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Mercury nominated, ghostpoet talks about the perils of making porridge and trying to maintain the life of a common man.
words Ali Raymond / photography Jerome Haye
The definition of a ghostwriter is one who writes for and gives credit of authorship to another.Ghostpoet: Us Against Whatever Ever
Loosely taking that denotation, it would be fair to speculate that a ghost poet is person who rhymes for others. Here we would like to introduce a very different kind of man who nurtures that title. Making huge waves, Obaro Ejimiwe aka Ghostpoet is a musician with all power to excite.
Often wrapping dark humour around everyday occurrences in a manner fans of Roots Manuva and The Streets would look up to, Ghostpoet is reluctantly charming.
His laidback, carefree attitude as the syllabus roll from under his deep voice makes for one of this years most exciting new talents.
Having just dropped a dope free EP and with a pending album in the shadows, I caught up with the 6 foot or more gentle giant in London’s east end to get behind this intriguing soul. A man of intelligence, a big smile and a strong handshake greats me along with an apology for getting lost.
One of 5 siblings, born to a Dominican mother and Nigerian father, Ghost was South London born and raised. An average maturing city teen in the mid 90’s, things started to change as an above average passion for writing lingered. Swept up by the MC’s and private radio stations that belted a new promising sound – garage music – he began to form his craft from a bedroom hobby to the work of a professional wordsmith.
“Vipers, Heartless crew…” Ghost is quick to quote his favourite figures from that era.
“I liked how they weaved the relevant with humour. Early Dizzee, Wiley, Dirty Goods. I pricked my ears to those for their story telling,” he recalls. “Delight FM was the one. Private radio played a large part in my influence.”
When taking in his style, many will reach to the spoken word scene as a major influence. Wrong, my friend. It was locked in to these illegal airwave pirates’ commandeering, sweaty box flats perched above the clouds that had a teenaged Obar engaged and thinking.Ghostpoet: Cash and Carry Me Home
“I’m not a spoken word person, I will keep battling that down,” he says of the title so many slap onto his music.
And he’s right. In Ghostpoet’s music, stories rather than stringed vague sentences play an integral part. Mostly at a spoken pace, rapid flows play substitute to clever couplets of rhyme but with all the attitude of a recognisable lyricist.
“It’s about lyrics more than anything. I’m trying to say something in a song.”
What makes his music so relevant moreover is his canny ability to mould inspiration from everyday scenarios. An architect of his own beats, Ghost casually walks me through the process.
“It’s kind of beats first,” he explains. “I don’t know I’m just living life. I hear something in a beat that reminds me of something I was told or saw. Then it forms a hook or beginning of a chorus and we build from that.”
It’s music that is built from fragments of both experience and stories he’s been told.
“Exactly, it’s like a puzzle to me, making it all fit in my head. It could be something I heard or saw three, four years ago but it’s something that comes to me when I’ve laid down the spine of a tune.”
Having finished Media Production at Coventry University, where he also formed a grime collective, Ghost moved back to the central bright lights to pursue his passion – hurdling obstacles like family objection along the way.
“It wasn’t something when I was young I was sure to go into.” Ghost remembers how he choose to make a go of it.
“I just liked music a lot. I was writing from college time, but it was a hobby type of thing. I had a big appetite for music which was frowned upon. My parents wanted me to concentrate on my studies like all good parents. So it wasn’t really encouraged or discouraged. I didn’t really tell them about writing, they just saw me listening to music a lot.”Ghostpoet: Survive it
But music was a natural progression.
“Life is like that. You carry things through life because you just do it. Consuming music and being part of music always made sense for me.”
Looking at the brilliant debut EP The Sound of Strangers, a genre-varied insight into this fairly new talent you get a real understanding of why we are very excited here at Beatnik. What’s more, the offering is free!
“Today it made sense to get it out for free so people could get a taste of what I’m doing. I like the idea of free things. I thought people would appreciate it. It’s a big thank you to everyone who has been supporting me.”
‘Longing For The Night’ reflects Ghost’s funky house affection while the feature with Micachu is a cheeky electronic indie wonder.
“With my music making I don’t discriminate. I like to take elements from different areas.”
We are truly thankful for it. It says a lot about his potential musical reach too.
“I really don’t try and put myself in a whole and say I must be this type of artist. When you are in love with music you have to listen to everything… it’s one of those. Haha.”
As Ghost finishes his cup of tea, the hip-hop in me pushes the question surrounding my favourite track. ‘Love Confusion’ is a very British freestyle over A Tribe Called Quest’s immense classic ‘Electric Relaxation’.
“I knew about Tribe, but I wasn’t a deep deep fan,” Ghost smiles as the story animates his face.
“But I heard the tune one time and I thought ‘what is this!’ I had to write to it. A Tribe Called Quest is A Tribe Called Quest. They are the foundations to what a lot of people are doing now. Be it consciously or self-consciously.”
His rendition hasn’t meandered from the romantic topic of the song either. Ghost doesn’t care much about whether ventilating romantic thoughts leaves his person exposed.
“It was the kind of feeling of that tune. It has that romanticism if that is the right word. It has that emotion. It seemed right at the time.”
So are you a bit of a romantic?
“My misses wouldn’t say so. I should be more – I’m working on it. Haha”
What’s the greatest romantic gesture you’ve done?
“Haha. That’s a question right there.”
Content with a ‘normal’ life living with his fiancé and jack russell terrier, a dog called Stanely the G, he’s meticulously putting the finishing touches to his debut album.
“Hopefully the plan is to bring out a single end of August and the full album in September. It’s kind of tasty like the yam.” Ghost causally points to the veg in the corner to describe the flavour we can all expect.
“But then again the yam is a unique taste. Some may not like it some may. I’ve never been asked this so I haven’t rehearsed this, haha.”
And before I can stear the conversation toward further publicity questions, somehow we get to discussing breakfast choices.
“Porridge all day everyday.” Another reminder of how reluctant Ghost is to fame and a change in lifestyle.
“You know what I tried the other day, these big oats from Sainsbury’s. Really massive. And was trying to cook them and they were taking ages to cook.”
“I think you have to soak them over night,” I blurb out.
“Is that what you have to do? I’ve been stirring them for so long thinking why they hadn’t cooked. Thanks for that – that’s gonna save me a lot of time. I’ve been adding more milk, milks burning and stirring faster. Man! Oh well.”
Amongst all this breakfast talk and general chat about living a normal life you almost forget this is a man who is on the up.
Having recently signed to Giles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings, Ghost supported Nneka at Scala on her London tour date and did a string of summer festival shows.
It prompts me to ask about the serial aspect of it all. One minute it’s lonely walks through food aisles and conquering dinner the next it’s thousands of people enjoying the vibe?
“It’s a bit weird. The next day after Scala I woke up and was trying to figure out how to cook this bloody porridge, haha. For me I always wanted to be like that. In terms of fame – it’s not really what I’m doing music for. It’s not the fast track to success. I’d rather do my music. If life changes let it change but I don’t want it to be on the fame ting!”
And just like that Ghostpoet grips you again with his humbling personality and infectious laugh.
“The aim is to get to a point where they see me for me. I want to make music people can relate to. That’s what I like. Listening to music I can sit, stand or walk too.”
Download Ghostpoet The Sound of Strangers EP for free.
check more music and live shows at Ghostpoet Myspace