London isn't so much a city as a conglomerate of cultures, languages, and accents, a point of arrival and departure for countless souls.
It's where MIINK calls home, a place he was born in, grew up in, and uses as his base. A completely self-contained artist, his work flits between bass culture, fractal R&B, and lucid electronics, applying a spiritual edge to those sounds in the process.
Constantly seeking out fresh pathways, new mixtape 'Small Clan' deals with information overload, gang culture, and London's dystopian edge - all while retaining its faith in common humanity.
Touchstones could include everyone from Kode9 to Massive Attack, Sampha to legendary collectives such as Soul II Soul.
In our opinion, though, MIINK is out there on his own. We caught up with the Londoner on the day his new tape drops - dive in to 'Small Clan' below then check out the full Q&A after the jump.
Do you handle everything associated with MIINK?
Yeah I do everything. It’s quite a workload to be honest. There seems to be a lot of people who claim to be self-sufficient, but I’m not convinced, really. Everyone I seem to meet says that, and then I realise they’re not really doing that. From my side, it’s everything. From the start to the finish, it’s me.
Do you work in a conceptual fashion?
It’s conceptual from the start, usually. I usually have something that I want to say, that I want to get off my chest. I have philosophies that I live by, that I want people to understand. I put all of that into my art, and what I make.
So what are you trying to say with this mixtape?
So, the idea is that right now I feel that we’re going through a revolution. I think everyone’s way of working is having to change right now, and a lot of people haven’t quite caught up with it. It’s the same as when the industrial revolution came in and a load of farmers were made redundant because there were machines who could do their jobs for them.
But it’s not a bad thing, this revolution, I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a place where a lot of smaller people can find their way because they’ve been blocked out of it by bigger companies. So someone like myself who is doing it myself, I can find ways in because I’ve grown up on the internet. I know my way around it than an older person who has been sitting at the top having other people do that stuff for them for a long time. I wanted to stress that idea, that there is room for people to get in without the gatekeepers blocking them.
- - -
From my side, it’s everything. From the start to the finish, it’s me.
- - -
The main concept of the whole thing is that I wanted to show people that we’re more similar than different. I think we have the tendency to look at each other as enemies or competition a lot of the time, when really and truly we’re looking for the same thing and can help each other in that same way. I think that’s what big businesses have done to us, because we’ve been pushed down so much and we’re fighting for scraps of work just to get by. Now is the time when everyone can look at each other and think, we’re the same… we can help each other. We are much more alike than we are different.
The internet can lead to cooperation, but – as we’ve seen in the past 18 months – it can also have this dystopian edge, where the people who are empowered aren’t exactly... very nice.
I think it’s again part of this figuring it out. This is a time when people don’t quite know what’s going on, and there will be people who catch on to the fake stuff before others and they’ll understand it a bit more. I think it’s just a case of things being in turbulence because of the changes that are going on. I think it will even itself out as people become accustomed to the new things. I don’t think people like change, but I think we’re good at adapting to it. It’s just a matter of time before people start realising.
Will the mixtape contribute to that balancing effect, or is your role as an artist more to observe?
I think it’s more of an observation than anything. I would like people to take something from it because I put a lot into it, and I feel that everything is an even exchange. I’m not sure how much they are going to take from it. I just like to put that out into the ether and see what happens.
- - -
- - -
Why a mixtape, instead of an album, or a series of singles?
To be honest, I see it as more of an album myself. It’s a lot higher quality than just being a bunch of songs – there is a concept behind it. There is a reason for it.
A painter doesn’t really paint one painting and then sell it off, they curate it and make an exhibition out of the whole thing. You can see the growth throughout their career when you start looking back years after. You can see the phases they went through during their career, the events that shaped their art. It’s creating more of a timeline, and showing people bodies of work, and not snippets. There’s a lot of snippets around just now – everything is fast, and short, and you don’t get into the person behind it that much.
The artwork is incredibly striking – it’s reminiscent of those early Catholic paintings of saints…
That’s exactly it. I was looking at pictures of tribal scars and things like that – you can draw a lot of similarities between things when you start looking at it like that. There’s a heavy religious theme on the mixtape. Some of the songs compare religions to gangs – if you take religion in the Old Testament sense then there were gods who would look down over the land and smite intruders… and gang culture is similar to that. People want to feel safe, and there’s safety in numbers, and safety in your area. I don’t feel we’re that different from each other.
The reason I have wounds on my forehead is that I believe our pain makes up who we are. Our fear that is brought from that pain keeps us from connecting with others, with outsiders, because we’ve all been hurt before and you don’t want it to happen again, so you’re wary of anyone who is different, who looks different or seems different.
If we were to all wear that pain on our sleeves, and bear our scars, and show our wounds, then you could see that people have been hurt before. And you’d realise that we are very similar, we can see why people are not willing to look at you as the same as them because they’re scared.
- - -
People want to feel safe, and there’s safety in numbers, and safety in your area...
- - -
It’s that hyper-capitalist sense of fracturing society and placing people in opposition to one another.
Without doubt. I’ve had a lot of friends go down the gang route, and weirdly a lot of their neighbours go down the opposite route, to try and find spirituality. It’s quite a weird thing to see. You wonder why they take the route that they do. It’s interesting to watch. London is a very strange but fascinating place right now. Definitely. I’ve always lived here, and I’ve seen a lot of change in that time. It’s crazy to think how much it’s changed.
The mixtape is out now, so where will you go after this?
Well I’ve got another project already wrapped up, pretty much. I wanted to get a lot of material out in these early times, when the project is first starting, because it’s necessary. It’s easy to get overlooked right now, unless you have a constant stream of things. I think it’ll be easier for me to tour if I have more songs, for example.
And I’ve got a lot to say – I want to keep releasing things, and building it, and building it, to bring everyone along on the journey.
- - -
'Small Clan' is out now.
Join us on Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.