We talk to the Enter Shikari frontman about his grime debut.
Enter Shikari frontman Rou Reynolds recently appeared on grime artist Solo 45’s ‘Feed Em To The Lions (Remix)’, so we caught up with Rou to find out how the worlds of Shikari and grime collided.
HOW DID THE TRACK WITH SOLO 45 COME ABOUT?
Rou: “I met Solo a good few months ago. He likes some forms of music from our world - he’s into old-school punk. Through a mutual acquaintance we met up with a respect for each other’s music. We spent a bit of time in the studio – I’m doing production in the grime world and bits and pieces on the side – and in the process of doing stuff with him, he asked me to come and shout on the remix.”
ARE YOU A BIG FAN OF GRIME YOURSELF?
“Yeah, it’s been something we’ve listened to for a while. Even since early Dizzee Rascal albums, I’ve been into this sound. I’ve produced dubstep and, even further back, UK garage. It was the natural progression from that, so I’ve always had an eye on it. Especially in the last few years, I’ve had some influence from the genre as well. It has so many parallels to punk in terms of its independence, its aggressive nature, but also it’s very communal as well. It’s a nice community where everyone’s looking out for each other. It’s actually really like the punk scene that I grew up in.”
AND THAT COMMUNITY MEANS THEIR COMMUNITY IS FLOURISHING NOW...
“It’s really cool to see, because that’s actually lacking in the rock side of things. It often feels like everyone’s looking out for their own success. Everyone will tweet when each other’s albums are out, but that’s as far as it goes most of the time. It’s nice to see anything that gets music away from being a competition – which is hard with capitalism, we’re all fighting for survival – but it’s a good thing.”
AND GRIME ARTISTS PROVE THAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE SUCCESS INDEPENDENTLY...
“It’s really inspiring. For example JME is actually like the early American DIY hardcore bands with how he does things. He has that approach where you do literally everything yourself, even making your own merch. It’s amazing to see.”
MANY OF SHIKARI’S BIGGEST TRACKS AREN’T ON ALBUMS, AND SIMILARLY MANY GRIME ARTISTS HAVE ACHIEVED SUCCESS WITHOUT EVEN RELEASING AN ALBUM. DO YOU THINK BANDS COULD BENEFIT FROM ADOPTING A MORE FLEXIBLE APPROACH TO RELEASING MUSIC?
“Absolutely. There’s so much concentration on the way an album plays out, especially on major labels. There will be a 24-month plan for the album cycle and everything is planned in advance and is very stringent and strict. Sometimes that can be detrimental to getting the best out of the band creatively.
"We’re really lucky that we can write a track and just release it, we don’t have to care about all the things that A&R people might say like, ‘If you put this out now it’s not part of the album cycle, so it won’t get the push that it deserves.’ They always say the word ‘perception’. ‘Your perception might not grow, your perception might stagnate, your perception might diminish.’ It’s all industry, managerial bollocks language. Some of it is probably true, but we don’t care. We care about the art form, and getting art to people when we want them to have it, when it’s finished and ready. That’s a sentiment that grime echoes and I think it’s the best way to release honest music.”
WHAT’S THE REACTION TO YOUR SPOT ON THE TRACK BEEN LIKE?
“There’s been all sorts of reactions, it’s been interesting to see. Some people have checked it out and been like, ‘What? You’ve only got a small bit in the background.’ Which is true, I don’t have a verse, I’m just shouting behind Solo on all the hooks.
"Some people who aren’t into grime don’t understand the track and their reaction has been annoyance that I don’t have more of a part in it. But there have also been people who said they didn’t like grime but are into this, because it resonates with them more. It is more of an aggressive track, but it’s got what a lot of punk and hardcore has, where the chorus is a chant. People from the rock scene can identify with that a lot more than some straight-up grime tracks. Then there’s fans of Shikari and grime who were surprised but are digging it.”
WILL WE SEE ENTER SHIKARI WORKING WITH GRIME ARTISTS IN THE FUTURE?
“Possibly. We’ve never had anyone feature on our tracks. It’s not a rule, but because there’s such a diverse range of stuff going on in our sound, we’ve never felt like we needed to get anyone in to help. But another way to look at is to do something together and collaborate, so it’s definitely a possibility. There will certainly be some stuff coming from Shikari Sound System at some point. I can’t give too much right now, but there’s lots of fingers in pies at the moment...”
‘Feed Em To the Lions (Remix)’ is out now via Island.