An interview with Kojey Radical

12 Dec 2016

On the day of our Transformation concert we spoke to one of the night’s artists, Kojey Radical, about his music, his inspiration, and why he was motivated to be a part of our event to #TransformTrauma.

Kojey Radical at Barts Charity's Transformation concert Kojey Radical at Barts Charity's Transformation concert

How are you feeling about your success?

If an audience has embraced me this quickly, I want to make sure I’m giving them defining moments in my life and interesting moments in the culture of the world.

My first project I dropped straight out of uni; a couple of years later I released my second project 23 Winters – it’s going really well and it reached number three in the hip hop charts earlier this year. All done independently, with will, graft, and focus!

So you said no one in your family was into the arts. What got you across that hurdle, because it is quite a big hurdle isn’t it?

Yes! I grew up in Hoxton at a time when it really wasn’t that good, it’s getting trendy and all that now, but not back then. So when my family saw I had interest in something creative, it was their priority to nurture that even though they didn’t really understand it.

From when I was about eight or nine years old, I was telling my whole family I wanted to become a cartoonist.

Really?

Yeah! So they bought me the art supplies I would need and when I was excelling at dancing too, they’d put me forward for more competitions. Even now they still don’t really understand what I do but they’re very happy I did it!

So is it you dancing in your videos?

Yes, I dance in all my videos, I direct all my videos, I co-produce a lot of my music, and I do a lot of the writing.

Did you teach yourself to dance?

No, I was trained for nine years; I was in a dance company. In the early stages it was ballet, but I never really got into ballet, I focused on street dance. Then later on, I mixed it with contemporary, which is why the movement in the video is more free flowing. I started dancing when I was 10 and finished when I was 19.

Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind some of your music?

The whole concept of my second EP was diaspora. A whole generation, and relating my experiences to my Dad’s experiences coming all the way from Ghana to here. When he came over here he was studying, went through loads of jobs, was made redundant, went through different careers, ended up as a cab driver. I wanted to relate all those experiences to the ones I have had now.  There’s a song in there for example called Kwame Nkrumah; he was the first president of Ghana, he made Ghana the first independent African country and my Dad was at the speech when it happened. It made me think that with everything that’s going on – Brexit, Trump’s election – these are pivotal moments in everybody’s lives, recording them through generations is important, that’s a lot of what I put into my music.

Finally, what is your motivation in supporting our Transformation concert?

Trauma affects the lives of many young people in London in a variety of ways. But  it disproportionately affects people in low income countries – 90% of global deaths from injuries happen in developing countries. In sub-Saharan African countries – such as Ghana where my father was born – it is a huge contributor to disability and suffering.  I know the trauma care research being carried out here in London has worldwide implications, and I was pleased I could be part of an event which has helped to raise awareness around this.

More news

Ben and Sophie at Transformation

#TransformTrauma: Why we need to keep fighting

On 19th November, we brought you Transformation. It was a fantastic night of music but, more importantly, it also showcased the life-changing impact that traumatic injury can have on people.