A simple email with the song “Blasphemer” attached served as our introduction to GAIKA. We shared the London-based artist’s debut track in October last year, and ever since he has been bombarding the world with powerful, political, and deeply personal music. GAIKA sings, raps, and produces, and his debut project MACHINE and new release SECURITY both successfully synthesize myriad sounds and styles into a cohesive package.
This is a reflection of the artist’s wide-ranging influences but also speaks to how music is consumed in 2016—with the internet making scenes all over the world more easily accessible, the most exciting music can no longer be easily categorized. On SECURITY dancehall bleeds into trap, and the influences of dub, grime, and hip-hop make themselves felt, all delivered in a package with a raw, rule-breaking punk spirit. As GAIKA tells us, he’s “not some passive dreamer happy to be trampled all over.”
Is it a dream? Is it a nightmare? Read our interview with GAIKA below and listen to SECURITY at the bottom of the page.
Why did you choose the title SECURITY for this mixtape?
This mixtape is ultimately about a lot of interlinked things, like layers stacked on top of layers. If you think a bit you can probably unpick it in your own way and work it out for yourself. For me, It’s about the fear of death and how that controls all of us. It’s about my time in underworlds, both esoteric and criminal.
Sonically it’s the shubeen music of future hoods that may never be constructed. It’s what the major from Akira plays in his Jeep. Encoded in its architecture there is a commentary on today’s real world and maybe the juxtaposition of real and imagined is the same deliberate unbalancing we search for when we anesthetize ourselves happy every weekend.
It’s a philosophical question wrapped in in a urban club record and that’s where the title comes from.
Tell us about the artists who you collaborated with on this project. How did you pick them and what do they bring to SECURITY?
As much as it’s a concept piece I wanted to make something real when it came to the features. I wanted to work with a lot of people I knew in the real world who had something truly special to bring. Only dons whose sound worked with the tracks in my imagination. At the end of the day the only thing that matters to me is the art itself so I wanted to fit voices to spaces to create a kind of ensemble piece that was like a mash-up in some imagined version of a London venue where everyone is talking at the same time.
Bipolar Sunshine and August & Us are long time friends and collaborators, Trigga is someone I met as a video director and is just the ultimate Manchester gorgon who only knows how to shell anything in his path. Miss Red I met Berlin and I was instantly hypnotized with her whole sound.
Sercocee and Mista Silva are dancehall/afrobeat royalty in the UK but they both know how to push boundaries and their parts in the record are incredible to me. As well as being my mentor, Fallacy is another legend and I had to get him to intro this as in some ways SECURITY is my version of Blackmarket Boy. 6Cib is a man who talks the only the truth, at the end of a long night that’s all you need to hear.
Is the whole project self-produced? The beats seem to touch on everything from dub to dancehall to grime to trap.
I executive produce everything. As much as the record sits across genres I have a definite aesthetic for each concept as a complete work that I execute both sonically and visually. I wanted SECURITY to have terrain rather then just be a collection of similar songs. I guess I’m always trying to make albums old school.
It’s a pretty insular process. I work with a core of Acropolis Sound, Kid Louis and Invadr Alex—”the bubble” as we call it—to build this without much outside influence. To us it all makes makes perfect sense thats all that really matters.
How did you link up with Mixpak for this release and why do you feel they are a good fit for the project?
Mixpak are dons. We linked up through the Internet. I think it’s a good fit because of the spread of artists and the ambition they have with the label. They aren’t afraid to take risks and they also release bangers.
Did you approach this project any differently to Machine?
I didn’t really approach it differently. It’s perhaps a slightly different aspect of my personality but the method is the same. Lock myself away and go in until it make sense. Ultimately I am whatever I say I am, and I think it’s interesting to show people more then one side if you are indeed a three dimensional character.
There has been a lot written recently about gentrification in London and its negative effects on creatives and nightlife. What are your experiences and thoughts on this as an artist living in London?
After a period of globetrotting I have to live in London now for family reasons, and I guess it finally feels good to be home . That said the returnee perspective leaves me kind of horrified. Overpriced champagne and fromage in Brixton? Get in the bin.
Honestly it’s my mission to make London not suck so much so I’m going to keep trying to disrupt the bullshit that makes it suck in my own way. Clubs closing down because bankers need to get up early so they can keep fucking us? Naah I’m not on it. I’m gonna open my own spot as soon as I can.
Everyone crammed into hotel lobbies for the free wifi as opposed to meaningful space for young creatives to work? Naah I’m not on that either, so I’m looking to make a change there too and hopefully the spark of resistance will spread to bigger issues like housing and the cost of living.
It comes back to the same thing I am whatever I say I am and that isn’t some passive dreamer happy to be trampled all over by Boris [Johnson, Mayor of London) and his ilk. Fuck that.
What are your plans for the rest of the year—what can we look forward to in 2016?
I’m going to be touring, dropping more music and making some film stuff. I want to do some installation things in the summer too. I stay busy mang!
See GAIKA first US appearance on May 20 as part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York. Details here.