Before his top secret performance for Sol’s VEVO GO series at Bondi Skate Park yesterday, Pedestrian caught up with beguiling British singer-songwriter and recent Parklife artist Labrinth to discuss the perks of being friends with Simon Cowell, how to raise your voice and what he’s learned from Tinie Tempah.

What’s the best secret show or guerrilla gig you’ve ever been to? I actually haven’t been to one. I’ve played one though. It was one of the first gigs that I ever did and it was called The Secret Garden. It was a great show. It was quite weird to do it though because it was really, really intimate and it was my first time getting out there and performing so I was shaking in my boots.

You’re signed to Simon Cowell’s label which is obviously a massive platform. What was the A&R process like from his end, how did he go about hunting you down? Well, when it’s Simon Cowell it’s not hard to hunt anyone down. If Saddam Hussein was still alive, Simon would be able to track him down. Basically I produced Tinie Tempah’s first records “Pass Out” and “Frisky” and they were number one and number two in The UK charts for a good while and a lot of labels after that were like “who’s this new kid?”. And then it started kicking off from there. I was having dinners with labels every other week talking about how they could give something to me in terms of my career. At the last minute I was about to sign to a giant label in The UK and at the last minute Simon Cowell called and asked me to work with some of the artists on The X Factor. Then I played him some demos and he was like “who’s that singing on the records?” and I was like “that’s me” and he was like “are you signed?” and I was like “I’m about to sign” and he was like “well you’re not signed yet” and the deal kicked off from there.

What’s he like as a label boss? He’s good, you know. He’s hands on with a lot of the artists that came from the show but with me he wanted an artist who had their own creative initiative. You know, I sing, I write all of my own music and I think he didn’t want to get too involved. I think we created a great working friendship. He gives great advice, he’s a very sensible guy, he’s intelligent. And he’s obviously very successful, he’s been great.

Was it hard for you to go from a producer to an artist in terms of opening your mouth and singing? I wouldn’t say it was hard but it was hard (laughs). It was definitely difficult. You don’t just walk out of a studio and stand in front of 60,000 people like it’s comfortable and easy. So I definitely had to earn my stripes and do every gig I could possibly do to get my confidence up. Even now I’m still growing as a performer but I feel loads more confident. If you see the videos from when I first started you would laugh. You would literally laugh man, it’s crazy.

You’ve obviously got a blueprint on how to be a successful UK artist with your involvement with Tinie Tempah. What has he taught you? In a weird subliminal way he’s been showing me the ropes the whole time I’ve known him without actually saying anything. We had hits and I saw the way he went out there and did his thing. I definitely learned a lot just from backing him on stage at a few big festivals. Just seeing the way that he performed and did interviews I got a good idea of what the entertainment industry had to offer. From there I just had to figure out for myself how I wanted to be received or seen in the eye of the public.

Image supplied.