INTERVIEW: Soweto Kinch

Soweto Kinch at the Flyover Show 2008, photo by Karl Dixon

The New Emancipation is the latest body of work from Jazz/Hip Hop saxophonist and lyricist, Soweto Kinch. Released on September 27th The New Emancipation explores just what its moniker describes, with Kinch focused on what he sees as the shackles of modernity.

“It (The New Emancipation) takes its inspiration from the history of emancipation and slavery, looking at it in a very modern way. Things like banking, finance, the legacy of race relations. Some of the things that might seem anachronistic are really relevant and pertinent at this time. Especially in the world of finance.”

The first album released under Soweto Kinch Productions, The New Emancipation also marks an age of professional autonomy for the Birmingham based musician. Previous confrontations with retailers, after the release of his ‘tongue in cheek’ single Jazz Planet in November 2004, left open sores and discussions about the positioning of ‘Urban’ music on the High Street shelves. Kinch’s last EP, A War In A Rack, was titled to directly confront the “monolithic controlling influences” of the mainstream retail outlets.

“We’re using the distributors but whether we’ll be placed in the Hip Hop racks is at the discretion of the independent retailers,” Kinch’s notoriety as a Jazz musician has arguably pigeon holed previous releases, “but to be honest the debate has moved on since three years ago. Now it’s about getting the message out there, getting the word out there, and letting people make their own minds up about what they think the music is and where then can access it.” With online sales challenging more traditional transactions, the music industry continues to adapt to new media and routes to market.

Online or offine, the biggest publicity platform in Autumn are the Mercury Music Prize and MOBO award ceremonies. Kinch’s rise to prominence was spurred by nominations and wins across both for his debut album in 2003. How relevant does he feel these institutions are today? “I still think they have a role to play in terms of making people aware of music which would otherwise be obscure,” a message reiterated by the organisers and challenged by their critics, “but when they just become an event for the industry to pat itself on the back I think they’re missing a trick. Audiences are increasingly suspicious of very manufactured music, they want something with more integrity from the award ceremonies.”

The New Emancipation is a thoughtful combination of “Jazz and Hip Hop influences” that represents “themes of release and freedom” more than any particular musical style or genre. Successfully mixing Jazz harmonies, Hip Hop beats, intelligent lyrics, word play and melody, Kinch’s latest release is a poignant satire over world class musicianship. Songs including ‘Love of money’ and ‘Trying to be a star’ tackle fiscal and fame obsessions, whilst ‘Paris Heights’ confronts the cruelty of debt culture in a bold display reminiscent of The Goat’s seminal Tricks Of The Shade album. An accomplished 13 track collage from a man who clearly has something to say.

The New Emancipation is available from September 27th. For more information visit www.soweto-kinch.com or www.myspace.com/sowetokinch

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