This week PAUSE Magazine headed down to the National Theatre, but we weren’t there to watch a play. Instead we swapped our bow ties for trainers and attended the launch of Nike’s SneakerBoots. The venue was full of grime stars such as Ghetts and Gfrsh and the night was presented by Poet’s Corner. While we snacked on mini hotdogs in brioche buns we were entertained by MOBO award winning duo Krept and Konan and Mikill Pane who we caught up with after his performance.
Phoebe: When you were younger you had a run in with Euan Blair (Tony Blair’s son). Would you ever consider going into politics?
Mikill: No, I would flatly refuse because I don’t think I’m the right person and I don’t think I’d be able to make the impact that is needed by going into politics so I’d rather stay out of it. I always keep up with what is going on in politics but I do abstain from voting, for the same reason as Russell Brand. He said if you vote for Labour, they take you to war, if you vote what you think is a liberal government they just get their Conservative pals in and all of a sudden you’ve got a right wing government messing up the working classes. Even though I was born over here my parents are Nigerian and I think there’s more impact to be made over there.
P: Tell me about Miss Barclay
M: Miss Barclay was my English teacher who noticed my creative streak, even when I did an essay on corporal punishment I was still adding humour and had a flair for writing. I always enjoyed those creative assignments and she encouraged it. Then when I made my first album which was basically a load of creative writing which just happened to rhyme I just thought of Miss Barclay. We have done a documentary online called “Finding Miss Barclay” about how we went to find her and tell her about the album.
P: How did she react?
M: Obviously she was shocked, I like to say surprised because shocked usually means something bad! People usually use the streets as their inspiration, but to use an English teacher is slightly different. I still maintain that if I hadn’t of met her I wouldn’t have thought or believed that I could write as strongly.
P: Tell us about the story behind your name
M: Pane comes from the fact I’ve been wearing glasses since I was about 12, so they are like window panes, and Mikill comes from being ill on the mic so Mik-ill. So it’s just a simple play on words.
P: You’ve collaborated with people such as Ed Sheeran and Example, who would be your dream collaboration?
M: Annie Lennox. I’ll continue to say that until it actually happens! I know people that know her so it is possible. It would be a dream if that actually happened and also DJ Premier, he personifies Hip Hop for me. When I was in uni I used to bunk every Friday to go to Deal Real records, it’s a tiny record store just off Carnaby Street but it’s got a worldwide reputation. Whenever US MC’s used to come over and say they were doing a show at Brixton Academy on a Saturday, they would always go to the open mic at Deal Real and loads of established UK artists have come through there like Mr Hudson, Estelle, Low Key, Skinny Man, Professor Green it’s actually a Mecca for Hip Hop. The instrumentals there were always DJ Premier, when you hear a DJ Premier beat you just think Hip Hop and I was lucky enough to meet him when he was over here working with my good friends Rizzle Kicks.
P: So both of these dream collaborations are quite feasible?
M: Yeah definitely. DJ Premier saw me perform as Madison Square gardens and we hung out while I was in New York so I’m hoping to go to the US in March and maybe make a mixtape with DJ Premier.
P: You wrote a song about the mice on the underground, why did you empathise with them?
M: I was on the underground when I decided to write the song and I just saw these little mice scurrying around. When you get on the tube you’re kind of trapped, if you’ve touched in it would be financially disadvantageous to touch out and the most entertaining thing once you’ve gone past the buskers are the little mice. I remember thinking to myself: “Stuart Little is famous and he isn’t even a real mouse but you’re actually real and you provide this service of impromptu entertainment to us”. The whole album features different people I see on the tube and how all their lives are intertwined and the how ramifications of our different actions and bring people that didn’t know each other together.
P: You use word play a lot in your rap, and we know you love creative writing, would you ever become an author?
M: Yep definitely. I kind of want to go into that if I ever get bored of being a recording artist I’d love to write novels or have a radio show. I used to write poetry before I went into music, the only reason I went into music is because the people of my era didn’t really listen to spoken word that much.
P: We love you look but would you ever get rid of your beard?
M: No! I love my beard! This is the one thing you can guarantee I’ll have on my face. I might dye it brown or something or green if Nigeria gets into the national cup or for Independence Day or something!
Interviewed by Phoebe Parke