Scroobius Pip is a performance poet/rapper, well known for his collaborations with DJ dan le sac. He is currently touring off the back of his 2011 solo album, Distraction Pieces, and will be performing at this year’s Beach Break Live.
CW: You’re currently touring pretty extensively. What’s next for you?
SP: Well, I’m going to collapse for a little bit! I also have a club night at London’s The Book Club, and it’s the 1st birthday tonight. In a week’s time I plan to not leave my flat for a while, watch DVDs, you know. Then after that it’ll be getting to festival season, so I’ll be doing as many gigs as possible, really. I’ll also be starting on the 3rd dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip record; Dan’s working on his own solo record at the moment, so when that’s ready we’ll start working.
CW: You released Distraction Pieces last year as a solo effort. How did you find working alone again after such a successful collaboration with dan le sac?
SP: It was cool! I worked with a lot of different producers on it, so I didn’t feel that alone- but I did feel a strange level of control. Because I’ve got my own label I was in charge of everything; all the different producers, etc. I enjoyed that. It was exhausting and painful to get through but an exciting experience. But again, it’s going to be equally exciting to get back to work with Dan and go through that process again.
CW: You said a few years ago in the song Fixed that current hip-hop was monotonous: do you still think that’s the case?
SP: Urm…yeah, pretty much! It’s great that UK hip-hop is doing so well; there’s been a lot of chart success. But I can’t honestly say that there’s an awful lot I listen to personally. It’s one of those weird things- I don’t hate UK hip-hop, but it’s one of my ways of pressing buttons and seeing how people react. Hopefully people react by writing really good songs…
CW: Well… it’s just a shame that that hasn’t happened yet, then!
SP: (laughs) Yeah! A lot of people have a go at Dizzee Rascal because he’s had chart success, but he’s written some amazing songs and there’s nothing wrong with that.
CW: What about Plan B’s new song, ill Manors?
SP: Dan’s been posting about that and saying it’s awesome. I’ve been on tour for a month and bit now, so it’s always tough to hear new music. I’ve heard it’s a return to his old style, or maybe a combination of the two. It’s all personal taste, and it’s not a diss to Plan B, but I was never that into his old stuff. I found it almost too abrasive. His new stuff sounded cool, but it wasn’t particularly my genre, so a combination could be awesome.
CW: Your track Stake a Claim has become kind of an unofficial anthem for the student protest movement in the last couple of years. How did you feel about that?
SP: It was amazing. I got a text from Josie Long, who was at a protest, and she told me that it was being played and everyone was chanting along. Then I saw a YouTube video of it, and it made me proud and honoured to be a part of it.
CW: Your tracks are often quite socially aware- how instrumental do you think hip hop can be in changing attitudes and inspiring change in Britain today?
SP: I think it can be really influential. A lot of hip-hop has the ear of the youth. It’s a genre where people seem to pay more attention to the lyrics than any other pop genre, and that’s purely because it’s spoken. You can listen to a song that’s sung to you many times but not really know what it’s about. That’s not always the case, but I think in hip-hop all you’ve got are the words and so you have to pay attention. That’s not to say all hip-hop should be banging on about social issues; I think there’s plenty of space for the poppier, ‘let yourself go’ stuff too.
CW: I guess it can be a kind of lead the way into the more hard-hitting stuff?
SP: Yeah, as an alternative. It would be boring if all you listened to were songs that told you what to do, how to think and how to behave. I try to put a balance in my music. I put stuff in that you can bop your head along to, and I get some more serious content in there as well. But at the live show it’s always about being light hearted; we’re gonna talk about some dark stuff but hopefully we’re gonna have a really good night and enjoy ourselves too.
CW: What advice would you give to aspiring young performance poets?
SP: To get out there and write. Get out there and perform. The key for me was getting myself to a point where I was confident enough to go out and perform in front of other people. I don’t think a spoken word piece is complete until you’ve performed it in front of people. An album is finished after the first tour of that album, really. You write and record it, and that’s what people get, but you get that completion feeling once you’ve played it to people, gotten their reaction and seen what works. Get out to as many spoken word nights as you can.
CW: If you could collaborate with any artist or poet, living or dead, who would it be and why?
SP: There are so many people I’ve collaborated with on Distraction Pieces, like Natasha Fox, people who I’m completely in awe of. It’s hard to say- there’s so many people I’d like to work with, and not all of them are world famous. There’s a girl called Kate Tempest, who I’ve been meaning to do something with for so long. I’ve never gotten round to it, so she’s definitely on my list. I always feel that I work better with a more organic process, so if a track comes along and it would suit someone in particular, then you go after them.