Pin It
Photos by Craig Thomas

Camden Crawl Day Two

As the Crawl concludes, Dazed Digital speaks to Lightspeed Champion about his new Blood Orange project and to Dan le Sac and Scroobius Pip about reading a book onstage

We awoke bleary eyed and fully clothed to a freezing hotel room – someone, probably me, had left the window wide open. I check the time and realise that KOKO opens its doors within the hour, hastily getting ready we brave the elements (it’s raining again) to pick up our passes before the queue becomes too unimaginable and make it for our first stop of the day – Inverness Street for Poejazzi – described by The Southbank Centre as: “London’s premier spoken word night”. Despite being located just off Camden High Street, the event still gathers a decent crowd, mostly consisting of people who know exactly what they’re looking for: a bill consisting of some of the best “underground” poets and musicians – headed by Josh and Musa – who also front five-piece headliners Benin City. Be sure to check out their MySpace and Dazed Digital for an up-coming artist piece properly giving justice to the band. After emerging from Poejazzi, in something of a stupor, we headed to the Electric Ballroom for a chat with Lightspeed Champion; to interrogate him on his most recent album; new project, Blood Orange, and his treacherous absence from the UK, in favour of New York:

Dazed Digital: This the first European tour you’ve done in a while…
Lightspeed Champion: Yeah, it’s the first tour I’ve done in two years. I’ve been really busy writing and recording different things – it takes a lot to tour and I’ve never got enough money for it to be good and wild enough for everyone. The album came out in February….I probably should have toured it earlier. I only realised it last night but the show we did at Leeds yesterday was the first UK show we’d done since the album came out.

DD: Do you gig a lot in New York?
Lightspeed Champion: No I really don’t and everyone always thinks I do. I’ve probably played about three Lightspeed shows since I moved there and maybe six with my new project, Blood Orange.

DD: Tell us about Blood Orange.
Lightspeed Champion: It’s like Prince and Janet Jackson – it’s pretty different - like Sade in parts and Chris Isaak actually. I was trying to mix all my favourite stuff. The original reason I wrote it was so that I could listen to it whilst I was walking around. Then I started playing it in bars, literally to no one, I wouldn’t tell anyone about it, I’d just play in these bars near my house. Now I’ve just finished the album, a couple of weeks ago actually. I’m going to try and get it out this year – or at least a seven-inch in the summer.

Keep abreast of Blood Orange developments HERE

Leaving the Electric Ballroom we were greeted by what appeared to be sunshine – having not seen it in so long we were suspicious of change. But nevertheless, we innocently embraced it and decided to have the next interview outside, choosing not to pay heed to our freezing surroundings, and taking the opportunity to grab a cheeky cigarette with Dan le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip – the latter we should say resisted all peer pressure and kept his lungs clean.

Dazed Digital: How was the gig you’ve just done out at the Red Bull Arena?
Dan le Sac: I’m really glad people turned up! It was cold and raining, we kept our coats on actually, and we never do that. I even had a special t-shirt on for the occasion and I just refused to take my coat off.
Scroobius Pip: It was a nice gig; they were a good crowd. There was that worry that it was quite quiet beforehand - and it was the Chew Lips on before us and they’ve got a lot of vibe. After seeing that we just thought that’s how it is for this stage today because it’s cold and rainy.

DD: Why do you read from the book whilst on stage?
Scroobius Pip: When we started gigging we were by no means seasoned professionals, I hadn’t learnt my lyrics yet, so I wrote the words to ‘Thou Shalt” in that book and made it look like this big dramatic thing. The truth is I use it for songs that I haven’t quite learnt the words for. I also use it for “Stake a Claim”, I know them now, but originally I was focusing on learning the words to other songs and I thought for that one I could easily have a prop, read it and it can be part of the theatrics whereas really it’s a necessity.
Dan le Sac: A lot of our stage pieces and props are ways of…
Scroobius Pip: Me learning the words! It’s so bad that it’s down to me. Like this part of the show that we used to have where I’d be a newsreader, it took ages to introduce, and I’d sit at the desk and we’d have a camera and I’d appear on the screen – we had to set all that up because I couldn’t remember the words. I think it’s because we haven’t really ever stopped touring so I don’t have time to rehearse or practice. It’s had us marked as being creative and theatrical but if I ever get the talent to learn my lines our flair and creativity will be out the window!

DD: Who would you say your influences are?
Dan le Sac: It’s a really difficult question; we’ve both worked in record shops for years and have older brothers – things that expand your influences on a daily basis. It’s normally whole record labels from Factory Records to Def Jux to Strange Famous.
Scroobius Pip: I’ve got a strange variation of influences, because of what I do it’s very much in the hip-hop/ spoken word area, but then there are people like Johnny Hartman, as a jazz singer; Rancid and The Clash, as punk bands that are a huge influence on me - but then you wouldn’t necessarily be able to find that easily in what I do.
Dan le Sac: But that’s all it needs to be, an emotional engagement with music. People who write music without that emotional engagement are wank.

Eloquently put Mr. la Sac. With that final word, we shuffled off into the Camden crowd to join the evening’s events, managing to catch sets from Chew Lips, Speech Debelle, Roots Manuva and YACHT – purely down to the queue jump – I’m not sure how much emphasis I can put on the importance of this if you do want to go to CC next year. We met hoards of people over the weekend that’d had to make a choice at the beginning of the day about which bar to stick to – completely eliminating any ‘festival’ experience for them. Instead they spent most of their time complaining (and rightfully so) to uncompromising bouncers about how they’d paid for their ticket and now couldn’t get in anywhere. I think you can guess the response that this complaint generally generated from Camden’s door staff.