The Streets - Street Life
From his Mercury Prize-nominated 2002 debut Original Pirate Material to the inner monologue of his recent Everything is Borrowed opus, The Streets’ Mike Skinner is a one-man hip hop army with Wu Tang in his blood and a generational conscience worn proudly on his sleeve. Fit and ready to engage audiences with a full band on what may possibly be The Streets’ swansong Australian tour next month, skinner speaks with 3D’s Steve Tauschke.
What was your mindset as a teenager making tapes in your garage... was there a defined musical vision back then-
All I ever wanted to do was make a living making music and not spend my life doing anything else. Whenever I had normal jobs I just used to spend all day writing songs and thinking about being at home making songs. So ten years of my career has been about ensuring that I keep making music so I don’t have to do anything else.
You’re currently working on a new album - do songs come easily to you-
Making the music is always a total joy; it’s what I love. I mean the last album was a very difficult album and finishing off the songs can be quite painstaking really. But the stage I’m at now is the best bit really, because that’s the pure unbridled creativity where everything is possible and you don’t know whether any of it is any good or bad. It’s before you start judging yourself.
You’re obviously very much a wordsmith – how finely honed is your self-editing these days-
Yeah, as I get older I’ve realised I’m an artist but I kind of see myself more as some kind of entertainer, not in a singing and dancing kind of way but I follow the code of screenwriters and traditional songwriters. And even though a lot of the songs are very personal I don’t think of them as a kind of catharsis. They’re supposed to sound personal but they’re also supposed to be songs that you can understand and connect with and be entertained by.
Is Everything Is Borrowed a concept album-
If you take my other albums then Everything Is Borrowed is definitely a concept album because it started out with the rule that I wouldn’t reference modern life and I’ve ended with a spiritual, modern philosophical feel.
So what is borrowed-
Your body, your viewpoints, your lifestyle, the car that you own and the job that you have – all of those things are not going to be with you when you die. We certainly have to give everything up at some point.
Has anything made you angry recently-
I don’t really get angry – I tend to just get sad. I think all the strange things that are going on in the world are the result of humans. Progress is a myth, really. I think genetically we’re just the same as we were a thousand years ago. We can do wonderful things but we can also be incredibly lazy and self-centred.
So what does the future hold for Mike Skinner after your fifth and final album-
I’d like to make a film next I think. I love making music of course but I don’t know what sort of music that’s going to be.
WHO: The Streets
WHAT: Play the Forum / Playground Weekender
WHEN: Thursday 5 February / Sunday 8 February