from murkage to mealworms, mike skinner reveals some of his favorite things
The Streets frontman discusses whether insects are the new sushi, going back in time with Churchill and the return of UK Funky.
A quick browse of Mike Skinner's blog reveals that a couple of days ago he found himself advising New York fashionistas about Berghaus jackets and how to sport their tracksuit bottoms. He's surprised to find himself in this situation, but he shouldn't be. He's been ahead of the curve his whole career. It's for this reason that we're talking to him today, as he surveys the snow that has him remaining behind closed doors — we want to know what he's excited about right now. And from bands he's working with, forecasting food trends and shedding some light on Skepta's new album — it was certainly worth the call.
"Me and Murkage Dave had sort of been sniffing about each other for a long time. But when I made a film about skinheads for Dr Martens, I came up to Manchester and filmed them basically, and they're in the film. Before that I'd DJed up at Gorilla in Manchester and Dave had been compèring the night — if you could call it that. So when I was filming the Dr Martens thing I saw them in full force; Klepto DJing and Gaika and everyone. I DJ a lot around the country and Europe and stuff, and they've somehow educated their crowd to mosh to all these big American trap records. The kids mosh to it like it's rock music. Murkage is the only place where you get that sort of reaction to those records, and it's partly the way Klepto keeps going between rap and that Northern baseline sound. It's basically the same tempo, just that the rap stuff is half the speed. I've never seen anything like it really and all I could think was that I wanted to bring that to London really. I've been wanting to start a club night for ages, but I didn't really know how to come at it. So getting together with Murkage and doing Murkage in London but with me, that's what we're doing with Tonga. I just did the remix for their single, Can I Live and did the video, and there's some bits flying about. We'll definitely do something music-wise, but as to what it is, I'm not sure yet."
"I think it's the new sushi. I was reading a lot about it a couple of years ago, and there's obviously an environmental imperative to finding an alternative source of protein than cows and things like that. I actually tried eating them a few years ago and it was really weird. I was at Noma, the world's best restaurant, in Copenhagen. I managed to get a table and they serve ants in various ways. They're actually really nice, they're quite citrus-y, it's quite strange. But if you think about how weird sushi was a while ago, a long while ago, then I can see insects going the same way… There's already a few places in London that are putting mealworms and crickets into salads, so I think insects are going to be the new sushi."
Churchill War Rooms
"I'm really into history and I've pretty much done all of the World War II museums and there's a lot of Winston Churchill stuff on at the moment. The thing at the Science Museum is a bit crap, and I went to Bletchley Park as well. But the War Rooms, if you want to get a slice of what was going on, the War Rooms were absolutely incredible. I found myself aghast really, just standing in these rooms where such unbelievable amounts of history went down. And because it got left as it was, you have this amazing sense they they just literally walked out of there and left it. I learned a lot about Churchill, mainly about all the things that he didn't do very well. He was only really good at one thing and pretty crap at everything else. But the War Rooms were amazing to see. While you're in there, it's as close to going back in time as you can get."
"I heard it yesterday and Skepta is amazing. What he's doing with the A$AP lot and going over to New York, I think for black musicians in the UK, they've only ever tried to do America in the pop way which is to go over there and try to do a load of press and for the Americans to not really get it. I was around when Dizzee Rascal first went to America, and I think what Skepta's doing, he's basically become friends with the A$AP Mob and he takes himself off there and goes into the radio shows… It's a bit like a rock band just going over there tonnes and tonnes of times and doing all the little crappy venues. Just going back there and then eventually seeming like an overnight success. All of the British bands that have done well over there have done that. I think Skepta's the first black artist, or the first "Urban music" artist if you want to be descriptive about it [to do that]. I think only good things are going to come from that and he's in a really good place. I remember when grime was a hipster thing in America and it was all just people that read Vice Magazine. But because of Skepta, grime is actually becoming a valid form of black music. It's starting to look outwards a bit, slightly, and Skepta is very much there taking advantage of that. Also I think that the artwork for Konnichiwa is amazing, because it sort of reminds you of a Japanese flag, but it's not. The album isn't finished yet, he actually said to me that the reason there isn't a track three is because he wants me on track three, which is probably the most flattering, disarming and aggressive way of getting someone out of their hole."
Scroobius Pip's Distraction Pieces Podcast
"It reminds me a bit of Deadmau5. He had that thing where he would put a camera in his car and drive around L.A. with a couple of people that you might have heard of. There's a really famous one where he's in his Ferrari with Skrillex and Dillon Francis, it's a YouTube video and it goes on for like two hours. It's just these guys in a car talking - as an antidote to the short-forming of everything. Everything is basically three minutes now. Even I'm making videos on Youtube and it's all under three minutes. So as an antidote to that you've got things like Scroobius Pip talking to someone for an hour without editing it. We're so used to people being edited. Actually I think editing really says a lot more about the editor than the person being edited. When you hear someone talking for an hour - it just doesn't happen, you don't see anyone talking without being edited. I guess if the person's boring it's not going to be very interesting, but he seems to pick interesting people."
"He's a kid that I'm managing. I find being involved with other artists is really bracing, you have to be aware. When you're creating something for yourself, as an artist, all you really do is just whatever the hell you like. That's all it comes down to, and whatever makes you feel inspired. You don't even think about it, you just do whatever you want. But when you're working with another artist or you're working for them, it's almost the opposite. I have to completely disregard every opinion that I have. I think with an artist, every decision that they make forms part of who they are as an artist. And that's everything from not just the music, but the videos and the way that they promote themselves and things like that. I think as an artist, the less that you influence that, the more unique they're likely to be. Oscar #Worldpeace amazes me, he's so young - it's a bit of a cliché to say that he's young — but he's not guided by the same things that I think most young people seem to be. He's thinking very long term and that's not something that I think is that common for a 21-year-old."
"Apparently Funky's coming back. I'll keep my eyes open and maybe you could too. But apparently the next revival is Funky…"
Text Grant Brydon
Photography Oliva Rose