In a remarkable year for home-grown talent, one standout artist signed a major record deal, made it into the UK Top Ten twice, and recorded one of the most hotly anticipated debut albums in years. All whilst studying for his A Levels. We sit down with man-of-the-moment Chipmunk.
Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
I’d say Jay-Z and Kanye West. Jay-Z’s got amazing rhyming talent and he’s also built such a powerful empire, and Kanye just stands out to me as something different.
It hasn’t been that long since your infamous first Westwood set. Are you ever surprised about how quickly you’ve blown up?
For me it happened so quickly. I remember being in the car on the way to Westwood, with Wiley saying ‘you lot can’t flop,’ I was just like ‘yeah, for real.’ It’s been a mad experience, seems like yesterday.
How do you manage to stay level-headed having achieved so much so young?
If you’re cool, you’re cool and if you’re not you’re not, you know what I’m saying? I’ve got a talent that makes people want to be my friend, get on with it.
You’ve very recently got your exam results – congratulations on those. Was it important to you to finish college and not let the academic stuff fall to one side?
Thanks. It was important, definitely, not because you’ve got to have a Plan B, because with my drive and where I want to go in music, I don’t think I’ll need a Plan B. But I’m just not a quitter; you started college, finish it. That’s just how I am.
On the subject of that, you are a role model to a lot of young people. Do you ever feel the pressure of that?
I do feel the role model pressures, but I’m just living my life. If you want to copy me, then copy me. I got a track called Role Model on my album which addresses that subject, so look out for that.
Tell us about the new single?
Oopsie Daisy, is out nationwide on October 5. Help me get back in the charts. It’s good man – it’s kinda got a pop feel to it. The verses are a lot deeper than people hear at first. You have to listen to it a few times to really understand what’s going on. Hopefully people like it and buy it.
What can we expect from your forthcoming album, I Am Chipmunk?
Expect to understand me, why I am how I am today, and what’s made me the man I am. And some good music, that everyone can appreciate, relate to and feel.
Do you find it difficult to find a balance between pleasing your new fans and the ones who’ve been with you since the mixtape days?
It is difficult but at the same time, I’ve never made a 100 per cent grime CD. Everyone says, ‘oh you don’t do grime.’ I do grime, but I do it for free. Why am I gonna try and sell something that won’t sell? It doesn’t make sense. I’ll make a grime mixtape, I’ll press up 20,000 and I’ll give it out for free, because I want to. A grime song isn’t going to work on the radio, so why would I try and force it? I haven’t got the power to be the one to make a grime song that can come on in the afternoon on the radio. Don’t point the finger at me to be the first person to do it.
Who’s got the power to do it? Dizzee. I’m not even pointing the finger at Dizzee because I’ve got superlove for him and respect what he’s doing.
Once the album drops, what’s next for you?
I’m headlining The Sun’s tour, I’m doing Tinchy’s tour and in a couple of months’ time I’ll do my own one.
What’s the craziest thing one of your fans has done for you? (Keep it clean, Chip.)
Gave me a ring and said she’s going to marry me!
Who’s the sexiest woman in the world in your opinion?
After that video, Beyoncé.
How about in the UK?
I love the Saturdays. All of them.
What’s the coolest thing about being Chipmunk?
Throwing the C up. Nah I couldn’t tell you what’s cool about being me, because being me, it’s normal. But I just like being me, it’s cool.
I Am Chipmunk is out on now Check out www.myspace.com/chipmunkartist for more info
Words by Dayalan Kulendran • Photography: Karina Lidia • Creative Director: Becky Dubar • Make-up: Mary-Jane Gotidoc • Model: Valeria • Stylist: Jessica Duffin Chipmunk wears suit and shoes by Zara, tie by Burton; Valeria wears dress by Lipsy, shoes by River Island • Chipmunk wears a jacket by H&M and sunglasses by Sabre; mic by Crystal Rock • Location: Wonderland Studios