When BrumNotes calls Obaro Ejimiwe, it’s the day of the 2015 Mercury Prize nominations announcement (Oct 16), and the man known to the world at large as Ghostpoet is understandably in high spirits.
“I knew about getting nominated for about a week before it was announced,” he confesses. “I was half asleep and my manager called me and told me, and I thought it was a dream, because I was just sleeping. But it feels real now, because the rest of the world knows. It’s good.”
At the time of our conversation, Ghostpoet’s Shedding Skin is joint second favourite to win.
“Joint second? Interesting!” he says, clearly surprised. “How much of that can you take, it’s weird but nice, you know? I just make my music, that’s just what I do, but it’s nice to part of the Mercury Prize. I don’t know if I’ll win, but it’s nice to be part of the conversation.”
The competition’s stiff, with (if the bookies are to be believed) Jamie xx, Eska and Wolf Alice also in the running.
“It’s a strong list. Some I know, some I don’t know, I haven’t heard, but it’s a really interesting mix of people,” Obaro reckons. “Lots of people are for and against it … it’s good to divide opinion, that the list can divide opinion. I think it’s a good eclectic mix, I’m quite pleased with the direction they’ve gone in.”
No stranger to the awards (Ghostpoet’s 2011 debut album Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam was also nominated) Obaro’s already been playing several of the acts he knows on his regular Soho Radio slot.
“I love radio, it gives me an opportunity to play what I love and some golden oldies,” he says, adding he enjoys selecting a diverse playlist. “All sorts of stuff. Lonelady, I’ve been playing her regularly, and recently Gengahr, the new Battles record [La Di Da Di], and a lot of BB King, I’ve been playing him obsessively. I’ve also been playing a couple of the Mercury nominated albums, like Gaz Coombes’ and Eska’s, both of which I really like. And some bits of bobs by some of the other Mercury acts.”
With musicians such as Guy Garvey, Jarvis Cocker and Lauren Laverne all establishing themselves as successful broadcasters, is Obrao keen to follow suit?
“Yeah, I’d like to get into more … [for] when the day job gets boring,” he laughs.
Ghostpoet appears at The Hare And Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham, on 24 November 2015. The Mercury Prize winner will be announced on Friday 20 November 2015 on BBC Four and BBC Radio 6 Music.