GAIKA on ghettofuturism, making mixtapes & the Spaghetti House Siege
June 19th 2017
- Gaika :: Interview with Maia Bilyk
The Brixton producer and vocalist dropped into FBi Radio ahead of his debut Sydney show. Not one to stand still for long, his chats shifted from his unique music aesthetic to hashtag activism and the making of his latest EP, Spaghetto.
Not one to define his own style of music, GAIKA steers clear of throwing around genres and urges his audience to work it out for themselves. More focused on the message than the medium, he cites a whole host of influences which underpin his work, from dancehall to Sade.
“I didn’t really care what the kids next door were doing. I cared about what I liked… When it’s like ‘oh you shouldn’t hang out with these kids, they’ll lead you astray’, that wasn’t really applicable to me – I was the kid leading people astray. All my artwork comes together, kind of from how that whole experience smashed together in the inside of my head. My background in terms of the Caribbean is definitely a massive part of that.”
Making music in a city obsessed with ‘the great British rock and roll star’, GAIKA explains that independent, interesting sounds are not always represented in the mainstream or respected as art. He filled us in on the story behind the #BritsSoWhite hashtag at last year’s Brit Awards.
“They kind of ignore a lot of what’s happening in terms of what’s actually popular or happening in our underground music. Black music in London is so vibrant and massively important and the Brits just sort of pretended that it wasn’t happening and just nominated all this stuff that no one cared about… Black music wasn’t properly represented at that time and it was kind of ridiculous because it was when Grime was really over becoming mainstream and the Brits just pretended it didn’t happen.”
On creating Spaghetto, GAIKA likens it to a rollercoaster ride. The culmination of a lot of things, his father had just passed away and he’d uncovered some weird family history in the process.
“My parents went through an experience in the 70’s where they knew some guys that were trying to rob a spaghetti house restaurant, it was a like famous siege… I only found this out a few years ago and there’s a film about it with some woman playing my mum… I think the whole thing was allegorical to my parents and how they live. My father was a scientist, not a criminal, but at the end of the day he had to make decisions that had an effect on us. I guess a lot of that record was about when you make decisions that have an effect on your family, it’s about purpose and consequence.”
As hard as he finds describing his own sound, GAIKA came up with the idea of ‘ghettofuturism’ to describe his creative process and output.
“When you think of a ghetto, you think of something terrifying and something bad. When you think of the future you think of hope, and so the word itself sums up how the music is. It’s got shade and darkness in it, but at the same time its also got hope and a belief.”
Beyond that, GAIKA doesn’t really see the point in trying to describe music. Why bother when you can just play it?
Listen back to the full interview above.