[@KojeyRadical] talks a bit about his journey and why he has decided to collaborate with [@KopparbergUK]

Kojey Radical has teamed up with Kopparberg for a limited edition line of T-Shirts all in support of independent music venues.

We all know Kojey Radical by now having toured internationally and consistently dropping gems across the years. What may be lesser known is that he is heavily into his fashion and has designed collections before. With coronavirus affecting the music industry, independent venues, in particular, Kojey was spurred to do something. This is where Kopparberg came in who equally wanted to do their part, which led to Kojey and Kopparberg collaborating on a limited edition run of 500 T-Shirts inspired by the new Dark Fruits Spiced Rum bottle. The proceeds from the T-Shirts will be going to the Music Venue Trust who are financially supporting a number of venues across the country as well as providing information to help struggling venues.

What’s your first memory of going to a gig as a fan?

It was pretty late, I didn’t get to go to concerts as a kid. My first concert if I’m not mistaken was Kendrick Lamar at Electric Ballroom. I remember being in the crowd, and this was around the time that I’d just started writing poetry, and the show was sick everything was moving normal. Then in the middle of it he stops and does a poem off of one of his projects, and as he’s performing this poem the crowds reciting it back to him as if it’s one of the illest rap verses ever. So I’m standing in the crowd, not even rapping along, just kind of staring in one of those deep gazes going “right, I can do this”. From there I kind of had a battery in my back where I thought I’m ready to get on these stages as I think that was the first time I’d seen poetry performed in the realms of Rap that were current and relevant to me.

On the flip side what was it like in the build up to your first show as the performer?

I don’t know whether I count the open mics. I remember open mics were ones where I’d just be out somewhere and decide I was going to perform. I’ve never been afraid to perform, I’ve been performing since I was a kid doing dance and little bits of acting and other stuff like that. My family encouraged that side of my creativity from when I was young, so being on stages was never scary. For me, I had a massive fear of public speaking. So getting over the fear of getting up and just speaking rather than performing or playing a role was a big hurdle. So at my first show, it probably would have just been nerves around that.

How important where those independent venues you started in to your career?

I think they’re imperative. I don’t think a young unsigned, underground artist could survive without those kinds of venues. Some artists are fortunate to never have to open up for someone else or do the smaller gigs and just go on to having the hit singles and performing at the bigger venues. But for the most part, they don’t always make the best performers because you have to put in the time on the underground circuit. You have to understand crowds that might get it or might not get it. Then also sometimes you just want a space where you can create a comfortable environment in. I find that when you’re so focussed on trying to fill up a 1000+, 2000+, or 3000+ venue there’s a certain point where you can’t control the vibe. Whereas if you’re doing a 100 cap, 200-250 cap venue the majority of those people are going to be ones that know you, love you, and support what you do. So it allows you to enter this whole thing in a way that helps cultivate your audience and find how you respond best to support.

How has coronavirus effected the music industry as a whole but more specifically those smaller venues?

Everything’s rubbish right now really init, nothing’s really going on, everyone’s all at yard. Everything has kind of moved to live online stuff, which is just not the same. It’s just weird, but I think if you don’t adapt you die. But yeah it’s just been a lot of turbulence

How did the collaboration with Kopparberg come about?

They hit us up because they were familiar with my creative work, my work outside of music within art and fashion. Which was really dope to me because I think I just loved the opportunity to be able to show off more of my creative skills in a way that reaches new audiences and can make a difference. So when they approached us with the idea of making the T-shirts to go with the bottles and being able to donate the proceeds to charity, that was like a no brainer for me in terms of saying “Yeah”. It was a pretty seamless thing.

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What was your creative process like and what inspired you in the T-Shirt design?

Got really drunk. Nah I’m joking. I pretty much kind of just stared at the bottle for a while trying to find…it’s a very illustrative bottle when you get a chance to see it. There’s a lot of illustrations on the bottle already. And I think in my mind, I was trying to figure out what could be the story that’s happening in that world. And I went back to the most kind of like, innocent version of being creative, which is imagination. And I wanted to kind of imagine this superhero like character, that kind of roams these forest areas at night alongside the wolves. Because the tagline for the bottles is, “We’re different in the dark.”, And wolves to me are pack animals but they’re not afraid to be individuals. They’re not afraid to walk alone and I think individuality is something that we should really cherish people.

Why Music Venue Trust as the partner charity?

I think just in this whole time, as I said, like the shows aren’t going down, the promos not there, it’s a bit of a weird time. And I think naturally, there’s just going to be things and places that are just neglected. And one of the biggest kind of triggers for me in terms of trying to find a way to help venues is that I had a tour booked for this year. I had to pause in the middle because of covid, and I think the dates were rescheduled for December. And the venues that I was performing at in Manchester they’re closed now, before I could even get to December to do the shows. It made me worry about some of the smaller venues in smaller towns than Manchester that might not even get half the airtime, you know what I’m saying, and if they’ll survive. Then what then happens to a generation of artists that see that as a goal and want to perform in those spaces? And how long do they have to wait for another venue to open up in that same capacity in that same space that accepts the same kind of eyes? Especially within the hip hop world, not a lot of venues even want to take our shows. So I think it’s something that just kind of hit home to me in the whole process of trying to figure out the new normal.

T-Shirts are available here on Everpress for £30, get your hands on one before they sell out!

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