Music Features

Ghostpoet (Interview)

Two years have passed since Obaro Ejimiwe's great first record, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam, was released. Today, after moving to a bigger label and leaving behind bedroom studios for proper ones, Ghostpoet's second album, Some Say I So I Say Light, comes out of the grimy fog with a fist up high. With a mixture of plasmatic beats, new sound textures and some cleaner arrangements, the lyrics delivered serve as solid proof of a master storyteller using rich, urban, daily life imagery.

Between nominations, shows and touring, Ghostpoet gave No Ripcord an interview to talk about these past two years, the nineties, his new record and Roots Manuva amongst other things.

Carlos: Hi, I'm calling from Mexico City.

Ghostpoet: Really? Oh wow. I've never spoken before with Mexico.

C: First of all, how has the journey been in this last couple of years? Can you talk to us about that?

G: It's been an interesting journey. It's a blessing until today, to make music full time and to be able to explore the world through making music in my bedroom. I'm really pleased I'm still here. I've been able to make two records in my career so far and I think I will continue to create more records and be more creative.

C: Although we can all recognize your sound, it's a different aesthetic or texture this time around. Can you explain what you were going through and what influenced this second album?

G: I was going through some changes. And I wanted to evolve as an artist; I didn't want to just make a record that would be another part of the first record. I wanted to develop my sound, and develop myself as an artist and that's what I feel I tried to do with this record and it’s very much a snapshot of life, my life, lots of people and the world around me at that moment and time.

C: I think it sounds cleaner. Would you agree?

G: To a certain extent. That’s partly because I finished the record in a studio, and the first record was pretty much done in my bedroom and in bedroom studios. I wanted to complete it in any studio, so I got about three weeks inside and that's how I made it cleaner to a certain extent. But at the same time I was aware that I didn't wanted to be too clean and pristine.

C: You probably get this question a lot, but what was your music diet during the nineties when you were going growing up?

G: Um, I've never been asked that like that! It was a real big mixture of things; I was listening to a lot of UK bass stuff, jungle, garage and drum n’ bass.  But at the same time I was listening to bands like Sepultura and Korn. And also the indie stuff, the Britpop stuff, like Blur and Oasis, and also electronic stuff like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher.

C: Were you influenced by the Warp label?

G: Not directly. At that time I didn't even know what the Warp label was. I was definitely attracted to music like that: Squarepusher and Aphex Twin, and also Boards of Canada to a certain extent. Yeah, I would definitely say it was on my radar and I was very much attracted to the sounds that were coming out of that label.

C: Your lyrics are full of imagery – what do you like to read? Anything special you were reading while building this second album?

G: Not really, no. I wasn't really into any particular book. I guess one shred which I would say I was partly inspired by was “Think Slow”, which was written by this French author, I can't remember his name, and it's the idea of anything that's still alive in a time that everything is fast paced. And that was on my mind a lot in the sense of, generally, just the thought of not being co-opted in the idea of being quicker and making music faster because everything advances so quickly and the demand is so much more. I wanted to close down mentally, to make music at my own pace.

C: How do you feel about Mexican audiences? Do you even know there's a Ghostpoet fanbase here in Mexico City?

G: No way, I don't have a fanbase there, do I ?

C: You do. Your music is part of the biggest radio stations' playlists right now.

G: No way! Haha, that's so funny. I never knew that at all. Like I said, you’re the first Mexican journalist I've ever spoken with in my life. I don't know what to say, so if that's the case, I'm really happy that my music has reached your country, and it's even being played there. What are the radio stations it is being played on?

C: There are two: one is called Ibero 90.9 and there's another one called Reactor, which are basically the two biggest indie music radio stations here in Mexico City.

G: It’s a big honor, I wish I knew before. But now I know, so I have to investigate further. I've never been to Mexico, but through the internet and, I guess, through word of mouth or whatever, my music is being played over there and that's really a great thing. I'm really happy about that.

C: And talking about Mexico, does Mexican music even appear in your music landscape?

G: Mexican music directly, I would say no. But in terms of me as an artist very much being aware of the world where I'm making my music, then yes. In the sense of Mexico as creative land, and I want to make music that anyone from any country can hold on to or listen to and appreciate, I think that's why I try to make music which takes in as many genres as possible. At the end it's about making music, which is very much about capturing emotions musically, and trying to get across the idea of emotion, being good or bad, and regardless of your anger. And it's also about the way anyone can understand the fact that sometimes there are good days and sometimes there are bad. And I try to use that as the base of my creativity.

C: How does it feel to be compared to Roots Manuva? I've read a lot of reviews and a lot of journalists are comparing your tone of voice and the way you sometimes rhyme to him. How does that feel? Is he any kind of influence?

G: He was definitely someone I listened to while growing up; I can't deny that. But to me, it’s not something that I really care for, just because I don't want to be a new anyone, I just want to be me. I want to be remembered for the music I make. Everyone has a style at certain point, and it's easy for people to digest if it's being compared to something else, and I can totally understand that. But I don't really care about the comparison. I just care for me and making a name for myself, and hopefully in the years to come, I’ll be remembered for just being me, and not for somebody else or trying to be somebody else.

C: Is there an explanation behind your stage name?

G: I wanted a name that wasn't genre specific, so that you could see it or read it and not think of a particular sound. I wanted it to be more of a doorway, that you could open and go through and you can discover what's behind it.

C: Any thoughts on your two AIM Awards nominations?

G: I’m really happy. It came out of the blue; I didn't expect that at all, partly because I don't make music with awards in mind. If it happens, great, you know? We'll just go down there and we'll have a good time. It's really great, really, it helps promote the record and promote a lot of stuff as me as an artist, my label and independent music. And that's a big thing.

C: It's been great talking to you. It's been an honor to be the first Mexican journalist to talk to you.

G: The honor is all mine, thank you so much for the call. I enjoyed that.

C: Is there anything else you want to add?

G: Normally I don't, but I just want to say thank you Mexico for playing my music and I’ll come there one day to play for you. I've never been in that part of the world and I would really like to go to Mexico.

The new album, Some Say I So I Say Light, is out now. Ghostpoet plays Bestival on 7th September and tours the UK throughout October. Visit for further information.