The British MC speaks to Jasmine Phull about the impending album, Wireless Festival, and the importance of a good track.
When Jermaine Scott looks in the mirror he’s confronted with a reflection of the town he was born and raised in. As grime rapper Wretch 32, Tottenham, North London plays an important and recurring character in all of his music where debut Black and White is drenched in Tottenham mentality.
Wretch 32 speaks to Jasmine Phull about the debut album, and as the son of a reggae DJ, reminisces to a childhood-home packed to the brim with speaker-boxes and an endless supply of music. As a BBC Sound of 2011 nominee Wretch 32 is only focussed on the music because once “you make great music, you end up in great places”.
You’re born and bred in Tottenham. Does it still play an important part in your music? Are you still based there?
Yea. Whenever I get to pop back I’m literally here. Tottenham, North London has always been my home.
And it’s still ingrained in your music?
Yea definitely, man. Where you come from is a reflection of you. This is how I see life; this is what I see.
Your dad was a reggae DJ. Was music a big part of your childhood? How did you first get into music?
One of my craziest memories is my house being packed with speaker boxes, they used to have these sound-systems, so we used to literally climb over the speakers and try and wire them up. Watching my dad play and having the love for music that he had, has definitely worked out for me.
You’ll be performing at the Wireless Festival this June. Have you been as a punter?
I’ve been there with Chipmunk before. I popped out in his set to do one verse. This will be the first time it’s just me.
Your debut Black & White is set for release this year. Will you be playing some tracks from that?
We’ll be doing quite a bit material from that. I just want to give the people an insight into me.
Is it finished as of yet?
We’re almost finished. Because we don’t have a deadline on it we just take a bit more time. While there’s an opportunity to add more we take it. We’re concentrating on releasing a couple more singles first. ‘Unorthodox’ will be out April 17!
Can you remember what age you were when you realised music was the direction you wanted to follow?
I was about 17 when I thought: I’m going to take this serious now. That’s when I really like knuckled down and started writing and recording. Once everything started happening the aim was to take it a lot more serious because you spend a lot of money in the beginning, so once things were coming back it was working out more.
It was time to reap the rewards.
Has your initial goal changed now that you’ve got more experience in the industry?
It’s weird because I just realised that once you make great music, you end up in great places. When you’re in great places, great opportunities arise. So for me it’s about making great music and then everything will happen from there. My goal is to make good tracks. Don’t focus on trying to get here or there; I can’t say I wanna play at Wireless if I don’t have a good track. So that’s what I should be concentrating on – the music.
How important is the visual aspect of Wretch 32?
I always try to be super creative with my videos. If I’m honest, the best thing for me is performing it.
How does being an artist affect the way you hear other people’s songs?
You automatically listen as a critic, which is unfortunate because sometimes you just want to enjoy it. A lot of times I change myself out of artist mode. When you listen to someone else’s album they’re bringing you into their world; it’s their world, it’s not your world. You have to try and fit in with them.
Do you remember the first album you bought?
I can’t remember but I would assume it was a Michael Jackson one. I had a lot of them.
Can you describe your song-writing process?
I’m like a new-age artist. (Laughs). We like our Blackberries, you just open up the notepad and write stuff down but before I used to write a lot of stuff down. I had a load of books. Now it’s like, I’m on my phone – tap tap tap - then store it in the memory. Sometimes when I’m in the studio I can just feel a vibe and I don’t even write it down, I write it in my head and then put it down.
The festival season is starting up. Are you a festival lover?
I just like that everyone that goes to festivals is there for the same reason: to have a good time. These people actually spent their money to come here; they’re jumping in the mud, they’re just vibing, man. Over that one day they’re just releasing all their stresses.
Is there anyone you really want to check out at Wireless?
I love seeing everyone’s show. You can learn something from everyone. I’m never at the back. I wanna try see as many artists as can. It’s good to soak in the vibe, don’t just chill out at the back.
Will there be anyone accompanying you on stage at the Wireless gig?
It’s just me and the band but you never know? There might be a surprise. I haven’t planned one but you never know how you’ll be feeling at the time.
Interview by: Jasmine Phull
Wretch 32 will be appearing on Friday 1st July at Wireless Festival with the Black Eyed Peas. Tickets cost £49.50 and are available below.
Tickets are no longer available for this event
You can find these artists/djs playing at the following events:
Originally published: 17th Mar 2011