ED2013 Interviews ED2013 Week0 Edition ED2013 Words & Events

Scroobius Pip: Words, words, words

By | Published on Monday 1 July 2013


Probably best known for his hip-hop output with collaborator Dan Le Sac, Scroobius Pip has been an active player in the spoken word community for years, being equally at home sharing his words and rhymes with or without an accompanying soundtrack.
Though the full-set spoken word solo show he toured last year, and is now bringing to the Fringe for a full run this summer, did begin as a one-off venture. We found out more…

CC: We’re really excited that you will be joining us at the Fringe this year. But this show all began as a single set at Latitude, I think. How did it become a fully fledged show in itself?
SP: Firstly, your excitement, I promise you, is surpassed by my own! I really can’t wait to get up there. And, yes, basically, I prepared an hour long show for a headline slot at the Latitude Festival in 2012. I was stunned to get a turn out of 4000 or so people who all stood there, in this field, somewhere around midnight… and paid attention. That experience almost instantly made me decide I needed to take this on the road. So in December I developed it into more of a set/show and did a sold-out 14 gigs in 14 days around the UK.

CC: So what motived you to bring it to the Edinburgh Fringe, and for a full run?
SP: Well, first of all, I was once again stunned by the reaction the show got once we were on that December tour. Though I had initially decided I was going to leave it there and go out on a high with it (and return to my day job of touring with music and writing records). But when both Tim Key and Brett Goldstein – who caught the show in December and who I am a huge fan of – suggested that I should take it to Edinburgh I just couldn’t resist. Though I must concede that part of my excitement is getting the opportunity to catch as much of the always overflowing line up of acts whilst I’m up there.

CC: What can people expect from the show?
SP: Hopefully they can expect a good night out. The reason behind the tour was that I wanted to show people that spoken word isn’t some stuffy, boring thing to be confined to coffee shops and dusty book clubs. When looking at venues for the Edinburgh show I intentionally chose one with a bar! I want people to have a drink and enjoy their evening. Yes, I will be doing poems about some pretty dark subjects (self harm, domestic violence… sounds fun, right?) but these are all part of life and, hopefully, I can manage to weave them into an evening that doesn’t leave you feeling glum.

CC: How does it compare to the show you toured? Has it changed over time?
SP: Over the length of the tour it developed, yes. It became tighter and I started to learn how to really take control of the journey the audience goes on in this show. I can’t wait to jump back into that driving seat.

CC: You’re listed in the spoken word section of the Fringe programme, which is a pretty new section motivated by the rise of the genre at the Festival. Do you feel the enthusiasm for spoken word has risen in general in recent years?
SP: I really do, yes. I have run the spoken word line-up at Camp Bestival and Bestival for four or five years now, and the crowds just keep growing and growing. And when I recently started doing my hip hop and spoken word show on Xfm I was a little shocked to see that, every week, the bit that was getting the biggest reaction was the spoken word section. I think people are finally realising what a huge genre it is. Saying “Do you like spoken word?” is like saying “Do you like music?”. Each has such a wide range of styles and approaches within it.

CC: You’ve mentioned the comedy side of the Fringe making it an appealing place for you to perform. Do you see yourself as being part of the comedy community in anyway? Or do you feel more closely affiliated with the poetry, spoken word or rap fraternities?
SP: As a performer, I am definitely in the spoken word and rap fraternities. I try to inject some humour into my sets, but I have too much love and respect for the art of stand up to even attempt to place myself within that camp just yet. As a fan though, I sit in all sections. My love for comedy is as strong as my love for spoken word and for rap.

CC: How does performing a straight spoken word show compare to performing a gig with Dan Le Sac or a live band?
SP: I feel so lucky to get to experience the variation of these kinds of shows. The spoken word tour was one of the best experiences of my gigging life. The intimacy and engagement with every individual in the room was amazing to feel. Although I did miss the circle pits and stage diving.

CC: Are you looking forward to doing the same show in the same venue for 19 nights with just one night off? How are you preparing?
SP: I genuinely am! As odd as that possibly sounds. I am used to touring hard… but not used to being in the same place every night. To know the venue and the crew, to go home to the same bed rather than a different hotel each night, to know how to get to the gig … all of these things genuinely excite me! And then to see how the crowds will vary, and what will work and what won’t work. I can’t wait. As for preparation… five to six years of pretty much constantly touring has been the main prep. After that it’s just drilling the set and making sure everything flows and is tight.

CC: You mentioned the new rap and spoken word show you’re doing for Xfm. What motivated that, and how is it going?
SP: They kind of just asked me and the opportunity to put out stuff that isn’t getting any coverage anywhere else on the airwaves was irresistible. And I have been stunned by how well it has been going down! The reaction each week is genuinely overwhelming!

CC: After releasing a solo record, you’ve been working on a new album with Dan Le Sac. How has that been going? Did it feel any different with both of you having done a solo record in between?
SP: Its great to get back writing with Dan. It feels the same in many ways, but I think we have both grown and gained experience from our respective solo ventures. It really feels like we are reuniting to make our best record to date.

CC: Are there any other spoken word, comedy or other acts playing the Fringe this year that you are looking forward to seeing?
SP: Definitely! I grabbed the app and within ten minutes had too much on there to actually manage to see. Rob Auton is high on my list. As are Stewart Lee, Brett Goldstein, Kate Tempest, Doctor Brown, Andrew Lawrence, Marcus Brigstocke… the list is genuinely just too long.

CC: And finally… what’s your favourite rhyme?
SP: “New York City gritty committee pity the fool; That act shitty in the midst of the calm, they witty”.

‘Scroobius Pip – Words’ was performed at the Pleasance at Edinburgh Festival 2013.

LINKS: scroobiuspip.co.uk