where do you know me from? stormzy on giggs, grime and german whips

Rising rap star Stormzy just dropped a brand new video for his new track, 'Where Do you Know Me From.' Shot in one take on the streets of his South London home and featuring his mum, we’re not sure we could love a DIY video more. We catch up with the...

by Hattie Collins
Feb 23 2015, 1:00pm

A brief musical history includes…
I was known a bit in the ends, in south London and then I dropped Where You Been in November 2013 and the buzz built a little bit. I did a Krept and Konan remix, Don't Waste My Time remix and then I dropped #Wickedskengman, Parts 1 and 2 followed by a cover of Justin Bieber's All That Matters. All of a sudden I'm in a shirt with the guitar strings and it's all slow for the girls. But people loved it and that's when the versatility card came in. And then it was back to the bars and the aggression. Skepta saw #Wickedskengman Part 3 and then Wiley, Pro Green, Wretch 32, a lot of the bigger heads saw me. Then I dropped Not That Deep and after that, I won Best Newcomer at the MOBO's, performed on Jools Holland and at Red Bull Culture Clash. It's been mad. So mad.

Not That Deep was…
Such an accident. I found the instrumental on my engineer, 6ix's, computer. He was like, 'It's my little brother's beat'. His little brother ended up being Ras Eye from Heavytrackers, so he phoned him up and Ras Eye let me have the beat. I never expected it to do what it did. I think it's almost an anthem, in a sense. Grime has been producing anthems since the beginning - from I Luv U to Pow to German Whip. It's a genre of anthems. So I think mine just fell into that destiny, that fate. It came out at the right time.

My new tune, Where You Know Me From is…
So gassy. It's over Wiley's BMO.

I think there are a few elements behind the recent mainstream interest in Grime including…
German Whip. Grime's always been here, it's not like a resurrection, but it is a resurgence. German Whip made Grime all of a sudden cool again. Then That's Not Me charted, Rari Work Out charted. There have been a few pinnacle moments, and I think the energies have been right. There has been a lot more unity and a lot more support for each other, and now we've got some young MCs coming up. The stars just kind of aligned.

I make music because…
I need to make music - I need to be the best and I need to win. For me there's no other option. I've got to make it happen.

The first record I bought was…
Giggs, Walk In The Park. I remember going down to Tesco when I was in Year 8. It was so mad for me that Giggs was in Tesco. I hope I live long enough to see an era like that happen again, because there was nothing like it. He was booming from every young boy's speakers in London, every day for a good two years. Giggs smashed it.

The last live show I went to was…
George the Poet and JP Cooper at The Scala. The first live show I ever saw was this year was Skepta - that was the first live gig in my whole life. It was around middle of 2014 so I didn't even know Skepta personally, I was just going as a fan. It was the first time I'd seen anything like that. Skepta, he smashed it. For me it was just another inspiration - like, 'I need to get to that stage'.

If I were stranded on the moon for eternity, I would want the entire catalogue of… Frank Ocean … beamed to me because… no one will ever top Frank Ocean. 100% without a doubt, he's the best. His songwriting? Ah. It's so full of heart. He writes songs and I know he might not have been through all of those situations or that lifestyle but he pens it so well. He's like an author, like Charles Dickens; penning a fabricated story but doing it so well and so beautifully.

My karaoke song of choice would be…
Adele, Someone Like You. I done it when I went to Turkey with my family and my best mate, and we all went out. I smashed it. Anything ballad-y, a bit of Adele, or Unchained Melody, all of that, I'll smash it, I'll smash it.

The three single biggest influences on me as an artist are…
1) My brothers, the people directly around me. They just keep me going. It would be hard for you to find a lyric of mine where I don't mention one of my friends. They just inspire me like that.
2) Other people's behavior. I'm very observant, and I just look at the way people behave, and somehow that comes into my music. I'm able to address certain issues. Like when I say 'Your zipcod don't make you a gangster, you're not bad, your area is' - that's just from me looking at people. I pick out the funny things and I'm able to address that in my music. 3) Peoples reactions. When I'm making a piece of music, I'm always thinking about how someone would react to it. When I'm writing, I always watch my friends' reactions. I want them to feel certain lines. I'm very specific with that.

As an artist, I'm…
So carefree. I'm just about doing your thing, live and let live. I couldn't care what another MC is saying or doing, I couldn't care about the politics, all that social media stuff, that's all secondary. I'm doing what I'm doing. Go on your journey, I'm trying to make it, and you try and make it as well.

If I could work with anyone it would be…
I'd say Raleigh Richie but we're already working together. Jessie Ware, that'd be sick. Majiid Jordan. JayKae from Birmingham - as a grime MC, he's sick. Tink. She's cool, she's doing her thing.

My celebrity crush is…
Scarlett Johansson. And Regina Hall. And Britney Sky. She's a bit under the radar, but she was in Kendrick Lamar's Poetic Justice video.

The worst job I've had is…
Project engineer. I was doing quality control for a large engineering firm who do maintenance on power plants. I was rubbish. I ain't got a clue about it. I was just going with the flow.

My plans for 2015 include…
To carry on killing it.

For 2015, I'm tipping…
Little Simz.


Dreamers Disease EP is out now.


Text Hattie Collins
Photography Matteo Montanari
Styling Max Clark
Hair Kei Terada at Julian Watson Agency.
Make-up Jenny Coombs at Streeters using NARS.
Photography assistance Nicholas Riley Bentham, Nicola De Cecchi.
Styling assistance Bojana Kozarevic, Kristofj Von Strass.
Hair assistance Takuya Uchiyama.
Make-up assistance Mona Leanne.
Production Joe Streeter at Streeters London. 

The Music Issue
music interviews
hattie collins
matteo montanari
max clark
the class of 2015
where do you know me from