slowthai interview: “If you have a voice and only talk about irrelevant shit, what’s the point?”

"My goal is to change the world in some way shape or form"

Your debut album came out earlier this month – how have you found the reaction?

“It’s astounding and really overwhelming. You always have thoughts of what you think it will be like when you’re making it. But then when it exceeds what you believe in your mind, it just seems a lot to take. It’s a lot to fathom and I can’t really put into words how it feels. It’s just gratitude, I’m grateful.

“I feel content. I’ve never been at a point in my life where everything’s good, so I feel lost ’cause I navigate through shit and I feel like I’m content doing that. So then when I’ve got none of that to deal with and there’s no complaints… it’s like, ‘Boom.'”

So you’re on a high right now?

“Yeah, I’m on a high. But then I’m trying to just push – I just wanna push myself, grow, and see where I can go with the next thing, y’ know.”

slowthai live

slowthai performs live

The billboards used to promote the record highlighted a number of social issues in the UK. What was the idea behind the campaign?

“I’ve always seen statistics and I feel like I’ve been myself an example of it. You look at it and you see, and then you forget about it. But when it hits you with this many facts at one point in time, you can’t deny the statistics. It kinda opens your eyes and it draws people to the same points I’m trying to make. It’s just a way of using my voice and my platform as a way of getting to people things that actually matter.

“You can make a difference. In the end that’s the goal – to make a difference and change the world in some way shape or form.”

A lot of young fans have connected with the posters and your music, and it feels more important than ever to speak out on these problems. What do you think about the argument that artists should ‘stick to the music’?

“Music’s the biggest way of connecting people. So if you have a voice, and all you talk about is irrelevant shit, what’s the point? You’re not a testament of anything, you’re just making jingles. I don’t wanna ever make jingles. I wanna do something that changes people’s opinions and provokes thought and makes them think about how they should live their life and how they can better themselves and empower themselves.

“I’m about growth for myself. So if I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I haven’t learnt from them, then I’ve failed as a human being.”

You’ve previously hit out at Theresa May for not speaking for the people. What are your thoughts on her recent resignation as Prime Minister? 

“I think either way, now she’s gone it’s a great thing. But now she’s just gonna be replaced by someone who’s just the same – if not worse. But I think it takes these things and bad points in time to realise what’s actually important. So I think it’ll be a big eye-opener to everybody.”

Who do you think will take over as PM?

“Probably Boris Johnson, and then we’re in a world of shit. I think the main thing about it is not to get clouded with all that bullshit and just think about a way that you can do something.”

You gave fans a chance to see you live for 99p earlier this month and your £5 shows will follow this Autumn. What’s the reason for setting these low ticket prices? 

“I’ve always complained about ice-cream, the price of ice cream inflating – a 99 Flake was always 99p. So then when I got to an ice cream van and I’m like, ‘Yo, I want a 99 Flake’ and he charges me like £1.59… I’m gonna be pissed off. I’m like, ‘What the fuck? My childhood is a sham, it’s a lie.’ And then from that, I complain about it to my boys. I was like, ‘We wanna do something where we give something back to the people that fuck with the music.’

“I see all these megastars doing shows and selling out arenas and overpricing people. The people that really wanna see them or they’re speaking for, they can’t really afford those things. So I wanted to do something where I can give an experience to people who really need it, and spend some time to get to meet the people and do the real stuff.”

There’s also been debate recently over bands offering paid-for meet and greets along with VIP tickets.

“That’s stupid – my whole guestlist is open to anyone. My guestlist is much more, like £35. Even on the 99p tour or £5 tour, ’cause all the money goes to charity. So if anyone wants to be the cool guy and ask for [guestlist], they have to pay more than the [paying fan]. Unless they just wanna buy a ticket and come as they come, because everyone’s equal.

slowthai at Alexendra Palace:

“That why my name is all [in lower-case] and there’s no spaces, because we’re all equal. There’s not one thing that’s above anything else – I want everyone to feel they’re on the same level as me. I don’t want fans and that shit, I want a family. That’s like my dream from when I was a kid, to have a big family. I think blood doesn’t determine who your family is.”

You’re playing Brixton Academy on the next tour, which is often seen as a milestone show for rising artists. How do you feel about that gig?

“Obviously it was £5, but we sold it out in two minutes; we sold out the whole tour in like 15 minutes. I’ve obviously done bigger venues and then I’ve gone back to doing the small venus, and now it’s the litist thing ever. It’s more the amount of people in one place, not so much the venue. I just have to go with the same energy everywhere I go.

“If people feel the same way, they join me on this journey we’re on and if they don’t… fuck off [laughs]. I ain’t bothered about people liking me, I just want people to like themselves.”

And Glastonbury is just around the corner…

“I’ve never been [to] Glastonbury, so I dunno what it’s like. But I’ve always dreamed [of going]; I’d love to go and just watch people. So then to go play, I can’t really believe it. It’s like a milestone, the same as Brixton is.

So you’re gonna go all-in as a first-timer?

“I’m gonna go and be off my head. I’m gonna go Thursday and probably drink myself into oblivion, and then come out buzzing off my head on acid or something and fucking have an epiphany. I’ll probably ruin my life at the same time [laughs]. I’ll be there, fucked.”

Slowthai’s 2019 UK live dates are as follows:

NOVEMBER
13 – Newcastle University, Newcastle
14 – SWG, Glasgow
16 – Manchester Academy, Manchester
17 – Bristol O2 Academy, Bristol
18 – Brixton O2 Academy, London