“I’m not interested in anything shiny” – hmv.com talks to Ghostpoet
Ghostpoet, or Obaro Ejimiwe as he’s known to his mother and father, comes into the release of his third album Shedding Skin as more of a household name than he ever imagined he would. After an unexpected rise in profile thanks to the Mercury nomination he scored for debut album Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, he’s steadily risen, filling bigger venues and creeping up festival bills.
We chatted to him about recording Shedding Skin with a band for the first time in his career and his disdain for the finer things in life…
Your album’s out on Monday, do you get nervous before your records come out?
“It’s more a stressful thing. If you’re like me, you want to get involved in everything, right from video ideas to the marketing side of things and the artwork, everything, but it’s only releasing music isn’t it?”
Is it times like this you wish you were in a band?
“Nah, I’m a control freak, it just wouldn’t work.”
When did you start on what would become Shedding Skin?
“I think I started on it last January. I did the demos over two or three months, but getting everyone together to record was difficult, so it took a year from start to finish. Actually the recording was pretty quick, certainly the quickest time for me.”
Where did you make it?
“We did it in two studios, one in South East London, the other was in Hackney. Really budget crappy studios. Crappy in a good way, just really basic, I’m not interested in anything shiny.”
Do you not fancy heading abroad somewhere?
“I would if I could. It’s a colossal waste of money. You know how it is, people aren’t buying as much music as they used to, you can’t be wasting money.”
You recorded this album with the guys who play live with you, why did you decide to do it that way?
“I made the demos with that idea in mind. It felt like the right thing to do this time around. I made the demos myself and developed them with the band, I co-produced with my bass player (John Calvert) and we’ve made a record that’s still very much a reflection of me.”
Did that make it a very different process? Did you enjoy having other people to bounce ideas off?
“That was the main reason for doing it. I get bored with my own ideas and I needed a new set of ears to push me and to try and force me to try things. It definitely helped get my creativity out, plus it was making a record with my mates and that’s a lot of fun.”
You’ve got some great guest vocalists like Maximo Park’s Paul Smith and Lucy Rose, how did you get them involved?
“I knew I wanted to make a guitar record and I wanted people who would compliment the record. I’m a massive fan of Maximo Park and Paul Smith, I’ve worked with Lucy Rose before, I’ve got Nadine Shah, Etta Bond, Melanie De Biasio on there too. It just adds so much to the record, that bit of variety. I wrote the lyrics with them all in mind and I was lucky to get them all.”
When did you settle on the title?
“I always like to have a headline for each record, something to hold to, I wrote it down before the record started and after listening to it, it made total sense. It’s about shedding identity, getting rid of the past and moving forward.”
It’s a very tight record, 10 tracks, done, is that how you like it?
“It made sense this time to do it like that. I had 13 or 14 demos, I cut it down to 10 and that just felt right.”
What kind of record is it lyrically?
“It’s a continuation of my inspiration of life. I don’t really care about singles, I spend a lot of time trying to make it a world and fit together, but they’re not lyrically connected.”
Can you imagine yourself doing something grander and connected one day?
“Nah, it’s not something I aspire to. I just do whatever feels right at the time, I don’t dream of grander things like that. But we’ll see.”
What are your plans for taking it out live?
“It’s me, it’s a four-piece band and it’s set up to compliment the record. I always had one ear on how it would sound live, it’s a reflection of the record. I want to tour as much as possible, I’ve got a big European tour and all the festivals. I want to tour for as long as possible and tour the world.”
What about America? Are you up for cracking it?
“I’d love to go. I’ve never been there to play, but I’d love to if I could.”
Ghostpoet’s new album Shedding Skin is released on Monday (March 2nd). You can pre-order the album in store now.