Bubbling with a combination of wit, whimsy and lyrical mastery, they just don’t make ‘em like Professor Elemental very often. The Dilettante sat down for a lovely chat with the chap-hop star to discover his thoughts on creativity, convention and his post-corona plans.
Well, 2020 certainly threw a spanner in the works. How have you been doing?
I was having a really nice time before lockdown happened, so when people started saying it’s quite nice to take a break, slow down and reflect, I didn’t really feel that. Basically I had a few months of living in the 1950s and I've been no worse for it, but I’m ready for a bit more weirdness back in my life now.
Have you been able to hatch any wonderful plans during lockdown?
I’ve got an album coming out called Nemesis, which will be released in the spring. We did a big competition to find a villain I could face and now we’re creating the record. I’m sadly making the assumption that corona will be around throughout 2021, so I’ll be doing less gigs, or in a more socially distanced way. But I want to get more active with protests and things like that… and hopefully cause some mischief.
There’s certainly a lot of mischief in the Professor’s world. How do you find performing under an alter-ego?
I find the constraints of the Professor, creatively, are really useful. I use him like a little lens to focus all the stuff I want to do. So he’s a very useful foil, but he just needs to be kept under control. If he gets out of his box too often, suddenly I’m just a mad man in a hat who’s been kicked out by his wife and is living in a caravan - which is my greatest and very real fear.
What would be your advice for anyone whose creative pursuits aren’t exactly conventional?
Well I found a really nice little niche and I don’t need to do anything else. I realised I could make a living by doing this, which is amazing, but I also realised that no record label will ever put out one of my records. I will never necessarily break into the mainstream. If you can find a niche and find a few people who like your stuff and will support you, you’re sorted. I like to think some of the bigger dreams don’t make you happier anyway. You’ve got to please yourself when it comes to creative stuff, and then if it fails it doesn’t matter because you had a nice time doing it. So you can’t lose I think.
Do you think music has lost its showmanship in the modern day?
Showmanship to me has always been people like Frank Sidebottom or Vivian Stanshall, but they were never in the mainstream, they were on the fringes. I love hip hop so, so much, but it can be so boring to watch so I think a bit of showmanship is nice actually. Perhaps it comes a lot easier to the weirder acts, because you’ve got nothing to lose really. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake because you’re tiny anyway. I think the truest thing when doing anything on the stage, is as long as you look like you’re having a nice time, people will grant you a lot more leeway if you're messing up.
The Professor's latest single 'Devil in the Desert' is out now! Head to www.professorelemental.com to order yourself a treat and keep up with the Prof's latest adventures!
Want to hear more? Enjoy a most spirited and entertaining parley with Professor Elemental in the brand new Dilettante Podcast! In episode one we delve into the makings of mischief, from classic cartoon capers to the history of Mischief Night.