Marvin Sparks caught up with 20 year-old DJ/MC/Producer DJ Ironik to ask about the forthcoming album, his views on the crime amongst teens, Internet success, the smash-hit single ‘Stay With Me’ and more.
Marvin Sparks: How’s life been treating you now that you’re on TV, and face is getting popular?
Ironik: I can’t really walk down the street much [laughs]. Just being recognised on the streets loads. People asking for pictures and autographs. It has been more hectic. People that didn’t wanna know before wanna know now, but that’s all good though. It’s just the way it is.”
Marvin Sparks: How did you first get into the music game?
Ironik: I started out when I was about 13 as a DJ. My uncle owns ‘Twice As Nice,’ they’re a big promotional company. The Old Skool Garage and Jungle was always around me ‘cause of ‘Twice As Nice,’ my Mum and Dad were always listening to it, so I guess that’s how I got into and DJ’in.
I was DJ’in from about 13 to 15 and that’s when I started producing for loads of grime artists like Wiley, JME, Chipmunk, and loads of people like that. I was doing that until I was about 17, 18 when I felt like I needed to start writing my own lyrics. From there I just started writing my own lyrics and that’s how I became a DJ, producer and MC.
Marvin Sparks: You’ve got a bit of everything going on there. Why are you, as an MC, still called DJ Ironik?
Ironik: DJ’in is still my first love, man. That’s what I started out doing, I love DJ’in and I still actually DJ in the clubs every now and then, so you can book me for a DJ set and a PA. Now, I do a lot of live PAs, also at the same time I’m doing DJ sets. There isn’t anything like DJ’in and having the crowd going crazy. I still love it and that’s why I still call myself DJ Ironik.
Marvin Sparks: You mentioned you also produce, so will your album be produced and written entirely by you?
Ironik: Nah, there’s loads of different tracks produced by different people. I’m working with a heavy producer called Ayo. He produces RnB and Hip Hop stuff. He’s heavy man. He’s out in America at the moment working with loads of people. Also gonna be working with people like Davinché. Obviously my own stuff, got some Wiley, and Bless Beats. We’re gonna keep it versatile.
Marvin Sparks: And you’ll DJ on the tour?
Ironik: [Laughs] Yeah, well people can book me for a DJ set and live PAs as well, so I can do a live PA set first then DJ afterwards, but obviously that’s gonna cost more money.
Marvin Sparks: If you could only do one of the three for the rest of your career, which would it be?
Ironik: Ooorgh, that‘s a hard one. [Pause] I’ll probably be a DJ ‘cause love DJ’in more than anything.
Marvin Sparks: 'Stay With Me' is quite an emotional song. What was the thought behind creating it?
Ironik: I heard the track and it just touched me. The words and the chorus mean a lot. I just thought about my little sister, and the way life is going at the moment with loads of children getting killed in England at such young ages, so I just wanted to leave my little sister a message to tell her I’ll always be there for her. If anything happens to me, she’ll be ok.
Marvin Sparks: Everyone seems to have an opinion on why kids are killing each other. What do you as a young man yourself think the problem is? Is music to blame?
Ironik: I think there are a few reasons why it’s happening. A lot of people like to blame music. I think some music maybe, but not all music. People like Chipmunk and that are making good use out of Grime music. They’re not talking about rubbish.
I also think the Government are a good part of the reason why there’s people being killed. I don’t want to be too funny about it, but they can definitely step up their game and do something about it. There are a couple of reasons, man. I don’t know, but it definitely needs to be sorted out.
Marvin Sparks: You've collaborated with Grime artists and produced Grime in the past, but `Stay With Me’ isn’t a typical Grime song. What would you class yourself and the song as?
Ironik: I think my music is just different to everyone else. You can’t call it Rap ‘cause it’s got a Westlife sample on the chorus, you can’t call it Pop ‘cause you’ve got me rapping over it, on the verses, and you can’t call it Grime ‘cause it’s slower than Grime music. I just think it’s different to what’s out now and that’s why people are catching onto it. Also, it’s got a meaning to it, y’know what I mean?
Marvin Sparks: Which Grime artists did you look up to, or influenced you on the way up?
Ironik: When I was growing up I was always listening Wiley, Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Strider every weekend on pirate radio. That’s all I was listening to. Now I’m older, to be working with people like Wiley is crazy. He’s comes around to my house and sees a big Wiley sticker on my decks. I have to tell him ‘Don’t look at that!’
Marvin Sparks: Traditionally Grime has been made with male audience in mind. From what I`ve heard girls are in love with your songs but the males aren’t as impressed. Does this bother you at all?
Ironik: Not really, because the girls are the ones that are gonna be buying the music in the long run, and wherever there are girls, there are guys. If I’m doing a concert, all the guys are gonna know that it’s full up with girls, so they are gonna come.
Marvin Sparks: Do you think that is the key to your success then?
Ironik: Yeah. The ladies market is definitely bigger than the guys market. I don’t even initially make music for the girls, I just make music. If you wanna listen to it you can. ‘Stay With Me’ is a track where anyone can listen to it. I know there are guys out there who have lost their brother’s or their good friends.
You can definitely hear the message in there, so my album will have loads of different type of music on there. I’m gonna have features from lots of people in the Grime scene, for example Chipmunk and Wiley are on the ‘Stay With Me’ remix and we done that for a reason, so that their market can come into it and hear that its not just me sending out a message, it’s people in your own scene sending out that message.
Marvin Sparks: You’ve spoken about Wiley quite a bit. He had chart success with ‘Wearing My Rolex’ reaching number 2 and is on the same label as you. Are there any bets or friendly banter going on between you two?
Ironik: Nah, no competition. Hopefully I follow in his footsteps. My sales have been good this week, I’m number 15 mid-week [sales week commencing 23rd June], so hopefully I do what Wiley and Estelle did on the charts. She’s on the same label as well.
Marvin Sparks: What would you say to those who may think you’re a one-hit wonder?
Ironik: I’m definitely not, man! I make good music and different music. I just know what music sounds like. Obviously, because I do music for love and a hobby, I don’t do it for money or business, so I definitely know what good music’s supposed to sound like.
Marvin Sparks: Scenario: Atlantic gives you a big budget for your next single. They say you can work with whoever you want, but it has to be either UK or US. Strictly no combination of the two. Who would you work with and why?
Ironik: Kanye West. He’s the best Rapper alive! He’s my favourite artist and he just influences me. He motivates me all the time. I listen to his music, I hear him all the time. I just like the way he carries on, the way he thinks, the way he doesn’t let anyone tell him anything. That’s how I’d like to be if I was as powerful as him. Definitely Kanye West.
Marvin Sparks: Your album is due later this year, is there anything you can speak on?
Ironik: There are a few ladies tracks on there, because obviously I wanna focus on the ladies. There’s real-life stuff that I’ve been through or that people are going through at the moment. A few party tracks. A few collaborations, Wiley and Chipmunk. We’re in talks with quite a big American artist, so that should be confirmed soon. I’d like to work with N-Dubz and Kano would be good.
Marvin Sparks: Last album uploaded to iPod?
Ironik: I’m not really an album person, but the last tracks I put on there were Indie and Rock tracks. I’ve been listening to The Kooks, Adele, Kate Nash she’s heavy. I’ve been listening to loads of UK tracks, man. And Lil’ Wayne. Lil’ Wayne’s albums [good].
Marvin Sparks: You got signed off the back of very successful run on MySpace.
Ironik: Yeah. To do with my MySpace and Internet love. The love I was getting on YouTube, Channel U and Fizz.
Marvin Sparks: How successful were you?
Ironik: Before I got signed and my video was on every channel, my face was kinda [known] when I walked down the street simply because of MySpace and Channel U. My MySpace has around 2.6 million views, and I’ve got nearly 100,000 friends, so the networking’s quite good on MySpace.
Marvin Sparks: Which aspect are you most proud of, the amount of friends, views or plays?
Ironik: [Pause] Views.
Marvin Sparks: Why views?
Ironik: [Longer pause] Because it shows a lot of people are interested and went on my page to look at it.
Marvin Sparks: For those who may be thinking MySpace isn’t working for them, what advice would you give any aspiring rappers and singers on how to use MySpace effectively?
Ironik: MySpace is definitely a good marketing tool, take it from me. There are so many people being signed right now off MySpace. Kate Nash and Lily Allen, they were found on MySpace. Me, for example, they contacted my management via MySpace.
Put a contact number up and just get networking on your MySpace. Comment all your fans and show them love, because they showed you love and got you where you are. I’m always in record label offices and A&R offices, and I’m always seeing them on MySpace looking for artists, just scoping around different pages. So don’t think they are not there, they know about most of the good artists on MySpace. It’s definitely a good marketing tool.
Watch ‘Stay With Me’ @ http://youtube.com/watch?v=sWmW-nicR3w
Visit DJ Ironik @ http://www.myspace.com/djironik