Interview: Ghostpoet

Obaro Ejimiwe, AKA Ghostpoet, is a British singer and musician. He was shortlisted twice for the Mercury Prize: firstly, in 2011 for his album Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam and then in 2015 for Shedding Skin.

Interview: Ghostpoet

What are you working on right now?

I am finishing a project related to my recent trip in the Balkans and Mix the City. Apart from that, a lot of festivals are scheduled this year.

What's Mix the City and what we can expect from it?

Mix the City is project by the British Council, who invited me to join. I was asked to choose musicians, from the Balkans, who I like the sounds of and then help them to come up with loops for Mix the City's website. It involves 12 artists and two loops per artist. As a user of the website, you can play the loop whenever you want and create your own remix. Connected to the audio loop there is also a visual part. So you can look at the video and see how it works. Then you can record your remix and share it.

What was like to meet musicians from another culture?

It was a really inspiring experience. I went to eight countries in two weeks. I was in places where I have never been before. It was amazing meeting new musicians and artists. When you're there you realise that music is universal, regardless of your language. You feel such a connection. Regardless of where you're from, you can collaborate with anybody.

Coming back to the festival season, are you excited for it to start?

Yes, I guess so. It is nice to play at festivals. This year, especially, I thought it was going to be quiet, but there are a few things going on now that I'm looking forward to. I really like to play live. Any opportunity is good for me.

Among other festivals, you are playing at Common People this year. How did you get involved?

I was asked to perform this year. I thought it was a great festival to play at. It is organised by Rob da Bank, who is always synonymous with quality, and the line-up looks very good. I like what Rob da Bank does, so it made sense to me to get involved.

Do you think that crowds at festivals react differently compared to regular gigs? Do you think there is a stronger connection?

Yes, I guess so. With festivals, especially if you are doing individual gigs for a little bit, you need to get used to a bigger stage and to have a different perspective on the audience. It is a different musical performance charged with several emotions.

You also chat to your fans a lot on social media and you're very active. Where does that direct connection come from?

I think that this connection comes from what I was doing before I started to make music professionally. I was interested in social media. I used MySpace back in the day. I have been an early adopter of all social media, but I don't consider myself a specialist. I enjoy to talk and interact with people. I guess people now say that it's more and more important to engage with your audience. But I just do it with no agenda. I like to chat and share what I'm interested in.

And what is your favourite social media?

It depends. I really like Instagram to share photography. And now I am interested in live videos on Facebook. It is something that I definitely want to try. I am trying to working out what's the best way to use it. Not me making breakfast for sure, but maybe a future performance. And, of course, I think that Twitter is absolutely great for a lot of things.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a musician? Or did it come to you a little later?

I think everything started when I had the chance to make my first record. I haven't come from a music background. I haven't got a musical formal training and there aren't professional musicians in my family. From my first record, I started to take it seriously. When it was released, I felt that this was the right career for me. I wanted to put my effort in something that I really loved. I have never felt that before. It is such an enjoyable experience and I am very lucky to be able to do it as a job.

And finally, do you have any advice for young people who want to start a career in music?

Be yourself. As an artist, I am interested in exploring my inner truth. I am not interested in following a common trend. So that's why I am suggesting to start from yourself. Try to express as much as you can through music. But it is also important to have knowledge about the music industry. For example, it is important to understand how to produce your own music and videos and how the music business is regulated. You need to get insights from the world you're trying to be part of. A good understanding will allow you to make the music you want and not to be stressed out by external factors.


Elena Losavio

Elena Losavio Voice Reporter

Elena is a recent Master's graduate in English Studies. She writes about theatre, film and contemporary art. She is specialised in women's roles within media and the arts, and she creates A View from the Other Side, a monthly column on this topic. She occasionally writes short stories about her wanderings in Asia and never says no to new adventures.

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