Distinctively attired in trucker cap, charity shop suit and THAT beard, Scroobius Pip is a leading light and unmistakable face of the UK’s spoken word scene.
Having jacked in the role of punk-bass-player for a marginally more stable career in poetry, Scroobius Pip has been proffering his everyman polemics since… Performing on street corners or spoken word stages, for queueing gig goers or reverential Jazz audiences, Pip became synonymous with a burgeoning post-millennial spoken word scene.
In a scene revived by cultural unease, political disaffection and a desire for lyrical content, Pip brought an unfailing wit and disarming stage persona to the uncomfortable truths of the day; such crowd-pleasing themes as self harm, domestic violence, and whether watching Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks is a worthwhile use of our precious, readily commodified time.
Now best known as one half of unlikely chart bothering duo dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip, it was the need to get ‘a proper job’ and pay for his homespun solo debut No Commercial Breaks – now an eBay collectors item – that brought the two together.
Despite growing up in the same Essex village Stanford Le Hope, the pair’s paths had barely crossed before they shared a Christmas season working at the Lakeside branch of HMV. After a brief creative courtship – sharing Myspace links and remixes – their very first collaboration struck gold. Hot off the CDR burner, their first song Thou Shalt Always Kill was sent to XFM’s John Kennedy in demo form and within 24 hours Kennedy had played the track on his show. Pip swiftly set up a Myspace page with their solitary track… “Suddenly it went crazy – everyone was emailing the track to other people, so the only thing to do was borrow £200 and make a video.” That video has now chalked up 3.5million views on YouTube and the single’s hastily arranged release on Lex cracked the Top 40.
Shunning the inevitable major label overtures, Messrs le sac and Pip opted to sign to Rob da Bank’s Sunday Best label, ensuring that their critically acclaimed debut album became one of the leading independent releases of 2008. Released in May ’08, Angles arrived just 12 months after the first fruits of their partnership had hit the airwaves. The duo’s welcome but unexpected rise, saw them working on tracks for their debut in the back of Pip’s Toyota Space Wagon, in between the growing list of festival, TV and radio engagements. That this ad-hoc germination should produce such a cohesive and thought-provoking work, is testament to dan le sac’s production work and the enduring appeal of Pip’s word play.
Angles entered the Top 40 and in the subsequent 18 months, the duo has toured Europe and the US to an expanding live following. Visually and musically dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip defy any prefab industry model, their towering structures of Casio enthused electro-hip-pop often cutting against the conventions of Radio programming. And yet they have become airwave and chart regulars, their first album providing the singles Beat That My Heart Skipped, Look For The Woman and the Radiohead sampling A Letter From God To Man. Their 2010 follow-up, the beat heavy lit-pop tour de force, The Logic Of Chance followed its predecessor into the Top 40 with a raft of critical acclaim and a bewildering amount of radio play for a pair whose sound stubbornly refused to ‘fit in’. With the free-flowing opener Sick Tonight, old school dancefloor hip-hop of The Beat and the euphoric Italo-disco of Get Better, le sac Vs Pip continued to conduct a great leap forward in alternative conscious pop.
With a microscope on violent crime stats (Great Britain), a declaration on the individuals role in a Democracy (Stake A Claim) and the perils of late night rail travel (Last Train Home); Scroobius Pip delivered direct and true on the state of the nation, while dan le sac delivers his most advanced and eclectic soundtrack yet.
So, 4 years on from that first unexpected radio play, with a collected cast of eyebrow-raising collaborators Scroobius Pip’s alternative pop persona re-unites with that jilted teenage Punk. Scroobius Pip’s Distraction Pieces is released this September on Speech Development.