Hi Michael, hope all is well with you. How has the start of 2022 been for you?
I’m well, thanks. I started off the year with three weeks in Jamaica, taking time off working on anything. Then, I came straight back to the release of my latest album. So, it’s been the right balance so far this year. The world around us is in a crazy place right now, though.
Your new album is called Don’t Forget to Look Up. What can listeners expect?
I don’t sit down and say to myself I’m going to make this or that kind of music before I start; it just comes out. This album’s far more introspective than the previous one and a bit smoother, sonically. I always say don’t come to my music with preconceptions. I’ll change musically with every album but keep a foundation of myself throughout it all.
On your last album you worked with Jorja Smith and Chronixx. Can we expect any exciting guests on the new one?
Yes, I’ve got Demae and Sasha Keebles on this album. Two great singers that I’ve been a fan of – and friends with – for years. The songs just felt right for both of them. Also, I worked with Nile Rodgers on the last song on the album, ‘Get Down’, which was a real honour.
You’ve worked with some pretty big names in your time – Shy FX, DJ Zinc, Joey Bada$$ and Idris Elba, to name a few. And you sang on Professor Green’s seminal 2010 track ‘Jungle’. How did you get to hook up with all these amazing artists?
Just naturally, really. Most of the collaborations I’ve been involved in over the years have come about through natural, real relationships that turned into making music together. I think you can make the best music with people you understand, and get on with.
Your music is influenced by lots of different genres – soul, d’n’b, reggae, hip hop, dubstep, etc. What music did you listen to growing up, and who influenced your taste back then?
Again it was quite eclectic. My dad was into blues and bits of Irish and country music. Then, my sister was into garage, dance and hip hop. So I was influenced by all of that – and a bit of metal and rock music. I started producing beats at a young age, and sampling got me into jazz and blues a bit deeper, and opened me up even more to soul music. So I’ve always listened to everything, really. Spending a day in my headphones always has a pretty mad playlist of everything and anything.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Stories from the world I see around me and things going on in my life. I get a lot of inspiration from films and videos. Cinema definitely sparks off a lot of ideas for me. In general, I either start playing on my guitar or making beats, and writing over loops to create the starting blocks of the songs