Mon 16 Jan 2012

Interview with… Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva, aka Rodney Smith is an influential figure in British Hip Hop and British Music – he will be taking his talent on the road where he will showcase every style from wonky reggae through pop-funk, street spitting, straight up hip hop, sung ballads and epic death-disco. Gigs And Tours chats to Roots Manuva ahead of his UK tour which kicks off later in the month at The Arches in Glasgow…
What are you up to at this moment?
 Right now I am sat at the laptop answering these questions whilst trying to be witty, engaging and sincere with a smile and a big hug for human kind. In general I am trying a keep a decent balance between being creative and being a considerate human being.
You’re touring this month what can the audience expect?
 You can expect the best live renditions of my Thirties – this year’s gigs are my good bye to the Thirties gigs.  And yes, my Thirties were dirty but I am now looking forward to my naughty Forties. This is because being naughty in my mind is being dirty but more calculated with it – clean funny fun times.
Will you be playing any new material or a mixture of your back catalogue?
 The new show is based on the latest LP: 4everevolution so naturally the set list will be made up of a great deal of new songs but there will also be lots of old favourites. At this stage in my creative career I have over five albums worth of song to choose from, and over 20 other guest appearances that I put on the set list from time to time. Tour travel often brings out an investigative listen of new and old, released and unreleased Roots Manuva songs. I try to pre warn my twitter and facebook friends that 
they should be prepared for nice surprises here and there. 
What is your favourite song to perform live?
 My favourite song to perform is a bonus track on the new CD that was pre-leaked from my bananaklan website two years ago called ‘Snakebite’. I remember playing it to my land lady while playing her lots of other demos that I was working on and this was what she found most striking. It’s a noisy relentless groove and I love to play it loud and pretend I am about to invade a small island with a fleet of w
ar machines – it’s my marching song.
Where has been your favourite gig?
Favourite gig is a real hard one because I have been blessed with so much cosmic moments. I have an abundance of highlights. On the “Run Come Save Me” tour, I was the first UK Based Hip Hop act to tour with a proper string section. It was extremely expensive and I had no experience of taking session players on the road. But it worked a treat. A very brave take on a traditional Hip Hop show with four strings, Drum machines, bass, turntables and microphones. That was back in 2001. I took this tour all over the U.K. and Europe and at every show someone in the audience shed a tear of joy. Since then I have numerous other amazing sonic experiences. I try to chop and change the line-up of musicians from album to album but now am at a stage where I have to keep an honest balance and not test the coffers for the sake of it. I do a “one man show” to a larger set up of “Turntables and Musicians” and I have learnt that what matter is the heart of performance… (Rambling here, bare with me) I recently bought a sound system and have been playing at small underground venues in East London. Often it just a back to basic rapping over a Drum machine or Instrumental and these little events have been up there with the more traditional gig formats and venue. As I was saying it is far too hard to say what the ultimate best gig is because every show has its very own beauty. 

Which song do you wish you had written?
I wish I wrote “Killer” by Seal and Adamski – I love the fact that I do not know what is being sung about and I do not wish to know the exact meaning behind it. For me it communicates a very rich context of sincerity. The notes, the tone and primal voicing are very haunting but very alive and living.
What was the first gig you ever went to?
 The first gig I went to was “The Cold Chilling Tour” at Brixton Academy –  it was 1989 and it was a package of Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane Master Ace, Cool G Rap and others. They called themselves the Juice Crew and were from New York. They were like a Wu tang Clan but as a business management touring operation.
Plans for the rest of the year?
This year should see the making/ finishing of the First Roots Manuva Live/ Documentary DVD. In the meantime I will tour and record new songs with my crew The Bananaklan Sound system. We are known for Ragga Hip Hop fusions but I really want to make a traditional Rock Record. You can see the project unfold by visiting
Tour Dates:
26/01 – The Arches – Glasgow
27/01 – The Ritz – Manchester
28/01 – Met Uni – Leeds
30/01 – HMV Institute – Birmingham
31/01 – Concorde – Brighton
01/02 – Waterfront – Norwich
03/02 – Anson Rooms – Bristol
04/02 – The Roundhouse – London