I have a lot of respect for Scroobius Pip. Yes, he’s an artist who has received worldwide acclaim, and who has built an impressive body of work in a short space of time. But there are better measures of a person than mere success.
I write this because of something that happened last weekend at Bestival. I’d schlepped over to the Isle of Wight to read a poetry set there, and by my arrival was feeling pretty knackered. Scroobius, meanwhile, was just beginning a raucous mid-afternoon set with Dan le Sac, whose electro was thrashing its way out of a tent packed thousands deep. I couldn’t get inside, so I stood a few dozen yards back and watched their show on one of the big screens.
Scroobius finished performing at about half two, and I was due to read at three. Within minutes, he’d made it over to the Ambient Forest stage, where a group of a few dozen listeners sat waiting for that afternoon’s poets. He took the mic and then hosted the next hour and a half of performances, deferring to each of the performers with some of the most generous introductions you could imagine.
It wasn’t till a few hours later that I realised the significance of what he’d done. Scroobius Pip’s fan base is large and loyal. After playing a set that good, he could quite easily have stood in the crowd for the next couple of hours with a beer and soaked up the adulation, walking from compliment to compliment with a dazed smile on his face. I think I would have done.
But Scroobius didn’t do that. Knowing that his name pulls crowds, he hurried over to a small tent to support poets, including me, who are seeking a bigger platform for their work. From an artist, that is just about as humble as it gets; and I left for home with a greater respect for him than ever before.
Musa Okwonga is a director of Poejazzi. He is a poet, musician and football writer: you can find his electronica project The King’s Will here, and you can read his blogs for the Independent here.