Ironik: ‘Working with the next generation keeps me grounded’ [Interview]

An artist with a shopping list of accolades, Ironik has cemented his position as one of the greats of the UK music scene. As an international DJ and producer he has accumulated credits on records for Tinie Tempah, Chip and Wiley, in addition to shutting down sets globally in Dubai, Japan and a plethora of other clubbing capitals.

Ironik returns a brand new single for the summer entitled ‘Come Down’ and sat down with IndustryMe to reflect on his journey thus far.

Okay so let’s start at the beginning. You’re a DJ you’ve just started producing, people begin noticing your talent and suddenly you find yourself in Europe. What’s going through your mind at that point?

Honestly that period of my life was such a blur. For much of that time I was in my own inner world. I was so young, around 19 at the time and everything was happening so fast. I went from making music in my bedroom to being signed to a major label. No one from our scene had really done anything like it before. I was just in able. I didn’t really take it in at the time. It’s only now when I look back at footage that I realise how big some moments were.

After the way things turned out with ‘So nice’ did you expect ‘Stay With Me’ to be a hit?

Honestly? No. (laughs) I don’t think I even really expected ‘So Nice’ to do what it did. I started out just making music for the love of it, so I am so grateful for the love. Outside of  Tinie Tempah’s ‘Wifey Riddem’ no one was making those kind of songs. So I did not in one million years expect the response it got.

Ironik stay with me

You have always incorporated pop and R&B sounds within your music. As someone whose career was quite prominent during the rise of the grime era did you ever have second thoughts about doing so?

I did you know. I grew up on grime and no one was really doing what i was at the time. But I knew that I wanted to be different and do my own thing. If I was ever going to ‘fit in’ it had to be in my own way. I did touch on grime a bit when collaborating with Skepta and Scorcher. That said, I have always loved R&B. My records have always been a reflection of how I felt at the time.

Did you see your difference in approach as a help or a hindrance back then?

I never really got any backlash for doing my own thing. I always had  support other guys too. At the time some of the hardest rappers, like Giggs [for example], would tell me that they respected me for being true to myself. So yeah…I would say it helped me.

Every record you released between 2008-2011, charted which is the kind of success most artists wish for. What is it about your music that you think connects so well?

I think its the way I merge the worlds of pop, R&B and rap that connects here in the UK. I came from a grime/garage background, so my music has incorporated those influences. Also I think people can relate whenever you let your emotions out. People still message me to this day talking about how much songs like ‘stay with me’ resonate with them.

Your first release was all the way back in 2007. 12 years deep, what’s the secret to your longevity?

Ahh man people always ask me this (laughs). I am the sort of person who always wants more. I am always looking ahead to whats next, always trying to find the next challenge. Also with music I am not afraid to switch things up and work with new talent. Working with the next generation keeps me grounded. As a DJ I have my ear to the streets so that helps too.

For Sure! So, as an artist how do you grow and develop without changing the core of who you are?

That’s a good question…this is something that a lot of artist have to ask themselves.

About 4 years ago, this was something I really struggled with. I was trying to make songs like ‘Stay With Me’ and not realising that while that was a great moment, the moment had passed. It wasn’t until a conversation with my manager that I realised all I had to do was just stay to true to myself and keep making the music I enjoyed rather than trying to recreate that moment. 

Your music has taken you to some incredible places over the years, if you had to pick, what would you say has been the highlight of it all?

There have been so many moments. I think it would have to be performing for the Queen. I was able to take my mum to Buckingham Palace to meet the royal family. Moments like that you cant even imagine. It was great to be able to make my mum proud. Performing at the MOBO Awards was an amazing moment too!

Okay, so lets get into your new music. You’re back with your new single “Come Down” tell us a little more about that?

So the track features Ayo Beatz, who is one of the most talented producers in the UK. We just connect on a different level. It’s a fun sexy summer song.

You and Ayo Beatz have worked on a number of projects before, how did that relationship come about?

I meet him through a songwriter named Miles and then I ended up on the remix of one of his tracks called ‘Far Away’. We’ve done loads of songs together since then.

Any more in the pipeline?

We actually have a joint project on the way…no date yet but look out for that.

Speaking of projects,  will there be another Ironik album any time soon?

I’m in the process of putting my album together. I am so fussy with albums though. Everything has to make sense. I want the sequence of the music to come together smoothly. But I have been in the studio. There was huge gap between my first and second album, I don’t plan to do that again (laughs).

I mean I hope not! Finally Ironik, what’s next for you?

I think A&R is the next thing I want to get into. I’ve already started to do a few bits behind the scenes but that’s something  I want to do more of. Music wise I am working on 2 short EPs. There are no names yet but I think want them to be a sort of ying and yang, so maybe i’ll release them together. 


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