Britain's Got Talent winner Tokio Myers talks shooting hoops with Kanye West and Amy Winehouse hugs
PUBLISHED: 11:19 12 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:19 12 July 2018
Live music returns to Audley End House and Gardens this weekend with a series of concerts. Performers include Britain’s Got Talent winner and piano sensation Tokio Myers and Croatian cellists 2Cellos, aka Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic.
Q: You’ve supported some amazing artists, is it true you played basketball with Kanye West?
I met him for the very first time at The O2, I was in a band called Mr Hudson at the time who was signed to Kanye’s label... he introduced himself and the next thing you know he asks who wants to play basketball. Mr Hudson and me are pretty decent. They had a court set up at the back of the O2 as they do and next thing I’m there, literally blocking Kanye, taking jump shots in his face, pulling faces at him and taking him on to the hoop it was a surreal, magical moment man. We definitely won, there’s no way we were losing in our town, that’s home ground.
Q: You toured with the late Amy Winehouse too?
They were academy-sized venues, a bit smaller and intimate. There’s a tour canteen where we’d hang out and we’d bump into each other back stage. I remember her always being super friendly. I was just a kid at the time man. I had a huge afro, all the girls loved my fro, I was a cute kind of guy you know. So she always used to come and just look at me, smile and give me a hug; almost like a elder sister, “hey how you doing”. It was largely cool.
Q: We’ve lost so many great artists over the last few years?
It’s really sad but at the same time I’ve always loved the concept idea of all these guys just jamming in heaven. Could you imagine the music that these guys would be making? That’s an extreme festival man, just make sure we live a good life eh?
Q: Where’d your love of music come from?
Both my parents are Jamaican, so music is a massive part of the culture even though they aren’t musicians or singers their love for music definitely shone through. My dad collects tons of vinyl records, that was the thing back in the day. He had probably the biggest collection out of all of his mates and they’d always come round and play their music. It was everything from reggae all the way though to Freddie Mercury or Marvin Gaye or The Eels. I would trole through his records and when I used to collect music it was exactly the same, everything from classical music right the way through to drum and bass.
Q: Do you get tired of being described as not the typical Royal College of Music graduate?
Talent is talent, but boundaries are being broken not just in what I’m trying to do but also on many kind of platforms. I guess there’s always been a stigma attached to classical music and what one should look or talk like on stage. Kids are growing up in a time where so many things that weren’t accepted in our time now is.
One day when us lot get older, those kids will be the norm. I’m pretty sure if you go to the Royal College of Music now it wouldn’t be the same type of students that were going when I went, it’s going to be more diverse. It is what it is. I’m at that borderline generation where people will say those things, but it doesn’t really bother me man. The main thing is people seem to really be taking a liking to [what I’m doing] and if I can be that guy to help shift that idea great, me in the front.
There’s all this talk of music being taken out of schools, how can you do that? Some of the best bands in the world, Freddie Mercury, The Beatles, Oasis, the list goes on and on; some of the best bands in the world wouldn’t exist.
Imagine a world without music? We thrive off of it, we go to it whenever we’re down or need energy or whenever. To take that creating away from kids...
Music is absolutely everything. Imagine being an alien, looking down on Earth, at festivals where hundreds of thousands of people come together and worship the groove, seeing us jump up and down, side to side; it’s a weird, crazy thing to look at and it’s all in the name of music and sound.
Q: What can audiences coming to see you expect?
Something super special. I know everybody says that but the concept of what I’m doing is so different that I need to continue to do that with the live set... it’s going to be captivating, emotional, make you laugh and want to dance. You’re going to see a side of me people haven’t seen yet.
Q: Stjepan, what can you tell about the new album?
It’s what we are famous for, rocking hard on the cello; unlike our previous album where we were more mellow.
Q: Is there a contemporary track you still want to play but haven’t worked out how yet?
There are many great songs we love, but I’m not sure they’re suitable to do on the cello, we only do the tracks we think work... I mean you can do everything, but it doesn’t sound as convincing. [How long it takes to rework a song] depends on the song, some are more challenging and take weeks or months, some we do in one afternoon.
Q: Did you imagine your first YouTube video, your version of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal, would go viral and change your lives?
You have to believe 100% everything you do, it’s nicer that way. I was a big fan of Michael Jackson at the time and I thought this song would rock really hard on the cello and it did.
Q: Why give contemporary songs the classic cello treatment?
We’ve play cello since we are kids, mostly classical music. Later on in life we decided to expand our horizons, we didn’t want to restrict our creativity wanted to attract a wider audience, especially our generation, and make them interested in cello.
We wanted to really play big auditoriums, wanted pretty girls in the audience [laughs], not just a classical audience. We cherish our roots still keep this tradition of playing classical music. It’s amazing to have opportunities to play all kinds of music, that’s why we never really get bored.
Q: What can audiences expect?
We do some from each album, starting with our latest album Score which is music from movies and television with the orchestra and we turn it into a crazy rock and roll show, it’s a whole journey.
• See 2Cellos and Tokio Myers at Audley End House and Gardens, near Saffron Walden, Essex, July 15. Friday Audley End House hosts Here And Now – Back To The 80s starring Jason Donovan, Midge Ure, Five Star, Hot Chocolate, Altered Images, T’Pau and Toyah Willcox. On Saturday, it hosts Jess Glynne, Ella Eyre and Louisa.