Q&A: GHOSTPOET | DJMag.com Skip to main content

Q&A: GHOSTPOET

Ahead of Oxjam set.

Obaro Ejimiwe better known as Ghostpoet hit the ground running with his debut album ‘Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam’, released on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood label back in 2011. Jump forward to the now, and Obaro is enjoying further success, working on the Africa Express project in Mali with Blur’s Damon Albarn and a host of other international musicians. His follow-up album ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’ has being received to critical acclaim.

Why is it important to do events like this?
“It’s great to be able to get involved with good causes like Oxfam and Africa Express. When I was asked to get involved, I thought, 'why not?' Oxfam is such a great charity and Africa Express is such an amazing idea, it is good to do things like this, it’s such a good cause, it is hard to say no. It’s always good to give something back and help other people in any way possible.”

Are you pleased with how the new album ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’ has been received?
“The new album has been received really well. It’s been out for a little bit now, but it has done really well, it is always hard to think about how an album is going to be perceived or received, I’m constantly being surprised by how people respond to it, and it’s been good!”

When you’ve finished recording an album, are you surprised at which tracks become the fan favourites?
“Yeah I guess so, I try not to make music that would work in a particular way, especially with the second record, I just try and make music that even if you don’t like the whole album, you may like a section of it or a particular track or so forth. And it is a bit of a surprise when people come up to me and say 'I really like that song, and this song' because of a particular thing that has happened in their lives, or this song has had a particular influence on them. It’s a bit mad really that something you make at home for fun can mean so much to somebody, that is such an amazing thing.”

Are these roughly the same tracks that you’d consider your favourites?
“Not really. I am kind of an album person, I shy away from liking tunes that become singles, that become the tracks that people recognise instantly. I love it all, but it changes from day to day…”

What are you using to make music?
“Analogue stuff, buttons, knobs, faders and sliders. Yeah, I’m pretty much being a lot more hands-on, it’s more fulfilling. It’s like being a craftsman, like a carpenter or something, you have to mould the sounds, shape them using the technology, shape them through modulation and oscillation. When you start setting stuff up, it takes patience to do that, wiring up equipment, getting the MIDI channels right and all these things. Very much a different approach, a different way of working. And now maybe because I am a little bit older and more patient with making music, and luckily not being in a position where I have to churn out stuff every week, not being caught up in the commercial aspect of it all, it makes more sense for me to work like that.”

How do you start the songwriting process?
“It depends really, there are no rules to it all. I try not to get stuck in a particular area. I suppose composition first and foremost. From that it’s starting to write some form of music, lyrics, then going back and forth between the two until it comes to a finale.”

Are you enjoying stepping up behind the decks as well as playing out live?
“It’s something I’ve been doing from quite a time, but I can’t stress enough that I wouldn’t class myself as a DJ in the professional sense. I would say I am more of a selector, I love music and I have a kind of idea of stuff that works in a DJ environment, but I would never say I am the best mixer in the world, with all the tricks and fireworks. I am just trying to capture the vibe of a particular night and play stuff that gets people moving and intrigues people.”

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