Ghostpoet’s new album is imbued with politics – with a small ‘p’

Ghostpoet. Picture by Steve Gullick
Ghostpoet. Picture by Steve Gullick
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If you’re after light-hearted sunny music, look away now.

Hip-hop/alternative artist Ghostpoet has taken his music into new darker directions with his fourth album Dark Days + Canapés.

The album continues down the more rock-oriented sound he began to dabble with on the Mercury Prize nominated Shedding Skin.

‘I just wanted to continue down the guitar route,’ says the man also known as Obaro Ejimiwe. ‘It felt like the right direction to carry on with, it’s just a development of the sound and working out where I wanted to go.’

For this project, which was released in August, Obaro had outside help on the production for the first time, in the shape of acclaimed producer Leo Abrahams.

‘I decided to allow a producer to be a producer and see where that took me, it’s still very much me and a development of my demos, but I thought it would be interesting to be more of a backseat driver this time around, and yeah, I’m happy with the results.

It’s a great psychological boost to meet people who have connected with your music in some way, shape or form

Obaro Ejimiwe

‘Everything’s a challenge, I like challenges, it was something I hadn’t tried before, I wanted to see if it brought out something different really, and I was happy that it did.’

The new album takes in some very contemporary and downbeat subject matter, from immigration to the way our reliance on social media is ironically eroding our real-world relationships.

‘I don’t think it’s that bleak,’ he counters. ‘Everyone has their own opinion on it, but it’s dealing with matters of the moment, I guess. I wanted to capture the moment and the feeling in the air on certain subjects and emotions.

‘I’ve always felt more comfortable on that side of the tracks. This record is bringing together all of those elements from previous records to something more solid, more... concentrated. Yeah, concentrated is the word.’

With tracks like the lead off single Immigrant Boogie, is he developing a more political approach?

‘It’s political with a small “p”. It’s more like social commentary, trying to put myself in the shoes of a potential migrant trying to cross dangerous waters, and again, trying to capture the zeitgeist. It’s something we’re all talking about, or at least are aware of, and it felt right to write about it. It was the label’s decision to put it out first, much to my surprise, but they seemed to think it made sense to put it out.’

But this approach is obviously paying dividends – on its release Dark Days became his first album to crack the top 40. Not that Obaro seems fussed about its commercial appeal, or otherwise.

‘The most important thing for me is making music that will hopefully stand the test of time. If it charts, great, the label’s happy. For me charting definitely opens potential new avenues, but I just focus on the music and leave that stuff to the label.’

He describes follow-up single Dopamine If I Do as ‘for any minds struggling to make sense of an increasingly connected but lonesome world.

‘It’s a weird one really. I’m old enough to remember a time before social media, a time before smart phones, so I’m starting to see how its effecting the generations that are coming after me and younger people.

‘It’s amazing, but it’s also quite dark, in how it’s basically changing us as humans and how we interact with our fellow man or woman, and living life. It’s definitely altering things, some would say for the better, some for the worst.’

But it is in the live arena where Ghostpoet can get back to his roots as a performer, and connect with his audience.

‘Live is almost taking it back to the essence of being human, a sonic connection, an almost animalistic connection with your fellow humans through music.

‘It still fascinates me how some string and a bit of wood and amplification can effect people, and the human voice.

‘Live is a great chance to connect with people who have listened to my music. Obviously you get the recording process and that’s quite isolated, and I don’t think about how people will react to it when I’m doing that, so it’s interesting to see how my tunes have been interpreted and how people have taken them on board, and my songs are now part of their lives.

‘It’s a great psychological boost to meet people who have connected with your music in some way, shape or form.’

The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Monday, November 13