INTERVIEW: Speech Debelle
Jus Like Music has been championing recent Big Dada signing, Speech Debelle, for a little while now. I spoke bout the white label 7-inch for the incredible Searching back in November and have also featured the bright hip-hop talents of Speech Debelle a couple of times on the Jus Like Music podcast. But now with the good word of Speech Debelle rumbling through the underground and out into the conscious minds of many listeners, taste-makers and journalists, it’s time to step it up a gear.
With a new single due in March and a debut album in May, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about this young master of deep cyphers, so see what Speech Debelle had to say when Jus Like Music caught up with her the other day…
Jeej: Speech Debelle, thank you sparing the time to talk with me. Now obviously I know who you are, I’ve read a little about you and I have heard a couple of tracks – which are very good by the way – but perhaps you can tell me, straight from the horses mouth as it were, ‘who’ you are?
Speech Debelle: My name is Speech Debelle, I’m a rapper from South London. People say I’m good, but they could be being nice right? Ha ha!
J: Well that is a nice thing to say, but actually it’s true! How would you describe what you do and how you work with music?
SD: I’m a hip-hop recording artist. I wrote an album and recorded it in Melbourne, Australia in 2007 at the start of the Summer. I ate well, slept well, got a tan and went to the studio with Wayne Lotek (Lotek HiFi) pretty much everyday. He brought in some great musicians to create the sound I wanted. I’m extremely blessed in that sense. Wayne and my label (Big Dada) provided the best tools for me to craft my skills. I hope the finished album is a good representation of that, because a lot of people worked hard.
J: I’m sure all the hard work will pay off. I know there are many reasons why an artist does what they do, but what specifically drives you to use music and performing as an artistic outlet?
SD: The reasons have always changed. When I was in primary school it was poetry. When I was 13, and started writing, it was to impress my peers and be ‘cool’. When I lived in a hostel and was quite isolated it was because of a need to release, a creative expression that was for my own sanity. Now, I’m not sure, partly because I can and it makes me whole and partly because people want me to. It has become my life.
J: The single Searching was an absolute breath of fresh air when it appeared as a white label 7-inch via Big Dada last year, but what next? I understand a debut album is due soon, can you tell me a bit about that?
SD: Thank you, the single “The Key” produced by Plutonic Lab (Muph & Plutonic) is out March 16th. The video (directed by Anthony Dickenson) is done now and should be in rotation soon. There will be another single “Go Then, Bye” out in April and then the album (Speech Therapy) out in May. Around that time I’ll be touring.
J: I’m eagerly anticipating each of those things! Now, some artists are influenced heavily by other artists, where as some just follow their own paths and keep to themselves. Do you have any specific influences and are there any current artists or tracks you are particularly feeling right now?
SD: Yeah, I’m heavily influenced by what I see and hear. I may hear a song and want to take the theme of their song and recreate it in my own way. I heard a song by DMX called “Slippin” and became so inspired I wrote a song around the emotion that song had brought up in me. I hear artists talk about how they dont follow other artists and that and I think its a bit of bollocks really. If you’re not inspired by what you have heard someone else do, how do you know what it means to capture someone’s feeling. The vibes DMX gave me when I heard “Slippin” is what I want to give other people, I want to tell my story and make you feel just like he did for me. I’ve always loved soul music and reggae music, so artists like Mary J Blige, Beres Hamond, Jah Cure, but also people I have met and been in the studio with like First Luv Musik, a rapper called Confusious MC, a singer called Miccachu who is on my album. Bashy is big I think, he is bigger than grime.
J: I tend to agree with your sentiments, but I suppose it takes all sorts. Finally, as an emerging artist, essentially pretty new to the game, you must be learning all the time. Do you have any nuggets of wisdom to share with other emerging artists?
SD: Know the business, this is more about power than music. Music is the easy part, the small part. The rest is about how much power you do or dont have and what positions you put yourself in. You have to know how to seperate your creativity and your hustle.
J: Wise words indeed! Thank you once again for your time and I hope everything goes well with the next singles, and of course the debut album out on Big Dada in May. Genuinely cant wait for that to drop!
There you have it, everything you needed to know about Speech Debelle, from Speech Debelle herself. I anticipate Speech Therapy being one of the big albums of 2009 and that will be a fantastic achievement for a debut release, but if the first tracks to be released are anything to go by, then I’m confident of it. So keep your eyes peeled and your ear to the ground, because Speech Debelle is coming!