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At the Barbs with Miraa May

22 Nov 2022

Listen to the third episode of our new five-part podcast and video series, At the Barbs.

Join DJ and presenter, Robert Bruce for this five part series, At the Barbs, as he delves into the best of creativity at the Barbican Centre with some of the freshest names from the world of film, music, and even football. From Brutalism to Beyonce, Schneemann to Social Media, this podcast is going to challenge the way you see and think about art, blur the lines of culture and turn your expectations inside out.

This week the ‘Tottenham songbird’ herself, Miraa May, joins Robert to discuss the incredible debut performance by pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason. Alongside Isata’s performance they delve into the relationship between classical music and mainstream culture, learning your craft, creativity and self-awareness, womanhood and influences ranging from Ben Howard to Teedra Moses to Ultimate Guitar.

You can find out more about the show here.


Robert Bruce (RB):  Yo it’s Robert Bruce. And I am right here at the Barbs. The melting pot of culture and art. There's a vast array of shows that I'm going to be seeing and speaking to some pretty cool, interesting people about it too. I can't wait to get into it. Back at the Barbs right here at the Barbican after seeing another amazing show from the internationally renowned pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason. And it wasn't just me that went down.    I had a super cool, super suave guest attend as well. You might know her as Tales of a Miracle. The most unique voice in the UK. Coming out of North London as well. Miraa May, what’s good?

Miraa May (MM): I love you. Thank you.   

RB: How are you? How are you?  

MM: Good. How are you?   

RB: I'm not too bad. I seeing the drip. I love this.   

MM:  You know, you're just trying a little OOTD. You know, like trying to get chic with the people.   

RB:  Yeah nice, very chic.   

MM: I used to dress really bad.     

RB: Really?   

MM: Yeah. My dress sense was in the bin.   

RB: What was it? What was it?   

MM: Like, the same outfit every day. Like, it was really bad. Like, I had no...I did not care what I wore. But now I'm like, gotta lay out my clothes from the day before. You know like, I'm feeling it, I’m feeling it.   

RB: I hear you and you was at the Barbican. Have you been to the Barbican before?    

MM: I've been to the Barbican before, but actually yesterday I watched the performance on my phone.     

RB: Oh, ok.   

MM: Yeah. Because I had a little ill toddler, so I couldn't actually make the show by watching it on my phone was a completely different experience. And like, yeah, I'm ready to like talk a bit more about that because I didn't expect it to be what it was, so. Yeah.   

RB: Oh, for real? It was interesting to see a pianist do their thing, and even, I've never been to that sort of show before. You know the sort of shows that we go to. Very, very different. So to see that and like, when she's finishing, she's walking off and she's walking back on and then everyone's tapping. How was it watching, for you?    :::   

MM: So for me, like, first of all, I was really initially gutted that I couldn't be there, yeah? So I was already having like a little tantrum about me not being there because I love classical music. Like, which is not something that people know about me, but like especially when it comes to pianists. So like my favourite pianist is Ludovico Einaudi, yeah? And like, I spent the majority of my teenage years just listening to his work. So, and he's like, you know, completely different from Isata in terms of age, in terms of where he's from, like.    So to watch like a young, beautiful, like she just looked stunning first and foremost. Like, she was just so mesmerizing to watch. And like, obviously, I got to...I put baby to bed and I got to, like, put it up on my laptop. I lit my little candle and I sat in my bed and I watched her play. And I think it's different from actually being there because I am watching it LIVE. So I'm getting the camera angles that I think people that were there probably weren’t getting.    :::   Because when you're in the...when you're in the...that's kind of like how classical music is. It's not really screens and a lot it not...not it's not meant to be visual but it is really focused on the sound. Yeah, the sonics like. So, watching being able to watch her face up close, and watch her fingers, like, it was just like, I’m turning around to my partner, I'm like, Oh my God look, like this is insane. Like, how is she doing that, you know?    I mean, and like for me,I feel like I'm happier that I watched it LIVE because I'm so used to going and watching things like in, you know, at concerts. Watching it LIVE for me, it was just a different visual and it shed a bit more light. Like you could really, really gauge her facial expressions when she was playing and it was like very otherworldly. I think that's what, I think that's why people are so mesmerized with like her and just, you know, like classical musicians in general. Plus, there's not really much of a young classical audience. Do you know what I mean? It's more so for, like, older people. But for her to be in the limelight and to really, you know, she has like she, I did a lot of like research on her. Like I read up about like her history and just how she kind of, you know, like with her brothers and her family, her lineage, everything. Like the fact that she's kind of like trailblazing right now as a young person, mid-twenties, like for classical music. She played a piece of music that is like only  years old. It's like, yeah, it was like a piece written by a very famous pianist’s sister. And then it got lost for ages and then they found it.  years ago is a relatively new piece.    So it's like even within classical music, she's bringing it back and making it new, in it.So for me, it was just...You know like I was actually a bit mesmerized, like a bit encaptured like I could have like turned it off and gone and done something else. But for me, like, it was really, like invigorating to watch because I don't get to see a lot of classical music and I don't get to see it with people who remind me so much of the culture now. Young people like yeah, I think it was phenomenal. I was really, really happy.     

RB: It was amazing. And I was named after my grandad. And apparently he loved classical music, but I've never had classical music in my house, where the starting point was. So this was probably, definitely my first pianist show I've gone to see and probably my experience of that. And it just got me thinking that, my granddad and his generation, they must have been thinking some different things to what I'm thinking now based on the music that I listen to now. No lyrics, just sounds and so like some feelings. When you looked into her and her family, did you find anything that was similar in terms of your journey as an artist, or was it completely polar opposite worlds from what you.

MM: From what I gauged it was completely polar opposite because she obviously comes from a family of...I think her parents are very, they both play classical instruments but had never pursued their careers further in music. So for their children now, obviously all their children are pursuing music and, you know, for their careers and they're doing fantastically. Whereas for me like, nobody in my family ever did music. I learned how to play off Google. I can play guitar and I play drums and I play piano, but very intermediately. Like, nowhere near her level. Like, not even a smidge.    I can just go, Hee Hee. So it's for me, like to see the skill. My skill mostly is writing and I'm using my voice as my instrument. That's kind of my skill. And then I use other instruments  to enhance that. Whereas hers is solely focused on the piano. And like, when you have one thing that you can focus on, like, the way that you can just become such a master at it. Like, she's very much like, she's like a sensei really. She could take people under her wing and like, do you know what I mean?    It's not...I don't think it's an easy thing. Just because your family are into music, it doesn't necessarily mean that you would have the skill or the talent to do so. And I feel like even if you take piano lessons every single day for all of your life, there is still a quality that you need that comes from your spirit and comes from your soul. I feel like those are the kind of... when I was watching her face play, I can see that it's not just rehearsed. It's not just robotic. Like, she's really feeling the music. I feel like that, that is similar.

RB: That's the bass.

MM: That, that's the bit that's similar, because you could teach people how to sing and teach people how to play piano, you know, put them in these expensive lessons, and, you know, there's people who do that to their children, you know, really, like, you have to be a maestro at this. But if you don't have the love for it and the passion for it, it will show in your face. And I think for her, you can definitely see she's got that passion for it.     When I was watching her play yesterday, yeah, I was thinking, there's something about this lady that is just gripping me right now. Like, she's just, that her head movements, like, how she like, at moments, she would really focus and can see that she was like, almost, she kind of, almost looked like, a scientist! Yeah. Like pouring potions, right. And trying to like, you know, just, very, very invested into her instrument. And it was cool as well to get to see the people come out, and turn the page for her you know. Like, yeah royal. Look at me. Come turn my page. It was lit! And for someone who doesn't actually listen to classical music as often as I listen to other music, like, it was refreshing for me as well. Like, to see that, as a musician to musician, to feel inspired by another musician, had me thinking, man, like, I gotta, I want to be as skilful at something, like she is. Do you know what I mean? So, I think it's inspiring for younger people as well to watch. It’s bringing classical music back to the front, like, you know what I mean? Like watching her represent classical music makes it fun again. It makes it lit again. Like, it's not something that you're just thinking.  

RB: There’s no barrier to entry.

MM: You get it, yeah. I was thinking the same with seeing her basically communicate with the piano.  

Yeah. I was watching and then. I was also listening to your album and you've got the song ‘Anxiety’ on there, right? Yeah. And I was just watching her, thinking like, this is so peaceful and refreshing to me. I wonder what the exchange is for her, when she's in it, in it, in it, and is like, letting go of all that emotion and all of the feelings and whatever she's carrying and her and the piano just going through it. Do you find that when releasing music, but also, she's on the stage, so people are taking it in. So, when did music become, when did the consumer of your music become a thing in your career, if that makes sense?    :::   

MM: Probably.... Probably when like, I met my first manager and, it wasn't even when i met my first manager, you remember that group of people that i was talking about? My boyfriend called us, we called ourselves WOW Gang. Wings Open Wide. Like, do you know what I mean. We thought we were lit. We were, like, and they were around this lady who ended up saying, you, I think you're amazing. I think your voice is really special. Let me manage you. Whatever. And I was like Oh my God. Yeah. Okay. Like, you know what this means. But she said that, I didn't have any money at that point, and she said that I could, like, get paid for, like, singing. And I was like WHAT? She was like, yeah, you go on stage, you sing your song and they give you money. And I was like, no! I went home and I was like, Mum, remember when you was telling me to stop this music stuff? Because it doesn't make sense and I should go uni, yeah. Apparently, I can get paid for this, and mum was like alright. Cool. Lit.  Do your thing. And I think from there, you know, performing for the first time with my little guitar, because that is how I made it.

RB: Did you start performing with a guitar?

MM: Yeah, before I even dropped, before I was dropping projects and, do you know, it was just two or three things on SoundCloud and I would be in Shoreditch, every open mic, every little crevice where there was a space to perform. I'd be there, feeling as creative as a kite, and I would just be playing my guitar and forgetting all my lyrics and not caring about the quality of my performance, but just being myself. So if I forget a lyric whilst I'm singing, I would follow it up with a joke or, it wouldn't be like, i wouldn't freeze and be like, oh my God, like, i’ve forgotten a lyric, because at that time I didn't care. Like, I was just, I was, I was, so happy to be there, like to even think, oh my God, I'm getting £ after this. That’s crazy like. Do you know what I mean? And I feel like when discussing like Isata, when she was playing, I wonder if she feels nervous or, you know, you have those questions. Does she feel nervous or how would we know if she messes up or whatever? But, when someone is so in there with their instrument or with their craft, a mistake to them or a mistake in general can be invisible if they just have that relationship with their instrument. If I... For me, there was not one moment where I felt like it wasn't perfect. Yeah, yeah. You know what I mean, and that's very special because a lot of times people will come try critique. But with that performance, it's not even about critique. It's literally it was like an experience. And especially for people who don't listen to classical music. You get it? Which is like myself, like, like I said, I have a little bit of a classical, you know, love for things. Like, I listen to a bit of classical music here and there. I do integrate in my everyday life, hence why obviously watching that show yesterday wasn't like completely new for me, but at the same time it was just her. Specifically, like. And that's the difference with music. You can find  people that play piano, but to watch the way a woman can just, just captivate you, just by playing an instrument is very mad. That in itself kind of doesn't make sense. It's like it's almost like hypnotism. In a way. In a way. And not just, like, music in general. People go and they watch stuff at shows and concerts. I think classical music has more of an etiquette at their shows. You know, it's way more elegant. It's way more like, you go and you sit and no one's talking. Yeah, no one's talking. There's no drunk people in the crowd, going ‘sing another song.’ Do you know what I mean, like? It was very, and me, i’m used to going to concerts that, you know, rage like, you know, I mean, it's pure anarchy. Everyone's just mosh pitting and whatever. So to actually see something on the other side as equally as, like mesmerising, for me, like, I'm like, now I'm on trying to, I'm trying to,  I’m trying to go watch Harry Potter on the big screen with a classical orchestra underneath it. Like, that's really what I'm trying to do that, and like Game of Thrones and all these things. Like, that is, it's opened my eyes more to classical music because it did calm me down as well. In the evening, you know... It was a nice little vibe. Yeah, like, I'm sure when you got home he’s thinking, suave, i’ve just come back from a classical show,  you know what I mean?

RB: When you were talking about performing in the early days, you said something quite interesting. I don't even know if you noticed. You said, at that time, I didn't care. When does the care creep in?

MM: I think the care creeps in the more the pressure creeps in. Like, the more that you know, the more fans you have, the more people that kind of know your name. I think in general, the more successful you are, the more you are susceptible to people wanting your downfall. Like, so when you are, you know, , , and you’re just singing for  quid and you're just trying to like, you know, you're so excited to even be in this situation. You don't care about everyone else. But when you're now, you know, like you've been nominated for certain awards and like your followings going up and like your songs are getting more technical, your songs are getting more harder, and now you're on a stage, you might hear a couple of boos. You might feel like, okay, now I've actually got something to prove because I'm making a career for myself here. Like, that is different than just like when you're just doing something. And I think to be honest, like, a piece of advice for myself as well and for any up and coming artists whether they’re a pianist, whether they're writers or performers, or whatever, is that, you have to try and learn how to tap back into that original, that original essence of I don't care, I'm doing this because I love it. To watch someone like Isata, who's already got so many accolades, already her name’s buzzing like, you know what I mean, like, I didn't sense not one piece, she could have felt nervous %, who knows, but I didn't sense any nerves and I didn't sense any feeling of like, she felt like she had to impress those people sitting in the seats. I think that's what it is. When you feel, like, you need to impress the feeling, like you need to do better and you need to do well for people, that's your downfall. That's been my downfall anyway, because, like, especially after like, for example, like, being at this point in my career, cool. I've had my baby now and my body's changed a little bit. My outfits have changed a little bit. I'm like, I don't look like the same Miraa, which is normal because you grow and you change, you know? I mean, like, but, in my head, whilst I'm on stage, I’m thinking about whether this dress is too short and whether this FUPA is too sticking out. Do you know what I mean? So, I'm like, trying to figure out like, whilst I'm singing my, my lyric and it's like, you know, I had to have conversations with my manager and say, like, why have I become, like, so nervous and so, like, kind of, you know, just not feeling, like, so positive about doing this, you know, especially when there's more lights, there's more cameras, there's more budget, there's more... I should feel even more gassed than I did when it was £50, and I was wearing my tracksuit and a guitar. Do you know what I mean? But I guess it just comes with the territory. The bigger you get, the more people want to see you fail because it's a talking topic for you to fail. And that's what makes you nervous. That's what will have, like, renowned artists, yeah, who everybody knows their lyrics, when they’re forgetting their lyrics on stage, they're apologising. Don't apologise! You forgot your lyrics. So, like, you know what I mean. It’s like, a real musician, like, when they get to that stage in their career will completely not care. You go from completely not caring to caring so much and so like desperately. And then you kind of have this epiphany when you're like, hold on a minute. Like, you know, I am a world renowned pianist. I can out piano you on any day. Like, like of course I'm going to... I was watching her, like how she has all this confidence and poise. And thinking of course, because you've probably thought in your head like, i’m a g. I can’t, I can't be worried about you guys, in fact, like, if everyone's on the same level, it shouldn't really, there shouldn't really be anything to be nervous about. Do you get me? So it's complicated, I think, in terms of your career and stuff. I feel like the bigger you get, the more it's harder. But it's also down to you to remember the essence of where it started. It's like anyone, like, that's our job. For example. They want to get promoted so bad. Yeah. Then they get promoted and they're happy, they do the drinks. “Got promoted, yeah!” And then the next two weeks they’re bawling, because they're like, it's so much pressure, but it's like, you've been promoted now, do you know what I mean? Then the pressure comes and they need a bit of time to adjust to their new position. It’s like artists as well, like once that person has adjusted to their promotion, they're going to, they're going to absolutely nail it. But with artists, we don't have promotions. You don’t go from being a soundcloud artist, then you blow, and then you're now, like, there's no one going to get like you've progressed to the next stage. Like, deal with that now, you're just going *shooom.* I like, when you're up here, it's like, you're looking all the way down. You're like, whoa. I've got to maintain all of this. I’ve got a family. It's long. The best thing to do is to just remember the essence of you enjoy doing this. You love doing this. Like, I perform the best when I'm sad.

RB: Really? Yeah. Why? Does it remind you of... Explain?

MM: Yeah, yeah. It kind of reminds me of that time. But also when I go on stage, that's the one time I can just forget, everything, and just immerse myself in my own music and like, just share and, like, that energy, you know. When people are clapping for you, like, giving you that round of applause, that's energy, you know? That’s sound energy, like, coming at you, filling you up. So you've got to go off stage, get me, she shakes it off, comes back on. But we're back in again. Whooo, i’m just thinking, I'm learning so much from this, like, this is wonderful. Well, I think it's a, it's definitely a journey. It's just not that easy for creatives because there's no structure.

RB: And, you know, the hard part about being a creative, I believe in any discipline. I get to see it from artist’s point of views, watching artist’s journeys often, is, when you blow and you've got the buzz, everyone's with you. And then everyone sort of forgets that they need to push you again to move you forward because they think, they’ve known you whilst you’re cool. Yeah. All right. We're going to wait for the next hot thing. And even the way the industry is in terms of, always trying to be onto the next onto the next, you can sometimes get to that mid-point of your career where I'm not hot and fresh yeah, and I find it in presenting as well, you’re not hot and fresh anymore. But you haven't exceeded the point where you're with all the people on that sort of thing, and audience plays a big part of that. Obviously she's doing it on this stage for the Barbican and stuff, but the way she's so confident that when she finishes her piece, she doesn't even look relieved. She just looks like, yeah, I'm finished. And what? Offstage. Back on stage, sort of thing. Do you feel audiences understand the journey of a creative and an artist the way we experience it, or do they just consume?

MM: I think it's both. I think there’s a population that just consume whatever's given to them like, as in, whatever’s put in front of them, you know, and then there's a whole other, you know, group of people that music is their whole... music maps out their life. So like for me, for example, like random one, probably when I was like in my early teens. Ben Howard. Oh. The Wolves. Ben Howard. Old Pine.

RB: Oh my days. No, Miraa! Miraa! Oh, my days! My goodness! “Black flies on the windowsill.”

MM: Do you understand? Okay, thank you. So, when I saw Ben Howard perform, that, I went to watch him at Hammersmith Apollo. And this was like, he didn't even perform that album. Yeah, I was gutted, but it doesn’t matter, because cause, cause I wanted, you know, but even still, I was there. And that experience for me was completely different from everyone else in there. Like, some people could have gone there because they think Ben Howard is cute. Do you get me? They have their fans of him and what he looks like. Some people probably went there because they love his albums, they love his music, and some people went there because they have like a, you know, like a different, deeper feeling towards that artist. It's like if I go and watch any of my favourite artists, like, if i was to watch Kendrick LIVE. Bro! That's different! It's different. It's different for me watching Ben Howard, was different from me watching Isata. It’s like, it's like, that's me going to remind myself what I've been through, to listen to stuff LIVE like, oh my god, like. But then watching her perform was like new and fresh, and that's me as an audience member perceiving two different shows completely differently. Like, so it's not, it really just depends on the artist and the actual fan. Some people go to shows to troll, like some people actually will pull up to the artist that they hate the most. They'll pull up to their show and they'll like, you know, make noise. You get it? Having to tell them to shhhh. You get me, like. And for me, it's like, if you like, for example, if you were at the thing and somebody like was talking loudly on their phone, at a classical.

RB: Everyone's saying shhhh.

MM: Do you understand? When I'm at the cinema, don't interrupt my film. Like, shhh, talk,  but just keep it at a very, because we're watching something, like people have paid money to come and watch something. So it’s like, how I feel like with classical music there's a etiquette and there's rules, like, you know, it's the difference between going to like, I don't know, like, a normal restaurant or going to, like, a very top tier restaurant where they've got a different fork for every plate. Do you know what I mean? Like the etiquette. And I really enjoyed that, because I've been to so many places where it's like, you know, we’re not even respecting this artist right now, like, this artist has travelled, they've rehearsed, they've paid budget, they're paying all these people around them, to give you an amazing show, the least you could do is just watch respectfully. Do you get what I mean, like? It's like, it should be normal. Whereas I feel, like, with other genres of music and other types of shows, when people go there, they don't really have respect. And obviously it might be because of, like, the alcohol consumption or just the kind of vibe that the music brings. I mean, there's definitely shows that I've been to where I am going to rage. Like I've dressed to rage! I'm wearing loose. No hoops. I'm trying to get into the mosh myself, you get it. So it's like, that's completely different. Whereas I'm going to a classical event, I might put on a dress, you know, I'll drink wine that day, you know, like, there will be no hard liquor. It will just be wine. And I might even speak a little differently. I'm in and like, it's nice to be taken out of your, not comfort zone, but your normal zone, do you get me? I feel like, again, with music, we in the UK here, it's POP, it's R&B, it's Hip Hop, you know, like and then we've got, like, our punk culture, and our indie culture, over here to decide. And then with the rock, you know, it's just here. And then, classical is down there. For me, yesterday, it brought it all the way back, because it's like, I think there's a disconnect with how many, how much coverage classical music gets. Coverage is so important. Do you know what I mean?

I was at the GUAP Gala. Was you at the GUAP Gala?

MM: No, i didn’t make it.

RB: So I was at the GUAP Gala yeah.
Absolutely amazing. Everyone looked so beautiful. Oh my God. It was actually amazing. It was really, really, really good. And then from going to that and then watching Isata, I'm like, why is she not there? But we ain’t made that connect yet. So maybe shows like this can encourage people. I don't know if it's a spreading the word thing because the way it’s impacted us, I know is going to impact other people the way it is. And I guess that's good about like being at the Barbs. You can come and get that variety.

MM: Different variety.

RB: The shows that I've seen over the past couple of weeks, so different, but still so inclusive and still so accessible. And you also mentioned the fact that she was a woman just bossing it. Captivating the whole audience. I feel like it’s really hard for women in any industry, like, even as you mentioned, having a baby and after going to take time off, you want to raise a family or with your  baby in your arms in the studio.

MM: Or you can Wireless three weeks after you've given birth. You know, it's really up to you.

RB: Three weeks?!

MM: Yeah man! I did it because I wanted to prove to people that it can be done. You don’t have to do it, but it can be done because yeah, going back to what you were saying, the whole women's stuff, the you know is, in life, in general, I think if you are a woman, I think if you are somebody of colour, I feel like if you are in a marginalised group, you know, like in a group, where people don't really understand you, whether it's, you know, the LGBT community or whatever, like these groups of people that in, you know, especially in this country, it's like, it's harder. It's just harder. It's just what is it? So, to watch like a woman, she’s from Sierra Leone, like you get me. She's, she's also, Antiguan. She’s got Antiguan descent as well. Being on stage, looking fabulous, looking beautiful, young, like fresh, like, just like, that is very different from what we're used to seeing.

RB: You said watching Isata on stage was like almost out-of-body experience. Mesmerising, you said. What other artists have given you that feeling when you’ve seen them LIVE?

MM: Um, let me have a think. I mean with Isata it was very different because again, she's doing classical music, she's not singing, she's just playing her instrument. But I think another artist I've seen that I was like completely mesmerised by was Teedra Moses. Years ago, I watched her perform, yeah. She grown. She's sexy. She's just like, that's a woman right there, you know? And I just, like, I remember watching her perform and I was just thinking that I'm trying to be like you, do you know what I mean? Like, just because she was oozing with confidence and, like, even the crowd as well that went to that show was an older crowd. Like, I was around like, ,30/40 year olds, you know, that were like there with their Misses, and like, do you know what I mean, it was like. I like being in... I like going to concerts and shows where it's like not my usual, just to explore. So yeah, Teedra Moses and, who else have I seen that's like blown my mind. Like, obviously I have a lot of peers in the music industry. Like, all of their shows are amazing. Anyone who's my bredren is lit, you know what i mean, so their shows lit. But I think another person who I've watched and I've been like completely like, wow, is probably Ben Howard, you know.

RB: Is it?

MM: Yeah.
Because that, like, just the whole show was like one fat acid trip. It was just like, there's colours, there’s sounds, there’s just like, this is not even, I felt like I wasn't even sober and I was, you know what I mean, that is very, that was really cool. And I cried a lot, you know. And I know when I go and watch Paramour perform, like I know this, yeah, but when I go, I will be mesmerised. Yeah. It's going to be the same thing. ,1000%. Like, that's like, that's my heart that, you know what I mean. So yeah.

RB: We’ve been talking about how Isata shut it down like, the amount of times I wanted to wheel it when I...

MM: Yeah, you can’t give classical music wheel ups!

RB: So her, one woman on a stage, piano, you watching and being taken aback. Is there anything you would take from what you saw and then put into your own performance? Yeah, definitely.

MM: I will take, I wouldn't say she was a lost, but she looked like she was lost in the music. She looked like we weren't even there. Do you know what I mean? And like I could see by her facial expressions, that like, she felt, she... as she was playing, have you ever seen the video of Sampha? Nobody Knows Me? Like the piano? It’s with Adwoa Aboah and Sampha. Like, she's basically the piano, but in, like, a woman. Like, it's a beautiful, beautiful video, a great song as well, yeah. It kind of reminded me of that, where I was like, I felt like her and the piano were one and I could see stardust and shit like, I don't know if I'm allowed to swear, sorry, but I could see like loads of like sparkles and around her, like, it was weird. Like, I, I, I've never really watched a pianist and felt like that. So that's what I would take, I would, I would take how comfortable and how lost she looked in her own music. Like me, next time I go on stage like, I want to be able to listen to my music and be completely lost in the sound of that and rather than thinking about, oh, because you know, now it's like show value, innit. You've got pyrotechnics, you've got dancers, you've got anything to distract people from the actual song itself. Whereas with her, there were no distractions, no screen, no nothing, just pure music. And I think for me it's very refreshing. I'm taking a lot of notes from that performance about how to adapt certain things, you know, to my own performances, you know what I'm saying, so thank you, Isata.

RB: Very, very beautiful to hear. Your experience at the Barbs was via your phone online, which I find really, really cool because you can be at the Barbs from wherever you are. Yeah but in three words, how would you describe it? What would you say in three words?

MM: The performance?

RB: Your experience at the Barbs, whatever that may be?

MM: Well, I would describe it as very well thought out, like, just the whole, even like, for somebody, like the Barbican in itself as a place, is beautiful already. It's massive, that what being able to watch, you know we had so many different angles so you could see the stage set up, you could see the audience set up. So I'm like, I know already if I was there, I'd already feel like I was in a very higher, upper echelon type place, you know. And secondly, I feel like, just the fact that being able to have it from a LIVE perspective, COVID, work, being ill or having babies, having toddlers that can't necessarily get out as much, but you don't have to miss it. Like that, I think is really important because there's a lot of people who like, you know, want to travel to the Barbican and they live in Leeds. Do you know what I'm saying? And it's like, the trains are on strike. So, like, you can't get here, go online, you do the set up,  you pay your money like, you can add a donation, like this really easy, really quick. Like I got to the... and then you get to kind of create your own. I feel like the time of, like, home concerts is really coming and I, like, I feel like it's going to come because, you know, just the way the world is moving, I already know that they've got concerts now that you can buy in VR. Do you know what I mean? I low key bought the Oculus thing and I was like, wooo like if I was to see a concert, you know, just sitting in my living room and I'm there. Just turn around. There's people next to me and I'm like watching the, you know, like, so I feel like the technological side of being able to be present at shows and get a very unique experience. It would... We did a similar thing for wireless during COVID when you know, no one could be there. So they had like a virtual, yeah. So it's, it's fun to experiment with all these new tech technologies. It's, you know what I mean, and like again, I couldn't make it due to, like, real reasons, you know, and and it's like I got to still be there. Yeah. That I found very, very helpful and useful and I feel like I honestly feel like, kind of, like, every sort of like strong house of like presenting art or music or cross or whatever, should have that, where anyone who's unable to make it can still get like, you know, like, I felt like I had a front row seat. Like, I genuinely at one point it felt like I got a better view of it than actually being there. But only, like, obviously, if I was to be there, I would feel it more. Yeah, that's right. That's what I was obviously missing because I couldn't be there innit, but I didn't feel like I was lacking watching it LIVE, which is important because if you are at the concert and the LIVE doesn't match up, then you're just going to be feeling like, what's the point? The LIVE kind of gave me a little bit more insight, that we know you're not there, we know you can't feel this beautiful energy,

RB: but you can see the different angles.

MM: YO, she was cutting it,
I said WOW, this is crazy, like and it's like she's paying like, you know, like her takes on, like, lullabies, like children's songs are making them sound like an adult piece, you know? So, like, yeah, i feel, like, yeah, the live aspects was just brilliant. And I got to see her close up, I got to see her face. Just *perfect*. Mashallah.

RB: Wow, just talking about it, reliving it.
I need her to play again. Watch me be on her songkick looking at where she’s going to be playing next. Isata Kanneh-Mason at the Barbs. Absolutely amazing. We've got two new classical music fans. Well, one old, revitalised and one new. I'm booking the tickets right now. Miraa May, thank you so much for coming.

MM: Thank you for having me.

RB: And for speaking about everything because we’re going to another classical music show.

MM:100%. For sure. For sure. We’re going to make it a thing. Exactly.

BOTH: At the Barbs!

MM: That was lit! Yeah.    

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