James Christian Charters, better known as Ironik, has been playing it cool on the music radar recently, but he now returns with his huge new single Killed Me. On a new label and producing a new album, Ironik reflects on his past but also eagerly looks forward to what will be a very busy year for the London-born rapper.
CM: Hey Ironik, how you doing?
I: I'm good on this fine day. My day so far has been cool and busy.
CM: Tell us about your new single, Killed Me, out March 13th 2011
I: It features an artist called McLean who is one of my favourite UK singers and who I have been working with for about two years now, even before I had my record deal. He featured on my last album so it was only right to get him back. He's a great artist; his voice is just filled with so much emotion and soul. This record was the right one for him - as soon as I wrote it, I thought of McLean. It worked out really well. The single is a bit different but it still reminds me of the old records that I produced previously such as State of Me. It has the same kind of vibe but it's just bigger and more epic sounding. Obviously I have progressed as an artist so lyrically and musically, it is much better.
CM: You have described your new album as 'classier and more complex'. What did you mean by this?
I: I meant just a bit more grown up, but saying it in a better way. If you listen back to my last album, you can tell the difference; that one was quite rushed and I was younger then. I went from just being on a top 5 single to making an album; I had no time to experience anything. So this album is very much about the past experiences I have had since the success and in my life generally. Lyrically, I have got a lot better, especially being inspired by other UK artists. A lot of people say 'is it competition?', but these guys have been MC'ing for way longer than me, so I'm just inspired to step up my game when I hear they are having success. It's good to see the people you grew up with, and that you listened to and worked with, going from the underground to a bigger scale. To be part of that is great.
CM: Were there any problems you encountered during the production of this album?
I: Not really. I've been fully working on this album for a year and a half now so we're still changing stuff now. But we're probably in the final stages. We've recorded loads and loads of songs so we've had enough time to figure out what problems we had on songs and to change them. The final thing is to get lots of collaborations on it.
CM: Is there anyone else that you would love to work with in the future?
I: Yeah there are loads. UK-wise, I've not worked with N-Dubz which would be cool because we're both totally artists. Adele has a beautiful voice. I also say this in every interview, and will be doing so until they hold out on me; I really want to work with The Kooks. I've been saying this for two years and I still haven't heard anything in my inbox [laughs].Can you put that as the headline for this interview? [laughs]
CM: What's your favourite track off the record?
I: Killed me is definitely one of my favourites, or Bullet Love. We recorded so many songs so there are loads of songs that are not even on the album that I love, so I might leak them myself soon and put them out.
CM: You've just signed up to a new record label; how's that going for you?
I: Yeah they're great, it's good fun. It's different being signed to an independent, rather than on a major label, but I think you have more options and you can be more creative with what you're working on. Much better now. I'm the happiest I have been for a while.
CM: How do you feel about the recent British RnB and grime scene that has now become the focus of worldly attention?
I: I think it's great, hopefully it will carry on and people will keep working hard and staying humble. I just think it's got much bigger, better and wider so people want to know what the hype is.
CM: You recently got stabbed in a mugging attempt. Does the experience still affect you?
I: I'm not sure if I can talk about it. I'll just nod my head [laughs]. But I'm cool and alright, just back to work and want to leave everything in the past. I recorded most of this record early last year way before the incident so it hasn't influenced it. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.
CM: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I: Loads of shows, hopefully some festivals in the summer, the album, more singles and videos. I am really trying to keep it consistent this year; in the past, I have only had two singles out a year so I really want to keep it a bit more consistent and let people hear more music from me.
CM: Because you've felt you've not been consistent, have you felt that you have found it hard to keep the public's attention?
I: Not really because my fan-base are really cool; they grew up with me and had a buzz with me on the Internet. We've built up this connection where they are loyal to me and I am loyal to them. When we put a record out, they are supportive of it. When I am making music, I am just thinking about just putting it out for people; if they like it, they like it, if they don't, they'll like another one [laughs]. I'm sure not everyone likes every Michael Jackson record.
CM: Are there plans to tour?
I: There are definitely plans for an official tour, probably after the album. Every year, I am performing anyways, doing shows everywhere; that's the standard for me. Being a DJ helps me too because I do my DJ gigs as well. If people check out my website (ironikofficial.com), there are dates from now until August all over the country.
CM: Where in England do you usually get the best response?
I: All over, even places I can't even pronounce [laughs]. I really like Cardiff, Manchester and other main cities such as Liverpool are fun.
Thanks for your time Ironik.