MOBO Interview: Roll Deep!
Back this year with an infectiously catchy new single, a new tour and brand new clothing line are double MOBO nominated grime collective Roll Deep! We caught up with them earlier this week to find out what they have been up to and what they've got planned for 2010.
MOBO: It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Roll Deep. What have you guys been up to?
Roll Deep: We’ve been doing a lot of music but most of it has been going back to our underground roots. We brought out Rules and Regulations and Return of The Big Money Sound not too long ago. We’ve also been doing loads of individual stuff as well as setting up our clothing line "Swaggamuffin".
MOBO: Your new single “Good Times” is released on April 26th. What can fans expect from the new material?
Roll Deep: With role deep we like to keep people guessing so it’s really gonna be a mixture of sounds once again. They’ll be stuff like “Good Times” which is the fun and much more commercial side and then definitely the grime stuff on there as well as some dance stuff. We wanted to push the boat out and not be scared to try stuff out in the studio.
MOBO: Your sound has evolved a lot since your debut in 2005. Who or what are some of the influences behind your new sound?
Roll Deep: I wouldn’t say we necessarily have a new sound, it’s just how we approach doing tracks. We always have the roll deep style to it, even when doing something commercial like “Good Times”. If we go and do something more down tempo it’ll still have the Roll Deep stamp on it. We’re always listening to different stuff and that comes out in our own music. With our first album we broke down a lot of boundaries in terms of what grime is and you can see that in the scene now.
MOBO: You’re considered by many to be pioneers of grime. How does it feel to have been there at the start of such a huge movement?
Roll Deep: It’s mad! None of us expected it to blow up so fast. It feels good to know that we were in their early. We put all our trust and faith in it and the scene has done really well. It feels good to be known as the people who helped to start it off and even better to still be around and still making music, still being involved in the scene.
MOBO: How did Roll Deep form and how did you get into the industry?
Roll Deep: We formed basically from just being a group of friends. We all grew up in east London, so that’s where it all started really. We started out doing stuff on pirate radio on stations like Rinse FM. We started getting bookings in clubs and gradually the clubs were getting bigger and bigger. We then decided to go into the studio and make some tracks as Roll Reep and then things just snowballed. In 2004 we got signed by Virgin and later released our first album.
MOBO: What advice would you have for aspiring artists out there following in your footsteps?
Roll Deep: Be persistent! You need to have thick skin and be able to hear “no” and negative comments and be able to take it and keep going. As well as that, staying original and just being yourself and getting really good at what you do.
MOBO: You were double MOBO Award nominees back in 2005. How much has the landscape of British urban music changed since then?
Roll Deep: It’s really changed a lot. We got nominated for our first album which at the time was a bit of a shock for a lot of people. Since then the whole grime scene and even the mainstream has come round to artists like us which then paved the way for Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, Chipmunk, Wiley, Skepta, Dizzie, Ironik and N-Dubz. We’re on a level playing field now with R&B and hip hop and the stuff that comes out of America. Just looking at last years MOBO Awards and seeing how many UK performers, artists and nominees were there, we don’t need to rely on American acts to make things big and it shows how far we’ve come. The UK urban scene is so strong write now.
MOBO: What’s next for Roll Deep in 2010?
Roll Deep: We’re doing a 25 date club tour promoting the single which is out 26th April. We’re gonna be up and down the country hitting all the clubs. We’re doing a few of the festivals in the summer like O2 wireless, Glastonbury, Wakestock and a couple others so it looks like we’re gonna be busy this summer. We’re also gonna be finishing off our album and launching our clothing line “Swaggamuffin” starting off with T-Shirts. Aside from that, everyone is doing their individual projects, I’m producing and doing my radio stuff, Manga and Scrathy are both working on their own solo music projects and obviously Wiley too.
MOBO: A lot of artists are exploring other business ventures as well as music these days. Do you think that’s necessary for artists now?
Roll Deep: I think the days of making loads of money just from record sales is a thing of the past. If you’ve got a buzz and a following you can turn that into all sorts of things. Fashion is kind of a partner of music so it just makes sense to go down hat road. It’s something we’re interested in anyway and we just really liked the idea of it.
Q: Would you still add new members to the group, or have they got all the talent needed”?
Roll Deep: Well, it’s not down to me, It’ll have to be a group decision lol, but there are quite a lot of us already. We’re always up for working with new people though, and if say...Timberland was to get involved, we definitely wouldn’t say no.
Q: Who do you think is the “One to Watch” in 2010?
Roll Deep: I’d say Scorcher. Obviously people like Tinnie Tempah are new in 2010 but he has already had big success. I think Scorcher is someone who could be just about to blow and could be someone to watch over the next few months.
Roll Deeps new single “Good Times” is released April 26th on Relentless / Virgin Records.
- Interview by Chris O'Gorman