Tinchy Stryder is a man who really needs no introduction, but we’ll do it anyway. Since the self-funded, independent release of his debut album ‘Star In The Hood’ in 2007, Tinchy has sold over 2.5 million records in the UK alone. He has had 2 x no.1 singles, 7 x top 10 singles, 12 x radio 1 playlisted records and 1 x top 3 album to date.
He has embarked on 5 headline UK tours, performed regularly on the festival circuit and amassed over 100 million YouTube views. Alongside his career as an MC, songwriter and producer, Tinchy Stryder has proved himself to be a thriving entrepreneur with the launch of his Star In The Hood clothing In 2008, and his Cloud 9 headphones (in partnership with electronics brand Goji) in 2012.
He’s back with a new album 360º in the autumn. The remix for his single ESG was released on Monday, and we caught up with him to chat about his new work, how he’s treading uncharted emotional territory, and find out what advice he has for up and coming artists.
Tinchy, your latest album 360º has been described as your most ‘sonically ambitious’. What makes it so?
I feel like I’ve got some fire back in me. I don’t want to say I was ‘content’ – but it feels like something sparked in me. It’s got that fresh feel to it, I haven’t held back on the production or anything – it’s more like an album of music, everything blends in and we weren’t making this song for this or that song for that, I’ve learned that music is emotions and feelings and you can’t keep trying to add everything up and work everything out.
You’re delving into previously unexplored emotional territory with this album. What made you want to open up in this way?
I’ve grown up as a person. I say that when you first meet someone, it’s just a hello, but as you meet someone more you start to open up more – this is my fourth album so I feel like it’s the right time and I’m at that stage. A lot of people might know me but I’m not someone who lets people in as much. Once you get to know me I’m easy going so this time round I thought you know what, I’m going to be speaking about how I’m feeling – it’s all good and everything happening in my day to day life and over the past few years I’ve just put into one project.
Why have you steered away from using mega names on 360?
To be honest there were some tracks that I had ideas to do with some people who are quite successful in the industry, but it was more of a thing where whatever sounded right to me was more important than trying to get this person or get that person. If I feel like someone’s voice can feature in this better than someone with a ‘bigger’ name I’m not just going to go with the bigger name. I didn’t purposefully steer away it just happened naturally. Not saying anyone who’s got a name is lesser than anyone on the album, this was just how it naturally happened
Tell us about the single ESG. What inspired the track?
Its one of those cultural things. I’m from east London and I felt like I wanted something that had that vibe and bounce to it from when I first started writing lyrics and spitting. It’s the same with the album, just in case you might not know, well this is where I’m from.
Was it a tough call to abort the fourth album that already spawned three hit singles? Take us through your thought process a little.
Yeah, it was in a way – I was thinking woah, people might have been waiting for this album, but I didn’t want a compilation of tracks, and that’s what it started feeling like. Too much of something is never good, I had too many songs and I was lost to pick what to use and I started to think, OK, I need to start afresh, and so that’s how that came about. It was tough but it was a decision that had to be made. That’s how I’ve approached this album, you have to be tough on yourself – even if people are saying I have to do this or that, I have to go with my heart.
More than one string to your bow indeed – not only music, but your clothing line and the Cloud 9 range. Was it always your plan to branch out past music?
In a way yeah, I’ve always thought bigger, it’s a bit world and there’s a lot of things you can do – luckily for me, everything from the headphones and the clothing line came naturally off the music and it’s what I do, headphones, I use that daily and I guess everyone does one way or another, and clothes – we all wear clothing – and it’s part of my image. It was never really my plan, I just started to think, imagine if one day I could have my own clothing line and then it all just started coming – so you never know what’s around the corner, I just keep focused and I understand that there’s a lot of things that can be done and don’t just limit yourself.
How important was it to you to set up your own label? What advantages/disadvantages do you find this gives you?
Well the disadvantages are probably like, when you’re with a major label it’s like a big machine and everything’s on different levels and the money they have to put on a project, but the advantages on my side having my own label are that now everything’s up to me and the full creative control is back with us – I’m at a stage where I can go a bit bigger and do things my way – might take a different route, and maybe it’s not as quick or sudden without a big machine behind you but that’s all part of it and to me, those are the big advantages, because now there’s no set rules, I’ve learned more about music having my own label, educating myself.
You were still a student when you had your first Top 3 hit. What advice does the Tinchy of now have for the Tinchy of then?
You know what, just to enjoy all the moments and take it in because when you’re in it it’s hard because you’re just part of the life and you’re like ‘woah’ but when you look back you realise that you’ve done and achieved quite a bit. So if I could advise myself it would be to enjoy the moment an embrace it, embrace the journey and stay focused – a bit more that you were!
Finally, what’s your advice in general for someone trying to break into the music industry?
It sounds a bit cliché when people say ‘be yourself’ but really and truly that’s all you really have to be – there’s only one of you and trying to be someone else is harder than being unique. So be yourself, focus, have faith and work hard – what’s meant to be will be, nothing great is easy so you have to just embrace the journey.
Keep up to date on all things Tinchy at tinchystryder.com