Kojey Radical is a man of many talents. As well as being a poet, musician and mixed media visual artist, he is also Creative Director of the PUSHCRAYONS collective/network & Art Director of contemporary menswear brand Chelsea Bravo. As an artist Kojey is widely credited for his explosive live shows and subversive storytelling ability, often referred to as a visionary and pioneer of the arts.
Beginning as a contemporary artist Kojey moved through the arts with increasing curiosity and defiant will to never be confined to one art form. From as young as 9 years old Kojey chose to see every form of creative expression as one art form; allowing each one to become a new language for him to communicate through.
After releasing his debut EP Dear Daisy: Opium in June 2014, Kojey quickly became a name to look out for, selling out his first headline show twice due to popular demand. The highly anticipated sophomore project came in the shape of the 23 Winters release in February 2016, with the raw and honest 10 track EP exploring the heartfelt journey of a young Kojey. Featuring his father narrating throughout the entire project in an open and candid manner, collaborations also come in the shape of Tom Grennan, Ray BLK, Bobii Lewis and frequent collaborator Zulu.
‘GALLONS’ is the latest project to come from the enigmatic poet and wordsmith; produced by Greatness Jones with supporting dreative Direction from Kojey and Craig Most Popular Human. The visual, premiered by Dazed and directed by long time collaborators THE REST, see’s Kojey adorned in black from skin to garment moving anxiously through a dystopian portrait of inner city London. L Ø S T C U L T U R E caught up with the man himself to talk 2016, his vision in music and what he has planned in the new year…
Let’s kick off – how has 2016 evolved you as an artist?
“It’s taught me to believe in myself more. I go through ups and down, just like any other human being. I feel like at the end of this year I have come to a realisation that my destiny, and my progression through life is mine to control”.
How much does being an “independent” artist mean to you?
“Means the difference between control and I guess relinquishing it. I have creative control over my own work, I feel like it’s not only important for me, but also important to the people that listen to my music and follow the journey, who witness the struggle”.
For anyone that knows – you have always made a huge deal when to comes to the visual aspect of your music. How much do you have to do with the video side and where do you get inspired from?
“I have a great team of people around me that help me realise my goals. I have been working with them for a very long time; Lewis, Alex, Craig, Charlie they are all integral members and voices in my visual output. Without these people I don’t feel like my imagination can flow, and we wouldn’t be able to create what we create”.
“If I ever feel motivated to speak about a political matter again I will, but that’s not all I’m going to talk about”
Have you ever thought of a visual idea and forced yourself to write the music around it?
“Yeah but those songs probably never come out!”
How does PushCrayons fit into all this?
“PushCrayons is the backbone, and it’s part of the reason why we are so reserved. It’s completely integral to have people around you that are creatively inspiring you constantly. Stephanie Kane just had her solo exhibition, and being able to go there and celebrate her art and achievement inspires me to carry on. It’s things like that which emphasises why PushCrayons is so important to me”.
You’ve never been afraid to touch on topics of society, politics and economics in modern Britain. As an artist, do you feel like you have a responsibility to speak out for those who can’t?
“I feel like every artist has a responsibility, but that’s not why I do it. Politics is life do you know what I mean – it’s not something that you can avoid. In some ways if it was just a lyric, or full verse or a song people are more willing and open to hear the songs that had more of a political edge as they were frustrated just like me. I don’t want people to think that’s all they will hear from me thou. If I ever feel motivated to speak about a political matter again I will, but that’s not all I’m going to talk about”.
One of my favourite pieces this year was the track “Gallons” and its accompanying music video set in a dystopian London. As an ambassador for the U.K. scene, what do you want people to people to take away from your tracks?
“With my music, it’s not just records. Everybody that works on a Kojey record works intensely on a Kojey record, they try things that they might never have tried before and appreciate different sonics and techniques. It’s so much more about who works on the records as opposed to what Kojey says. That’s always going to be there. I like to work with people that are creatively and intellectually gifted to create these special moments that people can appreciate”.
Last month, you teamed up with GUAP magazine for a short video on your process when doing live shows. How did that all come about and how much do live shows mean to you as an artist?
“GUAP came through and showed love as they always do, very grateful they were there. They took it upon themselves to create something for fans to enjoy. My process for the show is always the same, its relaxed and we joke and we pray – I’m not a very religious person – but we do it for unity and we go out there and enjoy ourselves. Whether we are in front of a massive audience or 25 people in a pub somewhere, we always put same energy into a show”.
You’ve managed to secure a loyal fan base across Europe and have done shows recently in Amsterdam and Ireland. What do you think it is about your music that resonates with these audiences?
“I feel like my music is or everyone, it is what it is. You listen to it you understand it. If you don’t you don’t. You can’t assume that everyone thinks with the same mindset as Londoners do. There are many meccas, many smaller meccas where people think differently and that’s why I am excited to travel with my music”
And do you tackle a European show any different to how you would a U.K. date?
“No. Not at all”.
Have you ever felt the need to tailor your flow or sound to appeal to more transatlantic audience?
“I haven’t felt to the need to as felt obligated too, but you gotta think of language as a science. And linguistics is merely a way to communicate. You have to incorporate language that pricks the ears of different people around you, and how they experience it”.
The sounds of the Uk scene have been blurred this year with standout acts like yourself, House of Pharoahs, 808INK, Lancey Foux and Sin for Calais. Do you look at these guys as competition or do you consider yourself in a different lane?
“I don’t think any of us look at each other like competition. The scene is very small and I know the majority of people on that list; we tour together we laugh together, we smoke together. If we look at each other like that we are going to tear the scene down, rather than build each other up”.
As December rolls round – you have been featured in a number of “one to watch” lists for 2017 – what’s your opinion of these lists and does it add any pressure to yourself as an artist?
“Again I am super human when I was first starting out these lists went the world to me as I progressed through my journey. And any body likes to have nice things said about them, you like your name being listed on those things but there is always a duality to it”.
For every list that does include you – you are looking at the ones that hasn’t it.
“If you included me thank you – if you didn’t your daughter loves my music”.
Looking ahead – what does Kojey Radical have to offer in 2017?
“I haven’t even begun to flex yet! Do you remember the end of X-Men 3 when Jean Gray was murking everyone? …. Yeah that”.
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