part one of this interview is here
You go on to win the Scottish National Slam competition in 2015?
That year there were quite a few people who were hotly tipped to win that competition. I did have quite a high profile at that point and I performed well, and I won that event. I was surprised that I beat David Lee Morgan who had quite a history of performing and had been around for some time. He was very good and had been around for decades. I think I did well because I filled the whole stage and I didn’t use a microphone, instead relying on the strength of my voice.
These Slam competitions are such a strange combination of luck, of the atmosphere on the night, of friendly people on the judging panel who just happen to warm to what you do; all of that plays a part and on that night, it was my night. I did get to go to Paris and compete in the World Slam and that was fantastic, and other avenues opened up from winning that competition.
You go on to work in the Hip Hop genre as Texture?
It grows out of the Chemical Poets and the people who I have worked with have worked in a number of different configurations since around 2005. Some of the people I met, a rapper called Tickle for example, I first met on the very first night I went to the Big Word event.
A group of us have been working together and fusing spoken word and hip hop beats for all that time and we also got together and formed a record label called Black Lantern Clan, which started in 2011 and ran for about 5 years.
Eventually though, I moved away from the Spoken Word side of the equation and moved much more into the Hip Hop area. I always thought that for a while there were some pieces of my writing that could have fitted in either category and some that could only fit in one category or the other. I just grew less interested in the Spoken Word side of the situation.
I think I should say though that a lot of what I was writing after 2015, maybe a bit later, wasn’t really going to work in the Spoken Word scene.
Do you like taking risks with your work?
For me experimentation is important and at this point I tend to write work which is quite dystopian as I said, and I think that I find my writing works for the genre that I now work in.
I think I can see myself using techniques that would be similar to William Burroughs in that I like to cut up phrases, I like using abstract metaphors, for a while I was interested in out of date Chemistry textbooks and I would pull the crunchiest words and phrases out of them and find ways to work with them.
Where to now?
I started this project in 2015 and it has led to 2 albums and an EP and these take quite a bit of time to produce and I have just been so immersed in this project that it has taken me to where I am now.
I think also that there was a heavy identitarian element which emerged in the poetry scene and that meant that the kind of material I was writing, which often begins with the idea of “we”, and has a more collective orientation, was not as welcome when individualised “lived experience” poetry had come to dominate.
That was another development which allowed the gravitational pull of my hip hop influenced material to become the central area I was working in.
I like making videos and we intend to make a lot more videos especially for the new album. We have developed a workable business model where we design and sell t-shirts and that allows us to record the material we want to record.
I also write essays and long form cultural criticism, I was a music journalist for ten years. I am working on my hip hop lyrics, I’ve written a lot of material since I first put out a book of poetry in 2015. I started a podcast last year called Strange Exiles, where I interview philosophers, political activists, and people outside of the mainstream with interesting ideas or stories. I’m excited to perform my first poetry set for the International Page and Stage organisation, I think it will feel like coming home again. But I have plenty to keep me busy.
All ILLVMINATE videos: bit.ly/ILLVMINATE