Living and breathing music throughout his formative years, Ian Koromah, aka Maxsta, has taken inspiration from his personal idols: Dizzee Rascal, Kano and Wiley. Releasing his debut mixtape MaxstEP at just 16 demonstrates Maxsta’s pure determination to exceed, and we’re sure he will!
Now at 23, Maxsta is active in the grime and rap scene and has continued to make waves within the industry with the release of his latest self-produced single ‘Born On Your Own’, featuring JME. The latest release, which premiered on BBC 1Xtra, tells the socially conscious story of young people navigating gang culture in inner cities. The track comes after his brief break from releasing music, during which he creatively reinvented himself.
Currently putting together the finishing touches to his forthcoming mixtape Maxtape 2, the sequel to his 2010 cult favourite, we chat to Maxsta about his greatest inspirations and his dream person to collaborate with!
Using three words how would you describe your sound?
Electric, London, grime
How did you get into music?
I started off by being in the steel pan band at school! When we did our end of year concert and I received a CD with mine and my classmates’ names on it I knew I wanted that feeling again. I started writing music when I was about 10 years old, my mum would find them under my pillow and be annoyed at me for swearing and stuff.
Has your East London background influenced your music?
Definitely, the vibe I get from there is directly in my music and it’s a vibe that I can’t get from anywhere else, from the cockney people to the Bobby Moore statue and the Canary Wharf skyline. Something about the place translates to magic!
You were 14 when you started MCing and 16 when you released your debut mixtape MaxstEP – what inspired you to create your own music?
The world and self-expression to be honest, I think once I realised there were many ways to express yourself I knew I wanted to do that, and I had the passion for music, so I just wanted to defy the odds.
You were the cover of Spotify’s Grime Shutdown playlist – how did that feel?
Well, it was great, flattering of course to be used to represent a whole genre of music!
Your music has been played on BBC 1Xtra, how does it feel when you hear your own music on the radio?
The first time I heard myself on the radio was about 7/8 years ago, but I still get excited and humbled by it most definitely!
Tell us a bit about your latest single ‘Born On Your Own’
‘Born On Your Own’ is about the notion of being responsible for your own actions and not getting lost in the crowd mentality that myself and other young people often get sucked in by. ‘Born On Your Own’ means protect your back and before you do anything in a group, know why you’re personally doing it for yourself because you’ll face the repercussions by yourself and in this day and age with knife crime, the tunes are just a vibe away from anything else but that’s my message and that’s my stance.
What was the creative process behind the single?
It probably took me about 20 minutes to make the beat and I was hearing the lyrics in my head already so after that I made sure I was satisfied with the drums and the strings and carefully chose the sounds I thought would compliment each other.
I did my verses and the hook, which came to me instantly and then I sent the track over to JME who didn’t take too long to send his back. Hopefully we’ll work on more in the future and get in the studio together, but this was just one of those Dexter’s Lab type moments where I whipped up the magic in my secret hideaway studio and he did the same!
Dead or alive, who would be your dream person to collaborate with?
And finally, what can we expect from you in the next year?
Projects. Bodies of work have always been my strength, but I’ve never been able to release as many as I’ve wanted, things are headed in a new direction at the moment and it’s safe to say I’ll be much more in control! The Maxtape 2 is up first in November! I would say the name of the next project but then I might have to…… nvm haha!