Skinnyman Interview

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Thoughts of a Skinnyman

In a somewhat dank dressing room at the Stratford Circus, Hayley Rebecca Coyle cornered Leeds’ and Finsbury Park’s most disreputable export: Skinnyman. Fresh back from cavorting in Amsterdam, he and the Mud Fam heckled and joked their way through this improviso interview. But Skinnyman was surprisingly earnest when it came to certain things. Human rights, the plight of water-starved children and of course, the calibre of Britain’s green supply.

He was nothing short of resplendent in his white leather jacket, gold teeth, diamante trucker cap and rainbow coloured Air Forces Ones. He wore them blithely though, and you know that though Skinnyman’s a wisecracker – he’s a thoroughly qualified one….

My new single’s called “Smoking Ban”. And it’s basically to do with the infringement of human rights, and people’s free will being compromised by the government. They do this stuff without passing a bill, without declaring why or giving us a choice. They just enforce the law.

It’s also making lots of club owners, and lots of businesses lose money and their regular customers. Customers that they’ve had for over twenty years. Cafes, restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, and especially bingo halls have all been badly affected.

%image_alt%And because the government has essentially enforced a smoking ban on us, without passing a bill – it’s quite an illegitimate thing that they’ve done. If you know about your politics and the law you’ll know it’s absolutely outrageous –they’ve gone against human rights to pass this bill.

So I’m basically speaking out about that. I mean I’m not condoning smoking or anything, but after speaking to people about my new single and hearing their views, I suppose it’s a two sided argument. I mean there are lots of healthy people who have been waiting to have a recreational social life in a smoke-free environment…

I’m liberal enough to respect both view points, but the fact remains that a club owner can’t, and should, be able to make the decision to say: “Right, this is a club where we permit smoking”. He’s had the choice taken out of his hands. A bit of a party pooper maaan!


“…If you know about your politics and the law you’ll know [the smoking ban’s] absolutely outrageous…”

I’m planning to do my second album late summer next year – so this is just something in the meantime to keep everybody happy. It’s going to be like a six track EP, and it’s predominantly going to be grime – just to show that I’m moving with the times and that. Feeling the new generation of youth that’s embracing grime.

You see, I see grime music as hip hop’s little brother. And in the UK, hip hop’s little brother GRIME has grown up and is now even bigger than hip hop. And you would never begrudge your little brother any success – in fact, you might even be asking to jump on his team! So that’s what I think’s happening at the moment..

%image_alt%As a UK artist, and having been in the UK rap scene for as long as I can remember, I’ve seen generations of people embracing all sorts. Hip house, hardcore, jungle. I’ve always been versatile with microphone skills in any musical genre, but I did have to establish myself as a hip hop stable first. Now that I’ve established that, I feel that I have the freedom to go about any genre I want. And grime’s the thing for me for now.

We’ve also done smoking ban t-shirts. I suppose you can read from the image what you will – a picture paints a thousand words and that. From where I’m standing I see Skinnyman, deteriorated into a skeleton from smoking! Who’s still wearing his baseball cap which says smoking ban on it. Take from it what you will: whether you’re all for it or all against it, the t-shirt serves both purposes.

The website’s coming out soon too. It’s being launched at the moment and it comprises all past music that I’ve ever recorded – as a digital download. (Just wanna thank my manager Shinobi for orchestrating all of that).

“… I see grime music as hip hop’s little brother …”

Music’s been taking me consistently everywhere since the release of my debut album. And if I haven’t been touring for my live shows, there’s also been lots of music workshops and talks with children of school leaving age – as well the charity work I’ve been doing for Water Aid. It’s all been keeping me happy, and it’s all been music orientated – I’ve been loving it all.

%image_alt%But on this tour, the “Smoking Ban” tour, the way I feel about it is, everyone who turns up I have to thank them twice. Because if you told me there was s Skinnyman gig, and if there was a smoking ban in the club he was performing at, I’d be like: “That’s okay, I can just listen to the Skinnyman CD at home…and blaze a fat one!”

So I have to really give it up for anyone who comes out. I know that when we performed in Manchester, I said: “Who wants to light them up?” And they all went: “YEAH!” And I was like: “Well go on then!” And everyone went: “No! What about the ban?”

So for me it’s funny how we just accept it. And I think the next thing is going to be an eleven o clock curfew or something…

Where do I get the best reception? Well, the best reception might not be where I’m looking forward to performing the most! I think we always get a different mixed reception, and with every different performance we’ve done we’ve seen many different crowds embrace our music.

We’ve performed at Leeds three times, one was for the ghetto heads in Chapeltown, that was quite good. One was for the students at Leeds University and that was quite good too, and one was for like an old, hip hop, throwback beatbox and break dance competition – which brought the ghetto youths and the university heads all together in the same venue. And that was the most memorable really. You can go to a place three times and still have different feeling and reactions from the crowd.


“… From where I’m standing I see Skinnyman, deteriorated into a skeleton from smoking! …”

But I think where I’m most looking to go is the western region, place like Swindon, Bristol, even further to Wales. Where I think the young adults of those areas have been growing their own personal weed over five, six years –they’ve sort of mastered it! So I’m definitely looking forward to going to the Western regions, because there’ll be loads of little fans that’ll come up and say: “This is a little chip of what I’ve been growing in my cupboard at home.” And I say to them: “Have you got any more to sell?” And they’re like: “No sorry, just enough for me and my mum!” But they really produce the best product! I’ve just come back from Amsterdam and the stuff that I’ve smoked in the Western regions of England has been better than anything I’ve had in Amsterdam. So I’m most looking forward to visiting those places for sure.

%image_alt%As a final thing, if there is anything I can shout out, it would be the fact that 11 million children without clean water facilities are going to die this year – in the Kenyan district. And there’s an organisation called Water Aid that I’m involved with. So for anybody who’s checking this out: if you could take some time to grace their website to see what contributions you can make to saving a child’s life, that’s be amazing. It doesn’t always have to be a financial contribution, there are many ways we can help. It can be clothes collections or doing something voluntary that can raise money. So if anyone wants to help save a child’s life, please log onto www.wateraid.org.

Cause that’s the most important thing.

Skinnyman brings out the exclusive limited addition “Smoking Ban” t-shirts to celebrate his first single in three years: “Smoking Ban”. Check out www.skinnyman.co.uk to order the single and see upcoming live dates. Skinnyman is also supported by L.Man on the current tour.

Hayley Rebecca Coyle

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