different things, not all artists do grime, not all artists do dubstep, there’s artists who just speak pure organic hip hop, and I feel the scene needs to support that just a little bit more.

Your music has contained influences and elements from a variety of different individuals and belief systems, including Islamic Supreme Mathematics, David Icke, Malachi Z.York and many others. With such a diverse set of influences, how do you form a cohesive philosophy, and how does this translate into an easily understandable and relevant message in your music?

My music stems from what I do, my life and certain things that I’ve been taught. It comes from all kinds of things taught, from all kind of philosophers from different backgrounds and religions. I’m coming from anything that’s worth exposing to the world. If it makes sense to me I’ll put it in my music. In terms of deciphering, if I make it a bit more accessible lyrically, make it a bit more basic, maybe people will like it a bit more. I know it’s hard to hear what I’m saying at times when the flows a bit rapid and my vocabulary ranges a bit out of the norm. The only way to make it more understandable is to break it down, use more wordplay and more familiar flow.

You are known by both Melanin 9 and the shorter M9. You have previously stated that Melanin 9 represents your identity as a black man, and that the 9 represents you and your people and the journey and struggles of black people as a whole. This is a highly thought provoking choice of name, and yet M9 also stands for a popular handgun. How do you deal with this disconnect and do you ever worry that it sometimes misrepresents you as an individual and an artist?

At first I thought a lot of people would associate me with a handgun and I tried a lot in every single interview to make sure people understood what the M and the 9 meant. At first I was using M9 a lot and I was getting that perception, so I started using Melanin 9 properly, which is why the album is coming out under the proper name. I was getting a little bit of ignorance, but not really now as I’ve built up in my career, people seem to know what it means now. I think people address me as Melanin 9 aka M9 that’s my stage name.

You have done a lot with Triple Darkness. As a group of socially aware and outspoken lyricists, to what extent do you all agree on the messages you want to put out, and how did you find such like-minded artists?

I did a few things with them back in the day; I’m trying to do my own stuff at this point. Like-minded people came from certain places I used to go, hang out. I’d just meet certain guys round my way, people my age, we all rapped the way we rapped and liked a certain type of music, that’s how we found those who were like us. That’s how we built and got collaborations, it all stems from the music, we all like the same kind of things, that why we all rap alike and share the same thoughts.

It seems fortunate that you have been able to work with producers such as Chemo and Beat Butcha in the past, and their beats have added a lot to your music. How important is it to find producers who you work well with, and what do you look for when looking for beats to write over?

Just if it sounds nice. I like nice kicks and snares just like anyone else who makes hip hop would. Nice soul samples, jazz, something smooth is always good to roll with and is the approach I like to go for. I do a lot of searching online, there’s a lot of great producers out there. I’ve found a lot of good producers on Soundcloud, a lot contact me as well on social network and I’m always checking them.

What happens in the future if your current ideologies and beliefs change? What does that mean for the validity of the music you are making now?

My ideologies and beliefs are always growing it always evolves. I don’t limit my perceptions to one thing, I’m always learning, everyday I’m learning something new so that will never happen. I’m always adapting and looking at things differently, always researching. My beliefs are always growing, I don’t believe in one thing, I take whatever makes sense to me and I learn from it. I don’t stick to one religion, I believe in spirituality.

Your soon to be released album is titled ‘Magna Carta’. If you were to create a ‘great charter’ that would apply to the UK hip hop world, and its fans, industry and record labels, what key points would be in it?

Whatever I stand for freedom, spirituality, learning to grow, to read, to explore, to be creative, always try and work on your craft, believe in yourself, be you, be real. Be all the things that would be in the charter, that’s what I stand for.

Can you talk us through the inspiration and the reason behind the name?

I’ve done about 4 mixtapes and a lot of people thought the last releases were albums. A lot of magazines marketed it like it was an album. This is my first album, its all original beats from producers that I like. I wanted to make it the best out of all the other releases so I put a lot of effort into it and it took roughly about a year and a half to make. Hip hop inspired me, the purest form of it, all the people I looked up to when I was young, all new comers like Jay Electronica. I’m always a student of hip hop, so I’m always studying artists and what there doing, and what’s going on in the scene. ILife inspired me, knowledge inspired me, growth inspired me, my people around me inspired me, my daughter inspired me, just life.

 What are your plans musically for after the New Year?

I want to drop a new mixtape. I’m working with quite a big guy from LA an artist. Next year you’ll see an album with me and him and a mixtape from me.

Published Nov 24th 2012

April 14, 2013

Lay Z Brings Us Lobster [Interview]

Lay Z is a grime MC affiliated with BBK. He has recently just dropped his Lobster EP which is 9 tracks deep and features Scratchy from Roll Deep, P Money, Footsie from Newham Generals and more. Shireen from Flavour talks to him about the EP, how he met BBK and started to make music with them, Lord of the Mics and what other projects are in the pipeline.

For those who don’t know about you tell us how you got into music and became affiliated with BBK?

I always knew JME and I always knew Shorty because they went to my school even though they’re older than me I knew them as bredrins. Skepta went to my school but he was a lot older than me, when he was in Year 11 I was in Year 7. As me and Frisco got closer he brought me round them lot, because I already knew them we already had a friendship anyways aside from music. That’s how we started and got close, we just did more together as bredrins and then the music came into it. We made tunes together, went studio more. I’m not in Boy Better Know, there’s 7 MC’s in Boy Better Know, that’s the frontline. I’m the Boy Better Know family, that’s my family.

As a group how do BBK function and work together?

The Boy Better Know album I’m going to be on there. When it comes to the Boy Better Know Frontline there’s 7 MC’s, then there’s producers, I’m in the family. When it comes to stage shows I’ll be there, videos I’m there. It’s difficult to explain, it seems like I’m in it.

As a whole how well do you think the grime scene is doing and what do you think about the current state of it?

I think it’s good, it’s more professional now, its more business minded. It’s not really just about I just want to get my tune out now, I just want to make a tune and just let everyone hear it on the radio, it’s actually I just want to make a tune and make money out of it. How can I get it playlisted? How can I get it on TV? Before it wasn’t really looked at like an avenue I can live off. It wasn’t a scene I could make a career out of it, it was more I’m having fun with it, its giving me a little bit of money. There’s elements that’s been taken out because everyone is trying to be so professional. The rowdiness of it has gone; people actually care too much about what other people are going to think. Before grime was a thing where I’m doing it how I want do it, if you don’t like it you don’t like it. I think the way it’s developing it’s got its positives and negatives. Its growing to a wider scale now, it’s more accepted overall, but at the same time there’s elements missing because of that now.

Your new EP is out ‘Lobster’ why did you decide to call it this and tell us about the tracks on there?

I went to a restaurant one time and there was a lobster dish there, and the lobster was about £150 and I was thinking all these people talk about yea they can buy this and that but they can’t even afford the lobster when they go out. I put that in a bar something like ‘Every other guy wants to act like they’re balling, but they can’t go Pétrus and order the lobster’, when I sprayed that bar in Rinse one time with all of the mandem, they all went crazy, Shorty, JME, Skepta. Then all of the supporters went mad, I kind of got known for that bar. I thought let me call my EP that. The third track is ‘Come Around’ the single that I’ve just done featuring JME and Shorty. I’ve got a tune called ‘Outside Ting’ which is a bit controversial, but for those that know just know it’s obviously a bar from Lord Of The Mics 3. ‘Highlife’ is my favourite personal tune produced by Skepta and it’s got a guy called Matt Devenport singing, that’s what I’m banking on to be my proper single.

You seem to have a lot of features on the EP, who do you decide who to work with?

I decide to work with people simply if I rate you. I wont work with you if I don’t personally rate you. I’ve got a tune called ‘Another MC Gone’ which is the last track it features Scratchy from Roll Deep, P Money and Kozzie, all three of those MC’s I rate. I like MC’s that are not big headed and gassed over themselves. Footsie is a legend to me so when I had the chance to do a tune with him I jumped at it because it’s a dream come true. Them guys Footsie, D Double, JME, and Skepta they’re all inspirations for me growing up trying to write my lyrics.

After the EP I’ve heard you’ve got a lot coming out with your brother Solo 45, can you tell us more about this.

Solo he’s got his own project coming out ‘Phantom Addition’, me and him we’ve got a tune coming out that’s going to be on that, which is a very big tune. We’ve got another tune after that a single coming out hopefully next year. All I can say is it’s going to be massive, it’s going to cross the borders, it features another artist from Roll Deep and its got a signer on the hook.

Your also working on an EP with Frisco what’s going on with that?

Me and Fris started working on an EP about 6 months ago, we started a few tunes. The supporters have been asking for one for a very long time, so we thought lets do it. We didn’t want to rush it so were taking time with it, whenever it happens it happens. It’s definitely going to happen next year 100% it will be out.

Lord of the Mics is approaching, what clashes personally do you think will be interesting?

There’s JayKae and Discarda that clash is probably going to be the best clash on the DVD, I know them both there both funny. Blay vs., Fangol, Blay is a personal bredrin of mine, and I know he’s talented, he’s a very good MC so that’s going to be a good clash as well. Fangol’s good as well.

What do you think about the whole Jammer Snakeyman beef?

I think its funny; I wouldn’t even look at it as a beef. Jammer makes me laugh everyday, he’s just a character in the grime scene and that’s needed right now. I don’t know if Snakeyman is going to want to clash him, I don’t think he does. If it does happen its good if it doesn’t happen its even better, it would be peak for Snakeyman to be honest.

Are there any more projects after this that you can tell us about as a solo artist?

I’m going to be working on a free EP after the whole Lobster EP project is finished and give it as a free download. Its about time I give back to the supporters they deserve something. That’s going to be in mid 2013. At the end of 2013, I’ll give them a full mixtape because even though my EP was 9 tracks which is a lot it’s not enough for a mixtape. Then after I’ve done those two things I definitely think it will be time for my album.

Published on Nov 8th 2012

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April 14, 2013

Introducing: Charlee Drew [Interview]

Introducing Charlee Drew, a Leicester based artist who last week released his debut EP ‘You Did Me A Favour’.  Charlee started off singing cover songs and putting them onto his MySpace and YouTube pages building a strong fanbase and following, which lead Skepta to discover him. Last year he wrote, produced and sung on Skepta’s ‘Doin It Again’ album and musically directed his sold out tours. ‘You Did Me A Favour’ went straight into the Top 20 in the iTunes singer/songwriter chart based on pre-orders alone, and has been championed by 4Music and the BBC amongst others. Shireen spoke to Charlee about being from Leicester, Skepta, his EP and forthcoming album.

How would you describe your musical style?

That’s a difficult one, but I think it’s got an element of all sorts in there. It’s quite poppy, the vocals are r&b I’d say, but with a pop element to it.

You first joined a band when you were 14. What happened between then and now?

When I was in the band we toured all around the country and did lots of shows, but I got kind of fed up living in the back of a transit van. I just wanted to write music. I ended up leaving the band and just spending a lot of time in my studio writing. Skepta heard one of the tracks I had written and wanted to jump on it, so I ended up doing a track on his album last year. I went on to musically direct all of the tours that he did last year and played keys and sung on some of the live shows. We did Glastonbury, and Radio 1 Live Lounge and all sorts of stuff like that. I started work on an EP; and now were here with the EP and the single.

What was it like working with Skepta?

It was good. It was quite easy for me because he hadn’t done stuff with a band before so he was gassed to hear what we did with it. We took all the tracks he already had and made it live. He knows what he wants.

You’ve built a strong fanbase from your cover songs on YouTube. Did you ever think you would attract so many people?

I hoped, I definitely hoped I’d attract so many people, and I still hope that I attract more. You can’t get complacent. I’ve done my best.

Being from Leicester did you ever see a disadvantage or advantage to not growing up in the music hub of London?

I think a lot more people will say it’s a lot more difficult living in Leicester, and it is because you don’t know anybody. Then again, you’ve got social networks, you’ve got MySpace back in the day, you’ve got YouTube, Twitter, and so everything is at your fingertips. You can do it quite easily as long you keep your head in the game and know who you need to talk to and what you need to do. The only thing that holds you back is the transport costs, the fact the trains are a complete rip off.

What about the networking side of it, is it harder to meet other artists and people in the industry?

Definitely, but it does happen as things progress, as long as you know where you need to head you’re going to definitely meet people. I’ve probably got less friends in the industry than anybody that grew up in London, but at the same time it probably doesn’t hurt. You spend less time watching what your friends are doing and more time focusing on what you need to do.

You’re working on a track with another Leicester based artist Luke Bingham. How did you two meet and are you both singing on the track, or are you producing or writing for him?

Me and Luke didn’t even know each other, but were both from Leicester. He is on the same label as Skepta, so I know the guys at the label quite well and we thought we might as well hook up a session. I’ve written and produced a track for him, I think  he’s going to be using it as a single, but if not it will definitely be on the album.

Ed Sheeran and Sway have both praised your music, but who is the first celebrity to notice your talent?

It’s got to be Skepta. I’ve got him to thank for a lot like the breakthrough into the actual industry. He found me on MySpace maybe 4 years ago, and the tracks I was doing. He was the one that brought me through, he took me to his video, and we started working on some stuff, and that was my first step into the London music scene.

You’re a writer, producer and singer. Which one of these do you believe to be your strongest asset and which one will you concentrate on the most?

I think singing is probably my strongest asset. I spend more time singing than I do anything else, but obviously I want to write, I enjoy writing so much and I want to be able to write for other people, and I’m writing stuff for my own album. I want to be able to produce stuff because I need to vent. I want to focus on all of them but singing is the main focus.

You have your first release out at the moment ‘You Did Me A Favour’, can you talk us through what the tracks about and what kind of reactions you have been getting from the release?

It’s been a great reaction so far. I’ve had loads of people jumping on like 4Music, BBC, and so many people have jumped on it’s been great. The track is about a messy break up, but it’s one of those situations I think everybody has been in. They’ve been in a relationship and they think it’s great at the time, but then they come out of it and realise it’s not all that great at all. The whole concept is ‘You Did Me A Favour’ thank you for making us not be together anymore because I got out lightly.

Was it written with anyone in mind or drawing upon a personal experience in your past?

I think every song has to draw upon some personal experience to get the feeling and to get other people to relate to it. Everything has got some personal experience there.

You’ve begun working on your album. What can we expect from it?

More of the same. The whole idea of the ‘You Did Me A Favour’ EP was to kind of give people a taste of what kind of sound and what to expect from me as an artist.

What’s been the pinnacle achievement of your career so far and what do you hope to achieve with your music?

Doing Radio 1 Live Lounge was my favourite experience so far. There was 5 million people listening, and it’s the only time I’ve ever been mildly nervous before. It was the strangest feeling because you couldn’t see the 5 million people. Obviously I was there singing and playing piano, and I was being me, but it wasn’t for me. My goal right now is to get back into the Live Lounge, but do it for me.  I hope to achieve all that can be achieved.

Apart from the album, is there anything before that being released?             

I think there will be another single and a tour before the end of the year, and then the album will follow in early 2013. I won’t stop putting stuff out, whether it’s a single or a free download, there will be lots more stuff before the end of the year.

Published 25th Sep 2012

March 27, 2013

Dexplicit talks Grime and Releasing 12 New EP’s [Interview]

Starting off with a strong foundation in hip-hop production, and since moving onto garage, bassline and grime, Dexplict has become a highly respected producer and DJ. He was behind the hit record ‘Pow’ in 2004, a track that despite being banned from the radio and clubs, is now still widely played in both. Whilst his focus at the present is primarily in grime and baseline, he is still bringing his hip-hop and bashment influences to his production, creating a unique and highly recognisable sound and making his music stand out strongly.

“I’d say grime is my favourite. Grime is a bigger scene than the bassline scene. It’s stronger than ever right now I’d say. We’ve got so many people that shout 291dexplicitout grime now. It’s changed the position of everything. I think back in the day there were no millionaire MC’s the scene had a different vibe to it. It was more like a grime scene, not a grime genre”.

Dexplicit is about to do something very different with his next project ‘The Dex Files’. He will be releasing 12 instrumental EP’s over the space of 12 months, with the first released on February 28th.

“This project is to create a new way to release music, as opposed to having one release and putting it out like most people do. Trying to create a different way of doing things. The essence of it is just more interaction with the people that’s actually buying it”.

‘The Dex Files’ is not just a straight forward instrumental release, as Dexplicit has put a twist on it to make it more interesting, allowing his fans to interact with the project, “My whole aim is to try and get the people who support my music to feel like they are part of the releases. When the songs come out with the artists on I want them to feel like it was their choice, they created the release”.

After each EP is released, fans are then invited to vote on what instrumental they want off of it to be vocalled by an MC, by going on the thread on Grime Forum or tweeting #ThatBassLife, “I can see what people actually like, because their picking the tune that they like the most, the one they want to hear vocalled. I’ll have my favourite MC’s”. The track that was voted for and vocalled will then be released as a single along with the next EP, “It’s also about what tunes people like the most on each EP, it’s market research at the same time”. The roster he has is top secret right now, but I think we’ll be in for a few nice surprises.

As a sampler of kind of what to expect Dexplicit has put out a remixed version of Tulisa’s ‘Live It Up’ featuring Big H. He explains the method behind this free download, “That’s not really an example. I did that remix for Tulisa already. H’s studio is around the corner from my house, so he’s local to me and he’s a great MC. That was the only thought process behind getting him on the tune. The rest will be different because I picked this tune”.

To celebrate the release of the ‘The Dex Files’ a competition will be running where one aspiring MC will win 6 hours studio time with Dexplicit and a studio engineer. To enter the MC’s must spit at least 64 bars over a Dexplicit instrumental past or present, with Dex himself choosing the winner.

“If I pick them that means I really like them. I’m a guy that’s very not so much about names; I’m more about skills. I’m about up and comers; they’re the future really. I would have picked them because there heavy so I will do stuff with them. I deal with up and coming MC’s and producers now. I do tutoring in my studio for up and coming producers regularly”.

When talking about the musical influences other than grime that we will be hearing in the instrumentals he says, “There will be a few. Grime is the ethos of the EP but there are influences from dubstep, hip-hop, raga, garage, you’ll know what I’m talking about when they come out. I’m releasing so many, so I’m trying to be experimental to keep them different. There will be lots of different influences even changes in tempo”.

To find out more information about the releases and competition click here

March 6, 2013

Introducing Jim Beanz The US Producer Everyone Wants A Piece Of [Interview]

A lot of US artists have Jim Beanz to be thankful for giving them hit records including Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Shakira, Timbaland, Missy Elliot, Nelly Furtado, Keri Hilson, Jamie Fox, Jennifer Hudson, Ciara, Justin Timberlake, P Diddy and The Pussycat Dolls. Timberland’s protégée is now working his magic on some UK artists including Cheryl Cole who he produced ‘Sexy Den A Mutha’ for and is now in the studio with JLS, Little Mix and Dionne Bromfield.  Shireen had a chat with him about being a 5 star threat, Timbaland and being a producer/vocal producer.

What was it about you and your style that led Timbaland to notice you?

Timbaland noticed me from my vocal production skills but also because I started doing vocals myself on a few of his songs, and a few vocal arrangements I did for Nelly Furtado and things I did for Justin Timberlake. From there he also started to notice that I could produce.

Timbaland invited you to work on Nelly Furtado’s ‘Loose’ album with him. Were you just thrown in or did he give you any pointers?

The first song that we worked on was ‘Man Eater’. I was thrown in (laughs). I guess there are so many people that come in the Timbaland camp that are there one day and gone tomorrow. That was my big shot to show I had the ability and stay in the camp and grow from there.

How was the chemistry between you and Nelly Furtado when you first worked together?

The chemistry was magnetic it was amazing because she was very artisty, and she noticed I was very similar in terms of my ideas when it came to vocal arrangements and doing weird sounds with our voices.

You have been called a ‘5 star threat’, because of the five separate talents you can bring to any project you are working on. Which of the 5 would you class as your main forte?

I would say production, writing and vocal production. Those are the three top. As far as being an artist and a musician, I kind of stray away from the artist side. One day I think I’ll go in the artist direction, but right now I’m enjoying building music from scratch and working with different artists.

For those out there who are unfamiliar with the term, can you break down what a ‘vocal producer’ is, and in what ways does your voice play such an important part in your music productions?

A vocal producer is basically a person who guides the artist. A lot of people think the artist just goes in the booth and sings whatever and they keep that. The vocal producer is the person who directs them and tells them how to sing a song. For example on of the first songs I produced with Timberland where I didn’t have any keyboards or anything. We went in the booth and I did the whole song from scratch with just my voice.

You recently worked on Cheryl Cole’s ‘A Millions Lights’ album. How did you meet and what made you decide to work with her?

I took a train to New York to meet Cheryl, and it was just meant to be a session to see if she liked the vibe, and if she didn’t we wouldn’t go any further. She loved working with me so we went from New York to Los Angeles and finished off in London.

Your over in London for the summer working with some UK acts such as JLS, Dionne Bromfield and Little Mix. Can you give us an insight into what you’re working on with them?

I’ve come in at the end of each artist’s projects except Dionne. They all had their albums pretty much strapped up, much like the Cheryl Cole album was, and they called me down because they were looking for a lead single, a clubby single, that smash song that people just want to hear on the radio and in clubs. I came in and I delivered and we had some great sessions.

Have you noticed any UK artists you would want to work with?

I’m meant to be going in the studio with Professor Green in September. They were telling me that wanted me to go in with an artist called Dappy but I haven’t had a chance to yet. I love Emeli Sande I think she’s amazing. There’s another artist I met years ago, but I lost contact with and I thought she was amazing is Paloma Faith.

You wrote the 2008 winning Eurovision song ‘Believe’ – a great achievement in the eyes of the world, but what would you say has been the crowning pinnacle of your career to date?

‘Sexy Den A Mutha’ song I did with Cheryl Cole. It was sort of like my bridge over to work with more UK acts, because of her a lot of other UK acts have heard my talent and want to work with me.

What made you decide to come over here to work with UK acts?

I’ve been coming over here for a while; I’ve always loved the music in the UK. I was a fan of Jessie J before she even reached this stage and Taio Cruz. Everyone’s sense of enjoyment of music is a lot broader over here, and there so much more open to hearing different sounds.

You have your own label, Millennium Kid Music, and are signing new talent yourself. Is there anyone you have come across that we should look out for?

I just signed two writers in the States, and one producer in the UK his name is Troy Boi. He’s an amazing producer, but even now I’m still looking for writers and producers to add, were constantly growing and getting bigger projects, and I would love to share the success and the ability to get peoples music out there to the world.

What’s next for you?

There’s a guy called Dot JR I’m working with he’s great. Right after I leave him I’ll be back in the States finishing up on Shock Value III with Timbaland, and also helping out on the Missy Elliot album. Justin Timberlake is also in the studio, so I’ll also be helping him out.

 

 

 

March 6, 2013

Magician Von Majik [Interview]

Von Majik is a young magician who begun at the early age of 12, being inspired by watching David Blaine on TV. He begun to watch his shows over and over again, studying and learning his techniques. Seeing his son’s potential, his dad joined him up to the Magic Circles Youth Initiative, where his skill developed. Before the age of 18, he had already won two awards, and had begun to get booking for events and TV work. Now he is working on a TV pilot for his own show, and has attracted many brands and celebrities.

 

You first developed a taste for magic at the age of 12 with David Blaine being your inspiration. What was the initial fascination with it for you?

When you see magic for the first time, its just like wow, I’ve never seen anything like that before. I’d maybe seen Paul Daniels and big stage stuff on TV, but you think its camera tricks or something. Him doing it on the street and seeing people’s reaction was like wow, and being a spectator myself on the screen was amazing. I took the extra step to learn how to do it, by watching his tape over and over again. My dad hooked me up with a magic club that was in London called the ‘Magic Circle’, I just thought it was amazing and wanted to do the same thing.

When you were studying and learning his techniques, did it come naturally to you, or was it hard, and what was your favourite trick that you first learnt?

My favourite trick was called ‘The rising card’’, David Blaine actually did it on his show; it was my favourite trick out of the whole series. Someone chooses a card, they sign it and he puts it back in the box, and gives the box back to the person to hold. He says just think about your card, the person holds the box, and as their thinking about their card it rises out of the pack. Their reactions are mad, like they’ve seen someone get killed. When you watch magic over and over again, you know what to look for after a while. I guess it came naturally, because I’m still doing it now. You have to be really patient, sometimes you wont get stuff straight away.

How did your parents help and encourage you to make a hobby into a career?

My dad purchased a lot of the effects, because magic is a big market to buy stuff to teach things to each other. The more advanced you get you can come up with your own stuff. My dad and my stepdad brought me a lot of magic, my mum was like ‘what’s all this nonsense your doing, you need to get a real job’. I just kept doing what I wanted to do.

How did being in the Magic Circles youth initiative develop and enhance your skills?

Magic’s all about presentation so without presentation the magic’s not really effective, that goes for 90% of what you do. They taught a lot about presentation to make the magic your own, don’t do stuff that doesn’t look right, do stuff that suits you. I wouldn’t be like pulling rabbits out of hats because it’s not my style; I do something that’s organic to me and true to me. Originality, and just to practice performing, because that’s the only way your going to get better.

At the age of 15 you won the ‘Young Close-Up Magician of the Year’ after only 3 years from starting to learn magic, which seems a very short time! How focused were you on magic at this time, and did it ever interfere with your school and social life?

When I was young I didn’t have much of a social life really. I met my friends at school, so when I got home that was my time to do my homework and watch TV. I’d just be at home doing magic, and it didn’t feel like I was losing out, because it was something that I enjoyed. I would practice for hours. I would get home at 4pm, and then before I knew it, it was 9, I’d just be doing it for hours.

Which of your magic tricks are of your own creation and totally unique to you?

All my presentations are unique to me, with magic it’s hard to come up with something that hasn’t been released already. You can buy magic as a magician, but you can apply it to things that you already do. One effect that I can say is mine, but the method isn’t mine, but the whole trick itself is pretty much mine, is when I have a coin inside a card.

 

A lot of your magic relies on misdirection but your skill and manual dexterity is also a huge part. How have you trained your dexterity to the level you have right now?

I think the dexterity comes with time. Once you have practiced anything over and over again it just becomes second nature. Sometimes I might present something in one way, and it might not go as well if I did it the other way, so I’ll do it the other way and tweak that. Everything’s just experimenting, but the dexterity will always be there, I could not touch any sort of magic for a year, come back to it and it will still be the same.

Which trick of yours has stunned or freaked someone out the most, and can you remember a particular time?

I’ve had people screaming, I’ve had one person kiss me. I was just doing a routine in Covent Garden for a few people, I just changed an object in this women’s hand, she didn’t know what to do so she ran up to me and kissed me on the cheek. Everyone reactions are different, recently I did a wedding and this guy was silent then said ‘mate that was the most amazing thing’. Some people don’t react at all, they’re dead serious.

Have you ever messed up a trick before and how did you salvage it?

You would never know if I messed up because I’m always one step ahead. I would never give away if I’d messed up, I’d sort of link it onto something else, and you would think that was part of the effect, so you would never know.

Which celebrities have you enjoyed performing for the most and why?

James Corden is really nice, I was doing this charity dinner and he was like ‘yeah show me some magic’. I showed him a little thing and he was like ‘Wow that’s amazing’. It makes you feel good a celebrity saying your good. Recently I did Marvin and his family from JLS, at this restaurant, and it was Father’s Day. David Haye was pretty cool as well. I did a show with Tinchy Stryder that came out on ITV2, he’s really cool and down to earth, and I taught him magic for the show. I taught him how to get out of a straight jacket and a few card effects.

What’s the best event or place you have performed at?

HTC Party that was good. I did a gig for Louis Vuitton and the setting was just like WOW, they went all out. I did Lovebox music festival a few years ago that was really good.

Where do you see your magic taking you?

As far as it can. With this TV thing that I’m doing, I was performing at the restaurant where I met Marvin and the person I met was the CEO of Zig Zag productions and he was like ‘yeah your really good’. Because of the success of Dynamo, magic’s more popular on TV now, so they wanted a different image, but the quality of magic to be the same still, and they really liked me. Were taking it further everyday, the sky’s the limit with it.

Von Majik is currently using the HTC One X to capture his journey as an Urban Magician. Follow his journey at #MyHTCUrbanAdventure

March 6, 2013

Mem Ferda [Interview]

Mem Ferda is a London actor born in Chelsea who became intrigued by acting from a young age. After completing two degrees in BSc Honors Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (M.B.A.) he then went on to pursue acting professionally. He has played many ‘baddie’ roles such as Kamel Hannah (The Devils Double), Vladimir (Ill Manors), Hakeem (The Veteran) and more. In recent film ‘Pusher’ Mem portrays the character of Hakan, though capable of extreme violence he is warm and friendly with aspirations of getting out of the drug game to follow his dreams of owning his own business. 

From a young age you were fascinated by the art of acting, where did the fascination stem from, and what led 

you to take it seriously?

As far back as I can remember I have always been curious and intrigued by other people. I would frequently watch TV, then, mimic what I had just seen the actor do.

At college I studied ‘A’ Level Film Study, which added to my fascination and thirst for Film and Acting. In my teenage years, I worked as a male model part time whilst studying, which eventually resulted in a London Agent signing me up for Television and Film work.

I went on to pursue and fulfill my passion for Acting by doing a Post-Graduate Diploma in Classical acting at LAMDA (The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art). After LAMDA, I was snapped up by a mainstream Acting Agent and many doors opened for me and my career really began.

What led you to have two degrees unrelated to acting even though you knew you wanted to purse acting?

 Both my parents encouraged me to pursue a more ‘stable’ profession. My eldest sister was a solicitor and hence they wanted me to follow in her footsteps. My father was devastated to learn that I had been studying Psychology instead of Law. His influence was overwhelming; I felt I had let him down; he wanted me to take over his businesses, so I decided to do a Masters degree in Business Administration (M.B.A.)

 You’ve had a colorful past being held at gunpoint, being suspected as a drug smuggler at the Serbian border and narrowly avoiding being 

a getaway driver in a real life heist. Were you a bad boy when you were growing up? 

I was rebellious in my teens, hanging out with some unsavory characters and often in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. I never set out to be a ‘bad boy’ as such, but I seemed to be awestruck by such characters and found their way of life extremely exciting.

Did all these things and witnessing an assassination attempt on your father toughens you up, and helps you understand the roles you played?

These happenings would certainly of had an effect, without a doubt. When developing a character one does draw upon personal experiences, so yes, it has helped me formulate an understanding, having had first hand experience of these situations.

Is it hard being from the UK to get into acting, especially in American films?

It used to be, because there was a clear divide between what constituted as an American production and what is clearly a British production. However, it is now more a collaborative arrangement and the line is now significantly blurred. I do well being based in the UK and working in both ‘British’ and ‘American’ productions.

Do you feel as an actor you can get stereotyped easily into certain roles?

Yes, you can. In fact a vast majority of actors get stereotyped. It’s actually a good thing, as it gives you a voice, an established identity and a niche to grow from. It is exhaustively competitive out there, so to establish yourself an identity to later develop from is vital. Once this is set, you then battle to change industry professional’s perceptions of you, to expand and show your real range and versatility. This is what I’m doing now. I’m being very cautious about every new role I am being offered. Its time to break the chain and make the film-world sit up and take notice!  

How different is acting in TV to film?

In terms of acting technique, or creation of a character, there isn’t any difference for me. However, given the choice of which I prefer as a medium, I’d choose Film over TV. Television is much quicker in terms of the speed at which each scene is shot   and the whole production process in general. It reaches out to a wider audience much quicker. Film however is a lot more controlled, slower, process. Budgets are bigger, and subject matter for films tend to be more creative, which is what I like. Also, films tend to tell a story through the journey of a single strong protagonist with supporting cast, which I prefer, compared to television which tends to have stories consisting of a few lead characters and is more an ensemble cast set up.

To date which role have you enjoyed the most, and which one suited your real character the most?

It is hard for me to single out one specific role as being the one I enjoyed most of all. I find most parts I undertake, do give me a gratifying sense of achievement. The role of Kamel Hannah in ‘The Devil’s Double’ is one, which comes to mind, as it was very challenging and I love a challenge. It was demanding both physically and mentally, I had to go from being euphorically drunk to confused and terrified in an instant.

None of the roles I’ve played to date would be a true refection of my real character. But each role I do play has elements and pockets of my true character embedded within them.

Tell us about the recent film you have been involved in ‘Pusher’?

PUSHER is an English language remake of the original Danish cult movie by Nicholas Winding Refn, which he wrote and directed back in 1996. Set in London instead of Copenhagen, it is about a week in the life of a drug pusher named Frank.

The film is a no-holds-barred, gritty and real, journey into the underworld of the drug pusher. It will be extremely entertaining with flashes of humor, hard-core action, violence and a twisted plot.

What advice would you give to up and coming actors?

They need to be aware that acting requires total unrelenting dedication 24/7. Determination, sacrifice and focus are at the top my list. It is a way of life, not an occupation. There are no guarantees of success, but when it knocks at the door, it is as if you’ve been invigorated by a new life force. Hardest of all is rejection. After 16 years in the industry it is still hard to take, it doesn’t get easier. Also, it is good to have some prior Drama school training. Ultimately, I don’t believe they can teach you how to act. But their usefulness is in helping you channel the talent you may have, to act effectively.

 What’s next for you in the world of acting?

I can next be seen in supernatural horror, feature film, ‘Parallel Hell’, in which    I play a lead role. Other features I have coming up are Gridiron UK, A Place Between, and The Unbeliever.

Anyone who’d like to keep updated on future projects can do so via website www.memferda.com

February 6, 2013

Interview: DJ Nikki Beatnik [Interview]

DJ Nikki Beatnik is often quoted by others as being ‘The best female DJ In the UK’. Not new to the game, she has been turning heads and spinning music for a long long time and has definitely earned her stripes. She is a woman who a lot of other female DJ’s can look up to, who has helped pave the way for them with her femme fatale status.  Shireen heads to meet her at an event she has curated in Punk, the launch of Relentless Energy Drink’s Apple & Kiwi flavour, where we talk West End parties, being a female DJ, producing and getting to play at the best events in the world.  

How did you get into DJing, as it’s not really a hobby a lot of females take up?

It wasn’t when I did it (laughs). I went to music school from when I was like 6, and I was classically trained. I then really started getting into hip hop and dance music when I was about 11 or 12. By the time I was 14/15 I was already going clubbing, which was very naughty. One of my friends was selling decks and I was about 15/16, and I just saved the money and brought old second hand Technics. I got quite good at it, and after about 6 months I brought Technics 1210 which was industry standard in those days. Then I started playing out doing house parties and parties at college, then I started running my own club nights, and then basically I had about 3 clubs nights in the West End. They were all dominating the circuit at that time.

You started off as a hip hop DJ, how did you get yourself noticed on the circuit?

I had a night at this club called 57 Jermyn Street, and I used to promote it with my best friend, and because of the music and the way we did it everyone used to come. Madonna used to come, Missy Elliot, Eminem, Kelis. Everyone who was anyone in hip hop used to come. We did parties for Guru, Run DMC, Jam Master Jay, all them dudes used to pass through. I then kind of became known as the girl hip hop DJ. From there things spiraled, at one point I was running three clubs nights a week, and they were all rammed. Then it changed in the West End, because they started paying celebrities to come down, we never did that, we never even gave away one free drink ever. People would just come because the music was good, and it was very fashionable.

What do you think about this change in the West End?

That happened around 2003/2004. Competition started getting stiffer, and the people that we used to get for free because we had good relationships with them and the record company, other people would offer them £4,000. Then everyone else started doing it and it became a spiral. I heard crazy fees being talked about just to get someone to walk through, which just means they just have to stay 45 minutes. What happened was it started to deteriorate the nights, because they didn’t care about the music anymore, they didn’t care about the rest of the crowd. It changed the whole landscape of clubbing, especially in the West End. At that point I kind of moved into more eclectic music, mixing 80’s and 90’s and electronic music and drum n bass. I started doing a lot of fashion gigs like, Elle Style Awards and GQ Awards and Cosmo Awards. My career went down a different route, and I just kept it moving. I moved to east London, I moved everything, all my parties towards east because it was more how West End used to be ten years ago.

You are quoted by some as ‘The best female DJ in the UK’ but what female DJ’s would you put in your top 5 and why?

There’s a lot of girl DJ’s, my friend DJ Rashida, who was also on tour with me and Kelis for a long time. She DJ’d for Prince, she’s got a really eclectic style, and she’s a really subtle DJ. DJ Caper is really good. Spinderella the original, she used to DJ for Salt n Pepa back in the day, she’s got skill, she’s wicked. There are a lot of people on the house circuit that I really like. Back in the day I don’t know if anyone would have heard of her, but Princess Julia was amazing. She was similar to me, she did a lot of her own parties, she was so talented and a big inspiration for a generation of DJ’s coming up. There’s Emily who’s DJing here tonight, she plays really eclectic sets, she runs Supa Dupa Fly & Rock The Belles, she’s sort of doing what I did in a way, running her own nights and being an entrepreneur which I really respect. Melody Kane, she’s another one who is making her mark.

You’ve been called the female Mark Ronson, how does this make you feel?

These are the nice comments I guess. Mark Ronson and me were DJing the same things at the same times more or less. He had a club in New York, where all the same artists used to go to when they used to come to my club in London. Everyone would be like “Oh your like Mark Ronson, do you know Mark?” I was like who is this guy, and then he just went through the roof, next level and just started producing records. I really like him, I like his music, and I think he’s a wicked producer.

You’re not just a renowned DJ but a producer too. Is it as hard being a female DJ as it is to be well known in the producer world?

I don’t know about that yet because I haven’t had a No.1, so I guess when I have that, I’ll be like OK yeah. The more successful you get in each field, the easier it gets in some ways, but the harder and more complicated it also gets. It gets more competitive, and there’s more politics and stuff. This statistic always blows my mind but women own 1% of the world’s wealth. I think music and DJing and producing is something where you have to be quite solitary and spend hours on your own, which isn’t necessarily something that attractive for girls. I used to have to cart around 60kg of records every night, and that was hard physically. If you want to have kids, how are you going to do that if your touring all the time, and in nightclubs? It’s a different lifestyle for a girl, that’s why I think its more male dominated.

What tracks have you produced that you are really proud of?

I’ve been working for the last year and a half towards doing an EP and an album. I’ve been working with Terri Walker, XO Man, lots of British artists and some American that are all bubbling under and are really talented and are about to blow. It’s important for me to work with people that don’t need auto tune, that can really sing and really perform. Every tune that I’ve made so far, I’m proud of in some way or another. I’ve been making bits for Kelis’ live show and doing her intros.

Do you think to become a well-known DJ, having a certain image and style helps as well?

I think anyone in music now, style has almost taken from content, which is sad because it should be talent and content above style. I think definitely having a strong sense of identity and image and being interested in fashion helps.

Can you tell us about the event were here for today which you have curated the launch of the Relentless Energy Apple & Kiwi flavour?

Relentless Energy Drink asked me to curate the event; I basically put together DJ’s that I like. I felt it was quite important to get girls; we’ve got one guy DJ. I wanted to bring the other girls in; I get a chance to do so many good things. I’ve got artists performing tracks that I’ve produced, so it’s like a Beatnik sound system basically for Relentless. I’ve got Paige Richardson who we’ve done a track with, with a guy called Thundercat from LA, he’s the No.1 bass player in the world. Natalie May who did ‘Sexy Sexy’, we’ve done a track with her. A girl from Denmark too called Marie, we did a summer house remix of her tune and she’s performing that.

Do you work on many events like this, and do you hope to do more in the future?

If I get asked. It’s nice, it’s really fun. It’s using my skills to do something interesting, and working with bands that I really like. Relentless is good if you’re a DJ because it keeps you up (laughs). That’s what you see everyone drinking DJ’s and MC’s. If you’ve got 3 gigs in one night it’s a good look.

Nikki Beatnik curated the exclusive launch of Relentless Energy Drink’s ‘Apple & Kiwi’ flavour, www.relentlessenergy.com

December 3, 2012

Who is Joey Ansah? [Interview]

Joey Ansah is more than just an action actor. He is a serious actor, filmmaker and action choreographer. Growing up he specialised in Ninjutsu, Capoeira, and Acrobatics, leading him to become a stuntman on Batman Begins. From this experience he realised he didn’t just want to be a stuntman, he wanted to be recognised as an actor who can also do stunts. His breakout role was playing a Blackbriar super assassin in The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007, where he gained a MTV movie Award for Best Fight in 2008. His recent roles include I, Anna, Snow White and the Hunstman, The Number Station with John Cusack and U.F.O with Jean Claude Van Damme. Being an all rounder, Joey has also recently put out a promo short of a six part series of Streetfighter, amassing over 6 million views to date.

Growing up what led you to take an interest in stage performance?

From my dad’s side a lot of them are in the arts, I didn’t know it at the time, but every male is a musician or an actor and my dads in fashion. It seems to run in the family to do something artistic. At early stages you do a whole load of stuff and try things out you enjoy. What interested me in getting into movies, is that marshal arts have always been my passion and that took over as an obsession from a young age.

How did your passion for martial arts develop to becoming an actor?

It got to the stage when I was back in the UK when I was 16, and thought maybe its not a crazy idea me working in movies using my skills. I was still too ignorant of the industry to know the difference between a stunt man and an action actor or a man who does his stunts or whatever, you kind of think maybe there one of the same. Fast forward a few years and I’m doing stunts on ‘Batman Begins’ and watching Christian Bale and Liam Neeson. I suddenly realised, stunts is actually quite boring, you spend most of your time making the actors look good. You could be the most amazing physical performer, but the audience will think the actor probably did the stunt anyway. I then realised ok, I’ve got it wrong, I want to be an actor who can do his own stunts, rather than just a stunt guy.

How did you become stuntman for your first time in ‘Batman Begins’?

I gravitated towards a group of rather very talented action individuals who were all training and trying to get into the film business. One of them knew the fight choreographer for Batman Begins and he was looking for people who had this acrobatic/marshal arts ability. 4 of us trained together and we went down for an audition and all got hired because they knew they would need a whole load of ninja’s for this training sequence. It was really eye opening. To be on an extra on a Nolan movie jeez, filmmakers like Chris Nolan don’t come around often. Just to be there and see how he works and how his set operates was great.

Your breakout role was in The Bourne Ultimatum. How did it feel being nominated for an MTV movie Award for Best Fight in 2008 for this role?

That was mad, but even more exciting than the MTV thing was I remember the day Bourne came out, Rolling Stone magazine, which is obviously a very well respected publication did the greatest movie fight of all time, and I just thought this is insane. It’s your first big movie, and it’s being heralded as one of the greats, a game changer. The Bond films started copying that fight style so did a million other films. We knew we had done something special when we had filmed it. American audiences like to clap in cinemas anyway, but when we had the cast and crew premier in LA, when that fight happened there was silence, people were just holding their breath and when it finished everyone erupted into applause. It was like a dream come true.

Is it fun playing an evil character such as Aldan who is given the task of hunting Snow White and the Huntsman down by the Evil Queen?

Yeah it was fun, and it’s the first kind of medieval, period thing, I instantly thought when I got it I’m going to be on horseback and have a sword, a bow and arrow and be in all this cool medieval gear. It was very exciting because it was a chance for me to do something I haven’t ever done before. If you get cast in a role that’s very similar to a role you’ve already done, your like it’s cool but I’m not covering massively new ground.

How would you describe the film if you wanted to make someone watch it?

It’s a fairytale movie, an action take on a fairytale movie but it’s been done in a very dark, gritty and in places unforgiving way. It’s going to have an impact as a result. If a film is whimsical or overly light you can casually take it or leave it. This is a film you have to pay attention to and take notice of because it deals with some quite strong themes. I would say a dark, epic take on a fairytale.

Your many roles so far have been very varied and diverse. How have you avoided being pigeonholed into only certain types of roles?

That’s a good question. The biggest risk was after Bourne because my character didn’t speak in Bourne, and there was all this action, it would have been very easy for me to typecast into being a fighter. Everything fighting or the bad guy, and I have so much more to give. There’s a whole load of skills I have as a human being and as an actor I would love to show and convey on screen, that I may not get the chance to if people can’t get beyond the fighter. Often you’re told by representation look, play to your strengths, because that’s what’s going to showcase you and give you that platform. Once your established enough for that strength, you can start diversifying and show what else you can do. If a great project with action is being offered to me I wont turn it down, because there are fans of mine that want to see action.

We hear that you are developing and directing a six part series based on the popular Capcom game Streetfighter. How did this come about? Are you a big Streetfighter fan?

I am the biggest Streetfighter fan you will come across. The whole story began about 3 years ago; there have been a couple of live action Streetfighter movies. Like most Hollywood takes on video games, there so unfaithful to the source material its not even funny, and fans are always up in arms about how there desecrating what the game stands for. I thought it needs someone who understands filmmaking and action and who also understands the game. I developed and wrote the treatment for the script with my writing partner who plays one of the characters in it, partnered with a production company and put together a pitch and approached Capcom who put together the game. To cut a long story short I got them to fund a short, almost like a vision, a pilot promo. My team and I made this film, and put it out there on YouTube and it had over 6 million hits. Off the success of that I thought we’ve got to go forward now and do something feature length, so I thought a series. It’s time to develop the characters and the world. The last two years have been writing, and the scripts are now done for the series, and we are trying to close the deal with Capcom to make it happen.

Is this just the beginning of a new career path into even more directing? Or are you more focused on your acting?

I’m always a performer. After Bourne I had a bit of a lul, and I used that period to develop my filmmaking skills. It’s difficult because all of the various hats I wear. I work professionally as an actor first and foremost, but also as a fight choreographer, action director and filmmaker and I almost see it as one of the same. I know they are two distinct career paths, but the more you know behind the camera, the more it helps influence your technique in front of the camera and vice versa, every area helps the other. One can’t exist or work without the other.

You have worked with some of Hollywood’s finest actors. Who would you next like to work with? What about directors?

That’s a good question. Sam Mendes what I’m seeing of the new Bond film, I’m loving his work as a director for sure. There are so many greats, Spielberg, Ridley Scott. I would love to be in a Bond film, or be Bond who knows. Actor wise Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Avengers was great as a comic book fan, the director of that Joss Whedon really pulled out something special. I just want to work with like-minded people that love doing great work and game changing work.

What would be the pinnacle achievement of your career so far, and what are you aiming for in the future?

I guess the pinnacle so far would be Bourne as an actor because as your big break, to cause so much attention and praise is special. It makes you think I want to start as you mean to continue. Streetfighter as well, my pilot program because that again was my directorial debut so to speak, I co-directed it, I wrote it, I choreographed it, it was my baby. Your first filmmaking project to put out there on a very well known brand with a lot of fans who had a lot of opinions and it had a 98.8% approval rating, where anyone can rip anything to pieces on YouTube, that was very special.

I’m on the rise as an actor, my profile is growing, and last year was a good year. I guess just to truly break in. I think the next stop is to cross over into the leading man territory. As a filmmaker, get my first feature length project out there. If you can do that for a brand like Streetfighter and it’s a commercial success, Hollywood almost gives you the keys to the car and says go crazy. I know if I can hit a home run with Streetfighter it will really open up choice in Hollywood, and that’s what I want ultimately. The choice to make projects, and to act in the kind of projects that I dream about.

November 15, 2012

Busy Signal before he was arrested on extradition warrant [Interview]

Busy Signal is the famed dancehall artist from Jamaica. His exposure to music from a young age came from the church where he would go with his Mother a devout Christian. This is where he realised he possessed great vocal talent, singing hymns, and received his first encore from the church congregation. Moving to Kingston in his early teens, Busy would sneak out of the house at night to hear the sound systems of Bass Odyssey and Renaissance. He made several links in the hope of becoming a recording artist, voicing several dub plates. Busy Signal’s break through came in 2005 with ‘Not Going Down’, and the self produced ‘Step Out’, along with his debut album ‘Step Out’, in 2006. Fast forward to 2012 and Busy Signal releases his album ‘Reggae Reggae Again,’ a tribute to reggae music. (Please note the interview happened before his current legal issues.

How was it like being raised in Jamaica? What was your childhood like?

My childhood was very strict, and my mum was a Christian. I’d go with my mother, grandfather and grandmother to the church. I’d have a love for the music since I used to go to the church when I was a little kid. When I was growing up, it wasn’t easy but I loved music, and I was the most brilliant student at school.

How did you get into music, was it a progression or something you had always wanted to do?

I’ve always wanted to do music since I was little, something musical, I was always interested in having the microphone.  I DJ’d at competitions after school. My first professional start was with a record label in Jamaica, I met DJ Kareem and Super Hype, and from there it was non-stop.

Where does the name Busy Signal come from?

My friends at the time, I always used to go out with people older than me. Almost every time we went out to a Dancehall or something I’m always all over the place, trying to go over there, or look at this, see this or whatever, they were like ‘Yo your too busy, your all over the place,’ and that’s how it really came about. So I’ve always been busy, I added signal to it when I started out professionally.

What reggae artists did you look up to when you were growing up?

A lot of them I looked up to, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Bob Marley, a lot of them, there’s even reggae artists that aren’t from Jamaica like UB40, they do music really well. I had a lot of reggae artists to look up too when I was growing up.

How did Bounty Killer aid your career?

When I started out doing Dancehall, he was there to guide me, and taught me how to deliver my lyrics on stage, and how to have that presence that people recognise as soon as I stepped in a room. How to get that commanding voice performing in front of the fans I learnt a lot of that from him. He really delivers and commands the crowd when he is performing.  You feel like you’re a part of it and you’re the one on the stage. I learnt a lot of that from him.

What was the best advice that he gave to you?

Not to give up, never to give up. The dancehall crowd is Jamaica is a tough crowd, and to get past the level in Jamaica where people recognise you and that you’re an artist and they accept you, to get to that level is not easy to do. Jamaica is like a tug of war, in terms of when you’re trying to rise, there’s always someone trying to track you down. The best advice he gave me was to continue doing what I’m doing and focus.

You are considered as one of the leading artists in the dancehall movement. This is quite an achievement. What do you think about this statement?

That seems like a very good statement. In terms of a deserved statement I give thanks for it. I just feel honoured to be in Dancehall and be able to represent the real music. It’s definitely a good thing to me personally.

What do you think about the dancehall scene in the UK?

The UK Dancehall scene I definitely enjoyed and love it. I came here about a month ago and hooked up with a couple of artists out there as well and did some tracks. The UK style of Dancehall is really different to here in Jamaica, even the way they talk. The UK has the biggest connection to Jamaica to me, and the Jamaican culture a lot. I love the broken English type of flow and everything, I event tried it sometimes in different styles when I do different flows.

What has been your biggest hit to date?

‘One more night’, ‘Step Up’, I never perform anywhere where I can’t do these songs. Those songs really stand out.  These songs keep going and that’s the good thing about it.

You’ve recently released your album ‘Reggae Music Again.’ Why did you decide on this name?

Reggae music is one of our biggest exports out of Jamaica and one of our biggest genres of music. We have like 4 or 5 genres of music here in Jamaica and reggae is one of the biggest and the best. I do Dancehall and I love Dancehall it’s my first love, but I just paid respect to reggae music. We even had the leading track the title track as ‘Reggae Music Again’ as well. It’s just meant to represent reggae music, it’s been a long time and people haven’t really got the real authentic reggae music like this. It was showing respect to reggae music, and as an artist to play my part in terms of doing great reggae music. It’s my first reggae album, but its real authentic reggae music.

The themes for some of the singles discuss quite powerful issues. Tell us more about this and where the inspiration came from?

Where I get the inspirations from is definitely everyday life. Everyday life and the things that I read about, and things that I see on the news all over the world. I listen to the news a lot and I read a lot, I try to be knowledge about life. That is my inspiration everyday life, things that are around me, and things that I see on the TV on the news. I put in in musical form.

If people around me try to sell their race out or are ashamed of their skin tone I can’t be around or associate myself with them types of people.

What is your opinion on the whole bleaching skin issue?

Its just people selling out their race basically, and they can’t really do that.  You can’t sell out your race like that. I accept myself, I love myself, I love my kids I love the people around me, my whole team. If people around me try to sell their race out or are ashamed of their skin tone I can’t be around or associate myself with them types of people. Its never going to last because its not real, you don’t just put something away and try to hide from yourself. Are you ashamed of yourself? Or are you trying to rub away yourself? The real you is still here coming out in person in personality not just skin. You got to be proud of yourself and what God made.

Can we see something different from you in this album…how have you matured as an artist?

The way I meditate and come through with different wordplay and metaphor. Just the whole musically what I’m doing. Just to come up with the concept and everything and putting it into music form with my team. ‘Reggae Music Again’ is a different album for me, not really expected, some fans didn’t really expect this one. It’s always a challenge to do more and do something that you haven’t yet done. I don’t think I should just do dancehall music, or just one music, I think I should just do what I want to do in music as long as I’m doing it the right way.

What’s going to be next for you?

A whole bunch of tours and promotional stuff, getting this thing out there, giving it the proper promotion and exposure that it really needs. In this time real, authentic reggae music is really missing, that real authentic vibe. There’s me and other artists doing it now, and we’re doing something special, but we definitely need help like with this interview right now. We need exposure and more promotion with delivering the music there. I got tours coming out and different things coming up.