Interview: Fire & Dust Meets Alice Short
On 3rd May 2018, 21-year-old rapper and poet Alice Short was one of our headliners at Fire & Dust. HCE magazine caught up with Alice after the gig, to ask a few questions…
HCE: Do you prefer to be called a poet, a performance poet, a rapper, a spoken word artist – or something else?
AS: I don’t mind any of those titles really. It isn’t really about titles. I guess recently I’ve been called a rapper a lot more because I’ve focused more on music.
HCE: Who is your work aimed at – do you have an audience in mind when you’re putting a poem or track together?
AS: I don’t think I consciously make my music for specific people. I think the people that relate to it most are people who have a similar mindset as I do: a focus on words, rhythm and message. I’m quite introverted and I think that is something people relate to.
HCE: Would you say your work has any recurring themes?
AS: I think each song has its own unique story or theme in it. Each of them come from a different experience but overall I think there is a theme, a search for understanding, a slight uncertainty at life.
HCE: What inspired you to get into rap and poetry?
AS: I got into it through hearing The Marshall Mathers LP. I think it was The Real Slim Shady that I first heard and it just blew my mind. I was fascinated by how he put words together. I’ve always liked lyrics a lot though. I used to listen to CDs and pause them and write the lyrics out. I started writing my own Eminem-inspired lyrics about people at school and then over time moved away from that.
HCE: Not long ago, you wrote a poem every day for a year. Did that take a lot of discipline, and have you kept up a writing routine since then?
I’d write the poems and post them when I first woke up in the morning and I was waking up every day at about 5:30 which, when I think back now, is a bit mad. Getting it done first thing helped though, I could just do whatever for the rest of the day. I like routine anyway so I got into the habit of it. It was strange when it was over. It felt like something was missing.
HCE: In your opinion, what are the essential elements for a great spoken word gig experience? (And, likewise: what makes for a bad gig experience?)
AS: A good or bad experience is generally dependant on the audience. If there is a good vibe from the audience it is always going to be a good gig. It’s really important that people are listening as well, which is what was great about Fire & Dust – people really listened intently.
HCE: Which regular open mic events in Nottingham can you recommend?
AS: The best poetry event in Nottingham has to be Poetry is Dead Good. It’s similar to Fire & Dust in the sense that people really listen. It’s a place where people really love poetry.
HCE: What was your experience of performing at Fire & Dust?
AS: It was great. Everyone that performed had their own style. The Big Comfy Bookshop is a great venue as well, it’s unique. I had an awesome time performing and that’s all you can hope for really.
HCE: Who are some of your favourite poets and lyricists? What sort of influence have they had on your own writing, if any?
AS: Patti Smith, Kate Tempest, Ian Curtis, Chris Difford from Squeeze, St. Vincent, and Tyler the Creator (especially on his latest album). They’ve all given me respect for words and writing fucking awesome songs.
HCE: Big question, but…where, in your opinion, is the line between something being ‘rap’ and ‘poetry’? Or are they always the same thing?
AS: There’s always a cross over between the two. They both come from the same traditions so I don’t really think they can be separated.
HCE: How does it feel to be getting positive recognition from platforms like BBC Radio?
AS: It feels good, it’s all steps in the right direction. I think it’s one of those things where you can’t make music solely to get on radio but, once it’s made, you want it sharing with as many people as possible.
HCE: Do you get many haters? If so, what are your tips for dealing with criticism?
AS: I’ve been quite lucky to be honest, I don’t get told by the people that don’t like it that they don’t like it. I don’t need to know about it really. I don’t want to be ignorant and think everyone loves my work but if the feedback’s not constructive, it won’t help anyway.
HCE: What projects/performances have you got coming up in 2018?
AS: I’ve got more singles coming out. I’ve already had a great response to Collect Your Thoughts, which came out on the 7th March and my latest single (Estranged) came out on the 7th May. They’re both on iTunes and Spotify. Both of the songs had awesome videos by super talented guys. So I’m just planning to build on what’s already happening.
I’ve got my first London poetry gig coming up on the 30th May, which will be awesome, and I’m hoping to get out and see more of the UK and show them what I’m about.
Social media/website links:
And on Instagram you can find Alice at @aliceshort1