It’s been a pivotal year for Scorcher, the last time we spoke on the phone he was giving me the low down on his first feature film and lead in, The Intent, I’ve been looking forward to meeting him in the flesh since. So here we are months later catching up on how 2016 has been and what’s in store for this multi-talented, MC, producer and actor, but I’m tired.
It’s seems like it’s been a long year of disasters and disappointments politically and otherwise. I’m pretty miserable. My Facebook status that morning carried the hashtags #WeHaveBeenTrumped #BrexitBull$hi%, the world seems surreal and discombobulated and as a mother of a black male the fears that I’ve always had, that the odds of being arrested or sectioned but now beaten and killed simply because of race are ever rising. Even Kendrick chanting “we gon’ be alright…” loudly and on repeat can’t drown that feeling out.
Scorcher reminds me a lot of my son and spending the time with him is a bigger gift than I can imagine. I get to hear about a young Black man’s hopes, aspirations, love for life and his art. A balm to what Scorcher described as “a pantomime” US presidential election, he’d vote “for neither candidate”. We talk about him attending a Black Lives Matter march, his recent collabs in the studio, acting, leading ladies and more.
I’ve been preeing you on social media and I went quite deep [he laughs] you were at a Black Lives Matter march with Wretch over the summer right?
Yeah but it stemmed from the Mark Duggan killing, I went and showed my face and support.
That’s a beautiful thing especially with the amount of people you have following you because of your music and acting … young people in particular. [At the time of this interview @ScorchersLife has 63.8k followers on Twitter, 32.9k on Instagram and 57.9k on Facebook]
I didn’t even look at it like, if I do this other people will do it. What, would I not do it if I thought people wouldn’t follow it? More people need to be like “this is what I’m on” and be supportive in an outgoing way. That’s with everything and everybody if people show their support that’s how things move.
I hear you; just ‘doing you’ can be inspiring. So let’s talk a little about when you’re not yourself [laughter]. How did you get involved in the film, The Intent which you played really well?
I was working on a different project with Nicky [Slim Ting] … when I was coming up I used to listen to him on the radio [1Xtra] … he told me about the role, I read the script and I was like rah [laughs] and then yeah that was it.
I’ve plucked a quote from the beginning film “People in life are born with the intent…” I took that as alluding to some kind of destiny. Did you always know you would be a performer?
Mainly with music … I don’t know it was just a passion. This is how I like spending my time. It wasn’t really like this is what I was born to be or anything. It was more that I was chasing my hobby and it turned into what it is now. It wasn’t a thought out process it just happened.
What about with drama?
I didn’t even take drama at school but I always had an interest in film and a few of my friends were that way inclined, not just film, I mean as artists in general, so I think that was part of my underlying interest.
So talking a little more about your background your given name is Tayo, let’s settle the rumours once and for all, are you Nigerian?
Negative [laughs] I’m joking, that happens all the time. My dad’s Jamaican and my mum’s from St Vincent. 100% West Indian [laughter].
There is a scene in The Intent when you are on the top of a building looking at the city and you, or ‘Hoodz’ says “I won’t stop till all this is mine”...can you relate to that kind of by any means necessary ambition?
It may be controversial to say, but at that moment I thought if only ‘Hoodz’ was in another environment where he could show his leadership and business mindedness in a different way.
100% agree when you look at some of the things that people like ‘Hoodz’ do, some of the skills and tactics they employ to commit the crimes that they commit are actually the same patterns, the same models as ruthless business men… people go to study that stuff. They’re applying the same format to a different type of business, their own marketing, their own promotion, their own, security, their own distribution… people don’t even recognise how many skills they use that can be categorised.
What would you say to young people who have those skills who might be going down that path?
Try and find what it is you are good at extract your skills; you don’t have to be a drug dealer of a robber or whatever the crime maybe they are heading towards.
What else about your character did you relate to?
I can’t relate to him he’s a maniac! He’s a madman, he’s shooting women, he’s getting on his bredrins, he’s doing bare stuff… me and him’s not cool [laughter]… we’ve both got an interest in nice girls that’s it!
What about the film’s soundtrack, I know you have some music on there?
The film was made and then the music was collated after.
What’s next for you? Anymore TV after Top Boy?
I just want to improve my skills on both fronts, just work you know and be active. Be involved in good projects keep to that quality. That’s more the focus.
Are there any projects or roles you would like to do?
I would love to work with Christopher Nolan on some kind of villain, not sure which one but like an epic, the way the Joker was epic it’s weird when you watch the Batman films, the bad guys steal the film.
Musically what would you put as Scorcher’s greatest?
‘No One Else’ the art level… I felt like I tapped into a level of creativity I haven’t before. The music, the visuals, the styling how it was shot. The next thing I got coming is the closest to being in that space, it’s a totally different record. I got in the studio with Donae’O it’s called ‘Paranoid’ I shot the video already, I co-directed it; big up the co-director and DOP [Director of Photography]. I fully went into how it was shot, the styling… what I’m wearing and that. So many layers… I’m happy with that.
On styling, the jacket from your recent offering, ‘My Ting’ I need that jacket in my life [laughter]!
Wait which one? The Trapstar one or the Blood Brother one? The Blood Brother one. Yeaaah. I saw it and I was like this is sick! Big up Blood Brother for holding man down!
How did ‘99 Riddims: My Ting’ come about? I guess what could be on everyone’s mind is, is this a reunion? Is The Movement [originally Scorcher, Mercston, Ghetts & Wretch], gonna come back?
It just happened organically. I was with Ghetts and Mercs when I heard the beat went away did my bit then said Yo Mercs, and then Mercs was with Ghetts when he was recording and was like “I need in on that record” and I’m like “yeah cool!” That was it. I’m working on an album now but the focus is on the here and now, keep steady with the releases, keep the music flowing and just not be so precious over my music. I record so much and put so little out and I feel it’s time to do the opposite. Still take care and pride in my work and try to give people my best, but actually give it to people. Keep, waiting for the perfect situation the perfect scenario and when this happens, and doing ’99 Riddims’ it made me realise that even more… it’s just me and the response has been sick.
So what’s the ratio of you releasing to creating?
It’s bonkers, ridiculous, 1 to 20. Producing wise I went to link Scholar for some other thing, he went for a drink I jump on the ting put on my socials then Ghetts is ringing me. That just came from me being me, just doing what I like. But don’t be expecting it of me it’s just me enjoying myself it’s just an outlet. Artistry was first for me but production was always something I wanted to do it was just I didn’t have access to make music I didn’t have a studio; I didn’t have the software or hardware.
Best gig, best moment?
Drum and bass gig… we had no idea who we were opening for, I don’t know whether the paperwork was wrong but I keep seeing these A4 pieces of paper back stage with Chase & Status on them. So I’m like ‘Oh I’m opening for Chase & Status’ but I was thinking this is a bit mad, a Drum & Bass crowd, but I performed and they loved it. It was such an experience.
There is a lot to say for consistency or as Scorcher puts it; “a lot of late nights and early mornings.” Having released the old skool sounding banger ‘My Ting’ featuring his homies Mercston & Ghetts and the more mellow ‘Last Night In Edmonton’ in close succession; with more music due out soon including a collab with Donae’O and “who knows maybe more…don’t expect it though” with his ‘boys.
Alongside the Intent II on the cards (the directors having won an UK Entertainment Award and Scorcher being nominated for best actor), while earlier this month tearing up the stage at the O2 as part of Grime Live, it’s been a good year for one of London’s most respected MC’s and hopefully 2017 is even better.
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