Friday, 31 March 2006

When U Was In The Ends

1515, originally uploaded by chantelle.

Realising there is life outside of London, RWD takes a regular look to your ends. This month we caught up with Mike Skinner aka The Streets as he shows us around his home town, Birmingham... Words by Chantelle Fiddy

How would you sum up Birmingham?
It's changed a lot since I left there, but Birmingham is a very big city but culturally and creatively it's very small unfortunately. It's very stifling creatively actually, but one day i'd love to go back there. If you're going to be creative you need a business built around that because you've gotta pay the bills. When I say stifling I don't mean the character of the people, I mean the system. I believe it's getting better though.

Where did you grow up?
West Heath which is very south, very suburban, right by where they make Rover cars. It's a nice area but it's had its problems because of what's been going on with Rover - no ones got any jobs. It's been building up.

Do you support a football team?
Birmingham City, blue nose! Last time I saw them was against Manchester United but I'm all about music now.

When you were in Birmingham where did you hang?
The Custard Factory was pretty cool, also the Arcadium but I was just in, out and about the pubs.

Where in Birmingham were you making music?
Where I lived. I made my album in my mums house, I still live with my mum in London. We look after each other, she drives a Mercedes now.

Which school did you go to?
Westheath Junior and Bournville Senior. I did start college but I didn't get much out of it. I would read magazines and teach myself music.

Anything else to do in Birmingham?
Eat curries, they're the best curries in the world. Manchester is the true Curry Mile but I think the Birmingham ones are better. Khans was my spot, always a Chicken Korma, garlic naan, onion bhaji's.

Not peshwari?
Nah, my Jamaican mates used to order those but it was too sweet for me.

If you were going home for the weekend what would you do?
Probably the Arcadium, get some wine. It's built around a cinema with loads of bars and all the pretty girls go there. Broad Streets getting better if that's what you're into.

Is that where all the single people go then?
Yeah but It wasn't so good for me before I became an international pop star success. You'd be amazed, sell a few records and like 50 Cent said "It's like having a face transplant." We do have some fun on tour.

What's it's like when you perform in Birmingham?
The last gig I did there was a real success, it's really good to go back to where I used to hang around outside when I was a kid, then go in and large it up. They're rowdier than in London, I'm not saying there isn't a hardcore element in London, but in Birmingham it kicks off more, in a good way and a bad way. They tend to be younger too. In London it tends to be lots of industry people but in Birmingham you don't have that so people are age don't watch bands, they're busy bringing kids up.

Do you have a name for the next album yet?
No, it's always the last thing I do. I'll finish it, go through the tracks then decide. We did the same with The Mitchell's album. It's best to reflect cause it never comes out the way you often expect it to.

Who in the UK scene are you feeling at the moment?
DaVinChe, Mikey J, Sway, I quite like Bearman too but I've not heard a lot of him, Skepta too. I met Skepta in Camden with his mum recently, very random but I love it when I meet mums. My mum comes to all my gigs and screams it down.

Fave song at moment?
Coldplay - Swallow By The Sea

Sum up The Beats for us?
British rap music, honest.

A version of this article appeared in RWD Magazine. The Streets 'When You Wasn't Famous' is out now. Big up Ted and all @ The Beats. Check a forthcoming issue of i-D for the full crew wearing multi-coloured T-shirts in a shed.

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