Music Q&A with Scroobius Pip

Litro chats with the spoken word artist about his forthcoming Latitude Festival appearance, and his personal festival wish list.
Scroobius Pip.
Scroobius Pip.

Litro: What’s your dream festival lineup, if you could select artists from any era?

Scroobius Pip: This is just too tough as I would want to list a number of different stages with different styles! The main stage would have Prince and Bruce Springsteen co-headlining. And maybe Kate Bush and Cyndi Lauper co-second-headliner-ing? Would have to have a hip hop field with Big Daddy Kane, KRS One, Public Enemy, Sage Francis, B Dolan, Open Mike Eagle, Pharoah Monch, Jean Grae, Young Fathers… wait, can we discuss budget? We need to start making this happen. We need to stop this interview immediately and start making phone calls. All of these acts are alive!

Litro: How important are lyrics in your musical process?

Scroobius Pip: They are the most important part for me. I come from and still move within a spoken word background. So my part of the process is very much all about the lyrics. Pretty much everything I have ever written has at some point been performed to a crowd with no music. Just words in their rawest form.

Litro: Do you have a favourite lyric from someone else’s song?

Scroobius Pip: There’s so many to choose from! Sage Francis has a lot that I love but the one that springs to mind is “Make love to the present, f@&k the past…”

But there really are so many every single year that blow my mind and move my favourites list around.

Litro: Do you read much, either at home or on tour?

Scroobius Pip: I read a whole lot more these days than I did. When I was a kid I wasn’t really into reading (despite my mum and brother both always having numerous books on the go), but that has changed now and I try to have a book on the go whenever I have free moments. I am currently reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Litro: How much does your reading influence your music?

Scroobius Pip: Reading influences my whole life and, in turn, certainly influences my music. I remember spending over a year reading The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa as I had to constantly stop and make notes or highlight or simply reflect upon some of the things that were being said here. Things that changed my perspective and way of thinking.

Litro: If you weren’t a musician, what would you like to be doing?

Scroobius Pip: That’s a tough question as I could kind of get away with saying my spoken word shows aren’t music so I could keep doing them? Haha. After my slot at Latitude in 2012 I was blown away by the turnout for a spoken word set and decided to develop the show and take it to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013. Much to my surprise all 19 shows sold out and I’ve now ended up releasing it on DVD (available August 3rd) due to the demand that built through the reviews and ticket sales. So, thankfully, I think I could probably sustain myself on just words if music wasn’t an option.

Litro: Will you be checking out the other stages at Latitude?

Scroobius Pip: I will do my very best to! But I do find myself drawn in and almost hypnotised by the spoken word stage. The lineup is always so strong and so varied that it feels silly to go from stage to stage hoping to catch bits here and there when I can just get comfy and take it all in.

Litro: Who/what do you want to see?

Scroobius Pip: In the poetry tent, off the top of my head, I wouldn’t want to miss Rob Auton, Rosy Carrick, Zia Ahmed… and numerous others.

But Billy Bragg and Young Fathers are the ones sure to drag me from the poetry tent. Billy is obviously an all-time great and Young Fathers are the most exciting new act I’ve seen in years. I’m also a massive comedy nerd though so the chance to see Tim Key, Trevor Noah, Brian Gittins, Marcus Brigstocke, Sarah Pascoe, Josie Long and numerous others are chances I would be foolish to pass up.

Litro: Whose work – director, author, artist – would you like to write a musical score for?

Scroobius Pip: Another tough one! From the director point of view Gus Van Sant, Shane Meadows, Paddy Considine or Edgar Wright. Writer… if we are talking film then it’s got to be Kelly Marcel or Simon Pegg.

Since 2006 Scroobius Pip has been doing spoken word all over the world. From Japan to the US, Europe to the UK, whether it be with producer dan le sac or with just a microphone he has pretty much been on one long tour. In 2012 he headlined the Latitude spoken word tent to an overwhelming crowd. Regularly stating it as one of his favourite live experiences (so much so it inspired a sold out 19 date Edinburgh Fringe run & full UK tour) the chance to return in 2014 was one that he had no intention of passing up.

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