Music Minds: Jack Miguel
We’re gearing up for next week’s big event, Jack Miguel & Sam Mumford present: A Murder of Crows. The much-anticipated performance is the culmination of Jack and Sam’s residency at Poplar Union, and the night marks Mental Health Awareness Week. All funds raised will go towards award-winning charity The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). We asked Jack a few questions about the collaboration, and how he got involved in the scene.
Q.1 Hi Jack! A little birdy told us you were the first poet and rapper to attend the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama. What first sparked your interest in rapping, and how old were you?
I started rapping when I was about 14 or 15. I fell in love with Hip-Hop after discovering the album 3ft High and Rising by De La Soul, the whole vibe of that album hit me really hard, from the beats and rhymes right down to the album’s artwork. Hip-Hop at it’s best has this indescribable energy that’s unlike anything else. It will always be my first love.
After De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde etc I began to get into UK Hip-Hop, groups like Task Force, Universal Soldiers, Jehst and Roots Manuva. The fact these guys lived near me and were talking about my environment meant there was so much I could relate to, they gave me permission to try and express myself in this form. It’s worth noting that they were all incredible writers too – Chester P of Task force is like a mythical creature to me, he’s a genius. They definitely sparked my interest in language, I owe a lot of who I am and what I do to them.
Q.2 A Murder of Crows is a collaboration between you and multi-instrumentalist Sam Mumford. What did you find most interesting about developing the piece with him?
Well to be honest this is the beginning of the story, this is the first step in the development. It’s all very embryonic and fresh. I am excited to be working with Sam, he’s such a deep and delicate musician. When I was first thinking about people to collaborate with on the project he immediately came to my mind. It’s hard to explain but Ted Hughes’ collection has such a strong character, such a strong and heavy weight to it that It kind of makes the decisions for me, it’s a divining rod in book form. In regards to working with Sam I just had to ask “Is he Crow?” and the answer that came back was a black, screeching, feather-clad YES.
Q.3 The performance on 18 May will be in reaction to Crow, a collection of poems by Ted Hughes. What is it about Crow that captures your attention?
That’s a big question. Sometimes we experience something, a painting, a film, a book and it just hits us in this mad way. It’s like it was written just for you and that’s exactly what I felt when I read Crow. Now that I have looked further into it I can see why it really resonated with me, I am drawn to the mythical, to archetypes, all this rich, potent, carnal human stuff. The kind of stuff that has been fuelling artists and their ridiculous experiments since forever. It’s all in there. I think mainly I see Crow as an amazing vehicle to express some things I really want to express. Crow is my hero.
Q.4 Your special guests on the night are Cecilia Knapp and Natasha Zielazinski. Where did you first encounter each of their work?
I am so blessed and excited to have them join me. Cecilia Knapp I met through the Round House and the general London poetry scene. She is one of the countries most exciting young writers and an outrageously great human being. Her writing is annoyingly brilliant and she inspires me to be better at what I do. We all need a Cecilia in our lives.
I met Natasha at Guildhall where I was lucky enough to have her as one of my tutors and also my mentor. Natasha is a phenomenal musician who plays with so much care and attention. Her approach to music and to creativity in general is a constant inspiration to me and I always leave our conversations with a thousand new and important questions. Both of these artists are very important to me and I am really excited to hear them do their respective things.
Q.5 Donations from the evening will go towards The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), an award-winning charity dedicated to preventing male suicide, How do you think music can positively interact with mental health?
I think creative self expression through the arts can have a profound impact on people suffering from issues relating to mental health and I have seen some of these positive effects first hand in my work. More specifically in relation to CALM and the work they do. I think a big problem is boys and men not feeling able to express themselves and the pain they are experiencing and as a result they suffer in silence and don’t access the help they need. Unfortunately being vulnerable is not something that is okay within the narrow definition of what it means to be a man in our society. The arts, whether it’s music, poetry, painting, photography etc can offer people a way to express that pain and that’s an important component in the road to recovery.
• Come down to Poplar Union and catch Jack, Sam, and special guests next Friday 18 May, where they will debut their ongoing collaboration. The event is donation based, but advance booking is strongly advised.