BBG Presents: Kojey Radical

6 February 2015

"This velvet sofa is so soft... like my heart. Do you think girls will like it?"

Following our print feature with lyrical artist Kojey Radical for issue 7, we wanted to share more about this wordsmith genius (or poet if you prefer) as we're a little bit hooked. BBG Editor-in-Chief Cecilie Harris visited Kojey at his father’s house, a two-storey building with a 70’s feel, which Kojey draws a lot of inspiration from in his work. This is a place he writes, thinks, exists - it is who he is and he is proud of it. It is a place of treasures; old record collections that let Motown tunes fill the house, authentic wallpapers, a hunting spear, old beer bottles, books, a velvet sofa, cassettes, old family photos across generations, an unopened airfreshener saved for later, all mixed in with a very contemporary Kojey. We can dig this.

Cecilie captures the modern poet in a series of visuals that are authentic, representing Kojey’s personality and spirit. Stylist Karen Munnis (assisted by Sarah Akinola) adds a contemporary feel bringing in Christopher Shannon, James Long and Tourne De Transmission as a juxtaposition to the ambiance we are presented with. We could sit on this sofa for hours.

Kojey has always been a creative, and loves to create for people. The way he makes poetry contemporary is something to be experienced. He draws from his own experiences in his work, adding a touch of his vivid imagination. Yes, we do think girls will like your velvet sofa Kojey. It is lovely and pink, and your stories are intriguing. Please invite us for imaginary food any time.

To indulge in Kojey's poetic words, you can get your own copy of Issue 7 out in shops now, or online here.

Above: Kojey wears Jacket, Jumper, Trousers and Trainers by JAMES LONG.

Please introduce yourself.
My name is Kojey, I’m 21 and from East London. I’m a poet, an artist, creative director - a person that makes stuff. It means I can say stuff like Marge to my mum, or Old Man to my dad. I wish I was Peter Pan. I’d fly and eat imaginary food. I spend so much of my money on food, I'd save so much money. I will train myself to eat imaginary food.

When did you start your poetry journey?
The first poem I wrote was during year 5 or year 6. There was an anthology that came to my school, and made all of us write a poem. Mine got chosen and was published. The poem was about monsters, I had a really vivid imagination. Didn’t write again until secondary school. Suli Breaks came to my school and performed. I was like, I could do that! I came home and wrote a poem about feet. It’s really funny. I recited the poem the next day in school and people were like “that’s sick”. I didn’t know people really liked poetry. I didn’t want to be known as the guy who wrote funny poems. So I started looking at putting my own ideas, all the things that I wanted to do with my artwork, and put them into text format. I let loose, and went as imaginative as I would be if I were drawing or painting. But I started taking it seriously around March 2013, and here we are. I’m in a magazine, I’ll tell my mom.

People seem to really be enjoying what you do!
The fanbase grew so quickly that it is still a bit shocking to me. I had my debut headline show on 4th of August this year, and it was double sold out before the show, and at the door it sold out again so we had to stop people from coming in. The crowd was huge, it felt like a movie because I was just running on adrenaline. Then, the snare drum broke so I started singing acappella. The audience literally shouted my poem back at me. This is crazy, knowing that there are audiences and they are looking at me, singing my poem at me. It’s unbelievable how the reaction has been so far. There’s a lot more room to grow with it, as long as I stay focused. I love creating stuff and performing. As long as I get to sit down, listen to music, write, draw, paint or talk to people, I’m happy.

How would you describe your poetry?
Complicated. Not complicated in a bad way, I always try and look at the bare bones of the truth, if that makes sense. A lot of the time I just write descriptively almost like I’m describing a scene. Like a full story. I’ll start in the middle, go back to the start, and explain the ending, and be in the middle again. Like, I’ll hear something and just start saying words over and over again. And if I remember the words, it probably means they’re good. If not, it's probably rubbish. But if they’re good I’ll write them down. It all comes from what I’m feeling at the time, basically. My last project, Dear Daisy, was very conceptual, but still very organic of modern day truth. It has stuff like Karl Marx, opium, and love. LOVE!

Above Right: Top by CHRISTOPHER SHANNON.
Above Left: Top by
CHRISTOPHER SHANNON, Trousers and Trainers by JAMES LONG.

In today’s society being a poet isn’t something that is traditionally cool with young people.
I know exactly what you mean, and to a certain extent that’s why people began to support so organically and quickly. In a way, there are a whole generation of poets at the moment who are making poetry relevant and exciting again. A lot of kids these days struggle to find that medium to put their passion through or express themselves. People see where I came from, on my youtube I still have videos from 2010. I didn’t have these luscious locks, I was bald back then, but you can see the passion. It definitely attracts younger audiences and it’s exciting, because then they can grow old with me, age like I do.

When I first come across you, you were reading poetry in Shoreditch in the pouring rain, and there was a massive crowd around you.
It was so much fun. That was the first time we performed some of the songs. As soon as I saw the rain I was like "people are not going to like this". I started, and people just kept coming and coming. When you get a chance to connect with people and people write to me, and they say what my words meant to them and how it made them feel, I’ll just cry, eat cornetto, make oreo milkshake and sob into it. I mean, it’s important to connect.

Where do you take your inspirations from?
Life. That is such a generic answer, but everything that I live for or anything. It can also an outlet for other people's experiences as well as my own. I know some people say you are too young to experience, but it is how you use those experiences that really shape your mental maturity. I got my heart broken a couple of times, but I can learn some things and not learn some things. It is all experience and finding ways to take those experiences to make it useful.

Above: Jumper by TOURNE DE TRANSMISSION.

Where can people find your poetry?
I am really proud that if you put my name in google everything comes up and that is such a weird idea that you can google me because I am so normal. My EP is on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, you can find me on Twitter as well.

What are your obsessions?
I’m a bit of creative control freak. I obsess if i can’t do it myself. If I can’t make stuff or I can’t exercise my ideas, I’ll just melt down. Discovering things, I like meeting new people, talking to people, understanding, I used to be obsessed with Ribena. I would drink 4-5 cartons everyday. I’m also obsessed with music. If I don’t have my headphones, or it is not available in my life, it will be a very very dark time. I will probably kick my neighbour’s cat. No, that’s animal cruelty. I used to be obsessed with a show called Shinchan.

How do you see yourself on the next project?
There are still things I need to release from this project. I am from East London, basically Shoreditch, which is cool because it’s the heartbeat of everything and it’s exciting. But being here it means I can just escape from everything. There is no internet here. I don’t even think the TV works, there’s just a record player, velvet sofa and me. I can just tuck myself away for about six months, and just write as freely as possible. Teach myself stuff, more traditionally. In the previous project I can just google things up, but now I’ll have to go to a library close by. My dad has a lot of old books, old records. I can just teach myself and work from the ground. It should be exciting. But if it’s not a very good.. or if it’s a bad project, you know what to blame. I’ll never write here again. Mark my words, there will be a very very sexy string solo. I have a woman playing in a white dress, moving her violin neck all around. It’s going to be crazy. I’m into cello as well, and harp. It’s going to be a date requirement. Play the cello, play the harp, if you want to get into my heart. That’s really bad! Haha. But I definitely want to play with more instruments to make it so much more exciting. Just not generic of motown soul. When I put it on, I’ll just be happy. Not the type that makes you sad.

You said there was some depressing stuff on the previous one. Is this gonna be a happier one?
It’s gonna be way more sad. I’m gonna be here all by myself, in a house with no internet. Haha. Nah, I think it’s going to be more honest. If honesty makes people sad, I apologize in advance. If honesty makes people happy, then.. Awww. Thank you. Appreciate it.

You can find Kojey's latest EP "Dear Daisy" here and his full interview in our latest issue "Obsessions".

Interview and photography by Cecilie Harris.
Words by Fitria Tjandra.

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