We had the good fortune of connecting with Professor Elemental from England and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Professor Elemental, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
I’m a great believer that the idea of ‘helping the world’ is a bit much. I mean, the world is huge. We are tiny. The idea of helping the world feels like bringing a small dustpan and brush to help clear up an earthquake. Where would you even begin? But helping those around you, we can all do that. Making sure everyone is having a good time and feels a sense of unity, sharing politeness and good manners, making people feel part of something larger and building a sense of community- these things are all not only doable, but vital.
As a Hip Hop emcee, there is a long lineage of rap music as a force for genuine change. Without Hip Hop, there’s little chance that I would have been introduced to the politics that shape my life now, not to mention the vibrant and exciting culture that accompanies it. As a white, middle class, middle aged rapper who wears a ridiculous Victorian outfit, there are additional complications. The character appeals to a different demographic than your usual Hip Hop emcee. The act is inherently silly, so I have to tread the thin line between creating entertaining and not bringing the art of rap into disrepute. I am fiercely left wing in my politics, but that’s not always shared by my audience- so working out how much politics that can be justified in my stage show without people angrily throwing things at my face, is another balancing act.
On the plus side though, my audience is largely made up of nerds. Afficiandos of various entertatining and peculiar subcultures- from gamers to bronies, from steampunks to furries. Over the years, the act has changed accordingly- I perform a lot of songs about mental health and unity, about the joy of not caring about other people’s perceptions of you, about using art to survive. Making this an integral part of the stage show and music therein has been helpful to me and (hopefully) to them. I’ve facilitated wedding proposals, actual weddings, defused rivalries and shared support for marginalised groups. I’ve promoted charities and artists that might not have been seen otherwise. Plus I’ve spent years teaching vulnerable people how to rap and how to use that ability to bring confidence and playfulness into their life. And in doing so, lest we forget, I’ve also fed my own ego. (hey, let’s not pretend it’s all selfless, us artists have hungry egos to feed too).
Is that enough? I’m never sure. To be honest, I don’t know if my business helps the world exactly, but it makes people smile. And that’s a nice start.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started out as a fairly standard Hip Hop emcee in the British seaside town of Brighton. After some years of not quite fitting in, I stumbled across a new character- a ridiculous mad Victorian Professor with Steampunk tendencies and in no time he had fused himself to my act and life. Since then, Ive been lucky enough to rack up millions of youtube hits, travel the world and make some very silly music and art along the way.
There’s definitely been challenges- overcoming peoples preconceptions being one of the most constant, not to mention having to single handedly feed a family from my work. But, let’s face it, just by virtue of being a white, middle class man, there’s no doubt that I’ve also had it relatively easy. I was in the right place at the right time, creating my character when Steampunk first became popular and that helped enormously.
One of the greatest gifts you can receive in life is to find your tribe and, thanks to the Professor, I’ve found mine. And they are lovely.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
HI. Welcome to Brighton. It’s nice, but also awful. Like every other seaside town in England. There are great places to eat, a drug and homeless problem, an excellent pier packed with rides, terrible drunken tourists, amazing art everywhere and people on the beach that you’d really rather prefer had stayed fully dressed.
Let me steer you carefully around that guy passed out in the doorway and show you around:
The best place to eat is Petit Pois, a little french restuarant on Ship Street.
The top place to shop is Dave’s comics: Easily the finest comic shop in the country, with the nicest staff.
The finest place to drink is probably the hand in heart. It’s tiny and thus ideal for a cosy pint.
The best thing to do is go to the end of the pier and ride the crazy mouse. It feels genuinely unsafe and very exciting.
And when you’re done with all that, let’s stumble through the streets in awe of the brilliant grafitti and in search of a house party. It never takes that long to find one…
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am a sketchy middle aged rapper propped up by a wealth of talented artists from all over the world: Tom Caruana, the producer of the Professor Elemental albums, Nick maxwell- the Dj who accompanies to some very strange places, Chris Mole- who write the comics and finds amazing artists to fill them. There are over 25 guests on the next album alone who all make it better and fresher. For me, collaboration is the key to exciting art. And I am lucky enough to collaborate with the best in the business.