Mikill Pane: Interview

Hey there, Mikill! How are you? Where in the world are you at the moment?

Hey. Bristol – literally just got to my hotel room.

How is the tour with Rizzle Kicks going?

It’s really good. You can have really chilled nights with Harvey and Jordan, watching films on the tour bus and then you’ve got your party nights. But you can learn a lot from them as performers. Although I’ve been performing for longer – I can learn so much from their interaction with bigger crowds. They’re taking things to a bigger level.

The new single, Dirty Rider is awesome. I have annoyed my housemates by playing it. How would you describe the vibe for someone who doesn’t live in the vicinity of my flat?

It’s a mashup of hiphop, ska and punk, a very simple ode to city riding. I personally ride an Explore bike, but I’m not discriminating against other bike riders! I don’t want to alienate people. It’s not just about being green – the great thing about bike riding is you can take in so much more. They allow you to be observant.

I can’t appreciate this as I can’t ride a bike. But as a Londoner, did you not feel the need to represent the humble Boris bike?

Well, they’re actually much more relaxing.

The new Dirty Rider EP is very different to the Morris Dancer EP; would you say it’s tailored to a live crowd?

Everything I do these days is done with my band in mind. We played the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading & Leeds this year and we want to take everything up a notch and onto a bigger stage. Festivals allow you to road test new material and try new things so it’s great to have a live band there.

How was the whole festival hype for you? You are a very well dressed man – mud and trainers don’t really mix. There’s a rumour that you have 600 pairs of shoes.

Actually, it’s more than 600. At a ballpark figure, I’d say reaching 800 now. I grew up with 4 sisters, so make of that what you wish!

What’s been the most extravagant shoe purchase?

[laughs] I don’t really wanna brag but I don’t really have to buy my shoes any more. I just get them. For free.

Me: It must be a perk of getting signed?

It’s been a boyhood dream of mine to have a relationship with Nike. It’s been going on even before I got signed. I think it should be every child’s dream to get free stuff or at least to get free shoes from Nike. It’s the way forward. Free stuff in general is cool.

So what other free stuff have you blagged?


But have you got a black Nando’s card? You’ve made it in life when you’ve got one of those.

No. But I do have an uber top secret card at an American diner, which is good but not so good for my cholesterol.

You’ve worked with a whole load of artists – P Money, Example, Paloma Faith, Ed Sheeran, is there anyone left that you want to work with?

There are various new bands but the ultimate goal is to work with Annie Lennox. She’s got an amazing voice and an amazing personality.

That’s certainly different. Would you say you’re very different to most hiphop artists and rappers out there? The hipster word does get thrown around a lot with you.

It’s all about intent I guess. If you look at old 50s movies, that’s when hipster culture started. A true hipster is someone who’s more forward thinking than everyone else, and doesn’t make generic decisions creatively. By virtue of the fact that you’re being creative, you can’t make generic decisions. I think if you’re using the word hipster right then it’s an observation but in the wrong sense, it can be an insult. These days, hipster makes you think of people trying hard to be different, going against trends. You’ve got to take something and make it positive.

So it’s all about been being innovative?

MP: Yeah – take the N-bomb for instance. It’s become a mainstream word. But it’s debatable – it’s sometimes a racial slur. But loads of words get reclaimed and their uses and meanings change, it’s not just the H-word.

The King of Punchlines 2008 was Lil Wayne but I think I may hand his title over to you – you are now the new King of Punchlines for 2013.

Thanks! I will happily accept this accolade. I love writing. Wow, what a shit acceptance speech! [laughs]

How’s writing for the album coming along? Why Blame Miss Barclay?

Miss Barclay was my English teacher. The album was actually finished before I signed my record deal. Mercury have the utmost say in the project but in terms of content and how everything was written, creatively and musically, I’m super happy with it. We’re mixing the tunes now and just coming to a point of agreement of every single track.

That sounds great. Would you say that being signed to a major label has hindered or helped you? It’s quite a contentious topic and some people tend to shun them now.

It’s definitely helped thus far. When you’re dealing with more people, there are more things to agree and disagree on but as long as you’re all adult about it and respect each other’s decisions then it’s all good. Some artists however bent over and got shafted a bit too quickly.

Controversial. Care to name drop?

Nope. I think we all know who they are.

 What are your musical influences for this album then?

The music on this album was done with my two managers: Jake Gosling and Adam Coleman. They’ve written most of the music for the album and I’m charged with the lyrics. It’s just us three and the producers – we’ve got True Tiger on there, production wise.

Are there any surprises on this new album? Any switch ups in style?

MP: I guess the only surprise is that there are no collaborations. Your first album is a statement of intent. When you’ve just been signed to a major, it’s very easy to get loads of popular artists to collaborate on a single with you for sales. I made my collaboration EP [You Guest It] free to download. We got Katie Price on there. I know people may look down on her with disdain because of decisions that she’s made but she’s a lovely person and she suited exactly what we wanted done on the EP. Putting out good music for free is easier. It’s the most downloaded EP in SB.TV history and I couldn’t have done that if it wasn’t for free.

You’ve got loads of tattoos – do you have a favourite?

Oh wow. I can’t really pick one.

Any secret hidden ones?

MP: Nope, actually. I think tattoos are art; you wouldn’t hang a painting in a dark room. They’re there to be seen. I’ve got a large one on my right shin which says ‘NOW’. The ‘O’ is from Spike Lee’s 40 Acres [& A Mule] Filmworks logo. The 40 Acres & A Mule is what the free African American slaves were promised by Abraham Lincoln before he was assassinated. His vice president took over and the whole thing was vetoed. They never got anything. This isn’t about colour – I’m not a black guy with a chip on his shoulder [laughs]. That tattoo represents getting what you’re owed. There are so many people in history that should be paid what they’re owed or given what’s rightfully theirs. Wrongdoing by mankind should be put right.

That’s quite deep. Do you think there’s a deeper message on this album or something you may go into more on the second album?

MP: Why leave it until the second? This album isn’t going to be full of club bangers and hit singles and stupid shit like that, I want an album of completeness. A complete piece of musical and lyrical work that works well as an album. You can take some singles out if you really want, but it should work as an entity.

 ‘Blame Miss Barclay’ is set for release early 2013 via Mercury Records. http://mikillpane.com

By Natania Duhur