Cover Feature Streets Ahead: Mike Skinner

When Mike Skinner reunited The Streets, he could’ve cashed his cheque and quit. Instead, he’s got a mixtape, album and film on the way. We meet the certified legend who’s still pushing things forward.

“I don’t really hang out anywhere these days, to be honest,” Mike Skinner deadpans as he sits, a little restlessly, in a busy, hipsterfied Brick Lane coffee shop. He disparagingly examines the deliberately-exposed brickwork, and the enormous waxed moustache and goatee beard of the man at the table next to us. “This is just a coke den, isn’t it? Although I guess that has its place…”. 40 years old and a father of two, he seems at ease, if a little weary. “They say you can tell who all the dads are on tour because everyone else is partying, and the dads just want to lie in a dark bunk.”

When he ended The Streets in 2011, Skinner was, by all accounts, burnt out. “Maybe when I’m 40 and broke I might come back, but it all feels a bit pants really,” he said spikily back then before the release of that year’s ‘Computers And Blues’ - the project’s last studio album to date. His return to the moniker in recent years, however, has been defined by a newfound sense of purpose. “Burnout comes from when you don’t really know what you’re there to do, and that’s horrible,” he says. “But I know exactly what I need to do to get through every day now. I literally don’t stop from when I open my eyes in the morning to when I close my eyes at night. But I don’t feel stressed. Stress would be doing this shit and not knowing why I’m doing it.”

And indeed, throughout The Streets’ hiatus, and in the months following a series of incendiary comeback gigs in spring 2018, the musical polymath has been remarkably busy - even if to the outside world his output has been somewhat sporadic. “Some people spend five years making an album, and other people don’t do anything for four years and then make an album in one. As a fan it’s not easy to see the difference, but there is a difference,” he says. “I’m definitely the former. Really, the only thing that matters is if it’s right.”

In the interim, he’s teamed up with The Music’s Rob Harvey for two albums as The D.O.T and UK rap group Murkage for a 2015 EP and a series of parties, billed as Tonga Balloon Gang. Currently, he’s working on a film, to be titled The Darker the Shadow The Brighter the Light, which he’s writing, directing, producing and starring in; “Imagine ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’, then imagine that being a film,” he suggests of the piece. He’s also releasing a new album that will serve as the soundtrack, which was inspired by his constant DJing. Meanwhile, as the film takes shape, Mike is putting out a mixtape called ‘None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive’ that features guests including Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and IDLES’ Joe Talbot. “For a long time, I had a lot of different interests, directing and producing and DJing; I had all the different things I was doing, but now everything’s converged,” he says. “The moment I realised that it was all coming back to one thing, that’s when I announced the reunion tour.”

Streets Ahead: Mike Skinner Streets Ahead: Mike Skinner Streets Ahead: Mike Skinner Streets Ahead: Mike Skinner Streets Ahead: Mike Skinner Streets Ahead: Mike Skinner Streets Ahead: Mike Skinner Streets Ahead: Mike Skinner

As featured in the May 2020 issue of DIY, out now.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.