Exposed Magazine – Speech Debelle Interview

speech debelleLook Who’s Talking

You might have only just heard of her, but fear not, Exposed has already hooked up with Mercury Prize 2009 winner Speech Debelle.

Prior to September 2009, London born hip-hop sensation Speech Debelle was virtually unknown. However with a Mercury Prize nomination earlier this year and sales of her debut ‘Speech Therapy’ reaching a near, not too shabby, 3000 copies, the stage was set for one of the biggest underdog wins in recent Mercury history. Fighting off competition from the hotly tipped Florence and the Machine, rising stars Friendly Fires, and the arena filling Kasabian, Speech’s world is about to turn upside down. With the press hot on her heels, and a trip up North later this month; playing Sheffield Plug on September 26th, we caught up with Speech for a quick natter before the superstardom kicks in.

Congratulations on your album and the Mercury win. How does it feel?

How does it feel? Wonderful!

Has all the hardwork started to pay off?

Yea definitely. When we first heard the nominees, obviously we wished good luck to everyone, but we knew we deserved it. It’s all about belief. When you know you’ve got a strong product, one that you believe in, it’s great for people to take notice.

Well you have been writing songs since your early teens

Yea, but at first I didn’t have any confidence in my work, so I didn’t tell anybody. But if you know you’ve got something good, then you’ve got to believe in yourself.

How would you describe the album?

The UK needs this album. I know that must sound really egotistical, I’m aware of that. But I do believe it.

“Tough, warm and reflective”, according to the Mercury judges

I can work with that. That’s a very nice thing to hear.

How will the prize money and more importantly, the attention of the Mercury Prize affect you?

That reminds me, I still need to go to the bank and cash the cheque today.

So you’re coming to Sheffield Plug in a few weeks, what should we expect?

Anyone who knows the album will know what to expect. But we have a full band: double bass, percussion, acoustic guitar and we play a really lively version of the album. We extend some of the songs, extra grooves added, just because we feel like it. Just because it feels good at the time. We’re not robots, there’s no machines involved in my life. It’s not programmed. We go with the flow.

Sounds like quite a show

It’s a real musical experience.

And finally, any tips for next year’s Mercury hopefuls?

Whatever idea you have, you’ve got to go for it and make it work. When I walked into my record label I said I wanted to make a hip-hop version of Tracy Chapman. Everyone was trying to tell me different. So then I had to prove it. You have to talk the talk, and then walk the walk as well.

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