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Roll Deep interview

Tamar Smith chats to Brazen about tour shenanigans, Twitter lies and the scent of Alesha Dixon

Written by . Published on February 7th 2011.

Roll Deep interview

London-based grime music collective, Roll Deep are about to embark on a UK tour. Brazen, one tenth of the group, took time out from watching a film (it’s a hard life) to speak to Confidential’s Tamar Smith about the impending tour and future plans...

TS: Hi, how are you?
B: I’m alright

TS: Sorry I interrupted your film
B: Yeah, disturbing my ‘Red’ (laughs)

TS: Sorry. We’ve lost track of how many crew members there are in Roll Deep now. Can you name them all please... in alphabetical order?

TS: Haha, yeah.
B: I suffer from dyslexia.

TS: Oh no.
B: I’m joking. In alphabetical order would be...let’s see....I can’t get this right... I’m not good at this...

TS: It’s ok
B: It would probably be, me actually - Brazen, then Breeze, then Flow Dan...

TS: Okay
B: Na, I’m wrong actually. Na, na, na I’m not wrong... let’s go with Karnage...na I’ve got it wrong. Arrrgh. I’ll just name ‘em all. Right – Brazen, Breeze, Scratchy, Karnage, J2K, Flow Dan, Wiley, Tanya Foster, Target and Danny Weed.

TS: For our readers who don’t know, what is Roll Deep and how does one 'roll deep'?
B: Rolling deep I would say is being in numbers, like us - at least 10. Rolling deep means rolling in a group. That’s about it.

TS: 2010 was the year of the collaboration in the charts. Do you think the collaborations on your new album have helped propel you into the spotlight?
B: Not necessarily. I think this year is massive for collaborations and I think it can make you huge depending who you work with, but for us, I wouldn’t say that was the case. We met up with Jodie Connor who was an unknown artist before the song ‘Good times’. It gave her the platform, as well as Tanya too on ‘Green Light’. But at the same time I think collaborations are the way forward, not just musically. Going on tour with people and stuff like that can take you to where you wanna be.

TS: What was it like working with Alesha Dixon and The Saturdays on the new album?
B: We didn’t do nothing with the Saturdays. Everyone thinks we did but we didn’t. It was a bit of controversy that was going round. Alesha was great though. Wicked girl, great to be with. She’s very professional, good dancer, smells nice.

TS: Do you aspire to having a solo career like artists such as Dizzee Rascal or Tinchy Stryder?
B: I do aspire to be a solo artist as well. I’ve got stuff in the pipeline ready. I think you gotta be on your A-game. At the minute we’re concentrating on Roll Deep as the brand and when we’re ready, when the time’s right, we’re gonna give people our solo stuff.

TS: I read a review that said you’ve ‘evolved into a grime crew that don’t play grime’. What would you say to that?
B: Not true. The last album wasn’t much of a grime album to be fair, but you know our sound has changed. Last year our sound changed to the way we felt the industry was going. We thought ‘let’s see what happens’ and it went really well. What we’ve got coming up now is more of our old stuff and we’ve made a balance which we think is perfect for us as a group, so it’s not fair to say we’ve left grime. We haven’t. We still put grime mix tapes out.

TS: It also says that the ‘charts are there for the taking’. Does that motivate you to work harder?
B: The new album’s nearly done. We’ve been in the studio since New Year making tune after tune. This year we feel will be better than the last for the music we got now. We can see how the year’s gonna pan out and how the music’s gonna change and I think we’ve captured it again. I’m very confident that we’re gonna be a strong force to reckon with this year again. As soon as yous lot hear it, I know you’re gonna like it.

TS: Cool. You’re on tour for most of this month. Which city are you most looking forward to?
B: I’m gonna say Liverpool. And Manchester. I was in Manchester a lot from 2009 to 2010. I sorta made it my second home cos, as you might know, Wiley was living up there.

TS: Yeah, my dad was actually a chauffeur for Wiley. He put diesel in a petrol car whilst Wiley was in it. I don’t think Wiley was too impressed.
B: Ahhhhhhh (laughs)

TS: Are there any grime artists from cities outside of London that you’re a fan of?
B: I’m a fan of Wrigley in Manchester, Captain in Manchester. It’s more Manchester than anywhere else that I know. R.I.O is good as well. Manchester’s got a lot of stuff going on at the minute. Nottingham too – Wariko.

TS: Wiley’s dropped out of the tour. How do you feel about that?
B: I don’t think he has. It was a lie.

TS: It was on Twitter. Twitter never lies.
B: Na, Wiley don’t lie. I talk to Wiley a lot and he told me he’s on his way from Canada and he asked when we’re doing rehearsals cos he wants to come do it. He is gonna be on the tour.

TS: Is there one member of the group who has more say over the group’s direction than others perhaps?
B: No. We sit at the table and we all discuss our future and we take a vote basically. Everyone’s opinion is valid.

TS: 17 cities in 20 days for the tour. What sorts of shenanigans can we expect from the Roll Deep boys on the road?
B: There’s gonna be a lot of champagne, we’re gonna have a laugh and we’re gonna entertain. It’s not just about us; the support acts are gonna be there too and we wanna do a few random shenanigans. Pull a few tricks, pull a few people’s trousers down and yeah, that’s what we’re about.

TS: You're all about pulling people’s pants down? That’s lovely
B: Women. Over 20, preferably. (laughs) And can I just mention Swagga Muffin? I want everyone to bring some extra money because we’re gonna be putting out the Swagga Muffin out on the 12th and they’re gonna be everywhere. That’s our new clothing brand.

TS: Ok, I’ll make sure I have my money. I’ve been on your Twitter and noticed you use the word ‘swag’ a lot. What do you mean by ‘swag’?
B: You know, clobber. When you look in the mirror, you can define your swagga. Your swagga’s gotta be right. It’s personal. I’ve sort of got a new little swagga over the past couple days. I’ve started buying them bendy jeans that bend and you put your legs in ‘em and they fit to your legs with a little key chain on it and a Gucci belt and yeah – that’s my new swagga. I’m on that. I’ve captured my swagga for this year, although it’s gonna change in summer. I can’t wear the body warmer in summer. I’ll get a Swagga Muffin on.

TS: Back to your Twitter page, you seem to be clued up on current affairs. Commenting on the situation in Egypt yesterday, you tweeted: ‘Egypt is a mad ting right now nuff stones getting chucked.’ What headlines have caught your eye today?
B: I have not watched the news today. D’ya know what I’ve been on emails all day, Tweets, BBM, text messages, phone calls and I made a salmon salad. That’s about it.

TS: Brilliant. I had tuna. Not quite as upper class as salmon.
B: Did ya? Good. Health freaks.

TS: You also Tweeted the other day: ‘I feel like a tramp and look like a tramp but I think like a millionaire and that’s all that counts’. What’s the first thing you’d do with a million pounds?
B: Probably put it back into Roll Deep and probably into the clothes label. Then it would be houses and stuff like that. Getting ya off-shore accounts game on.

TS: What’s it like working with your brother, Breeze?
B: I’ve been in Roll Deep since I was 16 and I’m 23 now. It’s good you know, it’s a family thing. There aren’t many brothers in the game who get the time to be on tour with their brother. There’s only JME and Skepta really. It’s wicked. My mum’s happy (laughs).

TS: At the Brit Awards this year, Tinie Tempah, Plan B, Take That, The XX and Mumford and Sons are all up for British album of the year. Who do you think should win?
B: I think Tinie’s had an amazing year and it’s still going on. I think he deserves it and I’d love Plan B to win it as well cos Plan B is close to a few members of the group and he makes amazing music. He’s a talented person and his album was one of the best I’d heard all year. Either of them two, I’m cool with.

TS: Finally, any shout outs of artists you want to get on the radar?
B: I want you all to take interest in the A-list camp. There’s a few people to watch out for this year – Opium, Dot Rotten and Angel.

TS: I’ve got a shout out of my own. Broke ‘n’ English – a group from Manchester. Heard of them?
B: I have actually. Big up to everyone in Manchester. Look out for Wrigley and Shifty as well. M21.

TS: Thanks for the chat. Enjoy the rest of your film
B: (laughs) Thank you for taking the time out.

Follow Tamar on twitter TamarSmith

Roll Deep regional tour dates:

The Duchess – York - Thursday 10 February
53 Degrees (University of Central Lancashire) – Preston - Monday 14 February
O2 Academy 1 and 2 – Liverpool - Tuesday 15 February
O2 Academy 1 and 2 (Formerly Carling) – Sheffield - Friday 18 February
Academy [1, 2, 3 and Club Academy] – Manchester - Saturday 19 February

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