• Take it away presents… DAP The Contract

    DAP The Contract is one of those frustratingly talented people; he raps, produces, sings, has his ABRSM diploma piano, and on top of that is studying law… yeah, we know.

    Born in Lagos, Nigeria, DAP has lived in London, just finished a short stint in Amsterdam, and is now based in New York. You can hear influences from all over in his music.

    His most recent accolades include opening for Skepta and Burna Boy at the first annual Nativeland Festival, and has since been asked to perform again, as well as featuring on the song “Be Nice” in the recent Disney soundtrack for film Noelle. And on top of that, he recently featured in our Winter Edition of Seasonal Sounds!

    Interviewed by Sophie Ogunyemi 

    Can you remember the moment you first decided to pick up an instrument?

    I don’t remember it specifically, but my mum is a pianist (my sister and brother play too) so it must have been just one day that she showed me properly. I do remember starting other new instruments though, like the flute and viola, which were less popular but meant I could play in orchestras and have a better chance of getting a music scholarship to a school in the UK!

    Who was the most influential in your musical education?

    My piano teachers! They were hands down my favourite teachers throughout school.

    All of them understood that kids need extra curricular activities and a change of pace from super academic work, as well as how hard it is to balance music and other school work. I found that music wasn’t emphasised or prioritised within school, really.

    My piano teachers were also the people who I could tell about things going on in my life. They have a different level of understanding and seemed to care more about me than my academic teachers. Those pianos classes were my chance to unwind a bit; to come out of my shell and be more myself. 

    Maybe they had this different level of understanding because music is emotional, so to learn and perform it you need to be emotionally aware.

    That’s one of the main values of the arts: it makes you think differently which I think helps you mature/grow up quicker.

    Which artists have since influenced you and your music?

    I had a big pivot in highschool from Classical music to an overwhelming amount of Hip-Hop music. But my favourite artist ever is Kanye West because of his versatility and also, I guess, because of having similar influences growing up with things like church every Sunday. I love gospel choirs, harmonies, organs etc. and sampling old school music that I knew growing up. 

    Apart from Kanye, there’s a whole host of other rappers that have influenced me, but then I never stopped loving Rachmaninoff and Schubert, Mozart, Copland etc. Something about the emotions in classical music speaks to me in the same way that hip-hop and rap music does.

    So, do you think having an understanding of classical music has improved your understanding or appreciation of other music?

    Absolutely. Having the understanding of the classical background gives me the ability to break down any genre and put it back together however I want, which makes genre bending more fun and interesting!

    A black, masculine adult with short, black hair and wearing a suit is leaning against a table.
    Do you think you have to study music to get in to it?

    Definitely not. Music is a universal language. It speaks differently to different people. 

    I would say studying it is definitely helpful though! It’s an important life lesson to understand something without jumping into it head first. I think studying music gives you a deeper understanding and freedom to interpret it how you like. Practising, mastering and doing research, in the way you do when learning music, is such a valuable life lesson. 

    Learning an instrument taught me about not giving up. I saw lots of my friends give up their instruments because there just wasn’t any emphasis on it compared to sports and school work, and it wasn’t “cool” (especially classical music).

    How do you think music has impacted your life? 

    I can’t imagine life without music! I listen to and make music more hours in the day than anything else. My morning alarm is a song, I listen to music in the shower, keep listening when I leave the house and throughout the day! Music has been the biggest influence in my life. It’s such a passion and I’ve always known that this is what I want to do, I have just had to work out how to do it on my own terms and make a living from it.

    Let’s talk about your music. When did you write your first piece?

    No one has ever asked me this! It was 2008 – I know this because all my beats are numbered with the number, date, keyboard name (I name my keyboards) and software. I’m a nerd!  So my first beat was called: 1st 02/06/09 Harrow (LOGIC)(MMH)

    A black adult is playing the piano
    How has your music evolved over the past few years into the sound you’re making now?

    I let go a little bit. I realised that I didn’t need to keep all of my music complex and get into the nitty gritty. Sometimes music can be too niche, so I sort of came out of making music that was strictly hip-hop or house or afrobeat and tried to create based on energy. I’m focusing now on how the song feels rather than how technically elaborate this song is. It’s getting a better understanding of people. I ask myself, what can I do to make someone connect with this so they can hear what I’m saying?

    That leads to my next question – what do you want your listeners to get out of your music?

    If I have to boil it down:

    1. To get to know me – music has always been therapeutic to me and a way of expressing thoughts and ideas.
    2. To learn about themselves – that means we all learn about each other.

    That’s the communal aspect of music. Relating to each other is so important. It’s to inform people too, and encourage conversation to make people think for themselves.

    What has been the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in the music industry so far?

    Great question. I’d say trust. I’ve turned down a lot of opportunities because of things feeling like a trick. The commercialisation of the music industry hasn’t helped it’s reputation, so I’ve found it hard to trust with dodgy contract clauses; there’s a lack of transparency that, without any help and experience, it’s very difficult to navigate. 

    How are you working around it?

    Maybe I have to let go a bit and take a leap of faith. I guess you learn through failing! But also I can negotiate more and be more firm on my terms.

    An close up of a black, masculine adult with short, black hair and beard and is wearing a suit.
    Collaboration with any artist – who would it be?

    Santi – I love his intentionality and his visuals are amazing!

    What do you enjoy most about being a musician?

    The freedom to create and do things on my own terms.

    Favourite track right now?

    Summer Walker – Fun Girl

    Reason: my favourite song of all time is Prototype by André 3000/OutKast, because I think it’s the most simple perfect love song and I think Fun Girl has that same beautiful simplicity. You also hear a motorcycle drive by as she was doing a little run, which is so by chance but timed so perfectly. It could have been taken out, but it’s still there!

    What’s your advice for young musicians?
    1. Don’t stop – this is the most important thing. I hear so many people say ‘I wish I hadn’t stop playing my instrument’.
    2. Work hard and work smart. Find different ways to do things and get yourself out there.
    Do you think Take it away is beneficial to young people?

    Absolutely. The emphasis on music education and giving more people access to it is so important. You never know who’s going to take to music and whose life it is going to change. Opportunity is key.

    What’s next for you and your music?

    2020 is going to be very different for me. I’ll be graduating from law school and becoming a full time lawyer. My goal for the next 6 months is to do both work and music. I’ve actually just put out some new music which I’ll be performing in the US in the Spring. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, but I do know I’m not going to quit music! 


    Watch DAP’s “GoodBye For Never 5yr” Live Album Documentary now:


    Listen now on SoundCloud or Spotify:

    Keep an eye out for his upcoming gigs by following DAP on:
    You’re in for a treat!

    Tell us what you think: @Takeitawaymusic

  • Take it away presents… cktrl

    Clarinetist, saxophonist as well as a producer and DJ. It’s fair to say Bradley a.k.a cktrl is a man of many talents. 
    cktrl might be known best for his producing and DJ’ing, but what you might not know is that his musical education started aged eight in Saturday sessions at Lewisham Music Service, complete with theory class, concert band and instrumental lessons. Since then, cktrl’s music has evolved into – well we’re not quite sure, but we love it with its influences of grime, R&B, reggae, garage and more!
    We talked to Bradley about his journey as cktrl and the importance of having music in young people’s education. 


    Interviewed by Sophie Ogunyemi & Renée Jackson 

    What was your first introduction to playing a musical instrument?

    I was in year 4. I remember I’d just got my first hi-fi and had two CDs which were by Bob Marley and Michael Jackson – two really different albums. From listening to them I knew that I wanted to make some kind of sound in some way. 

    Then a music teacher came and showed us some instruments at school and I had the opportunity to start playing. We were shown the flute and oboe (which I thought was really cool at the time because it reminded me of snake charmers) but the clarinet was the sound that I liked the best. The oboe sounded really duck-y to me haha. But yeah, the teacher made the clarinet sound cool and it looked cool when he did it so I was sold really!

    The teacher was young and just out of uni, and he was the one who told me about the Saturday music school in Lewisham as he also taught there. The whole team at the music centre were so dedicated and involved which made it easy to get stuck in. They obviously really cared. We got involved with other things, like recording music for a radio station advert and playing in different countries in old peoples homes which was great – they always gave us cake!

    Who inspired you along your musical journey?

    No one in particular really. My dad had a big record collection but the reason I kept playing after the music service closed down was for me. Working full time was stressful, so playing for myself was like a therapy. I find playing really personal, so even performing feels like a lot. Music is a type of self – expression; some people get that release from crying in the bath, but I cry/let it out whilst I’m playing. Even now playing in public, I feel quite exposed. It’s very personal. 

    How did you move and evolve into your current style of music-making?

    When I was about 16, all the changes happened at the music service and you had to start paying monthly, so everyone pretty much left, including the teachers. After that – well I was making beats from year 7, so as I continued I started playing over the top of what I was creating. I guess it evolved from there.

    How did you move from your previous job to being a full-time musician?

    I’ve only been a full-time musician for a year and a half. I basically had the opportunity to leave my old job as they were restructuring, which made it easy for me to leave. I used to have to use my annual leave and work flexi hours to fit in performances and just make it work! 

    What effect do you want your music to have on your listeners?

    To feel something. Whatever that emotion is.

    What has been the hardest thing to overcome in the music industry so far? 

    I suppose the hardest thing to overcome is yourself, actually. It’s nothing to do with other people – there’s always going to be trends, fads, things happening or whatever, but you just need to know what you’re saying and believe in it. I think with the industry, social media and all the pressures of life you can lose sight and it’s easy to be discouraged or despondent. You just need to need to know what you’re doing and do it.

    A black, masculine adult playing the clarinet behind the scenes
    What do you enjoy most about being a professional musician?

    I guess it’s freedom. I’ve got my own time to put things together and do my own thing. I don’t think I’ve had that properly since I was 18 – so yeah, it’s good. My biggest fear is having to go back to a ‘normal’ job.

    What impact has music had in your life?

    Like I said, it’s always been more of a therapy and an escape for me. I’ve set up my room so I only really need to leave for food! My daily routine always has time in it to either practise my instruments, practise DJ’ing or making beats.

    Do you think Take it away is beneficial to young people wanting to learn an instrument?

    Yes, I do think it’s beneficial for young people because access is important. I was incredibly fortunate that I got to learn and play for free through the music service. Take it away is great because it’s making it easier for all young people to play.

    Make a scene around what you’re doing. Create your cult. Find your tribe and build it. 

    Community music was obviously a huge part of your musical development. What would you say to the government to try and prevent more cuts to musical education?

    Growing up, you don’t know your options so you’re not sure what careers are actually careers and what could actually make money.

    There’s so many jobs out there music-related, like making music for adverts or soundscapes. It’s not just being a pop star, but you don’t know that without exposure to these options which comes from learning about music from a young age.

    If you minimise what’s accessible to the younger generations, you’re doing a massive disservice as you’re not allowing them to work out their own potential and what they can do. It effects their quality of life too. 

    We’ll also lose a whole generation of diverse people in the music industry, which is such an important part of our culture. 

    What is your favourite track at the moment?

    Trending by Squash

    If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?

    Beyoncé 👑

    A bald. black, masculine adult that is wearing a blue jacket and blue trousers is holding a clarient.
    Do you think you need to study music to be successful in it?

    Nope!  I did all my grades and I studied music at college but that put me off to be honest, but I’m sure it also depends on what teachers you have. Sometimes the set of rules you’re taught in a traditional setting can be restricting.

    I got into the Royal Academy/Trinity and Goldsmiths, but I decided that path wasn’t for me…

    Finally, what piece of advice would you give to young people starting out in music?

    Hone in on your sound and know what you want to say; first impressions are really important. You want to keep you trajectory going up so you need to keep building on that.

    Try and do things in a community, so work with friends when you can and support each other, whether that’s by being on a track or helping out with a show.

    Make a scene around what you’re doing. Create your cult. Find your tribe and build it. 

    Listen now on SoundCloud or Spotify:

    Keep an eye out for his upcoming gigs by following cktrl on:
    You’re in for a treat!

    Tell us what you think: @Takeitawaymusic

  • Take it away presents… Ego Ella May

    This month, we were super excited to interview Ego Ella May a.k.a our London Soul Queen!
    Singer, guitarist and song-writer, Ego, had a rich picking of music inspiration growing up, which has translated into her effortlessly rich, neo-soul/jazz compositions and voice. 
    We sat down in the sun to chat music inspiration, manoeuvring the music industry as a woman and the importance of investing in a decent instrument. 
    Her long awaited album ‘So Far’ dropped on Wednesday and it’s lived up to all our expectations!

    Interviewed by Renée Jackson & Sophie Ogunyemi

    A black, feminine person singing in front of a microphone with a group of people accompanying them.
    So, can you recall the moment you decided to pick up an instrument? 

    YES! I was 18, which was pretty late, but I started doing more gigs and I had to rely on other musicians to be available. If they weren’t available, I’d have to turn down the gig because I wasn’t going to sing acapella or do a PA set. So, I think I did it out of sheer frustration as I didn’t want to be so dependent on other people or be missing out on opportunities and money. 

    I then started to think about what would be the most accessible instrument to carry around. I first thought of learning the ukulele because it was smaller and easier to carry around, but then decided on guitar as it’s more adaptable.

    What drew you to learning the guitar particularly?

    Lauryn Hill’s ‘Unplugged’ album was probably the thing that sold it to me, because I realised I could just sit here and play songs and they don’t have to be perfect. I started to listen to other singer-songwriters who also played guitar like Lianne La Havas and Corinne Bailey Rae, and really thought, maybe I can do this.

    My biggest thing is honesty in my music. I’d like people to be inspired by that.

    Were there any other artists that inspired you to start making music? 

    Stevie Wonder. I grew up on a lot of jazz music – Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina SimoneIn school it was Destiny’s Child, Brandy, Mary J Blige and 90s RnB. I’ve gone through a lot of different phases, I had an Indie phase where I was into The Kooks but to start it was definitely Stevie Wonder and a lot of old school Jazz that inspired me the most.

    Such a great selection! When did you write your first song?

    My earliest memory was when I was in year 5/6 and I wrote a love song to this guy I had a crush on. I could have written it as a little note, but instead I wrote a song and gave him the lyrics, haha! So then I figured, maybe I have a thing here. It was kind of in the style of Madonna’s ‘Crazy for you’. I might still have the lyrics somewhere…

    What affect do you want your music to have on your listeners?

    I’d say my biggest thing is honesty in my music. I’d like people to be inspired by that.

    A part of me wants to let people know that you can be a musician without actually being a ‘yes girl’, and liking all the other stuff that comes with it. You can be introverted and you can still be just about making music. All the other stuff should be secondary – ignore people saying that the visuals are important too. You shouldn’t have to been seen to ‘look like this’ and ‘wearing that’, or go to every single networking opportunity. I like to talk about this in the music and lyrics I write.

    A black, feminine adult with short, black hair and wearing a black and white stripy top is playing a black electric guitar.
    What’s been the hardest thing to overcome in your experience in the music industry? 

    Everything that isn’t singing, to be honest. I only like singing and a lot of the time it makes me question whether I should be a musician because so much of it is not to do with the actual music. There are so many other things that I am not as experienced in that I have to prioritise over my actual music.

    What some people don’t realise is that a lot of people don’t take you seriously if you try to book yourself, especially as a woman.

    How have you worked around that? 

    I’ve kept singing and been able to vent. I keep people around me that are really encouraging in the sense that they tell me that I can do it, so why not. It is a gift to be able to sing and make music and share yourself in a vulnerable way with everybody. So I think if I think about it in that way and don’t focus so much on all the other stuff, then I’m okay. There are other people who can take care of that stuff like a manager, booking agent and promoter, who I’m lucky to have help with these things.

    When did it get to the point that you got help from a manager, booking agent or someone else?

    I recently got a manager this year but I’ve had a booking agent for quite a while. They’ve helped me book my gigs etc. What some people don’t realise is that a lot of people don’t take you seriously if you try to book yourself, especially as a woman. Having that representation makes you look more serious and legit. It’s something I’ve had to factor in even though it’s annoying and shouldn’t necessarily be that way.

    Music is really healing. Music is a form of expression and it doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s the beauty of it.

    Do you think a scheme like the Take it away is beneficial to young people interested in learning an instrument? Would you use it?

    I 100% would have used Take it away if I knew about it then. I think I would have started playing before I was 18 had I known there was a cost effective way of getting a new and decent instrument. Music equipment is expensive, but once you have it, you save a lot of time. It’s an investment.

    The reality is that not everyone can go to a music shop on Denmark Street and buy a good guitar, and will instead take the other option of buying a cheap beginners guitar of, say, Argos, but that’s not going to help you. The thing about those cheap guitars is that you’ll then be playing and think you’re bad and maybe give up as you’ll think you’re not getting it or that the strings are hurting your fingers, but really it’s the instrument. You could be improving but it won’t reflect in the music you’re making because of the instrument itself. 

    That actually happened with my first guitar and I was getting really frustrated. I then invested in a good guitar and the difference in the tone was amazing. I felt more inspired to play, as I realised I was improving and wasn’t actually that bad!! So yes, I would have loved to have used this scheme to buy a good quality, decent instrument when I was younger. 

    A black, feminine adult with short, black hair and wearing a white top and blue jeans is posing in front of a camera
    In your opinion, what are the benefits of having music in your life?

    Music can be like a meditation. I find it really calming and there’s so many different types of music that can either make you happy, make you sad or inspire you. I have a playlist called ‘Songs to cry to’ which gives me the release of not being in my own head which I think is such a good thing. 

    Music is really healing. Music is a form of expression and it doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s the beauty of it. 

    Do you think you have to study music to get into it?

    I actually did study music; I went to music college then I did a music degree. BUT, I don’t think you need to study to get into it. I’ve learnt so much from other people, asking friends, and YouTube tutorials! 

    What’s your favourite track at the moment? 

    Jacob Collier – Lua feat. MARO

    It’s the most beautiful song, it’s so soothing. Check out his Tiny Desk Concert too, it’s incredible! 

    And finally, what piece of advice would you offer to aspiring musicians? 

    Keep releasing music. Don’t wait till it’s perfect because people love to see you grow.

    Also, just see it as an outlet. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to ‘make it’. The focus should be on your music rather than making that perfect song for the radio. It can lose its essence if that’s your sole aim.

    I got approached by my booking agent because I was putting myself, and my music, out there. Release and share your music online otherwise no one will know what you do or how they can help you!


    📢 Ego Ella May’s new album ‘So far’ is out now.

    “‘So Far’ as in what I’ve released into the world so far; who I have shown myself to be; whom I have encountered telling me how much these songs mean to them (though I could never understand). I’m really excited to re-release these songs tomorrow, and I’m sorry they were gone for so long! From here on out, it’s onwards and upwards with NEW music- and so think of this album as my final shedding of my old self, and a thank you to everyone who has stood patiently by my side (and online) whilst I navigate this music thing. ‘So Far’ is out on ALL streaming platforms tomorrow, with lots and lots of love and gratitude ❤️

    Listen now on Spotify or Bandcamp:

    Keep an eye out for her upcoming gigs
    by following her on:
    You’re in for a treat!
    Tell us what you think: @Takeitaway