In news that couldn’t make me more excited, Jodi Ann Bickley is set to collaborate with dubstep superstar Skream. I don’t know what it is about this news that makes me happiest, so I’ll have to set out my reasons as calmly as possible. (Given that I’ve just ingested copious quantities of coffee and chocolate, am riding off the back of just five hours’ sleep after a huge night out, and am still shivering with the adrenalin of having handed in my notice as Europe’s job market is about to be further blowtorched by the economic crisis, calmness may not be possible. Anyway, here goes.)
I’m excited for musical reasons. There are a few poets/spoken word artists/whatever the mainstream feels most comfortable calling them who have worked beautifully with music in recent years. There’s (the late, great) Gil Scott-Heron with Jamie xx, Kate Tempest with Sound of Rum, there’s Scroobius Pip, and there’s Joshua Idehen with LV, who have produced “Routes”, which is by a narrow margin my album of the year. When the balance of poignant lyrics and brilliant tunes is achieved (see, for example, “All Things To All Men” by Roots Manuva and Cinematic Orchestra), then you have something truly special on your hands. Which is why I am joyful that Skream, having met Jodi at Bestival this year, is going to do a track with her.
With a string of diverse releases, both solo and with Magnetic Man, Skream has shown that there’s much more to him than there is to the average producer. Jodi’s words have a resonance and pacing to them that I think will sit ideally against the landscape that Skream will provide for them. She is a firm favourite of Poejazzi (see Joshua’s recent blog about her) and we can’t wait to hear what they come up with together.
I’m also excited for personal reasons. Since her victory at the 2009 Roundhouse Poetry Slam, Jodi has touched many of us with her tremendous talent (her poem about the Haiti earthquake was perhaps the best piece I read in 2010). Yet 2011 has been a year in which Jodi has had to show rare endurance. A couple of months back, she was hospitalised with encephalitis, a period that was as testing as could be for her, her family and her friends. (She has written movingly about her experience here.) And now Jodi is set to end 2011 on a deservedly triumphant note, her return to health being accompanied by the boldest step she is yet to take in a wonderful career. Over here at Poejazzi, our ears can’t wait.