Interview: Ironik

Ironik is a name you may not have heard in a while, yet you’ll probably remember he hit the big time with his tracks ‘Tiny Dancer (Hold Me Closer)’ and ‘Stay With Me’ reaching the top ten a few years ago. Having just released his new single ‘Die For You’ with an album in the pipeline, the artist has high hopes for a big comeback which could be better than ever. He caught up with the Boar last week to tell us what he’s got lined up.

Boar Music: Hi Ironik! Thanks for speaking to the Boar today. So of course you’re only 26, and you already had a hit single ‘Stay With Me’ by the age of 20. How did you get into music so early?

Ironik: I started to DJ when I was 13 and I was always connected to music because my uncle is Steve Gordon, the owner of the Twice as Nice brand (a big music promotion company). I was constantly in the music scene around men like that, so this quickly got me into music, particularly a lot of garage. When I turned about 15 and started producing, I met a lot of rappers from North London like Chipmunk, Lethal B and Tinie Tempah. I had produced quite a few hits for them by the time I was 16 or 17, and Chipmunk is now one of my close friends – he’s like my little brother. When I turned 18 I just decided one day: “You know what? I just want to write my own stuff.” Tinie Tempah’s song ‘Wifey’ really inspired me to start writing songs for girls, little love songs, and so on. I wrote my first song, ‘So Nice’, and that kind of took off, and as they say, the rest is history. I put out a song called ‘Stay With Me’ with an unofficial video and well, the online world went crazy and the next thing I knew, people were knocking on my door asking for record deals.

BM: How has your uncle inspired you in your work?

I: He’s inspired me a lot really, but him, my uncle and my mum all were an influence. My dad also worked for Twice as Nice and my mum for a big label so I just had music around me at all times, especially the garage world and the urban world in particular. I’m so privileged to know all these people. In terms of my uncle, he’s always put me at the forefront as a DJ and that helped out a lot.

When I write I’m just thinking about what I see, and what’s going on around me.

BM: Your new single, ‘Die For You’, has just been released. What was the inspiration behind the track and video?

I: I actually just saw the video for the first time on television and it was mad, seeing my face on the big screen! If I’m going to be honest, I started out writing songs for ladies, and I always wrote about what was going on around me, in my life. But then I also started writing about my friends, and I even watched movies like rom-coms for inspiration! This time, I wrote a song about a relationship my mum was in, and I saw certain things which just triggered the lyrics. When I write I’m just thinking about what I see, and what’s going on around me. I think everyone’s got a story and everyone’s got to relate to something, and when I was writing it I just had to get it all down. She was fine with that too because it’s real – everything I write about is totally real. No-one can argue with that. And you know what, it might help anyone who can relate to that song to make a change. And if I can make that message get home, then I’m happy.

BM: It’s been a good few years since your first album was released in 2008; what have you been up to in the meantime?

I: I haven’t had an official single out in around three or four years, so I know I’m not really the most current artist out there right now. But I’m now coming back to the urban scene and for me, that’s a blessing. In 2010 I released my single ‘Falling in Love’ and that did really well – it’s probably my biggest single to date online. Then later in 2010 I had an incident where I was stabbed. As you can imagine, I wasn’t really inspired after that for a good couple of years. I don’t know if that event has really changed my approach to music; you know, I got into music for the love of it. When that happened to me I just sat back and thought: “This isn’t why I do it.” And that it probably happened because of who I am and what comes from being successful, and I wanted to lay low for a bit. I wasn’t in a good state. I put out a song called ‘Killed Me’ in 2011, which suggests what sort of mode I was in at that time. Last year I started getting back into the zone and then I put out an EP, ‘Independently Unstoppable’, with Lemar on it. Now I’m back working fully on a new album.

BM: You’ve released this single ahead of your upcoming album, set to be out over summer next year. How is it going to be different from your first album?

I: As you can hear from the first single, it’s a little bit more uptempo from my usual stuff; a lot of my music is pretty slow. As I’m a DJ when I’m in clubs I look at what I’m playing, and I realised I can’t play my own music because it’s too slow. It made me think I need to get a track out there that people can dance to, which is where a lot of rappers at the moment seem to be going, but to still keep it cool. The only way I could do that was to add an element of drum and bass and I think it works. My next track, an EP to be released around January or February time, is going to be a little more edgy; it’s got that urban element but still got my mark on it. I’m back on it now and there’s no stopping me!

I don’t know if being stabbed has really changed my approach to music

BM: Your Facebook page promises some “surprising special guests” on the record; can you give us any clues?

There are some artists I’ve been in talks with and others that I’m looking to work with; I really want to collaborate again as ‘Tiny Dancer’ did so well. I’d especially love to work with a few indie bands because I love indie music. Someone like The Kooks would be amazing as I’m a big fan of them. I’ve also been working with a few people in the studio – even when I was on the down-low I was still in the studio, I never left it. My latest single features L Marshall and I think he’s so talented; he sounded great in his collaboration with Wretch 32. He’s actually out of the country at the moment working on his album so I haven’t properly met him yet. That’s why he doesn’t feature in the video – that’s technology these days! I never met Elton John when I worked with him, either!

BM: And finally, following the release of your album, what have you got planned over the next few months?

I’m just going to really try and be consistent. I’m with a new independent record company at the moment called Creating Monsters, and they’re really great. When I was with a major record label they worked really slowly; they only wanted to put out two singles a year or something. I found that frustrating as an artist who just wants to continuously work, but these guys let me do exactly what I want. It’s perfect as I want to be consistent – put out the EP, singles, album – just doing what I do really to get back to the top!

Ironik is currently doing some spot shows around the country, so follow him on Twitter at @DJIronik to keep an eye out for him. You can download his new single ‘Die For You’, featuring L Marshall, on iTunes now.

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