As a respected and highly regarded music critic throughout the industry, UK radio DJ and music connoisseur Giles Peterson unequivocally knows his stuff. Through his shows on BBC Radio 6, Peterson has championed some of the best talent the music like a South African born, Yorkshire lad by the name of Skinny Pelembe (real name Doya Beardmore). This discovery, via the Peterson assisted Future Bubblers scheme, set the young rockstar off on the quest for musical greatness.
What makes Pelembe such an exciting and important new artist, is his penchant for making infectious, progressive music that can't be boxed into a particular genre. Whether it's the janky R&B styled rhythms on "Not Your Friend Not Your Enemy", or the Jazz-drenched sounds of "Spit/Swallow", Pelembe's music keeps you on your toes and makes you wonder which direction he's going to go next. Here at EARMILK, we always keep our finger on the pulse of what's fresh and exciting, so we just HAD to sit down with one of the UK's most inspiring new artists in Skinny Pelembe!
Raised in Doncaster, the fresh new artist on the scene had received rapturous applause from critics with the recent release of his debut album Dreaming Is Dead Now. "It's been a bit weird, for me it's already been out for months" he offers, adding "it's nice to get to gigs and play the same tunes we've been playing for ages but now people are like 'oh I recognise this one!' which is cool".
The sounds that convey across the 10-track album are so broad and showcase the artist's versatile and unrestrained sound. "It's not really a case of wanting to have a sound that's like this or like that, kind of all over the place" Pelembe opens up, "I would feel like a dickhead if I was trying to copy something that someone had already done".
On the lead single from album, "No Blacks No Dogs No Irish" (a title referencing the racist, xenophobic signs in the windows of boarding houses in the UK post World War Two), Pelembe talks about not fitting in, a social commentary he holds quite dear. "The song is more of a personal mantra, as opposed to being a 'call for arms' kinda preachy song. Around the time I wrote it, I was having a hard time fitting in to any camp White or Black" he confides.
A noticeable change on Dreaming Is Dead Now in comparison to his earlier work is the progression of confidence with his vocal ability. His previous EP Sleep More Make More Friends, Pelembe's vocals were sat further back in the mix, whereas on his debut album, they're much more prominent, something he explains in a quirky but truthful anecdote. "Putting out your first record is a bit like walking into a party and everyone's already been there for a couple of hours" he quips "you can either walk into the room shouting and being really boisterous and maybe that'll go down great, but that's not me at all. I'd probably come in, stand in the corner for a couple of hours before saying a word to anyone y'know? I'm more likely to slip in, get to know a few people and then get a little bit louder until I become annoying (laughs)".
The feature list on Dreaming Is Dead Now is sparse compared to a lot of releases, something that is a testament to Skinny's creative process. "Around the time we made Sleep More Make More Friends, there were suggestions of people to work with from people at the label, and there was some really good emcee's and artists, but it felt like a reach. As good as it might've been to have a certain person on a track, it just wasn't honest, whereas with my EP the featured artists were all friends".
Having been born in South Africa, then moving to the North of England at a young age, to now dwelling in the nation's capital, it's clear that Pelembe has a very nomadic soul. Pelembe describes the effortless transitions sharing, "I have two older brothers that have lived in London for ages before I moved, and I used to come down every year to go to breakdancing conventions and the Sprite Urban Games" he reminisces "it always felt like the place I was going to move to one day".
Whether Pelembe has found a permanent home in London or perhaps he moves out to somewhere else, it's certain that he's found his home in music. As the young artist continues to explore new sounds and hone in his skills, there's no telling where his career will take him.
Dreaming Is Dead Now is available on all good streaming platforms & stores via Brownswood Recordings.