Spoken word is one of those unconventional mediums that habitually struggles to make a mark in the mainstream. But the Essex duo that is Dan le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip are at the forefront of a spoken word movement that’s seen them successfully surf the UK singles chart on a wave of electronic beats and thought-provoking, political prose about pop culture, God, self-harm, suicide and thinking for yourself.
Pip – the observational poet – and DJ Dan’s most notable track remains the 2007 breakthrough hit Thou Shalt Always Kill; re-released this year with additional vocals by Pos Plug Won of De La Soul. The single typifies their genre-defying sound that’s seen them sample hip hop, electro, pop and drum ‘n’ bass vibes valiantly and independently.
Their debut album Angles – released in 2008 through Sunday Best – features both The Beat That My Heart Skipped and the Radiohead-sampled single Letter From God to Man. Its follow up is due for release at the end of this year, so expect more of the Stanford-le-Hope twosome’s tongue-in-cheek, satirical lyrics and sharp electronic sampling.
The London Word caught up with Dan and Scroob to chat about their summer schedule, their ambitions for 2009, their analysis of London town and…the last train home.
What’s your ideal night out in London?
SP: ‘Depends what gigs are on! My last few “ideal nights” in London have involved gigs by either Paloma Faith, Josh Weller, AfroBear, Sound of Rum or Benin City.’
DLS: ‘Anything involving live music is good for me. London has such a width of music that you can’t really go wrong letting your ears doing the walking.’
Which area of London do you live in and why?
SP: ‘I’m afraid I live in Essex. Near enough to visit and enjoy London regularly but I get to escape the mayhem when I want to!’
DLS: ‘Because we spend so much time in London it strangely makes sense not to live here. I need a little peace to be able to write. If I had the choice I’d live south, maybe Dulwich, you seem to get a little more space and community in South London these days.’
What do you love and loathe most about London?
DLS: ‘I love the fact that you can fully sustain every want and whim in London without ever having to leave, but I loathe the fact that people who live in London seem to be totally unable to leave and see the rest of our fantastic country.’
SP: ‘I love the variety. There’s so much going on with so many different kinds of scenes and people. The thing I loathe about London isn’t really London’s fault: the last train home! Particularly on a Friday night it’s unbelievable: terrible, noisy, shameless drunk people.’
What/who inspires your music?
SP: ‘The last train home, ha ha! I was recently writing a song about it so I made myself catch it several times. The last time I had some drunk girls trying to set my beard on fire and steal my shoes. Good fun!’
DLS: ‘I’m still really inspired by tonnes of bands, everything from Joy Division to Marvin Gaye, but bands like Micachu and the Shapes have started having an influence on the way I make noise.’
What can we expect from Dan le Sac and Scroobius Pip in 2009?
SP: ‘A few festivals and a lot of work on the next album! We are working away with the hope of getting it out in late 2009 or early 2010. In the meantime though we are doing a few festivals over the summer. We’re trying to keep the number of festivals down but that isn’t always easy!’
DLS: ‘2009 is all about writing new material and playing some European festivals for us. There are a lot of places we’ve yet to go and hopefully this summer will be the time to do it.’