As we continue to spotlight artists that swerve outside of Highsnob’s usual hip-hop realm, we set our sights on one of the UK’s more innovative acts to emerge in recent times. Meet GAIKA, the experimental Brixton-bred musician and visual artist whose name has been steadily creeping outside the comforts of his local South London underground music scene since coming out from the ether with his inaugural mixtape, Machine, in November 2015.
Pinning a Soundcloud tag on GAIKA’s sound is challenging; the artist incorporates a broad swath of sonic influences that glide between dancehall, hip-hop, IDM, industrial, UK garage, grime, R&B and counting. Glazed by melodic yet brooding production, the beguiling quality of GAIKA’s work serves as a wake-up call to modern urban society, touching on heavy-hitting topics such as death, political corruption, depression and heartbreak.
Following the release of his sophomore mixtape, SECURITY, GAIKA’s time has been engulfed by a hectic tour schedule where he recently made his debut Stateside performance after taking the stage during the Red Bull Music Academy Festival in New York.
During his stint in the Big Apple, we met up with the burgeoning British artist to snap a gritty editorial on the bustling streets of Chinatown. Peep the spread above and find out more about what piques GAIKA’s music and fashion interests via our quick-fire Q&A below.
Describe your personal style.
Ninja, Roadman and Dandy G shit, with military highlights.
How does fashion/style correlate with your musical artistry?
I like things to be definitive. Both my dress sense and music are the result of watching too many bad movies.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
I’m not really directly influenced, but here it goes: Buju, John Balance, Sizzla, SALEM, Bounty Killer, Spragga Benz, Mavado, Prince, Maxi Priest, Basic Channel and pre-crack Bobby Brown.
What would you say is the biggest component that influences your work?
Dancehall. It’s the music that gives me the most pleasure. My head is filled with many things but a lot pertains to bashment one way or another.
If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
Working on a low-budget film.
Visuals seem to play a very important role in your work. Who would be your dream director to work with?
Tarantino, Katsuhiro Otomo and Jon Woo.
What movie could you never get tired of watching?
A Prophet. It has everything, that movie.
What are your tour essentials?
My iPad, my bank card and Tom Ford parfum. I don’t have a phone because too many devices dim my lights.
If you had to invent a genre to describe your sound, what would it be called?
What story is being told on your latest project, SECURITY?
There’s layers to it. It’s the story of every chat night. It’s my story in the underworld and it’s the journey from security to self-belief. They aren’t the same.
Stream SECURITY below and, for more game-changing artists leading the wave right now, peep our LA-shot editorial with avant-R&B songstress D∆WN.