Exclusive Interview: Ezro on his debut album ‘Ghost In The Blue’
Grime albums don’t come around half as often as we’d like, so it’s hugely refreshing to see South London artist Ezro go for it and drop his debut album at a stage of his career when many of his peers would be too anxious to put out a full-length project, never mind one they’d call an album.
A member of the exciting Vision Crew, Ezro is not only an MC but an accomplished producer behind the AJ Tracey smash ‘Spirit Bomb’ and fellow Vision Crew member Tuckz’s recent debut EP, which we suggest you check out if you haven’t already. Coming via Trapdoor Records, who released the Tuckz project earlier this year, Ezro’s Ghost In The Blue is a magnifying glass to his daily life in the blue borough – Lewisham – with the optimism and determination to make something of his & Vision’s lives in music an endearing theme.
Having had an advance listen of the album, which is out now, we couldn’t wait to have a chat with Ezro, so we travelled to The Blue to talk with the young artist in a café. Here’s how it went down.
What gave you the confidence to release an album now? It’s not often seen by grime artists at this stage of their careers.
That’s kind of the reason. In the scene – our scene – no one’s really releasing albums. It’s only people that are at the top of the game, nobody from the new generation is releasing albums. I can do it, so why not make an album?
The sound on Ghost In The Blue is what we have to come to expect from your solo work, which is a different style for others seems to be markedly different. Do you produce for people with them in mind?
I produce for me solely first. I might produce something but think ‘if I spit over this, it’s not going to sound good’ so that’ll go to someone else. You can hear what I’m trying to spit on, and what I produce for other people, sounds different. I try to distinguish it so the sound is separate. You know my sound, but you know the sound I produce for others as well. That’s how it works.
Some of the samples on Ghost In The Blue are amazing. Where do you take inspiration from?
Most of my samples are influenced by old Japanese music, watching animes and thinking ‘if I put this into my music it’s going to sound sick’. The Asian influence is strong. When I was a kid, my oldest brother always used to watch animes and draw so I’ve grown up with it.
What’s the timeline between you making music and linking with who we now know as Vision Crew?
We kind of formed at the same time. The same time I started to produce and spit was the same time Vision started. A few of us were in college, and I didn’t do music but I thought I might as well just come studio with these man, and from there everything started. It’s kind of always been there, my brother produces and spits as well – his name is Ace – and he showed me the process from young, watching him make beats and tunes.
How do you reflect on the progress Vision has made so far?
Our first radio show was Mode FM at the start of 2015, so it ain’t really been that long. There’s a lot of progression. Sometimes it feels long for us, but when you look back at it we have made progress. We’re at the stage now where we are trying to master tunes to put out and that. Before we weren’t thinking about that at all, we were just making music for fun, but now we’re at the stage where we’re trying to make the best music we can and give it to the people, so the progression’s been good.
There’s been a lot of change in Lewisham in recent years as gentrification spreads. How do you observe it from the inside?
I can’t lie, it’s weird. It’s different but you can see with areas like Lewisham, it’s gonna happen. It’s inevitable, big businesses with money are gonna invest to make money back. A lot of people are against gentrification but there’s not much you can do, so you just have to live with it. There are different businesses and buildings that we wouldn’t have had before, so it’s kind of opened up what people can do.
There are a number of inspirational interludes on your album. Where did you find these?
The Novelist one was from a Whatsapp group chat. We were all talking about life and he sent that as a normal voice note. The rest are from YouTube, things I’ve seen and taken in. Nov’s one was a real thing and that’s why I had to use it as well. He’s actually like an example for us to look at. All on the ends, he’s actually made something of himself, and that’s influenced us to do our thing. It’s a good thing to have there because we can relate to him, he can relate to us, we can help him, he can help us. It goes hand in hand.
Can you clear something up for us: Is the Novelist-produced track on the album, ‘In The Manor’, a Whackeye remix or vice versa?
Nov gave us that beat first, to Vision. We just had it, nobody was using it, and then Whackeye’s remixed the beat and gave it to Big Zuu who made it a track with Mic Ty. That’s where people are familiar with it. The original was still there after all this time, so I’ve taken it and vocalled it.
What do you hope for this album to achieve? Is it more about just getting heard?
For this project, it’s mainly just being heard. Because I make music quite often I’ve got projects lined up for this year, so this is only just the start. I’m not really expecting anything, I just want people to hear it.
My projects are going to be different from each other but at the same time I’m still trying to make my sound, and it’s a thing where I’m trying to show people the sound has developed from the last project. Not to say the last project is worse, but it’s to show where I’m at. I’ll always be making music, but this year in particular I’m jus trying to release a lot because it’s just something that I need to do right now.
In the UK, artists put out a lot of singles and that but there’s not really that many projects to be honest. Artists at my stage wouldn’t really put out an album as such, they will probably put out a single hoping it will pop off. I’m actually trying to make a product that people would like, and just say regardless of anything that it’s sick I’ve made a complete project.
You just have to do what you wanna do. Nobody can really tell this is the wrong right move. So many times people have told me ‘you should do this’, ‘you should do that,’ but everything I’ve done now is off the back of doing what I want, so it must work init?