After the recent release of his stellar fifth studio album, ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, Skepta has been keeping himself busy on the festival circuit. We find him backstage at WOO HAH! Festival in the Netherlands, where the BBK co-founder talks to us about his fallout with Wiley, his upcoming DYSTOPIA987 pop-up and his thoughts on A$AP Rocky‘s controversial arrest in Sweden.
How’s everything going?
“We’re at WOO HAH! It’s wavy, the crowd’s ready.”
Do you enjoy doing shows outside of the UK more than back home?
“Yeah, definitely, because they really appreciate it.”
Are you saying UK crowds don’t appreciate it as much?
“I think they’re spoilt for choice.”
Since being on tour in Europe, are there any artists you’ve discovered you’d like to collaborate with?
“No, we haven’t really had a chance to see anything because we move so fast. We arrive, and by the time we get changed and ready then it’s straight to the stage. But that’s why I don’t like to sit backstage, I like to walk around and try and see new shit. I’ve always enjoyed festivals, I used to go to them before I became a festival artist.”
It’s long been known that you and Wiley have been at odds with one another, but he recently tweeted that you are his brother. What’s your response?
“That’s nice, man.”
Do you think you’ll ever patch things up?
“I’ve got nothing to patch up with him. He’s saying some stuff about me, I just wish that he was here.”
So you guys can talk it out?
“No, so we can just do this. Just make… just perform on stage.”
As a friend of A$AP Rocky, have you spoken to any of his team about his recent arrest in Sweden?
“Yeah, it’s not good really. I just think they’re trying to make an example out of him – which is a bit fucked up.”
What’s your take on the situation?
“His security was with him – that’s what really pisses me off. And if you have security with you then you should never have to raise a hand. That’s what they’re there to do. But you know, shit happens. I hope everyone learns from it – everybody. Some people sacrifice themselves for everyone else so I hope that everybody else can see that security’s gotta do their work, do their fucking job, and try your best to stay calm. Because they’ll make an example out of us black artists.”
Are you going speak to him when he gets out, offer him some advice?
“Yeah, he’s gonna hear from a lot of people.”
What’s next for you?
“I just wanna do all kinds of creative arts – movies, music, fashion, all of it.”
Can you tell us about your DYSTOPIA987 pop-up coming to the Manchester International Festival?
“Manchester International Festival is an arts company that give different artists opportunities to just make some shit. It’s on some secret cinema type shit, or some Crystal Maze kinda shit. You can just make whatever you want. So they gave us an opportunity and we’re making a future rave.”
What does that consist of?
“It’s more than just a rave, it’s a whole experience leading to a rave. We made a city. It has a whole new currency, whole new markets, fashion, the lot.”
What’s the currency called?
“I can’t really tell you that.”
How did you come up with the idea?
“We had a team that helped put it together because it’s a very intricate plan. But I just thought of the idea when they asked me what I wanted to do. Bjork‘s done it. Massive Attack‘s done it. Idris Elba‘s doing it this year.
“They just give different people the space to create and I’m lucky enough to be someone they picked, because it’s quite a prolific thing. Manchester International Festival is quite big so I decided to make a future city with a rave in it. It’s like some From Dusk Til Dawn and Blade Runner type shit. You know? Mad Max future shit.”
Skepta’s DYSTOPIA987 pop-up takes place at Manchester International Festival July 18-19, 2019 – find more info here.