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Interview: Goldie on his theatre debut and why he continues to shine by Dan Davies

Goldie first ascended to the throne when his album Timeless became the definitive drum'n'bass album. With his crew and label Metalheadz they further refined and dominated the movement with Goldie producing records and constantly DJing throughout. But Goldie's reign didn't stop there.

Already a renowned graffiti artist in his respective home towns of Wolverhampton, Miami and LA, his creativity became boundless, as his music became timeless. Seizing every opportunity he was offered Goldie has now turned his hand to conducting and composing classical music,  jewellery design and screen acting.

This week Goldie makes his theatre acting debut at Stratford East. In Kingston 14 he plays the role of Joker, a Jamaican gang leader who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a tale of murder, kidnap and corruption on the sun bleached island.

I catch up with him at lunch time between rehearsals and mouthfuls of the best beef patty he's ever tasted.

Dan Davies: You have an incredible bio what drives you to not get stuck in a groove?

Goldie:
That old chestnut (laughs), well, I didn't want to be one of those people who turned around after 10 years to realise that your career is over and all you've been doing is the same old thing. A good mate of mine always used to say "you're always gonna be a target, keep moving and no-one will hit you." I don't really think the roles that I've done on film really matters - they're just bit parts. Working with people like Clint (Dyer, the director) and Trevor Laird make feel like I'm growing by just looking at them work. When I look at Trevor and how much dialogue he has, you know he's owning two characters. Also, having a great scriptwriter and director really matters. Working in theatre is a thing that people like us were never traditionally allowed to have a crack at; I feel honoured. Every day I'm in at 10am, not because I have to, but so I can see the creation. I'm there to look at the backstory, then I realise how strong the piece is. It's a similar reason why I enjoyed creating jewellery, I'm forging the metal to make it stronger.

Dan Davies: With things such as By Royal Appointment and Maestro for the BBC, how did it feel effectively being accepted by the establishment?

Goldie:
I've never been, have I? And that's where the excitement lies, I mean I'm still getting double takes walking to the theatre. I feel like I'll never be part of it really, the more I think about these things, the more I realise that it's the complete loner who really manages to completely flips things on their heads. I only just found out that Pushkin was mixed race and a lot of the greats like Mozart were outsiders. I mean I still have to I fight for my own stuff, I recently did an exhibition on Dover Street opposite The Ritz but I couldn't get people to talk about it or take it seriously. Most people off the back of an art show like that might get burnt out. I've just found it a bit easier to jump to the next pebble, it's just become a little less slippery for me. I'm learning more as I get older but for acting, I don't feel like I've even arrived yet.

The thing I really like about theatre is the way in which we're in the same stream together. I mean Ashley Chin is a superstar waiting to happen. He's the character that we'd all like to be, like a cowboy in the Wild West. It's really interesting to see how the Wild West and early gangster movies influenced Jamaica, you know we had our own Dillinger, Bad Boy Johnston and Scarface. It's amazing what that influx of mass media did to this small island culture. I mean look at how stupid hip-hop made us look over here in the 80's, you know rolling out the lino and doing our stupid moves around on it. It wasn't the best fit for us but it was our attempt to be like people in America and some amazing creativity came from that.

Dan Davies: How does being in a play compare to being in films?

Goldie:
Totally different, with the film method no matter how big your role, it still feels like a bit part. WIth this [theatre show] you spend more time looking behind the scenes. The writing's so good it now has a completely different meaning to me to what it was when I first read it. I liked doing classical music but when I started trying to do it I really didn't have a clue. Now, I can look at some sheet music and I can understand what the clumps are. I've just finished a piece for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in Glasgow. It's funny, I've had these critics going on about the "nuances" of it and how it was "surprisingly complex". I mean, I still don't know how to play an instrument but I know the notes and I know how to put a song together. To play this role it's not just about going out of control like in my Temper Temper video, less is more.

Dan Davies: I remember when you recorded Temper Temper with Noel Gallagher and he asked you what key it was in and you said "what's a key"?

Goldie:
Yeah! You're not wrong there! You've done your research haven't you?!

Dan Davies: You've probably been asked this question a lot when it comes to music but what are your influences in the play for Joker?

Goldie:
Well, I guess I started by looking at The Joker from Batman - you know, that dark, twisted sense of humour. My own brother in Jamaica has the same name actually, so I gave him a call. I mean I've never really been to Jamaica, I went to Miami for a patch when I wanted to get some personal family stuff straight but I've never really spent time over in Jamaica. The situation in Jamaica, it's the same all over the world in places I have been to. You know everywhere from the wards in New Orleans, through to the the favelas in Brazil or the ghettos in LA it's the same story. Anywhere where colonialism was strong, you've got the remnants of the caste society. You always find a big gap between rich and poor and the police force or ruling powers slip into corruption. The other interesting thing is that you look at places like New Orleans - amongst the locals there's a cracking sense of humour. Their attitude to dealing with what life throws at their life is always quite funny. For me the beginning of this play was the written word but it's also in the way in which it's being played out. The chats we have between scenes are dark and funny too and that feeds the play. You look at a scene a different way and suddenly the words have become duplicitous.

Dan Davies: Last week Bukem and Roni Size played at Village Underground in Shoreditch, what do you think about drum'n'bass coming back this year?

Goldie:
Look - it's always been coming back, it's never been away man. It's like skaters down the Southbank being asked if skateboarding is coming back and they just look at you as if you're fucking daft. Last month I played with Danny (LTJ Bukem) as part of a Metalheadz night and we were busy at 7pm all the way through to when the doors were closed. You know the thing that I really love about the scene is that it's pre-internet. It's something which is much harder to break down - it's like good jewellery, the stone's been set, it's still there and shining 20 years later.
 
Kingston 14 is at Theatre Royal Stratford East from 29 March until 26th April, matinee and evening tickets available here