Mike Skinner on how he came up with his pioneering hybrid of garage and hip-hop and why his next move is becoming a West End mogul.
Hello, Mike. Congratulations on your Q Innovation In Sound award. When you started, did you feel like you were creating a new sonic template? My whole plan was to create a new sound but I had no idea how popular it would be. It felt quite straightforward to just join real rap with garage, but the way I did didn’t turn out the way I expected – and those faults became its strength, I guess. I’ve always been a producer. I’ll tell anyone who listens I’m a better producer than I am a rapper, so if you want beats… DM me. The Streets’ comeback tour earlier this year was a triumph – what were your highlights and did it feel like there was a new generation of fans present? It was amazing to have people like Jaykae, Bowzer Boss, Dapz, Murkage Dave, Teef, Grim Sickers and even Kano jump onstage. I had to find out if I could still get onstage and be that person. I’ve been a DJ for years, but it’s totally different. It was hard to tell who was in the audience, man, it’s dark up there. When I crowd-surf I’m too busy surviving to clock people. But I love the tourbus – I can’t tell you how much I love bunk life. I know it sounds weird, but it’s like being in my dad’s van when I was a kid. There’s a generation of artists who cite you as a major inspiration, from The 1975 to The Rhythm Method to Slaves and Rat Boy. Can you hear your influence in those acts and how does it make you feel for your music to be held in such high esteem? Yeah, it was super indie at first but then in recent years I started having the rappers really fuck with me. Rap music has got so much more introverted and druggie now that what I did feels pioneering. But I also fuck with Rat Boy, too, and the other DIY people. You’ve been working on a film. How’s it coming along and what can you tell us about it? I’ve written a load of drafts and an album. Making the record was so straightforward working from the script, because the songs had to form a function in the story. Also, the fact that it’s a story means you can think in character more, which, weirdly, makes you more honest. The story is almost as if my character from A Grand Don’t Come For Free has got older and become a DJ, with all the things that could go wrong there. It’s all of the things I’ve seen and done while DJing over the last eight years, basically. What’s next for you? Will there be new music and what are the plans for the next tour? I’m going to be releasing more music as and when I feel inspired in the lead-up to the film. I’ve got a track that will be out by the time this runs, I think, called Call Me In The Morning with Chip and Grim Sickers, which is really good. And I’m planning a mixtape during 2019, as well as getting back into the swing of festivals. Then I’m going to make my film, release my album and after that we’re going to buy the West End off Andrew Lloyd Webber.
“I’m going to make my film, release my album and after that we’re going to buy the West End off Andrew Lloyd Webber.”
Good vibrations: The Streets’ Mike Skinner accepts his Q Innovation In Sound award as presenter Pro Green looks on.