“My mum, the very last thing she instructed me earlier than I left was, ‘You are both going to be in jail or you are going to be large.'”
Octavian – who has simply acquired a step nearer to the massive time after being named winner of BBC Music’s Sound of 2019 – is recalling the day, on the age of 14, that he was thrown out of his mom’s home.
“She was naked indignant at me, so it was bizarre that she stated that,” he says. “However I at all times stored that in my thoughts.
“I knew I would be large as a result of I did not wish to be in jail. So I stored myself motivated simply via that.”
The French-born, London-based musician – full identify Octavian Oliver Godji – spent the subsequent few years homeless, leaping from couch to couch, making an attempt to maintain that dream alive.
He gained a scholarship to the Brit Faculty, which taught artists like Adele, Amy Winehouse and FKA Twigs, however finally dropped out. His argument: “I do not consider you possibly can train somebody to be inventive.”
The chums he made at Brit Faculty caught with him, although, serving to to supply the beats and visuals on Octavian’s melodic, genre-defying mixtapes 22 and Essie World (a reference to his SE London postcode).
His breakthrough got here with 2017’s Celebration Right here, whose ominous intro unexpectedly offers option to a euphoric refrain, the place the 23-year-old guarantees himself: “You are gonna blow, it is simply timing.”
He could not have been extra appropriate. Weeks later, Drake filmed himself singing Celebration Right here at a Golden Globes after-party. Octavian’s cellphone hasn’t stopped ringing since.
Just lately signed to Black Butter information (dwelling to Clear Bandit and Rudimental), he is simply moved into his first flat and has been working with Diplo and Mura Masa as he prepares his debut album.
Let’s return to the start, when individuals nonetheless referred to as you Oliver Godji…
So for everybody who would not know, Octavian is definitely my full actual identify. I am Octavian Oliver Godji however individuals simply assume Oliver is my actual identify as a result of it sounds “correct”.
Are you aware the place Octavian got here from?
I do not – however I Googled it and it is like a Roman emperor, and it means “the eighth baby”.
Whenever you had been rising up, who was the primary artist you obsessed over?
Michael Jackson. I feel everybody did at one level. Michael Jackson is an enormous a part of my life. He was inhuman, virtually.
When did you begin writing music?
After I was seven, I used to go to main faculty and rap bars on the best way dwelling. I by no means wrote, although, I at all times used to freestyle with my mates.
You bought a scholarship to the Brit Faculty however you left below a cloud. What was the principle factor you took away from that have?
Earlier than the Brit Faculty I assumed there was just one standard option to succeed. After I was there, I discovered that being proficient and having creativity could make you profitable. That modified my entire life. I used to be like, “What? I will be a rapper!”
So if you happen to did not go to the Brit Faculty to grow to be a musician, why did you enrol?
I simply did not wish to do maths! Can I say that?! Maths, for me, is the worst. I can not do it. It bugs my mind.
So I needed to do one thing I used to be good at, which wasn’t performing or music on the time. It was actually simply not doing maths. However they accepted me and I did a course referred to as group arts follow, which is mainly educating the underprivileged the humanities. It was lit. It was good. I appreciated it rather a lot.
In your teenage years, issues did not precisely go to plan. How dangerous did it get?
It was dangerous, man. I used to be on the roads, I had no cash. I used to be so poor that I had £zero.00 in my present account. I could not even take the bus.
How did you retain going?
I stored the potential of being profitable in my thoughts. That basically acquired me via some darkish instances – as a result of I used to be simply trying upwards, are you aware what I am saying?
When your mum threw you out, she stated, “You may both go to jail or be large”. How straightforward wouldn’t it have been to go the improper manner?
Really easy. With out you even eager to go the improper manner, you both find yourself promoting medication or doing dangerous issues. It is really easy to get pulled into it. It is like being at a celebration and somebody providing you a drink. It is loopy laborious to have the willpower to say “no” and never slot in.
I needed to form of step out and say, “I am poor and I’ve no cash however I do not wish to promote medication. That is not the life for me. I wish to achieve success.” I needed to show everybody improper.
The primary music you uploaded was Mary Jane.
Woah! That was a very long time in the past.
What age had been you?
I used to be 14. That was after I first began BRIT faculty and I met my mates. The those that believed in me then are nonetheless with me now. So Jordan [Christie], the man that blended Mary Jane, truly produced Celebration Right here.
That music clearly kicked issues up a degree. Do you know you had one thing particular?
It is unusual as a result of I would by no means written such deep lyrics earlier than. To jot down lyrics like that, about realizing that I will come out of poverty – then to return out of poverty due to that music, is bizarre.
What made you write these phrases?
I used to be writing a promise to myself.
It is actually loopy, ? I made that music in Jordan’s home. I used to be sofa-surfing there. And two weeks later, I am getting cellphone calls speaking about cash like I’ve by no means heard of earlier than.
After which Drake turned up in your timeline, singing the hook.
It was the craziest second of my life. I actually, actually root for Drake, so for him to publish me and discuss me, and to message me… It is a loopy expertise.
Can I ask in regards to the tattoo of an “x” you might have below your eye? What does that signify?
The “x” truly represents a brand new man, a change from the “ex-you”, are you aware what I am saying?
After I acquired my first cheque after being poor for seven years, to now having cash and having the ability to do what I need in life, it is like a brand new me and a brand new starting.
So that you’re now not the one who stated: “Went again to the lecturers simply to rub one yr’s wage of their face” [from the song Gun Fingerz].
Precisely. I did not need that power any extra, so I modified it, and it labored for me and it helped me.
That is why I modified the identify of my final mixtape from Revenge to Spaceman. I used to be considering, “I am not who I was. I am grateful for what I’ve. I do not need revenge.” Spaceman was a great way of claiming I am in a unique world, I am exploring the Universe.
So what is going to we hear from you in 2019?
Loads of Octavian experimenting and lots of me going loopy and wild. It’ll be a really loud yr for me. A great deal of music, a great deal of visuals, a great deal of albums.
A great deal of albums?
A great deal of albums this yr! Seven or eight!
You posted an image with Diplo on Instagram final week. Is that the subsequent factor?
It is not the subsequent factor nevertheless it is perhaps the subsequent subsequent factor. There’s plenty of tunes popping out with fully completely different vibes – from 80s music, to rap, to lure, to Spanish. My music is bizarre, man.