Young O Interview

BBMLive Young O

Fans of South London rapper Young O are in for a treat. Young O Interview His newest single ‘Yeah, I’m The Man’ is out today and will no doubt be an EDM inspired summer anthem. We caught up with Young O at London’s Sanderson Hotel to talk about his whirlwind career and what the future has to offer…

How are you? How has your day been?
Do you really want to know the truth? It’s been hectic. Really hectic.

How did growing up in South London inspire you to become a rapper? When did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I was lucky, to be honest with you. I had a lot of good influences around South London that I looked up to, like a lot of So Solid members. A lot of people grew up doing music anyway and gigs were only around the corner, so seeing what they did inspired me to say “I can actually do this”. Age wise, I’ve been writing since I was about 15 – but I knew I wanted to do music properly since 17. I was really lucky that I had so many musical influences in South London.

What has been your favourite venue to play in London?
The O2 – that was a really fun one.

What artists were you listening to at a young age and who was your biggest inspiration?
Music has changed so much since then. I wouldn’t say I had any musical influences, but I had people that I inspired to be. I grew up in a house where there was a huge melting pot of music – Reggae, Afrobeat, 90’s rap, just a huge fusion of music. Obviously there are typical names – MJ and Chaka Demus & Pliers. Most of these people are obviously icons and in a league of their own. But musically right now, I’m inspired by Wiley and Jay-Z because they make me think “it’s possible, you can do this at a young age”.

Your new single ‘Yeah I’m The Man’ comes out on Monday. What has the reaction been like from your fans so far?
I’ll be honest, it’s been crazy. Obviously it’s a different sound than what my fans are used to, so it’s been interesting. I was very skeptical about putting it out, I didn’t want to at first but everyone was saying, “just do it, just do it!” so I thought “okay, let’s do this!” It was kind of a shot in the dark. The response has been crazy from a lot of people in the industry and people that support my music, especially people that have been supporting me for a number of years. I’m really lucky that I’ve got a really good support base – obviously you get the occasional “why have you gone for this sound?” I had my reasons to not be in the video as well, it’s not my typical sound and it’s not something I’m 100% confortable with, but it’s something I enjoyed doing and it felt right at the time.

Explain the music video concept to anyone that hasn’t seen it yet. What was it like to film it in one day?
A lot of people don’t know this, but I actually produce all of my music videos. I storyboard all of my videos and I like to work collaboratively with the director so that I can at least have a skeleton to it. The video sort of has a little twist to it; I just wanted to keep people entertained. You’ve got a character, a beautiful woman, being filmed from a point of view – and the idea is that people assume it’s going to be a man with a woman. But it’s not; it’s actually two women. I’ve got a weird mind. It’s a lot deeper than that, though. In a nutshell, it’s just messing up people’s assumptions.

You collaborated with Lady Leshurr on ‘Bet On It’ – What was the experience like and was it different to collaborate with a female?
She’s like a sister. She’s such a hard working person and she’s such a character. She’s got these different personas and she’s entertaining to watch. Shooting that video was emotional – she was actually later than I am today [laughs]. When she heard that beat, she rapped the verse to me on the phone – I didn’t expect that, but she killed it. She’s just so hungry and so driven. In comparison to a lot of other male artists I’ve worked with who are a lot more laid back and are like “I’ll send it to you next week”, she did it there and then. She’s a character and she’s going to go very far in this business – she already is.

You’re always on top of social media and you have a huge following on Twitter and Instagram. How important is it for you to interact with your fans on the Internet?
I’ve got a confession to make – I hate Instagram [laughs]. I think it’s so self-indulgent, just posting pictures. I’m trying not to post as many pictures of myself. I don’t find it as interactive. With Twitter, at least you can have an opinion and conversations. That was hard to grasp at the start, but I’m getting used to it and I’ve got about 12,000 followers on Instagram so I just thought I might as well just post things. If people want to see random stuff, I’ll post random stuff.

Speaking of twitter, you’re always tweeting inspiring and motivating quotes. Is it important for you to have a positive attitude when it comes to success?
Yeah! I think it’s just the way I’ve been brought up and my morals. I don’t just do this for myself, but there are a lot of people I do it for as well. Not just for my team, but for people I grew up around that would never have the opportunity to perform at the O2, or being in front of a camera. So it’s sort of passing the message to do what you want to do. It doesn’t have to be music; you could be a bus driver and still be the best at it. So, if I can pass that message across and people are listening, then I’ve done my job.

How does it feel to be acknowledged by artists such as 2Chainz and Salt n Pepa?
It’s a good feeling. There’s obviously people that you look up to growing up, Salt n Pepa definitely and 2Chainz has been in the industry for so long. He’s sort of morphed himself from what he used to be to what he is now. A lot of people don’t know he was in a crew called Playaz Circle and his name was Tity Boi [laughs]. He inspires me to do what you want and be happy, and for him to acknowledge me, it’s a really good feeling.

The ‘They Call Me Young’ EP is coming out later this year. What can we expect?
It’s been a beautiful journey recording the EP in the studio. I’ve put out a number of singles over the years, but I’ve never had the opportunity to make a body of work. I’m in the studio 24/7 recording with so many different artists and producers. For this EP, what I wanted to do was get the “ratchetness” out of me [laughs]. But after that I’ll probably tone it down a bit. Just expect a few more features, something different. I’m going to make it different to what you’re used to.

Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I’ve been saying it for years; I’ve been looking to work with Sway for a while.

With your hectic schedule, do you ever find time to go out in London? If so, where are the best places to go?
Do you know what, I don’t really go out [laughs]. I’m a homely person. I love my own space. My team took me out for my birthday last Friday, which was the last time I went out. But I’d say Penthouse is the place for me, in Leicester Square.

Who are you listening to at the moment? Who are some artists we should know about?
I’ve been listening to a lot of people. I’m listening to Leeshur’s new EP, the new YG album, Krept and Konan, TGT. I’m really looking forward to Wiley’s new album as well. Just a big mixture of stuff! Look out for everyone in the UK; it’s going to be a good year.

What are your plans for the summer? Will you be playing any shows or festivals?
Work, work, work to be honest with you. I just want to focus on work; I’m in a good place mentally where I can make music and produce. This year is strictly work. I will take time out to just chill. Alongside my team, we’re putting together shows and hopefully with the EP it’ll open more doors and I can do bigger and bigger festivals.

Yeah I’m The Man is available to download on iTunes from 7th April.