Riding high in the charts, nominated for a Brit and all over the showbiz news pages, Rizzle Kicks rapper Jordan Stephens talks to JODIE JEYNES ahead of his show in Southsea next weekend.
No wonder Jordan Stephens can’t stop yawning through our interview. One half of urban pop duo Rizzle Kicks (the other half is Harley Alexander-Sule), last week he performed on The Jonathan Ross Show and at the Brits, plus he enjoyed a kickabout in the Arsenal dressing room ahead of their big derby match with Tottenham. In the same seven days, he revealed he’s working on new material with Jamie Cullum, he was touted as Caroline Flack’s next possible conquest and he was asked by actor-of-the-moment, Michael Fassbender, to DJ at one of his parties.
All this and Jordan’s just begun a new tour with his Rizzle Kicks partner Harley Alexander-Sule.
As we speak, the 20-year-old (pictured left) is about to head down to rehearsals for the tour and he’s also got some studio time booked to write new material.
‘Just making new music, that’s the exciting part,’ Jordan says enthusiastically, despite stifling another yawn.
The rapper and songwriter, who was pictured on the dancefloor with Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine at the Brits aftershow party, is loving every moment of his new found fame, burning the candle at both ends.
‘It’s kid of crazy,’ he admits. ‘But we do have breaks in the tour, so it’s not too bad.
‘It’s exciting. We love performing.’
Jordan’s looking forward to his first in Portsmouth next weekend when Rizzle Kicks play a sold-out show at the Wedgewood Rooms on Sunday.
The duo have also just announced a Portsmouth Guildhall date on December 5.
Though he’s never performed here, the Wedge show won’t be Jordan’s first visit to the city. Like his 20-year-old Rizzle Kicks co-star Harley, Jordan was born in London, but spent his teenage years living in Brighton and he remembers shopping trips to Gunwharf Quays.
Jordan and Harley first met aged four when they would play together at Jordan’s aunt’s house. Eight years later they met again playing in opposite teams of a football match in Brighton. Then, four years after that, they were reunited at the Brit School.
Their styles merged into melodic catchy pop choruses and laid-back fun-loving rap verses.
With cheeky charm and more than a dash of old school hip hop thrown in the mix, they’ve been compared with De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest.
The fresh-faced duo released their debut album, Stereo Typical, in October last year and it spawned hits including Down With The Trumpets, When I Was A Youngster and the massive Mama Do The Hump, which peaked at No. 3 and still sits in the Top 20, 13 weeks after it was released.
The single was produced by fellow Brightonian Norman Cook (AKA Fatboy Slim).
‘It was a bit amazing really. You could smell the years of genius in the studio,’ says Jordan, who has now moved to Islington with Harley.
‘It was surreal. He signs off his emails to us as “Uncle Norm”.
‘I was so happy Mama did as well as it did. I was worried it would tarnish his name,’ Jordan adds, humbly. ‘You don’t want to come out on a Fatboy Slim beat and it not be a success.’
The video for the single was filmed at Jordan’s mum’s house and features his mum and aunt miming the lyrics and doing ‘the hump’ dance.
Jordan explains: ‘I just rang my mum up and said “I’ve got this idea. It involves you rapping my lyrics”. She said “okay” and I said “right, you’ve got four days to learn them”.
‘Apparently they’ve been recognised on the street. I think it’s hilarious listening to them talk about it,’ he laughs.
Gavin and Stacey star and Brits host James Cordon also got in on the action, turning up at Jordan’s mum’s house to join the ‘hump’ dancing.
Says Jordan: ‘He expressed his love for us on Radio 1, so we tweeted him and said “you should be in our video”. Then, out of pure miraculous coincidence, we had a gig in Birmingham at the same time he had a gig in Birmingham. We ran into him and said, you should come to our gig and he did.
‘We exchanged numbers and it all went from there.’
It’s not the first time a famous face has popped-up in one of Rizzle Kicks’ videos.
Eagle-eyed fans will have spotted Ed Sheeran in the video for When I Was A Youngster.
Jordan explains: ‘We’ve both known Ed for about three and a half years. We met at a BBC Blast event [events which help young people to develop their creative talents].
‘He was in the video after he said “can I crash on your sofa tonight”. We said “yeah, but we’re filming a music video tomorrow”.’
The video sees Jordan and Harley throwing shoes at Ed as he lies under a duvet on their sofa.
Rizzle Kicks also worked with multiple-Brit winner Ed when they remixed his upbeat hit You Need Me, I Don’t Need You. And all three performed on the 2011 Children In Need single Teardrop.
Rizzle Kicks’ other celebrity mates include Professor Green and Dizzee Rascal, who they have toured with.
Jessie J and David Beckham are also among their celebrity fans.
But the duo are probably best known for there work with Olly Murs, the Brit-nominated No. 1 single Heart Skips A Beat, which they performed at the Brits ceremony last Tuesday.
Their latest collaboration is with jazz-pop superstar Jamie Cullum.
‘We’ve made a song together,’ reveals Jordan, shortly after having posted pictures of himself in the studio with Jamie on Twitter.
‘We saw him at a gig and exchanged numbers. He had an idea for a riff. He’s stupidly talented. The song is only at demo stage, so I don’t know where it’s going to go,’ adds Jordan.
Rizzle Kick’s next single will be Traveller’s Chant. They posted the video online for the first time earlier this week.
Jordan admits that, with things taking off so rapidly for Rizzle Kicks, he has moments where he can’t believe what’s going on around him.
‘All the time I think “I can’t believe this is happening”,’ he says. ‘It happens just randomly during the week. I’ll relay something to a friend and I’ll see their reaction and I think “yeah, that is amazing” and I freak out.
‘I don’t know how to express the overwhelming excitement.’
...where they got their name
When I was 12, I was at a football academy. There was a group at my school called the Green Rizla Crew. People joked that I was one of them and called me Rizzle. Because it annoyed me, I got called it all the time.
He’s a really good performer and the nicest guy you’ll ever meet – so genuine, so cool. And he’s got a wicked taste in music.
...being nominated for a Brit award
I’m very happy for Olly. It was amazing to perform the single with him at the Brits. But the nomination wasn’t for us, it was Olly’s. I’d be even more emotional if we were nominated outright, by ourselves.
We’ve known him for a while, so we’ve watched Ed snowball and become the huge star he is. We still keep in touch.
...girls waving their bras in the air at their gigs (at the suggestion of one of their lyrics)
It’s awesome. I’m so glad that happened. Our next album’s going to be called All The Ladies In The Area Get Your Kit Off.
Did you know?
As well as his mum and aunt appearing in the Mama Do The Hump video, Jordan keeps it in the family with his dad playing guitar in Rizzle Kicks’ backing band.
Rizzle Kicks play a sold out show at the Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea on Sunday, March 11.
They return to Portsmouth on December 5, for a gig at Portsmouth Guildhall. Tickets to this show cost £16.75 from (023) 9282 4355 or portsmouthguildhall.org.uk
We’ve got a pair of guest list places at the sold-out Wedgewood Rooms show next weekend to give away to one lucky reader. To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following question: What’s the next word in the lyrics to Rizzle Kicks hit Mama Do The Hump. I love that...
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