In the past 12 months, Birmingham-based boy Sipho, 21, has ticked off all sorts of career goals – from signing on Dirty Hit to releasing his debut EP “AND GOD SAID …” in July – but happily there is something close to him youngest Milestone.
âThe first time I met my manager, he said, ‘We’re doing Jools Holland, man’, and now it’s Saturday,â he tells us, reluctantly sipping a Coke (âThis stuff is rubbishâ) and adorned with a t-shirt with the face of label colleague Leo Bhanji. It is a not insignificant achievement for someone who was preparing to throw his life into a sports science degree three years ago. However, Sipho (pronounced see-po) is so relaxed about the event that he might as well tell of a recent visit to the corner shop.
âAs much as it freaks everyone else, I’m surprisingly calm about this stuff. It’s a day in the office, âhe shrugs. Well, it’s an office day that you could potentially earn multiple promotions in three minutes … “It’s like a stockbroker innit? If you make the right decisions and take the right steps, you’re going in the right direction, âhe counters. âSometimes I have different options and I am very blessed with them. But I feel like because some of my close friends are artists and make music, they helped make the people I look up to just do the same shit as me and my coworkers can I do it then why can then don’t I? “
It’s an attitude that marks the singer out as more confident and grounded than his young years suggest, and it’s written all over his music – the kind of cathartic, weighty offerings that come with the affable prankster with a Ralph wiggum -Tattoos can’t be compared sat here today. So far the story about Sipho is about a childhood in which she wrestled with religion as part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church; today he decides that the only real sacrifice he had to make was to give up bacon. “I did the church thing, everyone did the church thing, but my parents weren’t that strict,” he shrugs his shoulders. âI’m not saying that people in [the church] weren’t crazy pussies. But my family wasn’t mad, it’s just something we do and that’s part of the culture. “
“My friend said the new song sounds like a Black Meatloaf – it’s surprisingly dramatic, I can’t lie …”
Passionately reel off endless artists who have influenced him over the years, from Jim Reeves and 80s pop duo Roxette to Alexisonfire, Lil Wayne and Meek Mill, and declare that his Jools performance would be him himself peeling off the skin to reveal five pigeons stacked on top of each other (spoiler alert: it didn’t), Sipho tries to make people understand all sides of him. Yes, he makes emotional music that comes from the electronics, gospel and R&B worlds, resulting in a heavyweight beauty that could compare him to the likes of Moses Sumney, but he’s also a young man from Birmingham who loves laughs. And, as he points out, there isn’t much room for pretense once you’ve exposed everything in a song. âI literally told it [the world] all of my inner dark secrets and the original shit that’s going on inside me so how could I go out then? [puff-chested]? Fuck it! “He exclaims.
It also points to a broader theme that runs through âAND GOD SAIDâ¦â and the music that Sipho has made so far: to give one’s experiences as a young black man a more rounded voice than is often offered in public. “[That record is] an exploration of these aspects of my identity as someone who has seen certain parts of me and my existence – as well as people around me who are like me – more emphasized than other parts, “he explains.” I guess I have the ramifications under the microscope and also shown what the real other side is – not just this overly masculine, almost terrifying aesthetic without feelings. ” [thatâs often presented]but the human side. I have a teddy bear chain around my neck! I have Ralph Wiggum on my arm! This shouldn’t be a rare place so I’m just trying to normalize myself. “
Next up is this month’s new single, “Beady Eyes” – a dark, wavy offering that he describes as “some moody shit” through a series of comedic grunts and grimaces. âIt’s loud and bold and poisonous; my friend said it sounds like black meatloaf – it’s surprisingly dramatic, I can’t lieâ¦ âAnd while Sipho’s allusion to the hairy 80s rocker is more of a gag than a comparison, his talent is not a joke. As he himself says: “There is only so much time on this earth, we cannot make any nonsense.”