'He's a very important artist': Warner/Chappell's Mike Smith on the rise of Dave

'He's a very important artist': Warner/Chappell's Mike Smith on the rise of Dave

It was a big chart week for Warner/Chappell UK after the close battle for No.1 between Foals and Dave – both represented by the publisher.

As revealed in the latest issue of Music Week, there were some big streaming numbers for Dave’s debut album Psychodrama. It’s also had rave reviews for the UK rapper’s hard-hitting exploration of his identity. Here, Warner/Chappell UK MD Mike Smith opens up about the triumphant record...

Psychodrama is quite a statement as as debut album... 

“Dave is one of the greatest poets we’ve got in the country at the moment. In times of crisis, music goes two ways, doesn’t it? You get those that will speak out with a social conscience and make people wake up to the world we’re living in. Then there’s the other side that will encourage people to hit the dancefloor and party their troubles away. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but I’m very glad both exist and for me Dave is the greatest voice of consciousness in the UK.”

Was the pairing of Dave with producer and co-writer Fraser T Smith an inspired move?

“They really got on well making this record – it’s a tremendous coupling. What I love about Dave is the fact that in a studio, he can write tracks as well as he can write toplines and lyrics. He’s a very versatile musician, songwriter and artist. It’s not often you meet people like that and that’s what makes him such an incredible artist to work with.”

What impact do you think the record will have?

“Dave has not necessarily had as straightforward a life as a lot of people who are making music have. But it’s a life a lot of people can identify with, or certainly sympathise with. Those kinds of stories need to be told, especially in the world we’re living in right now. At the same time I think there are some big commercial songs on the album as well. He certainly knows how to write great melodies and great hooks, so I certainly think he’ll be back on radio quite a bit.

“I’ve been really impressed that Radio 1 has been supporting Black as much as they have been. You’ve seen Radio 1 DJs stand up for the record when people have gone, ‘I’m not sure we want to be hearing lyrics like this on radio’. But I think that it’s vital that a public broadcasting station absolutely should be supporting this. These are issues that get to the heart of our society at the moment. We need Dave more than we’ve ever needed somebody like him before. We’re in a very mixed up world right now and he’s a very important artist for everyone." 

The J Hus co-write is a strong track...

“Yeah, that’s right and I see that as a really special song. I think that is a song that can reach over to everybody.  I think it’s important to address the issues that both of them have faced. It’s never as straightforward as the tabloids would like people to believe. Dave’s really good at explaining the complexities behind the newspaper headlines.”

To read the full story on Dave’s No.1 album, subscribers can click here. To subscribe and never miss a big industry story click here.

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