My Idris Elba Interview
I recently talked to a Flicksandbits favorite Idris Elba about his musical alter ego Driis, through which he is releasing his 5-track EP, High Class Problems Vol 1 Febuary 8th. The EP includes the Pete Rock-produced single “Please Be True,” leaked track “Best I Can” and the new single `Private Garden` (produced by 9th Wonder), preparing music fans for his album due in late 2010 on Hevlar Recordings.
2010 is set to be another huge year for Idris, who made his name starring as the infamous Stringer Bell in HBO’s The Wire. Also look out for him in major blockbusters including Takers, The Losers, and his feature Legacy (in which he is also the executive producer), but Driis will also be performing at a series of lives dates across the UK, Europe and the US, as well as several DJ guest spots.
The EP wasn`t what I was expecting I thought it would be more of a straight Hip Hop vibe to it but it`s very very musical, you`ve got the reggae and soul elements on there as well. It`s very grown.
Idris Elba: I wanted to just experiment you know what I mean, there`s certain things I wanted to express, I`m not a singer, but there were certain ideas I needed to express in that way. Moving in the future I think I`ll be more of a hybrid with the rap stuff and the spoken word stuff and what I`m doing with this, I wanted people not to expect anything, it is a grown album, it`s an easy listening type album, you can listen to it back and get your romance on.
Seeing as your a DJ as well, does what you play as a DJ influence the EP and the sound?
Idris Elba: Yeah in a weird sense, songs like Best I Can & Please Be True come from when I was growing up Djing, that mid tempo sound, the Soul 2 Soul stuff, your Mica Paris`s you could have played them in a dance, it was deemed more of a grown thing and I definitely miss that. Djing in the states I play a lot more House and more up-tempo pop stuff.
What was it like working with someone like Pete Rock? He must have been someone as a kid growing up you listened too.
Idris Elba: It was weird because he`s a legend, his process is not that dissimilar to mine, he works by himself in a isolated environment, he sent me the idea, I sent it back to him, he tweaked it, he`s a really cool nice guy, I love it when you meet someone who`s genuinely nice but successful and 9th Wonder he`s a legend of beat making that broken beat stuff he practically invented that stuff, he sent me that beat ages ago and I just wrote on it and he couldn`t believe it, he said he wasn`t expecting that.
Who are you gonna be working on with the album?
Idris Elba: We haven`t gotten a list of producers yet you know, honestly I wanna do a bit more production myself, I think I work better myself, I co-produced a couple tracks on the EP. When I work by myself I`m a little bit more adventurous. When you get a producer in, the idea is the fusion, to get both ideas together, but I still think I haven`t reached my potential as an artist so I wanna go and produce a lot of stuff myself, I want to do a lot more live music stuff. It`s hard to get my ideas across so I wanna do it myself.
You seem to like alter egos you`ve got this one Driis, Mr Me Innit and acting in general, is that something you enjoy getting into – another mind frame?
Idris Elba: Yeah I think because I`m always fighting the your just an actor your just an actor, I like to be like yes I`m an actor so let me reinvent this character, his name is Driis, his names Mr Me Innit which were fun songs that I`d never get away with going out there as Idris Elba. It`s a character, Driis is another persona, I just feel with music you can be a lot more honest, with acting you have to be politically correct, with being a musician you say what you want.
How do relax and spend you free time? You`ve got so much on, a number of movies next year, two ep`s, an album.
Idris Elba: Like Nas said sleep is the cousin of death, I feel like if you`ve got a dream you`ve got to work at it to make it right, you`ve got to check out a book called the Outliers, a good book by Malcolm Gladwell, in it he says geniuses spend at least 20,000 hours on what they`re a genius at, that`s all they do focus. Talking about Jay Z for example he WORKS, your can`t even talk to him, their whole existence is work, they may be geniuses but they`ve worked at it. But me my ambitions are really out there so I have to work at it.
What sort of music keeps you inspired? What have you been listening to lately?
Idris Elba: Here`s the thing bruv, I tend to listen to outside of the genre I`m trying to make, I just got into Kasabian`s new album, just because it`s completely different, I like their song writing, their production, the way they do things. I listen to a lot of old stuff, right now I`m listening to old bands, you know the ones who used to play everything live and record it all in one room, one shot, listening to each instrument and the resonance of each instrument is great. Salaam Remi and I have been talking a lot lately and that`s what he does, he produced Amy Wineshouse Back To Black album, he said Amy came to him and told him that`s the sound she wants, so they thought how`s best to get that sound, do it how they used to, use the same instruments, same recorder, everything.
You`ve got Thor filming in a couple months, that`s gonna a big film
Idris Elba: Yeah man I`m filming that in Febuary, that`s gonna be excellent, I can`t say too much about it though, they`ve signed me to silence, it`s a big Marval comic, it`s exciting, I`ve got a big sword, a real big sword!
Have you got any last words, anything else we should look forward to in 2010?
Idris Elba: High Class Problems Vol 1 is definitely an introduction to what I`m doing as a musician, what I`m gonna be doing more as a musician is releasing lots of one off singles, freestyles a lot more, I`m gonna be a lot more involved, I`m gonna do it more over here than in the states for now, because I want my people to support me, but definitely look out for me, I`m gonna try and experiment.
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