Project Breakdown: Shakka talks his EP ‘The Lost Boys’

Get the lowdown on the forthcoming release from one of our biggest talents...

Joe Walker

5 years ago

By Joe Walker

Shakka 2

This summer saw the announcement that singer, songwriter and producer Shakka had signed to Sony imprint Pitched Up, news welcomed by all those that know of his talents. The end of this month sees the first project from that deal in The Lost Boys, a concept EP that Shakka is hoping will mark this time period:

“Like Water For Chocolate and Stillmatic marked points when I was alive. I can see myself in secondary school trying to spit grime when I listen to Boy In Da Corner, so I want to give the same feeling to people that live in London, to see themselves watching their first anime or going on a binge on Netflix and remembering ‘oh snap, that was when Shakka dropped The Lost Boys’. That was always my main concern.”

As ambitious as that sounds, its the sort of thinking that has inspired Shakka to where he is today, and will cement his legacy for years to come. We’ve been lucky enough to hear The Lost Boys EP (spoiler: it’s brilliant), but to give you guys an idea of what to expect and look out for, we had a sit down with Shakka to get a quick Project Breakdown…

What’s the concept for The Lost Boys, and what gave you the idea?
The concept of the EP is centred around a very messed up future in London – it’s 2135, music is banned, women don’t exist in London, everyone’s controlled by a serum – and me and the rest of the Lost Boys try and escape the madness. Lion Oak is the name of the totalitarian government that exists, everything is pretty much grey and all our senses and emotions have been suppressed by this serum, and so we live our lives day by day not knowing life is fucked until someone breaks into my house at 3am and begins the saga of The Lost Boys.

I came up with the idea from this BT Infinity advert that was like ‘yes, let’s binge watch Netflix this weekend’ and its from 6pm on the Friday until Sunday night when they have to go to work. I’m looking at this advert like, ‘is this real life? This is normal for us to watch copious amounts of TV on the weekend? It could be sunny, my boy could want me to come to see him in Amsterdam but nah, I’m watching Breaking Bad. Five series if I can?’ Nah, I don’t actually want to do that. I like it, but I want to look at my Instagram feed at the age of 80 and laugh my arse off – that’s one of my goals – and if I can’t do that, and I look back to see my e-mail purchased list is fucking TV series upon TV series, I’d feel like shit. The Lost Boys is about trying to live in airplane mode and trying to discover things that we didn’t create but that help keep us human.

On the EP, your life is turned on its head when a girl bursts into your room, was there a similar moment in life that changed your perception?
I think I was like 22. I left my job at GAME and started working as a Java programmer in 2011. I dropped a mixtape called The Shakka Crown Affair and I got fired during the probation period because I wasn’t working hard enough, and naturally during the evening I was promoting the gigs and the mixtape. My sister said to me ‘what are you going to do now?’ and I said ‘well I might start this app and do this thing because I’ve got a degree in it and it makes no sense to waste it’. She then asked ‘how long are you gonna keep putting off your dream?’ and I thought in my head then that I can’t do a 9-to-5 and the mixtape at the same time, so I guess that was the lady coming into my house and telling me to live life.

I don’t wanna sound preachy when I speak to my friends, but there are definitely times where my friends or other people I’ve become acquaintances with have told me about their lives and how they’re not happy with it, the fact they can’t get off their phone or focus on a conversation. That kind of stuff makes me feel a bit weird, because if you call that person your friend or someone you wanna be with then you have to devote the time into that. It’s easy to get addicted to Twitter or Uber or PornHub or whatever, and the idea of it becoming an active decision to put it down…it is pretty addictive and it is a difficult thing, but I feel like it’s necessary for other people to do it, so yeah there are times when I speak to my friends like ‘yo lets go to the Cotswolds on airplane mode and enjoy what sunshine looks like through British trees.’

Is there an intention to create visuals that accompany the concept?
The EP is enough, My team were like ‘we have to represent this visually’ and in my brain I’m thinking I want to let the imagination do that instead, purely because I don’t think something like this has been done before and the easiest and most common thing to do is to make a video or motion picture or a graphic novel. I think I might expand on that on the sequel to this, but initially I definitely wanna just allow the people to zone out, because again it’s still part of the ethos of just tuning out noise, airplane mode and zoning out to the project. Also, when I get more money I’ll be able to do it! I wanna see if I can pay the guy that does the Gorillaz artwork or even Shinichirō Watanabe, the guy that does Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo and the sick sick animes that I love to watch. I’m in the EP but at the same time I’d want some sort of comic or animation type thing to run through it, hence the reason why we designed the front cover in animation form.

The Lost Boys – Three Picks

Say Nada (click here to hear the remix with JME)
It was almost as if I finally found a happy medium between the nerd and the debaucherous Shakka. The guy who was able to talk about how dope it is to find a girl that likes “tasty meat” as well as admitting that I don’t know how to deal with a breakup via email, like just calling my boys and having a good time. I know a lot of my friends have been through the same shit, so it was beautiful for me to put it on wax. And then it’s just fun and catchy to perform.

‘Pain’ was a difficult one, because I was talking about something from not only personal experience but from the experiences of other people. I had a conversation with George The Poet when we were in the studio about half a year ago, and how important it was to not just make ‘tun up’ music. We can do it in our sleep, but at the same time generations of people before us died for the mic, so we kinda have to honour them by writing something that means something. It ties to my aim of having something timeless, something that represents a particular time period, so when I did ‘Pain’ it was at a time when I thought I had to write something that I think is gonna help someone. There were some domestics, I went straight into my room and I wrote the first verse, chorus then I made the beat for it. It was just coming out – I was writing how I was talking and it’s impossible to get talker’s block, shout out to Seth Godin for that line. It’s definitely an important song for me.

Read My Mind
I could choose some of the other fun songs, but ‘Read My Mind’ is probably my favourite. ‘Heart Don’t Lie’ with Wretch is a passionate one because it’s talking about the honesty of body parts, but ‘Read My Mind’ in particular was a time where I was able to make a song purely on vibe. ‘Read My Mind’ doesn’t necessarily have a hook, it just feels sick. I can turn it up in a whip and feel sick. Vibe, just pure vibe. Nutty P produced the majority of it, and I went in the studio and said ‘I wanna make something that makes me feel like I’m one of the characters in [GTA] Vice City with the finest chick on the right hand side, where we’re just driving for hours, and the sky looks pink, and the air tastes like cocktails, and I just feel rich with no worries in the world’. The song came from that.

The Lost Boys is released 23 October, click here to pre-order. Say Nada with JME is out now. [Shakka on Twitter & SoundCloud]