skinny pelembe interview

BN1 chats to… Skinny Pelembe

THIS IS YOUR FIRST UK TOUR. WHAT SORT OF THING CAN WE EXPECT COMPARED TO YOUR USUAL ONE-OFF SHOWS?

You can expect five individuals coming together to form the most powerful music Voltron (the UK) has ever seen. Once we’ve destroyed all your cities, we will turn our eye towards international devastation, before finally, interplanetary domination. But nothing at all like #spaceforce.

YOUR MUSICAL STYLE IS SO UNIQUE. WHO WOULD YOU SAY ARE YOUR MAIN INFLUENCES SONICALLY?

I’d like to say I occupy the space between Neil Young and Madlib, however others have said Max Wall and Brian Connelly…

YOU RELEASED YOUR DEBUT EP (SEVEN YEAR CURSE) JUST UNDER A YEAR AGO. ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING TOWARDS AN ALBUM OR ARE YOU STILL FOCUSING ON REFINING YOUR OVERALL SOUND?

We have indeed started recording the album. The rhythm and mixing department are being competently handled by the legend that is Malcom Catto, while my South Yorkshire partner in crime, Mr Paul Littlewood, is ensuring that the guitar and vocals sound crispy and popping.

YOU’VE SAID BEFORE THAT YOUR BROTHERS ARE REALLY INTO HIP-HOP AND THAT THIS HELPED DEFINE YOUR MUSIC AS YOU WERE GROWING UP. ARE THERE ANY NEW HIP-HOP RELEASES THAT INSPIRE YOU TO BE CREATIVE?

L.A.Z. of Clear Soul Forces just sent me a track called Martini. It’s so great, and normally, if you send me any of your hip hop on Instagram I’ll block you instantly, because 9/10 hip-hop passed through dm’s is depressing! Big up LAZ for making me believe again! Shunaji, one of the Future Bubblers crew is a monster too, and she produces her own beats and has a super distinct flow. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.skinny pelembe interview

IS THERE ANYONE YOU’D BE EAGER TO COLLABORATE WITH SOON OR DO YOU PREFER STICKING TO YOUR OWN DEVICES? HOW DO YOU THINK IT WOULD AFFECT YOUR MUSIC?

I’d say, until the album is done, I’m a bit collab-ed out by doing the Sleep More, Make More Friends EP. I’m really a bit of a control freak and giving so much of the track’s direction to others fills me with ultimate dread. To be fair everyone on that EP smashed it and made me warm to the idea of not being such a hermit! I’m super happy with it as a snapshot of the people I’ve met and time’s I’ve had since moving down to London. In 2019, I’m gonna be on a super speed-dating collab tip. May – October, hit me up for beats!

YOU’VE MADE A LOT OF PROGRESS UNDER THE FUTURE BUBBLERS MENTOR SCHEME SET UP BY GILES PETERSON AND BROWNSWOOD MUSIC. HOW HAVE THEY HELPED YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?

I reckon I wouldn’t be doing this interview for starters. Having a mentor like Alex Patchwork show me how to shift my own vinyl in stores was a huge one. Having a pretty healthy balance of belief and pressure from their side has certainly helped me feel like, maybe, I could dare now consider myself a guitarist and perhaps also a singer.

YOU WERE BORN IN JOHANNESBURG BUT RAISED IN DONCASTER. DOES THE SOUTH-AFRICAN MUSIC SCENE INFLUENCE YOUR MUSIC AT ALL?

To be honest I haven’t been back to Johannesburg since my dad passed in ‘09, and if anything the music I’d heard in Mozambique (where my family are from) has had more of an initial impact. When I was around 9 I took a few lessons from a Mozambican legend called Fernando Luis, as well as a day out watching him tape a TV appearance then chilling on the beach. I think that sold me on the idea of making music. In terms of modern music it’s really online mixes, mainly house from SA that has filtered into the way I approach production.

SEVEN YEAR CURSE WAS INSPIRED BY YOUR OWN DREAMS AND HOW THEY REPRESENT AN HONEST AND UNFILTERED EXPRESSION ON THOUGHT. DO YOU STRIVE TO MAKE YOUR SUBJECT MATTER THIS PERSONAL? OR IS IT SOMETHING THAT COMES NATURALLY TO YOU AS A SONGWRITER?

Yeah always, although I’ll probably never tell you the real meaning, as I hate it when artists push their own song meanings on to you. I’ve been able to filter my own experiences through the prism of my favourite songs and make them personal to me, hopefully others can do the same with mine. Unless it’s about something VERY specific, like the plight of pelicans amidst the BP oil spill disaster.

YOU PLAYED IN BRIGHTON AS PART OF THE GREAT ESCAPE FESTIVAL THIS YEAR. WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THAT?

Well, the royal wedding was on at the time, and we had a fantastic AirBnB to chill in between shows. I’m certainly not a fan of that family, but I had a blast watching Meghan Markle shake up the establishment while looking fab. Shows-wise, the highlight was having Steve Lamacq introduce us. Didn’t know he was gonna be there. What a love.

Skinny Pelembe comes to Green Door Store on Weds 26 Sept

Image credits: Main, Alex Kurunis; inset, Auriane Defert

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