Oi Polloi

Interview: Goldie

Published: Wed Sep 13 2017

Goldie has done a lot over the years.

He’s taken his graffiti from the walls of Wolverhampton to the train-yards of New York. He’s stretched time and pioneered drum and bass in the process. He has even tried to dispatch James Bond via explosive briefcase.

But all of this pales into insignificance compared to his latest achievement…

Yep, he’s finally made it onto the Oi Polloi blog.

After clocking he was 'the face' of the new adidas Spezial stuff, we had the perfect excuse to call him up and mither him with some hastily cobbled together questions.

I had approximately fifteen minutes to talk to him, I was stood outside in the pouring rain and the phone kept cutting out. Nevertheless, the alchemist came through with some absolute gold…

Okay. I suppose I should ask you about trainers first as we’re a clothes shop and all that. Why do you think trainers are such a big thing for so many people?

It’s just an external part of fashion. Why were people mad about rappers in the 80s, buying rings and watches? Shoes just became an accessory of the ego. And later it became an inversion of the ego when people started collecting them.

What are your thoughts on trainer collecting? Haven’t you got a pretty extensive collection yourself?

In the history of the world there has been people collecting diamonds that will never see the light of day, or wonderful pieces of art that will never be viewed by the public… and some people collect trainers in a crisp box.

Going back to the rap thing you mentioned, you were pretty early onto break dancing and graffiti in the 80s. As a kid from Wolverhampton, what got you into that?

We’d just watch loads of VHS tapes, snatching loads of pieces of breakdancing — and then we just started to emulate it.

Then Dick Fontaine came here — he was doing a documentary called Bombin’ and that’s how I got on the map. It’s not like I woke up and suddenly I was hip-hop. 

Maybe a bit of a boring question, but what were people wearing back then?

Puma States and the early Gazelles and then tracksuits like Cerruti or Australian. It was all about the tracksuit. 

You went to New York in the mid-80s. How did that compare to England?

It was pretty mind-blowing. I went from Wolverhampton to New York to Miami to London. It blew my mind.

I always thought it was about Manhattan, but really it was about the Bronx and the boroughs. It wasn’t about the American dream; there was another side of it.

Mate, I’ve got to take my clothes off. I keep seeing all these people I never expected to see. I want to take all my clothes off and get naked cos I can’t believe these people are in the country.

Haha fair enough. What’s going on over there? Where are you at?

I’m about to go into the recording studio and record a wonderful singer called Sam. Hello? My world is crazy. My life is really mad.

It sounds it. How do you keep going with stuff? A lot of people get older and stop painting or doing music or whatever.

I don’t know why, maybe because I’m insane? Because I haven’t had any meds? I just keep going. I’ll sleep when I die.

That whole early hip-hop or early street culture thing is still held in such high regard. Why do you think people are still so mad about that time?

I’ll tell you why it was so good - it's because we don’t have many records of it. This generation will be as shocked when in 20 years’ time they start seeing their selfies. They’ll be shamefully embarrassed about what they’ve done. Fashion rides its course. This was all pre-internet so it was all about finding it for yourself, not discovering it on some website.

How did the hip-hop thing change into drum and bass?

I was in New York and then I came back. When I left it was Happy Mondays and Strawberry Fields Forever.

Haha – Candy Flip?

Yeah. I felt there was a need for breakbeat culture. That hybrid was Reinforced Records.

Things like hip-hop in the 80s and rave later on were massive things. What do you think people need now? A lot of people look pretty bored.

Do you know what I think? I think purpose clubs should be built with sound proofing and good sound. It should be subsidised by the local government. Clubs give you a sense of situation. People need culture – you can’t get culture at a fucking festival. They can support people from the culture, but they can’t become a culture themselves.

Yeah, this stuff has got to come from the real people doing stuff. What do you think the next thing will be?   

I haven’t got a clue. I haven’t got a looking glass. Today matters.

What do you think about the internet? 

The internet is like a velvet claw. You can buy anything you want. But I don’t my life to be like Ableton. I don’t want that. I don’t want it to all fit. I want it to have dips and curves, and move around, so I find myself in a lot stronger position.

Do you think stuff is too easy now?

It’s very easy. Too easy.

You’ve obviously put a lot of effort into things – writing hour long songs and that sort of thing. Do you think a lot of people these days are too content just to coast through without trying?

That’s down to them. If they want to do that and they can sleep at night, then that’s down to them. I’m not going to throw stones from inside a glass house. I don’t live in a glass house. I used to. I used to live in a fucking greenhouse.

What I do isn’t that complex. What I do is a choice. It’s a hard choice, but it’s my choice.

You’ve just released your first album in quite a while. What made you want to do an album after so long?

Well, I actually got another album coming out too. It’s called Objective. I’m about to lay the last track down now. And after that I’m going to go to America and do two and a half weeks of gigs until I’m exhausted.

Then after that I’m going to go back to Thailand and masturbate.

Haha - the good life? What’s it like over in Thailand? How come you’re over there?

I live here. I’ve built a house. I get away from the madness and practice yoga every day.

How come loads of people get into yoga after raves and clubbing and all that? That seems like a fairly common thing.

Because it’s healthy and it’s great — and I look fucking great. I’d give you a run for your money. I get a real buzz out of it. It’s a good release of serotonin.

You’ve done so much over the years. What are you most proud of?

I couldn’t say that. I really couldn’t say. I don’t know? Speaking to Ted Turner about Timeless? That’s one. They’re randoms — they’re all over the place — but that’s one of them. I’m blessed, I’m very lucky. I’ve woke up and it’s a really good day.

What next? What do you want to be doing in maybe ten or twenty years? Do you ever look that far ahead?

I don’t know? I don’t have a magic ball, no one does. So I don’t see myself then, I see myself now.

The adidas Spezial stuff will be available online at 00:01 on Friday the 22nd of September.

Photo courtesy of Nick Knight. Thanks to Gary and Portia for their help with this.