'My mindset has progressed a lot because of being an artist: just learning to set my mind to be positive to get what I want to achieve. Anything is possible,' he tells us.
Initially shooting to fame as a 19 year old DJ and producer where he worked with the likes of Tinie Tempah and Chip, Ironik's debut single in 2007 was the start of bigger things. By 2009 he was riding the waves of scoring a hit with Tiny Dancer (Hold Me Closer), featuring Chipmunk and Sir Elton John.
Since then, there's been MOBO nominations, a performance at Buckingham Palace for the Queen (yes, really) and his latest album Truth be Told, which was released last year and features Snoop Dogg.
Latest video Watch Nuttin has just dropped via GRM Daily and has already hit the Kiss Fresh playlist.
Keen to learn more, we chat to Ironik about developing his craft, dream collaborations and what he's up to next...
I first started producing when I had a bike accident at the age of 15 and didn’t have nothing else to do with my time. My mum got me a game for my Playstation called Music 2000 where you can create beats and make your own music. The learning process and influence came from listening to a lot of early grime and garage artists like Wiley, Dizzee Rascal and Ruff Squad. I was so intrigued about what they were doing, I wanted to try it myself.
What was it like making the transition from producer to artist?
It’s funny because I was always the shy and quiet guy in the background mixing vocals or producing the beats for all the artists (Chipmunk, Tinie Tempah etc) so when I decided to record my own stuff, I think they were all shocked. I just always want to know what is next for me to do. Even now after being a successful artist, I think, "what can I do next?" So after producing, it was obvious what comes next.
How did collaborations with the likes of Snoop Dogg come about?
I always want to work with artists who people would never expect me to work with! The Snoop collaboration came by surprise if I'm honest. My manager, Matthew Haynes, was working in LA with Ray J (who is Snoop’s cousin) and they were working on a few ideas. Ray J had Snoop vocals just sitting there and suggested he give it to a big artist in the UK to work on some ideas. So my manager sent it over to me, asked what I thought about it. Of course I was super excited. So we got to work and made it into what it is today. We sent it back to Snoop’s camp and they were really happy and excited about it too.
What were you listening to growing up?
I grew up listening to a lot of the early urban UK Scene. From jungle (drum and bass) to garage to grime. My first memories in my teens, I remember sitting in my bedroom listening to pirate radio and first hearing DJ Luck & MC Neat’s A Little Bit Of Luck.
How do you think your sound is evolving? Is there anything different you're doing now to when you first started?
I think my music when I first came out was very deep, slow tempo and quite storytelling. Whereas now, I’m in such a good place in my life at this age, I just want to make cool music that’s fun and that I can listen to with my friends out in the club or in the car. I think that’s how music is right now too: very happy, 'have a good time' songs.
Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?
I’d love to work with Alicia Keys one day or Drake. Then again I’d love to work with some rock bands too, maybe Kings of Leon.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about yourself as an artist since starting out?
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned, especially in the last few years, is to never stop going for what you want and striving for what you want to achieve – no matter what anyone says. Also my mindset has progressed a lot because of being an artist: just learning to set my mind to be positive to get what I want to achieve. Anything is possible.
What artists do you look to when setting the bar for your own success? Where would you like to be in five years time?
I’ve never really looked at other artists' success as a measurement of my own. I can’t aim for someone else’s dream so I haven’t ever thought of things like that. Lately though I have wanted to one day get to where Jay Z or P Diddy have taken it, in an entrepreneurial sense.
What one piece of advice would you give to anyone starting out?
I’d say just stay consistent and don’t listen to any negative comments people may throw your way. Stay on your path and stay focused doing what you love.
What are you working on at the moment and what's coming up for you over the next few months?
I’m still always in the studio working on new music. I have a lot of collaborations coming out soon that I’ve done in the last few months. More music videos and hopefully a tour announcement.