Interview: Hyphen

‘You've got global warming, but then you've got Greta Thunberg. I feel like if you look, there's always a reason to celebrate.’

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 11 May 2020
  • min read

Alternative hip hop artist Hyphen was recently named one of BBC Asian Network's Sounds of 2020.

Using his music as a platform to maintain a conversation on mental health, Hyphen finds solace in songwriting and is unafraid to address and share his own experiences.

Now, Hyphen is working with Young Minds, a charity which raises awareness of mental health issues in young people. 

Back in March, Hyphen released Celebrate, a song that certainly feels apt in the current climate. You can listen to Celebrate below.

Find out what Hyphen had to say about his recent track, his work with Young Minds and more.

Hi Hyphen, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Where are you holed up at the moment?

Currently living with my girlfriend and best mate in East London. As far as quarantining goes, I can't complain.

How are you coping with lockdown? Have you found that are you’re still able to make music?

It's been tricky but having less options has been great for giving a bit more focus. I can't get to the studio, but I have lots of music in the locker anyway. So really, I've been focussing on the socials and making some cool content. 

What advice, if any, would you give to songwriters struggling to channel their creativity during the pandemic?

Don't wait for inspiration. I think people believe that a eureka moment will just hit them, but in my experience, it rarely does. If you can chip away at your writing every day, you'll have good days and bad days, but you'll have lots of material by the end of it. Alternatively, you wait for lightning which never strikes! 

Why is maintaining a conversation about mental health so important to you?

I was depressed and now I'm not. Through that, I learnt a lot of stuff which I feel might be helpful for people. It feels having gone through it, it would be silly not to share. 

Can you tell us a bit about your work with the Young Minds charity?

Sadly, the work we had lined up has been stalled on account of coronavirus, but we're going into some schools to speak about my experience with mental health and suicide, and using that as starting point to discuss what Young Minds do. They work with kids and teenagers at a time when they are really vulnerable. Having been suicidal and knowing friends who sadly killed themselves at around that age, I feel passionately about what they do. 

How did it feel to be named one of BBC Asian Networks Sounds of 2020?

Pretty awesome. It was a pat on the back saying: 'Okay, you're going the right direction'.

It’s quite unusual for a hip-hop artist to perform with a six-piece jazz band. Is this something that happened naturally, or did you know that was the kind of sound you wanted to achieve?

Hip hop in its early days and still today (to a lesser extent) sampled a lot of jazz. So, I feel the relationship has always existed. I guess because I've always loved watching live music I always had it in the back of my mind that that is how I wanted to perform. Over time I met these great musicians who liked what I do and now I have my six-piece jazz band. A great bunch they are! 

Can you talk us through your latest track, Celebrate?

I was at a show and drunkenly explained it like this. You've got global warming, but then you've got Greta Thunberg. I feel like if you look, there's always a reason to celebrate. In these times when things are rough, I wanted to make an upbeat vibe.

What are your plans for the rest of the year, coronavirus permitting?

Lots of music. Coronavirus doesn't stop people uploading music which is great. I set a target to release a song a month for the whole year.

Keep up to date with Hyphen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram