Interview: Poté

Poté is a London-based artist producing work that easily enthralls its audience through versatile and captivating features. His previous releases have seen him lean towards sounds more fitting for a club setting, such as his Enchufada project Voyeurism. Yet in his new EP Fire for Fire, he appears to venture into alternative sides of his artistic nature, channelling his vocal and songwriting abilities. The four-track project explores what it is like to “battle between following your own advice versus your urges”, depicted through the clear-cut tone differences in the opener “Before the Light”. Poté also exhibits a competency for using musical elements in a manner that encourages viewing from new perspectives, exhibited in the Kojey Radical collaboration track “Fire for Fire”. Ahead of the January release of his Fire for Fire EP, we had a catch up with Poté to learn more about the project.

What is the main concept behind the Fire for Fire EP? “There are a few different things at play in this EP, but mainly it’s about the difference between your mind and heart. The EP speaks on going through situations where you know the decision you just made isn’t the right one, but still go through with it. Ultimately it serves as a part two to my Over the Water EP. When I thought I found my feet with Over the Water, the boat then begins to rock further on Fire for Fire.”

With regards to that, how did you try to capture that concept? “Seeing as I’ve been writing more and more poetry over the last year or so, I found that aspect really crucial in making this project. For example, the mid-section in “Egosurf” had to portray both the right emotion as well as lyrically stand out and make sense.
“Also, sonically I wanted the entire project to have more of a live, chaotic feel to it but not in the overly joyful way. It had to have a feeling of insanity to it, essentially crafting a world in which people could immerse themselves. I found myself watching quite a lot of live performances on YouTube, trying to capture how other artists were able to work a crowd and attempt to put that in an EP. SBTRKT was probably the one I watched the most and still continuously do so.”

Why did you choose to collaborate with Carmody and Kojey Radical? “The Kojey Radical collaboration happened really naturally. Earlier in the summer, I was in Toddla T’s studio playing him some new music I was working on around the time and played him a beat, saying how I’d love to get Kojey on it. He then set up an email introducing both of us to each other and we got in a session. Kojey and I worked on a few different things before I sent him “Fire for Fire”, which he then came round to record his verse on.
“Carmody was through management, they sent me a link to her stuff and I really loved her voice. We got in a session and everything just flowed really well, nothing felt forced or rushed, we were just playing each other random music for a while which usually brings out the best in a session. I really enjoyed working with her, hopefully we’ll get to write some music again soon.”

How do you think you managed to perfect the balance between the percussive elements and the mellow vibes present in your EP? “I fell in love with percussion and drum work in general after discovering Buraka Som Sistema a few years back. What they were doing had so many parallels (drum wise) to the music being played on radio and at parties when I was a youngster growing up in St. Lucia. I think releasing music with Enchufada and immersing myself into that world and culture made me understand quite a bit about finding a balance and not over-complicating percussion – making it simple, but still catchy and danceable. The mellow/melodic side to things were always key for me but it had to have a strong backbone to carry it, which were the drums and percussion.”

Being St. Lucian born, do you take any inspirations from there when creating music? “I wouldn’t say directly, but it will forever have an influence in what I do because it is where I am from and it is me. So, subconsciously probably quite a bit. St. Lucia has been a huge inspiration in my art direction, with the background for my Over the Water EP being outside our home. The parrot which is featured heavily in my artwork is St. Lucia’s national bird, the Amazona Versicolor. I use it because it’s essentially my soul, the bird’s representing me and my journey through life.”

How does this piece of work compare to your various releases over the years? “It’s definitely the most honest piece of work I’ve released without a doubt. I was solely making beats for the clubs and trying to compete with my friends, seeing who could make better music. Now I’m trying to use it to express different things about my life and growing with it. Mainly, it’s a lot more musical and personal now.”

How have you developed as an artist during your musical journey? “I think my work has become a lot clearer in terms of message, and what I’m about. It’s been one of my aims for a while, and part of the reason why I started singing, writing poetry, delving in rapping etc. It’s finding other forms of art in order to portray my message as clear as possible. I’m also more focused on my art direction and videos. But if I’m honest, I think I just grew up.”

Fire For Fire will be released in January 2017.

Michelle Ulor