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Stormzy Interview 2017 (extended): Dealing with depression while making his new album

Stormzy Interview 2017 (extended): Dealing with depression while making his new album


Your tweets are making some front page news,
your shows are selling out in minutes and your albums about hit the top of the charts,
what does this moment feel like for you? I just feel so happy so blessed so, I don’t
know there’s not even words for it, it’s something that you dreams about and you think
about for so long like since before I was a kid becoming this musician that you would
have had these dreams of that one day release an album and drop it and people like in and
if their number one by God’s grace that all these things and I’m thinking that this
is actually happening yeah it’s a lot to take in but it’s all good. But your rise supercharged only four years
ago you’re working with oil rigs and stuff and how have you made this happen? um our always that way down to God firstly
and then I’ve tried to be as hardworking and I’ve committed and focused as possible
that to, to try and achieve things that are maybe out of the ordinary for someone like
myself to achieve so I have just been driven. Gang signs and prayer you talk about your
face your relationship with your mum and your dad is this album a way of coming to terms
with your past coming to terms with your upbringing? yeah so this album for me that this is my
first ever album so I’ve never actually done this before but for me this process it was
very therapeutic it was about me telling my truths and being as brutally honest as possible
and show my story in the best possible way because I’m a 3D person that like we all are
like in the sense where I stand for so many things about different messages all these
different things are represented these things I want to say in my music and I had to get
that all into one body of work so for me it was that it was about letting the world know
who I am where I come from my story my culture everything to do with that but it was also
for me to kind of time trying to solidify my peace as an artist and not just like an
MC required even when you listen to the album is not I like to think that everyone can listen
to it and it’s not something for people to listen to and disregard as that’s just that
grime music you know it’s all aggressive like I’ve tried to make something Universal
something that we can all listen to all relate to so I think another things you just gotta
give it a chance you gotta listen man you gotta feel it you gotta experience it. So does that mean that you feel like grime
has been disrespected in the past what are the misconceptions around the culture? I feel that I feel that is very easy at first
look at grime or UK rap underground music at a first look at uh lazy look it can be
dismissed as something that’s aggressive or abrasive what if often it’s not the case of
course there’s the aregression because we were coming from a place that that fuels that
and channels But it’s way deeper than that like the layers to it, there’s depth to
it there’s variety to it and it can be something to be shared with the world like I always
feel like there’s been this stigma of like grime or UK rap or urban culture and that
it’s just between do you know what I mean it’s just here but it’s not, it’s for the
world it’s universal I feel like there’s something in our struggle in our in our triumphs
that is universal and everyone can listen and everyone can come on board. the album give’s a really human face to
a grime artist something that we haven’t seen before, I mean you payed for a billboard near
your old school in Croydon and it said all my young black king’s rise up man because
it’s our year how do you want them to rise up what is your meaning behind that? By just doing it, like when I say doing it
I mean by just focusing and just rising up literally as in realizing your true potential
that realizing that within yourself there is a talent there is a gift there is a purpose
that needs to be fulfilled and you need to do it that just go and do it I feel like there
has always been this thing of you can’t do that or you can’t do this and no you can so
even on this album something on that the kind of something I kind of wanted to address,
we can do this man, we can do this on a global scale as well not just like in our in our
little estates in South London no like we’re here man. In what we should they be aspiring to be more
aspirational is about them or do you feel politicians aren’t doing enough to help support
around their communities? I thought that, I feel like personally I feel
like we can’t rely on politicians or the government or the system to take care of our needs like
I don’t think I don’t think anyone can do that, I feel like shouldn’t rely on a system
to decide whether you’re gonna be successful decide whether you’re going to not be important
or count or even be considered that’s I feel like it’s on us, like do you know what I mean
I’m tired of like screaming at politicians or saying are not that I’m tired of it, so
I am saying lets we can do it lets bring the power back to the people we will do that. Are they being encouraged by those words and
every time you speak some you can hear that they’re respecting that and they’re trusting
you but without the words what the action you want them to take how do they rise up
what you want is it you want them to do? I want them to be better be more focused to
just realize their true potential man other than that I hate to sound like a motivational
life coach or there’s nothing to do that it’s just find your purpose we’re all here for
a reason and sometimes it’s easy to look at I even do myself how can look at i can look
at Ed Sheeran and think oh my days but, he’s he found his purpose that’s where do you know
what I mean that that’s what it is because I found my purpose find yours and go for it
man and don’t aim don’t anything less than for the top and for the stars and for the
moon. But you know what they will say to that they’ll
say Ed Sheeran is a young white man we’re young black men what are difficulties and
pressures on young black men in 2017 in the UK? I don’t think much has changed, the difficulties
and even the pressures we’ve been dealing with since I wasn’t even alive do you know
what I mean, I don’t think much has changed in that sense, but I feel like it’s now
the time to stop looking at like politicians or the world for that there are like to help,
no we are intelligent we are ambitious were incredible we are amazing we are all these
things so we can just do it man yeah. is it based on race do you think or is it
class because you know white young working class boys are failing in education as well
do you think the system failing everyone? I feel like this system was always created
to, to, the system that’s in place now wasn’t created to serve all. Like, like it was just
in terms of the logistics and when you add it up and you look at it’s not it’s not made
to service everyone so just don’t look to that system to for it to service you if you
feel like you’re from that a group or a minority or a background or culture or faith that feels
that you’ve been ostracized that’s what is am saying in my messages do not look there
for redemption it’s within yourself that you can that we’ve got we’ve got this, do
you know what I mean. When you see those young people that are going
to follow in your footsteps, some of them got off the wrong road, do you look at them
and go there for the grace of God go I that could have been me getting into trouble what
was it about Stormzy that made you different and not go down those paths? Erm, what was it about me, I feel that it
was my mum installed a lot of things in me early, my mum’s such an integral part of me
i was about to say my career but that’s not even going to say she’s an integral part of
me as a man as a Michael away from this Stormzy stuff as a man but for me it was a mixture
of my mum and the grace of God, always and I don’t know somewhere down the line i was
kind of realized that this we’ve been myself, like from an early age I figured out I can
do this, I can do this, and I don’t know where that stems from but I feel, I’m done looking
at where it stems from, like I have been trying to search for time in my head where did it
come from forget that can’t locate it but it is in all of us so I feel like I just got
to let people know that its within you, like I found it like I found mine, like its within
you, and that’s what it it’s about showing people that its within them because a lot
of the time people can’t see it and it’s all that it’s blurred but I’m saying no
bro i could have been anywhere in the world like I could have been dead i could have been
in jail i could have been working here I could have been this but I’m here and that’s because
I found I found it with me and I went for it and it will be in all of us every single
person on this planet is its within us, so yeah man. one of the reasons you stand and give your
own you always speak up on in-justices like we were mad excited when we saw you cussing
district telling them how it is not just about racist nightclubs for everything you are unhappy
about whether it be brit awards, do you feel that now you’ve got success it encourages
you to speak up more about inequality and poverty and subject like that? yeah I feel like it is such a weird complex,
these are all these are all views I’ve had regardless of if I was our musician regardless
of your father’s I was Stormzy so but now i find it empowering that I managed to get
to the certain platform certain stage in my career and I’m able to say things like I feel
that if you have a platform and you don’t say nothin then, then what you really doing
with it, I love the fact that I’m able to say things in and it resonates and with that
come great responsibility cause now when I say something it is almost a little bit of
the things that means I’m going to think twice now so with the island as well but it
is crazy I like the fact that if there’s an injustice is there something funny going
on over things like some hear anything that’s a bit against the people i can say something
i can stand up do you know what i mean i don’t know how much it counted in the grand scale
of things but I can be my little bit then. But that’s actually really frustrating for
me to hear you say that you have to think twice now about what you say because actually
that’s the reason we love you know because you do speak out about stuff are you going
to stop being as vocal about that? No , no no, what I meant by i think about
what I say now is for example before I used to be like a bit of an idiot like I might
be getting drunk with my friends and snapchatting it like you this is so sick and I clock hang
on no, that’s going to resonate, not going to say I am not going to not get drunk with
my friends but, but do you know what I mean like, what I say resonates so say the right
things with the important things and say like things that matter don’t just go in because
i can put i have the ability to inject poison into the world which is which is scary as
much about their ability to inject truths and good things I wish I have the ability
to stand up and plug whatever so I’m careful about not plugin poison I am a man of many
floors I mean and sometimes I’m going to get it wrong I’m not perfect but now I can
think and say what resonates properly. You say that you have this power to inject
positivity and negativity into the world the world is a scary place right now you’re having
a great moment but what about Brexit and trump does everything that is going on in the world
bother you is that something you would speak on? yeah yeah, it’s like do you know what it
is a lot of the times, a lot of those times on those bigger subjects unfortunately I don’t
have the answer which is like sometimes I feel like I am meant to know the answer I
am at a platform now, where I should have the answer but sometimes I don’t know the
answer but all of the Mad things that are going on in the world right now like all these
negative things and the things are dominating the media right now like the likes of trump
and Brexit and all these things that I feel that that’s why keep reverting back to the
people and not those things because they’ve happened now you know i mean as much as much
as people don’t agree with what’s going on they’ve happened, Brexit’s happened trumps
happened all these other whirlwind of negative news and the media they have all happened
so I feel like there’s well good people the planets are good without sounding so philosiphal
philantral blah I don’t want to go there but it’s a good people and the powers within
us that’s why I always draw it back like you do your bit like focus on you your community
your world and your spirit and that hopefully is like a domino effect, hopefully. You told me you mentioned earlier that you
want to give the world a different message about grime globally you want to show it more
than what people might perceive it to be so I rang up your team and I said why doesn’t
somebody have a cup of tea with Jed and that all happened at the brit’s etc. the brits
happed you have an amazing and everyone loved it but still there was a bit of up roar because
no grime artists won at the brit awards how did you feel about that you do you care does
the scene care or do you think the establishment doesn’t understand Grime? I don’t think I don’t think I don’t think
no one cares you know not but not in a negative way well now we don’t care about that i think
Just in I lack in in the best way possible we don’t care in the sense of cool there were
the injustice with the brits like last year big up Jed and the whole Brits committee card
they rectified it more acts were included that should be nominated like your likes of
Skepta, Neyo and Kano unfortunately on the night none of us took anything home i lost
to Ragon ball man who’s aware we were not all these things that I mean like so it wasn’t
a loss man we were there, I was there Skepta was there Kano was there, Neyo was there,
we were inside the building and it was it was an incredible day we all we all enjoyed
ourselves and will win we will win some brit awards one day, right now we didn’t it is
cool man we march on that’s how I see it, man, we march on man. Well people are talking about the Stormzy
model right now when it comes to music because actually you probably got record labels around
the world running scared because they are putting millions in the campaigns and marketing
and you guys with a handful of your team have literally taken yourself to the top of the
charts is that something you’re aware of should record labels music industry be scared? You know should they be scared by the way
I’ve got about my own record label now so hashtag murky has been officially record label
so for that reason they should be scared that maybe like a competitive musician in like
music business man that so in that sense they should be scared but yeah I feel like I feel
like the powers and the power in the hands of the people that are proper with without
sounding so like politically like active or whatever the word is so like the power of
the people so anyone now that like in this day and gave you can get off and you can make
a blog and then that’s a thing like how we read blog your and then my friend will read
and blah blah ok we love this person is broken and you automatically establish yourself just
in that world can be a youtuber you can do all these things are so much different ways
and it’s like the power within yourself and it’s not in none of these corporations with
these big brands or it’s not there now with some everything one of us everything one of
us we got this not. In the last couple of years what’s been your
greatest moment and then perhaps your lowest moment? my greatest moment, in all honesty, my greatest
moment is now probably happen just now with realising my album releasing my first album
like I’ve got to this i had the blessing of getting into a platform where i can drop an
album and i can get out to the world do not mean that’s, that you can’t buy that man
that you can’t you can’t buy your opportunity to making an album do you know what I mean
and especially with my album I have made I’m so proud of the music and I feel like I have
made something that and has matched the artistic ambition I had, because I’ve always had this
artist ambition of taking it further and go in and then going further than I’ve ever been
in pushing myself and exploring and trying to be a credible artist and trying to establish
myself amongst the great’s the likes of your frank oceans and your Kanye West’s
and all these Adele’s Amy Winehouse’s like what like that these incredible musician’s
and with this album I feel like hopefully when people listen to it they will see that
I have I’ve tried that mission and I have almost completed its oh yeah that there is
my proudest moment. And then the lowest? but the lowest moment my lowest moment put
funny, funnily enough my lowest moment has probably come from, um, in the middle of the
album process I had quite a low moment where I had to deal with that things within myself
and being this 23 year old guy from South London who no longer Live’s with his mum
anymore i don’t i don’t ever my old area anymore and I’ve had this blessing of our musical
career and I’ll seeing the world and performing and people different into my music and then
dealing with all the side effects of that as well as life at home and family and all
of these things and once that was like a whirlwind for me like usually you know when people stay
home it’s like if a rollercoaster of emotions that I don’t really know what that meant until
recently when it’s like wow, it just hit me like life hit me, and yeah that was probably
my lowest moment when I think it just kind of hit me at once. so one of the lines on the new album talks
about you dealing with depression 10% of young people now young men deal with depression
is a really huge deal can you talk about what you are going through then when you depressed? Um, yeah that you know I found it so I found
it so strange and so almost a reality check of basically I’m not going to learn ask
for a long time I didn’t really understand like the whole lot depression I didn’t I didn’t
I didn’t get it, it’s is easy to dismiss and it’s easy and and I’ll hold my hands up
and say I didn’t even know like how it gets that when someone is depressed you think in
OK like go bed wake up go gym and it’s gone that is, but for me it was that a realization
of how fragile we are as humans in in the most beautiful way possible I always saw myself
as this strong person who just deals with life and just gets on with it and if something
gets me low I picked myself back up that happens, we march on, that’s always been my philosophy
even down to the, even down to the point where one of my closest friends he was suffering
from it I used to like dismiss him in in and it wasn’t even in a harsh way but i just used
think be happy and put it together and then when I went through what I went through i
was like wow I felt stuck you know like I felt stuck like what like I actually I’m not
this strong person that I thought I was I am now I know the way I am you almost realize
how important it is to keep loved ones around you to keep yourself focused and sane and
all these things and I would that was a world that is so alien to me I used to think you
just get up and march on so for me I felt like on this album if I didn’t address that
what I was going through because even then I had another conflict of where i went through
this i don’t even know if I want to world to know if I went through this, yeah yeah
something I went through my friends knew I went through it my family knows I went through
it, but the world doesn’t need to know that goes to the world I don’t want to be strong
mike I want to be Stormzy. So what convinced you to talk about it? The fact that, what convinced me to talk about
it was the fact that, if there is anyone out there going through it I think for them to
see that i went for would help because for a long long time i used to think like soldiers
don’t go through that you know strong people in life the Bravest the most courageous people
they don’t go through that they just get on with it that any person any person that I
admire or look up to haven’t felt like this they just picked themselves up do you know
what I mean and that’s not the case all of the other people I look up to you i don’t
what they dealt with do you know what I mean for me it was not this is what I dealt with
so if there’s anyone listening who thinks raw swear down like Stormzy feels like do
you know what I mean like and I feel that I always think I come across confidently and
happy and I always made sure that like I don’t promote negative like and I just present myself
in a positive way so i can spread that so people will be looking at me thinking no I
don’t go through anything so for me to just let people know no I do, I do go through that
nothing so for me to just let people know that it’s not because your weak, you can’t
handle life its nothing to do with that sometimes you’re stuck and life does that and it happens
you’re not me so i thought let me let the world know that let me do my bit of like,
but it was very difficult but we go out it out on the album. I am sure it was difficult but it will definitely
help Yeah definitely You mentioned going from your old place of
living your new place what’s that been like what’s the new place like? I have the blessing that I’ve managed to i
have managed to progress and I’ve managed to work hard enough that i was able to get
out of my former situation of lack of not living in in particularly best condition but
that is just a blessing from god I’m just happy I’m just happy with that but you see
when you when you further your life and better your life I’m just happy with that man. And finally when you stop and have a moment
away from the stage and away from the record recording studio who do you thank for the
last couple of years what is going through your head when have a moment of clarity is
Jigger would say? i thank God, I thank my mum my whole family
I have got such an amazing group of friends that my friend are like my team so we have
got a small knit team like I said that Murky is officially a label now so I’ll end up
with all my family and my friends working on my own record label on my own music with
me so I thank all the musicians all the producers that I have had the pleasure of working with,
I feel like, I feel like any journey, any good journey, is more of a testament of the
amazing people around you as much as I’ve worked hard and I’ve done my thing and I
have focused and I have managed to get to where I am today it’s a testament to everyone
around me everyone who has helped along the way all those thank you’d, if I had to list
all those thank you’d, oh my days we would be here forever, there so many people have
helped me along the way, now I am here, I am here with a debut album, like and yeah,
this is incredible man.

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