Skinny Pelembe


Wednesday 14th March 2018

Name, where are you from?
Skinny Pelembe. Doncaster via Johannesburg.

Describe your style in three words:
Grumpy, Secretly Funky.

What is your all-time favourite gig?
The Strokes at Doncaster Dome, 2006, where I'd meet most of my future best friends. Or Yussef Kamaal at Brownswood's Xmas Party 2016, where the same happened 10 years later.

What music did you listen to growing up?
Wu-Tang / Erykah Badu / Johnny Cash / Cocoon Records / Kompakt Records / Hospital Records / Roots Manuva / The Jam / Gil Scott Heron / Prefuse 73 / Blur / Nina Simone / The Smiths / Fela Kuti / Mos Def / Style Council / The Fall / House of Love / DJ Shadow / Pharoahe Monch / Whatever was on that months Mixmag CD and way too many cheesy mod compilations.

When did you start learning to play instruments, and what do you play?
I started on acoustic guitar when I was 8. About a year later McDonald's did a project called Our Town Story that had kids from the UK tell their town's history through music/dance at the, then, Millennium Dome. (I accidentally enrolled in the dance part and endured a week's worth of freestyle and Bollywood classes cause I was too shy to say I was in the wrong group). This dude called Ricky rolled in as the project leader and taught us about flamenco, jazz, improvisation. Shout's to Ricky Martinez, wherever you are, you wild Spanish stallion!
The switch to electric came when my dad bought a bunch of tapes at the car boot sale, for "dealership drives" (family past time of driving to car dealerships around South Yorkshire, sometimes further afield, to just browse the cars we'd never buy, and generally just get a feel for the going rate of whatever was new at the time, Citroen C4 / Picasso, for example). Anyway, he popped in Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty, and I knew whatever happened from then on, I was either gonna to learn the guitar solo or the saxophone riff. Guitar had more street cred in Donny, so that was it (unfortunately I couldn't foresee the "tracksuit jazz" explosion that would bring the appeal of Sax back to the youth dem).

What inspired you to start blending all of these instruments to create your sound?
It just seems like the right and responsible thing to do!
I don't know how you can think it's okay to still carry on doing a carbon copy of whatever has already happened, especially after hearing something like DJ Shadow, The Clash, Portishead or Daedelus. That's a bit harsh, there's something beautiful about tradition, heritage and a sense of purism (I really rate Allah-Las for how "right" they get the sound they're going for and love, it's a proper sonic pursuit) but it's groups and people like those mentioned that really stand true to what it is I love about hip-hop and music in general; sounding out your own unique voice/message.

Signed to Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings, Skinny Pelembe was born in Johannesburg and grew up in Doncaster, before relocating to London. His innovative music combines his skills as singer, MC, guitarist and producer.

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