Ghostpoet (born Obaro Ejimiwe) makes his second appearance at Skipton's Beacons Festival in as many years, returning as one of the top-billed artists and one of the most-looked-forward-to acts over the course of the three-day event. After a whirlwind 12 months, there was more than enough to run through with the Mercury-nominated artist, with extensive tours and a new album all falling between his two Beacons performances. We managed to catch up with him before his set on Friday night to talk touring, his new album and cars.
It's your second year at Beacons, how does it feel to be back?
Yeah, it's nice to be back, it's a good place.
Is there a particular attraction to smaller festivals over the bigger ones?
It depends really, it depends. I'm not drawn to anything in particular really; all I want to do is play for people. So, yeah, if someone gives me the opportunity to play, I play.
You've been touring pretty extensively for the past year or so; how do you find life on the road?
Yeah, it's cool man, I do enjoy being on the road. At the moment it's just really weekend festivals; the actual touring has died down a little over the summer, but yeah it's fun. I like festivals. I like playing. Long may it continue.
Concert or festival?
They both have their own qualities, I couldn't really pick one; they're both very different but at the same time they're the same, so I couldn't really say. I like both.
Have you noticed a significant change in yourself in the space of the last twelve months when you were last at Beacons?
I've gotten older, I'm an older person, but I don't know really. We're all changing though, everyone is changing constantly and there's nothing we can do to stop that. I couldn't tell you how this change has happened; I've changed in many ways and some of it may have been for the better and some of it not, but I'm happy and I'm back here which is nice so we just have to take these changes and run with them really.
Do you think that your recent success can be attributed to this?
No, because I don't think of myself as being successful, I just think I'm still reaching for something. I don't know what it is that I'm still reaching for, but I feel as though whatever it is, I'm still looking for it. Success is relative at the end of the day and partly I reject that notion because I don't want to allow that to make me lazy.
It's just nice to still be doing what I'm doing and to be here. It's nice to be getting out there and playing my stuff and it's nice to be making music still and that's all that matters really.
You've been described as having a personal style of writing in the past - about yourself and your own sense of identity; how would you describe yourself as an artist?
I never really set my stall up in that kind of genre or box, if that's what people want to say about my music then that's fine, but I'm just continuing to make music for myself so I don't really think about it or care where I'm being placed really.
How would you respond to those who would describe some of your songs as often melancholic, do you think these songs are reflective of you or your outlook on society?
I wouldn't ever describe any of my songs as being dark or anything really. Some of it maybe but only ever some, not many. It isn't any kind of reflection on anything really, it's just me being me.
You've worked briefly with the American rapper Melo-X on MeloGhost; can we expect to hear anything else from you guys any time soon?
I would like to, I really would, but at the moment he's just bringing out a record and I'm still on the road with my record and still working on my own stuff. I really would like to carry on with what we're doing though because there seems to be an audience out there for the little snippet we put out, so maybe, in the future.
Are there specific qualities you look for in artists you collaborate with?
It depends really. With that particular thing we had mutual friends and I knew the guy who provided the beat for that particular song we did ('We Can Work It Out') because I toured with him in Australia, so yeah the whole opportunity came up and I though "why not?" I just fancied doing something that people might not expect me to do and, luckily, things turned out better than I actually thought they would.
At the moment it's just a case of finding time to do it and even though I may want to do stuff with other people like what me and Melo did does necessarily mean that I'll be able to. Schedules get in the way with these kinds of things so often it makes it harder than I'd like, but we'll see, hopefully something will come up soon.
When you work with other people on your own projects do you tend to decide to work together in a similar kind of disorganised fashion or is there more of a screening process with your own work?
I never really go to producers or anything I always like to keep it to myself and make it my own project. I only have a co-producer on my last album (Some Say I So I Say Light) because I chose to have one and that wasn't the case of producing music it was just to help me mould the ideas I already had in place to make it sound how I wanted it.
In terms of the people who I worked with on my record, they're just the people that I wanted to have there and wanted to have around me while I made it, be it people I already knew or people who were recommended to me by my co-producer or anyone else. They all just work for the music, it's not about strategy or trying to make a collaboration that would look good on paper, I was just interested in making good music and that's it. I didn't want to get lost in a bunch of names on my own record so I was never interested in having loads of special guests or whatever on my album, I just wanted to make the kind of music I was interested in making.
You've mostly stayed in the hip-hop world with your releases so far, is there a part of you that ever wants to try something completely different - musically or otherwise - in the near future?
I think the music that I make already is quite unexpected. I think if I ever make something that's 'different' it'll be what I want to do at that time. I don't really think about music in that way.
Your Instagram page usually features an array of cars from your travels - when did you first get interested in motors?
I don't know really, it just sort of happened randomly. One day, I saw a car and I though "I need to take a picture of that car," and then I thought "I'm going to put it on my Instagram."
After that I just started to see them, not all of the time, but I did start to notice them more often and I thought every time after that it'd be nice to document it whenever I saw a nice car. Partly because cars nowadays are just so. I think they're all a bit boring really, all quite the same and cars from different eras in the past all have their own kind of character, all have their own story. I just found it interesting really and I thought it'd be a nice way to document where I've been and what I've seen. I can't drive, but that's nothing from stopping me from admiring an amazing creation.
Would you describe yourself as a fan of nostalgia?
Partly yeah, partly with music and stuff I guess. I listen more to old music than I do current music. I'm thirty, I'm not a teenager so the past is part of my history really. Obviously, not cars and songs from the sixties, but I just feel a sort of connection with older, classical stuff more so than I do with most things from today.
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Holding On ft. Gregory Porter
Alla Turca (From Piano Sonata in A, K.331)