Whats your name? Where are you from? And what do you do?
My name is Ironik or DJ Ironik to some. I started to DJ when I was 13 and carried on until I was 16 and starting producing at home as a bedroom producer. I then built a relationship with artist's like Chipmunk, when he was like 15 maybe younger, and other artists like Wiley and Lethal B working with them on some Grime records and eventually started making my own stuff. Then I put out a record called "So Nice" which was my first solo record and then just carried it on from there. I wrote "Stay with me" and now we are here man!
How would you describe your sound to someone that has never heard you before?
I like to think my music is very British sounding music, I dunno if its London but I'd definitely say British or urban sounding, meaning there is always substance to what I'm saying, I'm never just talking rubbish or something. I would say I have songs people can chill while they listen to them and get a good feeling from.
Obviously your sound has changed dramatically recently, how was it for you as a new artist breaking into different genres?
It was hard man especially with my fan base because I grew up with them and they grew up with me. I've been doing this so long! I meet people now who say they have been listening to my music since they were 9 or 10 and they are like 16 now! So it was difficult because they were used to hearing me on slower tracks with substance and story telling and stuff like that. It wasn't easy but as I'm getting older I'm getting used to trying out new things and changing the way I do things.
I have to take risks, if you listen to some of the greats like Kanye West, they always take risks every album or project they do so I think its good to try out new things. There is new generation coming up with new fan bases so its only right to try out different markets. To try out a bit of Drum and Bass was difficult for me to do but luckily I have got a good team behind me and we are going in the right direction, we know what we are doing!
I think that just shows your strength as an artist right? That you are actually able to do that.
That's exactly how I would feel if I was a fan looking in, I would think exactly the same thing!
There's been quite a few moments that I look back on man, I'm young, I'm 27 still I'm not mad old so its weird when people say to me - "you've been doing it so long" - but I have man! It's mad but there is still so much I want to do.
If I was to look back at things like the MOBO's , performing there and being nominated on the same night with artists like Chip, N-Dubz and Tinchy and other people I grew up with that started making music at the same time. Just seeing us all there and all nominated was probably the most proudest moment because its what we all stood for you know, sending British urban music to the main stream so I would definitely say that. Also performing for the Queen was surreal!
When you first started making music did you know it would take you this far?
Nah man! This was never part of it. I never knew it would get this far it was always something I loved doing and it still is! I've always kept that in me. I started in my bedroom and I still have equipment in my bedroom now so I still have the vibe of recording in my room even though we still have access to the big studios now. I still love the feeling of recording in my bedroom and getting the sound that I like.
When i made my first hits like "Stay With Me" and "So Nice" success wasn't even on the agenda! I was just getting my emotions out and just writing how I felt man. I started putting it out to people and I guess it worked!
One of the things we like about your music is that every track we hear always sounds different. There are certain artist's now that will make a hit and then put out another one that sounds exactly the same but you have managed to stay away from this and covered a lot of different genres. Which genre do you feel is the most you?
That's a good question man, I always sit back and try and work that out myself actually! It's a good thing you said that because I do think that every song has sounded different even if I'm touching on similar topics. I always try and keep that British sound whether that's putting garage influence or DnB influence so that's my main thing really. I'm not sure about the genre, maybe garage kinda tempo though.
Maybe I think that is my most comfortable tempo because that's what I grew up on, I'm a student of the game and I've sat and listened to everyone! I sat there and listened when Chip or Wiley were recording and I learnt loads from them and that definitely comes out when I'm working round that tempo.
So with that kind of a background and growing up with people like Chip and Wiley how did the collaboration with Elton John come around?
That was the record label's idea. It started with my old A&R, he came with the idea like "I got this Elton John sample". He would always come to me with these little samples like "lets try this or that." Because "Stay With Me" had done so well with a sample, he thought that was the way to go and I had "Want to be your man" which had the Quindon Tarver sample aswell.
When he came to me with it I wasn't too sure because of the way my music was heading and the fan base that I had built up at the time. I wasn't sure if they were going to appreciate it. I'm not going to lie at the time I wasn't even 100% sure about it, I went to the studio to record it laid a verse and still didn't like it. But my old A&R was persistent! He was just like "keep recording it over and over again and you'll get it". We went back and forth with studios and producers for 2 or 3 months on that record till it was finally done!
Then we wanted to get a collaboration on it. Chipmunk had a lot of underground heat at the time and he's one of my good friends so it was only right i got him on it! He came to the studio done it and that was it, but I still have thousands of versions of that track I could show you before it came out where it sounds totally different man!
But it did really well and its now actually Elton Johns biggest selling song online! So it worked out well, shout out to the A&R's!
What's your creative process when your making a track?
I think now its getting more thought out and professional for me as an artist just because I'm trying to make sure everything I put out has good quality so I guess the process is different from when I started out. Back then I would just get a beat, sit and listen to it and I was just going with whatever I felt from there really, but now its more thought out. I'll sit with my producer Joe Joe and we'll start discussing it before like "lets make this kind of record with this kind of concept". I always make sure everything is of good quality.
I want to build up my discography because when you're gone the only thing that matters are the songs that you've left behind. Nothing to do with how many records you've sold or where you were in the charts. Its about what you've left behind so thats what I'm trying to build up now, I've reached every goal I've ever wanted to reach and more.
On that note, what are your goals for the future?
Just like I said really, trying to build up the discography everything bigger with more international exposure, exploring different sounds trying different things. We've got the next album that I've been working on recently. I'm 5 or 6 songs into it and its sounding crazy man! Even my mum said to me the other day you're sounding the best you've ever sounded! So its good man, I'm getting better as I'm getting older. I'm just trying to work hard man and keep it moving with the new label and new artists around me.
With your new single 'Chaos We Know' you have managed to capture that moment when your in the club, its crazy! People are going mental all around you and even you are on a mad one! To an outsider it might seem scary but as ravers used to this environment they are comfortable with it. Is that the mood you set out to create?
Yeah my friend Jerome and my manager Mathew came up with the whole concept and idea for the video, we definitely wanted to capture that vibe for this record! We wanted to make sure people hear the song then see the visuals and it makes sense. Everyone can relate to it in some way or have had that kind of an experience before and even the process of making the beat, we wanted it to sound chaotic and crazy! Then everyone can go mad to in the club!
Have you had the chance to drop it live or perform it yet?
No, but I was saying to my manger earlier that I can't wait to hear how it goes off in the clubs because it should be mad! I have a remix of the track featuring Dott Rotten with clips of club shows and scenes back stage that show people going crazy! We put it to the song like a visual rave experience to the record, but you can imagine it being something like that. That's how mad it can get! We have got a lot of shows coming up and the summers looking big so hopefully it will go off!
You're more known for your rapping now, do you prefer being an performer or a DJ?
Its mad you know, if I did a DJ set tonight I would be like I love DJing this is me! Recently I've been doing a lot of DJing. I got the decks back out and I've been practicing a lot more and falling back in love with it. But I dunno they are both really different things, I've always kept them separate. The DJ life, the performers life and the producer life are always separated for me.
DJing gives me a different kind of thrill or vibe, dropping bangers and everyone going mad gives you this powerful feeling, but then other times when your performing and the crowd starts singing your lyrics back to you , that is another thing! If I really had to choose I would probably say being an artist.
As an artist do you enjoy recording/ creating music or taking it to the people and performing it?
That's a good question, I dunno I like both. I love performing and when I'm recording it's a lot more chilled and I'm in my zone and its different really.
How do you have it the studio when you're recording? Friends, girls, smoking and stuff.....?
Nah Nah not at all, I'm shy, I get funny if there's too many people in the studio when I'm recording. I don't tend to have to many people in there, I like it just me a producer and an engineer and we just go in calm. We get the lights dimmed and we are in the zone, vibing out man maybe a little red wine on the side.
Obviously the Grime scene is more healthy than it ever has been at the moment would you ever consider collaborating with artists from this genre again?
Yeah I would love to man! I think its long overdue. Me and Chip are making another record. We've spoke about it and we still catch up all the time. He was at my birthday the other day!
But we would have to get the right record because obviously the last record we did was "Tiny Dancer" which was such a big record that we gotta make sure that this one is right you know. He is in the kind of zone at the moment, in this lyrical beast mode. I'd have to make sure I bring my A game when I work with Chip man, he's good!
I do have collaborations with Flirta D and Durty Goods on the new EP, these are Grime artists that I've always respected from the past and always wanted to work with and now I can do that.
I have been a fan of grime from day, not just now coz everyones jumping on it. I'm a massive fan of Skepta, he is one of my favourite artists, from 'Blacklisted' and all the other albums he's put out.
What are you working on at the moment?
We just wrapped up the new EP "Taking off with my dreams" that should be out very soon and now I'm working on the next album. I feel like I'm a step ahead because everyone is only just hearing the EP now and Ive been done with that for ages and now I'm on the album which probably won't be here till the end of the year or next year but it feels good to know I got loads coming out, plus I'm more ready. I'm not just being complacent I'm working and trying to be consistent.
I've got so much in the pipe-line the album is sounding great man, it's a nice chilled vibe I think people should expect me to be on my A game for this album. My last one was 2008 I haven't wanted to put out an album until it felt comfortable so I put out a couple of EP's but I want this album to make sense like my first one - "No Point Wasting Tears" and I'm just working on that and touring for the summer. More videos and more music.
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