Ghostpoet’s world changed dramatically with the arrival of his third album “Shedding Skin” back in early Spring. The LP ushered in a new direction which saw him lift his hazy, introverted rap from a stripped-back studio format to a full-band line-up – a move which saw him tour the UK, Europe and international festival circuits, and more recently, earned him his second Mercury Music Prize nomination. Jimmy Volts caught up with the man of the hour to discover a most healthy artistic outlook.
We catch Ghostpoet post-gym session, slightly out of breath but more than happy to muse on what has arguably been his most successful year to-date.
His third LP saw him reach a broader demographic than ever before. Something it transpires, that was all part of the plan.
“The last two records took a bit of time for people to get under the surface of, in order to ‘get it’. I made this record with the thought in mind of it being more immediate. Something a little easier to digest. My plan was to expand y’know? To open myself up to bigger audiences, more for myself, really.”
Ghostpoet’s plan paid off and he succeeded in making his third LP more accessible than its predecessors whilst retaining the same lyrical depth he’s known for. In addition, he’s earned himself his second Mercury Prize nomination, news of which he took in his stride.
“The nomination is great! I think the list’s really strong this year. Last time I was involved it was for my debut record, so it was difficult not to get caught up in the whole…bubble of it, y’know?” He elaborates.
“This time round it’s a bit different. It’s my third record and I’ve been doing this a little while now. I still very much appreciate the nomination because I’m aware of what it can bring if you put the work in. It’s nice to just get some recognition and run with it to see where it takes me, y’know?”
Despite his humility on the subject, we can’t help but wonder, what would be the first thing he’d do if he found himself winning the coveted prize? “Probably sit down and work out what bills I’ve gotta pay.” He laughs “I would love to win it. But if it’s not meant to be, I can’t complain. The main goal is to make art innit! Be it shit art, good art or great art. I make music because it makes me happy. It’s a way for me to feed my creativity. Awards and financial advancements (not that I’ve made much), all those things are just a bonus to me. It’s not stuff that’s at the forefront of my mind.”
One thing that most definitely is on his mind however, is his love for performing live. This month sees Ghostpoet performing throughout the UK, including a hometown appearance at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Does he feel nervous playing his biggest hometown gig to-date?
“I don’t get nervous much these days. But I’m really looking forward to it. I’m hoping off the back of this nomination that we can fill it up as it’ll be a really nice round-up of the year so far. Shepherds Bush empire is a world-renowned place y’know, so I’m definitely gonna get into it.”
Even in the face of success, Ghostpoet appears calm and collected, which, if you’re a fan of his music, you’d probably expect. But then again, he has more than one string to his bow. He’s also a dab hand at broadcasting, having hosted his own shows on BBC 6 and Soho Radio. Could this be a future path for him?
“I think I would like to go into radio eventually. I’m a fan of music, first and foremost, so it’s nice to have a platform to play stuff I like, which I’ve come across on my travels. I feel that could be the future for me. I won’t say “near” future because… hopefully I’ve got another few good records inside me yet.”
Ghostpoet is set to appear at London’s O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on November 21
For more information about tour dates and to buy tickets see ghostpoet.co.uk/live
Words by Jimmy Volts