This hackney-born star has recently moved himself out of the shadows of production and into the limelight of hip hop in the UK, working with big stars and brands in the midst of making massive tunes like ‘Earthquake’ and 2010’s ‘Let The Sun Shine’. We met up to have a little chat prior to his Wrigley’s 5 Gum launch show, his female following, and the kind of things he demands when backstage at shows...
You stood me up, you stood me up!
Haha! Oh I’m sorry!
It’s alright, it’s alright, I’m just getting a little bit emotional, you know.
Aw no, are you upset? Have you not been stood up before then? Was that the first time?
I’ve stood people up, I’m the worst at standing people up so I can’t really say anything! I have been stood up, I’m always in the studio so if a tune kind of comes into my head I think about everything, so quite a few girls have been quite upset with me like ‘I’ve been waiting outside for three hours!’ and I’m like ‘Ohh shit!’
So you have a lot of girls throwing themselves at you nowadays then?
Erm, well I kinda have a girlfriend so she’s gonna bat them away.
Haha, so they know to keep quiet?
When I do shows and stuff there’s always girls who are like ‘Oooh Lab!’ but that’s kind of like more of a fan thing. Some woman, like when I do photoshoots and stuff they do get a bit pally and I kind of feel a vibe from them but, you know, I know to behave myself!
Good, good that’s nice to hear! So what’s the most extreme situation you’ve had with girls like that?
I’ve had someone take my number from someone’s phone before and then call me. She was like ‘Hey Lab...’ and I’m like ‘Er, how did you get my number?’ She was like ‘Oh it’s the girl you met today’. ‘Erm, I didn’t meet you or give you my number!’
‘Oh hi Lab, yeah, it’s your stalker!’
So... you’re about to do a performance for the Wrigley’s 5 gum, then?
Yeah it’s pretty exciting man, I never though last year I was gonna be headlining loads of shows, it’s crazy man. I’ve only been performing really for a year and it’s nice to see that my set has really had an effect on a lot of festivals and shows. So, yeah, it’s good man it’s healthy stuff. I barely got any sleep last night ‘cause of how excited I am! I was listening to the finished version of my album and I was all excited like ‘Ah it’s finished, it’s done, we’re putting it out!’
So does it feel good then for it to just be your stuff and not you working on someone else tracks? Like when you were producing Tinie Tempah’s stuff?
Yeah I produced his first two records and another single with Ellie Goulding and, yeah man, that was really fun. Of course I’ve produced a lot of records for a few artists and it’s nice to be on that side of things.
So with the Wrigley’s launch - have you actually tried the flavour of chewing gum that they’re promoting? Did you like it?
Yeah they gave me some last time I saw them - and yeah I liked it!
Well that’s good you do like it...
Yeah that would be quite terrible if I didn’t. I’ve learnt it’s not a good thing to chew gum before you go on stage though, and I probably will be at this thing because it’s just there, you know. If there’s that much gum around you, you’ve got to chew a bit. But it’s not good to go on stage with it, I don’t wanna be choking on it!
You’ve worked with Reebok before haven’t you? You did adverts with them?
The Reebok adverts were because me and Reebok are in bed together. We love each other.
And did you love Reebok before the whole Reebok thing between you and them came about? Did you wear Reeboks then?
When I was thinking about getting involved with a sports brand I was a bit dubious because I don’t wear much sports stuff, I love my suit stuff - my ties and shirts.
And of course you need a little bit of money to buy all those ties and shirts?
They’ve been supporting... I just thought if I’m going to get involved with a sports brand I’d rather get involved with a brand that is willing to take on some of my creative ideas as well and they were the most open to that. So that one worked. I’m actually making stuff with them as well. That’s a better deal than like working with Nike or Adidas where I have no control at all. I think I’ve made a healthy relationship with them, we’re both getting something out of it and I think it’s cool. You know, I was stopping traffic in the West End the other day which was insane, they had a whole road blocked off for me so that we could do this advert which was like... I dunno, it was just kind of surreal ‘cause I’m the little guy from Hackney in West End stopping traffic.
You’re not so much the guy from Hackney anymore now that you’re doing big things with Reebok!
I know man it’s crazy. You know what though, I’m one of those guys, so many good things have happened but I don’t really see it like that, I’m just still the same dude in my head.
So you don’t see yourself as a big star then?
I'm a bit weird like that ‘cause I’ll kind of be driving in the car and I’ll stop and be like ‘Ah I just quickly need to run into Tesco’s to get some food’ but then I’m like ‘Oh, I forgot...’ It’s nice to see that people are recognising the music and kind of recognising what I have. Yeah it’s good man.
So Simon Cowell’s your manager... What are your thoughts on this DJ Factor idea of his?
It’s a terrible idea! [Laughs] Nah, I think it’s a cool idea, producers need a chance too, they’ve got cool ideas too.
So you think there should be a DJ Factor show then?
Yeah ‘cause there’s people out there, there’s people who are like Chase & status and Skrillex and that, and David Guetta’s. There’s people doing that kind of stuff out there who aren’t getting a look in. If Simon wants to try and find them and do something with that then good on him, innit.
Do you work well with Simon as your label boss?
Well, he’s not really my boss he’s actually like a good friend man, he’s been really supportive. I have 100% creative control and he’s just there to support me, especially in terms of business if I need any advice on that side and he’ll just be like ‘Lab, I’m not sure that’s a good idea’ or to push other ideas. It’s like being a kid that’s been introduced to millions of toys in a room and I get to get involved with all those toys and do what I want.
So you help each other out?
Do you ever get anyone saying to you ‘Why have you signed on to Simon Cowell’s label?’
‘Are you crazy Lab?! What are you doing?!’ Haha! I got involved with Simon because I felt that it doesn’t matter where I go, as long as I have creative control, I have the right person to push that music where it needs to go and I feel like he was the best person man.
Are you a bit of a diva now with all this new stardom of yours?
Are you a diva?!
Do I sound like a diva?! What’s your usual rider?
Water at room temperature.
Is that all? That’s not very demanding of you.
Yeah I know, I’m not terrible, I’m not that kind of person, man. I can deal with anything, I’m fine. I do have a really, really large rider. I think it’s like four or five pages long so it’s quite a lot of stuff, my band’s more diva-ish than me!
What’s the most diva-ish thing you’ve done or asked for?
I wouldn’t do a performance ‘cause I didn’t have any scones on my rider. I love scones man, that’s my thing, they’re really important to me. I think it was more about that the promoter was being a bit of an idiot though, so I just found any reason to get on his nerves.
Really. Well I’m sure usually you try and get on with all the promoters?
Yeah I get on with my promoters that’s why I still have shows! And that’s why I’m almost at headline stage.
So are you ever gonna invite us down to your restaurant?
Yeah of course if you’re nice to me you can come down to my restaurant!
Cool, thanks for the chat Labrinth!
For more info on the Wrigley’s 5 Gum launch show visit www.5gum.com / facebook.com/5GumUK and for more on Labrinth visit www.labrinthofficial.com
Interview by Jenny Jahans