Akira The Don
>Your aim in music is set out in your track 'John The Baptist Feat H Jones X', "Now all I wanna be is the rap Morrissey." How close are you towards achieving this aim, is the nation ready for one ?
To be totally honest, I am as far away from being the Rap Morrissey as I am from being the Rap Boris Johnson, for good or ill. It's funny how everybody picked up on that line, of all the lines in all the songs on the EP, but I should have seen it coming really, as I have sat on that side of the fence and it's always a certain kind of thing that grabs you. When I said it – I wrote that song in about twenty minutes and recorded the entire vocal in a single take, so it was barely considered – a lot of what I meant was, as a rapper, I shall not be afraid to admit fault. I shall not front. Sometimes it seems that girls do not like me and my dick doesn't work properly.
And I certainly think the nation is ready for one. Personally, I have been looking for a Rap Morrissey for a very long time – I thought I'd found him in Sage Francis for a little while, but dude soon proved himself to be much more than that. And I, although there could be worse things, couldn't really be the Rap Morrissey, as I am an evil meat eater, and a philanderer.
But even Morrissey isn't Morrissey any more…
>How hard is it getting established coming from North Wales? What is the music scene like around that vicinity and how well do you fit in with it?
Well, I left North Wales in '96 when I was 16, and as far as I could tell, there wasn't really a scene at all. Not in Bangor anyway. There were hippies up Bethesda mountain with ukuleles and tiny cassette recorders and bags of hash, but that was, like, 14 miles away and I couldn't afford the busfare. I went to Redditch for a bit after that, and that had a sort of a music scene – lots of bands that sounded either like Korn or Nirvana all ripped to the tits on speed... Then I went to Birmingham, which had an excellent scene, full of math rock bands with liver damage from excessive cider consumption. I should add that it seemed to be virtually impossible for any of the bands from any of these places to get noticed by the London music industry, and while there are a few excellent little labels in the midlands, they too, are ignored by London, where the bands all do coke, incidentally. So I came to London. It isn't very hard to become established in London, to be honest. It is like a village, a village full of sheep. Saying that, it was America that embraced me initally, so God knows.
>Highlight track on your debut EP is 'The Drinking Song'. It is a catchy and infectious football chant meets folk style vocals and snappy instruments that culminate in a delicious parody of the drink culture in the UK. Have you thought of sending the song to the UK Government to utilize in their anti binge drinking campaign? Also, what sort of reception have you received to it from the music loving public (especially when you play in pubs)?
I hadn't thought of that, actually. I had got a little sick of the song, but now I like it again. Reactions have been violent and extreme – some people (like your good self) see it for what it is and love it accordingly. Others seem to take it as some personal insult and hate it with an extreme vigour bordering on the Weird… they cry, "CHAZ AND DAVE! RINKY DINK! POPULIST! SING ALONG!" As if any of that were a bad thing. I notice it is generally people who take cocaine a lot that dislike it. Make of that what you will. Bruce Lee knew the score: he said, "don't think – feel." There is a certain kind of person that over-intellectualizes music, which is a terrible thing to do to it.
One thing I have noticed about that song, especially in the reaction amongst drinkers, is that people seem only to listen to the choruses of pop songs. It's like, those weird Neo Cons were using ‘Born In The USA’. Did they ever listen to the verses? There are, like, 300 reviews on the Newgrounds site from kids saying they love the song because they love drinking and them and their mates love listening to it and drinking loads of booze. Not that that's a bad thing necessarily, so long as they don't go out and rape anybody afterwards.
>What does making music mean to you?
It is a cathartic experience actually. I'd read people saying that in Vox back in the day, and I would think, pish. But it's true. It's a different thing to straight writing, which I have been doing for a long time, in a similarly personal, and personally ruinous fashion – but there are things you can get away with in song that you cannot in, say, a column or something. And vice versa. As for liberating and educating the masses, it is often argued that music and politics have no place interacting, and when they do, it is of no use to either party, but from personal experience I know this to be an ugly falsity, perpetuated by people who have no balls. I quite clearly recall hearing Billy Bragg's 'Between The Wars' EP for the first time when I was five or something, and it made me cry.
Like, there is a bunch of stuff I am finding out, that I didn't know before, and I might never have know had someone not told me about it, forwarded me a link, whatever. So in some of my new songs I am talking about it, and someone that wouldn't otherwise have heard about it, will. Which is useful. It is the human thing… we share information, and experience, via entertainment. It is what makes us dope.
>What are you current musical influences?
I am listening to lots of Chris De Burgh, Slick Rick, 50s radio jingles, Dolly Parton, Big Pun… Patrick Wolf I find hugely inspirational. He is everything I wanted to be as a youngster, I think. Perhaps he is the rap Morrissey. Well, he would be if he rapped. Which I am sure he would excel at if he had a go. He is an Actual Genius.
>Which of your songs sums up your current mood and why?
I have a song called 'Still Ill' (more Smiths thievery), which would work on a couple of levels, one, as I have a rather large cold filling my head and being with gooey ugliness, and two, as I hadn't written a column/article/huge mass of words on one particular subject in about three months until this afternoon, when I finally managed to sit down and write 2000 words about what the ODB meant to me and why he is being remembered wrongly, and it was actually good, and not shitty.
>How do you want to leave people feeling after they have witnessed a live Akira The Don set and why?
Interesting question. I have never actually thought about what I'd like people to feel after watching an Akira The Don show. Perhaps aroused? That might be nice. Tired. That would mean they had danced. Dancing is actually wicked.
>What are your views on recent attempts by musicians to influence voters in the US Elections? Do you think there was a lack of conviction to some of the attempts (mentioning no names) and it was more bandwagon jumping than a serious desire to bring about change?
You mean Eminem? Heh. Actually, he'd done a re-edit of that Mosh video, you should have a look. It makes a few decent points. Anyway, I was talking to Sage Francis, and he was of that opinion – he said he'd have been a lot more impressed and taken it a lot more seriously had Eminem said any of this stuff, like, three years earlier. But most people really don't pay attention to politics. It's only recently that shit has gotten so hardcore that, even if your only news channel is MTV and the only paper you read is, like, The Star, that you might have been forced to concede that Shit Is Pretty fucked Up right now.
Any dissent is useful, I think. Jadakiss' 'Why' was the most important song of the last 12 months, because it took the big questions to the people that need to be asking them. It's all well and good us happy educated lucky ass liberal fucks moaning about people's intentions, but the straight fact is preaching to the converted gives you nothing but a sore throat and a sore dick.
Saying that, a lot of it completely missed the point, and continues to – in the instance of the US presidential elections, it really didn't make a difference, we discovered in retrospect. The whole thing was staged.
>What are your plans for the rest of the year and the beginning of the next one?
Finish my album, make a Christmas song… I'm doing another animated video with my little brother, for 'Living In The Future'… a new ATD mixtape and a new Stunners mixtape… I have to find a house to live in and finish recording the album within a fortnight… a few remixes and guest appearances, a few comic strips, a few articles for a few people, sort out some bits of my website which could be iller. A radio show. A bunch of gigs – we're having our Christmas party at Hendre, a medieval banqueting hall in North Wales on December 19th…. A tour early next year, a single. Some clothes and some toys. I really need to learn French, it's bugging me.
Interview undertaken by David Adair.