A modern wordsmith, Mickey Lightfoot describes current personal, social and economic situations over a cleanly produced beat. Relatable in many regards to listeners in different ways, people worldwide can easily resonate with Lightfoot’s references. A new voice out of London has emerged.

A soundtrack to early 2016, city-dwellers can especially relate to ‘Anxious Modern Blues’, Mickey Lightfoot’s first song on his Wearing The Rent (PA£ THE PRIC€) EP, with the self-explanatory title saying it all. City-dwellers can relate to the changing urban landscape in any area (affluent or not) with all affected in various capacities. A heavy beat is accompanied by experimental sounds in ‘Doves Cri (pigeons lie we all fly)’ and Lightfoot’s strong British accent is especially prominent in ‘Don’t Let Go’ and ‘Oh Yes’. Beats pick up to round off the 5 song EP for the final track ‘Sold In Paradise’, with afro future sounds accompanied by female vocals leaving listeners feeling uplifted.

We see Mickey Lightfoot as a realist documenting the realities of everyday life with an underlying optimistic tone – with positivity “manifested ​as an afro future art form​” his self-proclaimed mantra.

Working with Darq E Freaker in 2013 on the tune ‘L O S T’ (To Kill a Flockin Bird EP), it was here that we were first introduced to the potential of Lightfoot and his sound, that he himself describes as ‘A&B’ (Avant & Black). With Lightfoot’s new EP slightly more experimental than the last, the musician is more confident than ever and it is only to the listeners benefit.

With Lightfoot’s aesthetic and vision easily recognisable, his accompanying visuals are executed creatively with London-based photographer Amelia H Karlsen. Mickey Lightfoot frontman Osei Amponsa ensures to keep his eyes and ears wide open, experimenting not only with sounds but also through garment collaborations and more.

One to watch, get to know musician Mickey Lightfoot.

160215_MickeyLightfoot__553 1Photo: Amelia H Karlsen

Please tell us how your music career first began? When did you realise you have a strong interest in creating music? I ​have ​always​ been​ surrounded by music. It​’​s cliche,​ but most Ghanaian homes​ are. I’m not actually sure when I first realised I had a strong interest in creating, I just know it’s there. The academy situation was more like a turning point, in knowing that I could actually try to create music full time.

Can you tell us more about the lyrics in the Wearing The Rent EP? Anxious (Modern Blues) sounds like it references a lot of daily life in London. The tracks are ​not specific to London to be honest. I like the idea that someone in Norway, someone in the UK​ and someone in the USA can listen to my music and relate to it. In the case of the track Anxious I just want anyone that listens to​ shed a skin of anxiety. The EP title however is targeted at London, it’s ​a poke at the high rental prices. The lyrics themselves hit topics of dysfunctional relationships, blind faith, ignorance, anxiety and broken dreams. You see it’s all happy stuff then.

How important are the lyrics in your work? What is the main subject matter? Body language equate to the greatest way of communicating fast​,​ followed by words, melody and then rhythm. For me they are all as important as one another​,​ so ​I​ try to do my best with all of them. The subject matter is always about life​, while the aim is to have the instrumentation feel like it’s pushing​ progression and hope.

Do you write and perform each element in your songs? I compose, produce, and curate all elements of the song but without the performances of Neil on base and additional hands of ATM (​Akara ​T​he ​M​usic​) ​, Eli-P, Paris Shields, CKTRL and others the project wouldn’t be the same.

Does your family background play a role in the sound you are creating? T​here was a time that ​I​ was hung up on my background, ​I​ wanted everything to be blatantly ​A​frican. As time has gone I​’​ve realised the African culture is so deep in me I​ need not worry about that. All ​I​ need to concern myself with is 1.) Making the best with what I have and 2.) Doing the best I​ possibly can at the time of creation.

What do you find in the music you’re creating that we can’t find anywhere else? F​or a start you can’t find my genetic make up anywhere else. Everyones DNA is original right ?​ Once you embrace that, and genuinely stay true to yourself the question of how you differ from others becomes unimportant.

160215_MickeyLightfoot__620 1Photo: Amelia H Karlsen

Which area of London are you based in? Why do you choose to live in this city? I’​m based in Forest Hill in South London, rent is affordable here. You get alot of green space compared to other parts of London. There is a good mix of people here too. Art types, hood money and old money all co-exist.

What are some of the best live music venues in London? ​I​ recently hit up​ Rye Wax in Peckham to see my brother Gaika show, I loved it. The dark venue, low ceilings and thumping base made it​ special. If I​’​m honest though I’​m not out as much as ​I ​used to. Most of the time I’​m trying to create, or work on the infrastructures that allow me to create. I​’​m not out all night talking about it. God​s a woman and women​ love a do-oer…​

Are there any other musicians you would cite as an inspiration of yours? ​I​ could cite the usual suspects like Prince, Andree 3000, Missy, Timberland, NERD, Wiley, SoSolid etc etc, all these guys were brave enough to do stuff differently. That said,​ I ​feel like the​ new school needs a nod too. Acts like Young Fathers, Azekel, Kojey Radical, Gaika, I Did My Best I Swear and Dean Blunt all inspire me because they’re just doing ​them ​and not giving a fuck. They unapologetically offer another narrative for Black and British music.

You previewed your capsule collection in Camden on the 11th of March. Can you tell us more about this? ​Y​eah it was at the UnderatedCo flagship store in Camden. We teamed up with them in conjunction with a platform I’m growing titled ​W​aylynn ​W​olfe that releases capsules containin​​g a tech enabled J​ersey, ​P​hotobook, Cassette ​T​ape and ​G​olf ​C​ap. The garment itself gives you access to exclusive Mickey Lightfoot content, and each garment’s content is unique to the owner​ – no two owners have the same thing.

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How did you meet the team at UnderatedCo? Who is behind it? I met the ​U​nderated guys about a year ago, and​ did a show for them. Ever since I​’​ve watched them grow and grow. I guess you could say we’re on a mutual rise, so the collaboration made sense. It also helps that ​C​hidi the head honcho is a top notch guy.

You worked with photographer Amelia H Karlsen on your visuals. How did this relationship begin and why do you choose to work with her specifically? Amelia is a really talented photographer! She properly understands light, and we’ve been meaning to work with each other ever since we met at a fashion event years ago, it might have been a KTZ event or something. Our diaries just never managed to align. Clearly all good things come to those that wait while hustling.


SOUNDCLOUD: Mickey Lightfoot