ArtBeat: Spoken word poet Suli Breaks
February 16, 2016
Born and raised in Wood Green, Suli Breaks is both a bona fide Londoner and an inspiring spoken word poet. His video on his YouTube channel ‘Why I Hate School But Love Education’ makes you sit, listen and respond in awe to the words that flow from him. And it just gets better, having spoken at TED Global, London last year and partnering with the National Citizen Service to get young people to embrace opportunities in life, he is a force of nature and an agent for positive social change. He’s been travelling a lot more recently (which I’m sure will influence his future work) but today has been a relaxing day for him, an actual Netflix and Chill day watching a British favourite ‘Benidorm’.
Describe London in three words
Fresh, schizophrenic, accommodating/ welcoming. London has a feeling that you don’t get elsewhere, it’s very new. If you come to London, there are very few places that compare, and there is an energy of the people so much so that London has created its own culture. Essentially you can be from anywhere – but you become a Londoner. It’s not a nationality, but an identity. London is always changing, sometimes wild and sometimes calm. It feels like so much is happening all the time. You can make your home here no matter where you’re from.
What/ who inspired you to do what you do?
Books like The Alchemist, as well as an amalgamation of individuals such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Kobe Bryant and Thierry Henry. The internet has opened up the world and there are many people you can be inspired by. From my list you can see that its things like innovation, entrepreneurs, athletes who really stand out. They are all pursuing a passion, rather than just doing something.
What was the song of your youth?
I grew up in a golden era of music of the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys, but for me it is So Solid Crew and the song ’21 seconds’ – it was so empowering to see people from different parts of London I could relate to who were creating constructive music from inner city London.
What do you love about what you do?
The freedom to allow my mind to explore. The more creative I am, the more I explore and its ultimately beneficial to what I do. Like today, I’ve been watching Netflix, but there could be a gem of an idea that inspires me. I like the having the time to explore creativity and technology.
I can put too much pressure on myself to create. When you have an audience, you tend to create to produce a desired result e.g. higher views on YouTube, money, etc. So it can be a love/hate relationship with art. I also have to be active on social media, although I’m typically not that person – but I understand that’s the world we live in.
What makes London’s arts and culture scene unique to you?
I’m thinking specifically about grime music, it’s the most unique art form. I can relate to it and have seen it grow. It speaks for the city! Outside of that, art speaks for the city. Intrinsically, the art produced in London is unique. The best stuff is often a blend of many different cultures. You see such different heritages and stories being interpreted.
Who should we be keeping an eye out for on the arts and culture scene?
A lot of my friends are artists. At this moment, I’m keeping an eye on Ayo Wrote. There is also Kojey Radical. These guys are poets, who blend it with music, and it’s done in a very different way. They’ve found their own sound, and reflect the scene and environment where they are from.
What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Proposing to my wife. It is such a significant step, leading to growth and a progression in life. It was so nerve wracking – we spend so much of life being responsible for ourselves, but then it’s a moment you’re going into adulthood. Those moments represent growth. And I still remember the fear.
*I say to Suli that given she is now your wife, it all worked out well!
Share something about you that would surprise us!
I own every single Twilight novel and every DVD. A friend of mine was talking about the books for ages. I thought it would not be my thing, but I picked up a book and have been hooked. I’m talking about watching the movies at the cinema at midnight (that’s dedication).
What’s your favourite spot in London?
I grew up in Wood Green and there is a place called Ducketts Common. It’s a park with a basketball court and I remember spending pretty much all my time there. Even if I wasn’t playing, there was something going on. It’s still a place that’s close to me.
Who do you love to follow on Twitter/ Instagram?
On Instagram I follow a lot of photographers such as Ben Brown (travel photography). There is also ‘The Good Quote’. On YouTube, there is Casey Neistat, a filmmaker and adventurer who puts stuff together. He was recently snowboarding in the New York blizzards attached to the back of a jeep.
What’s the last country you visited?
Kentucky, USA. I was Invited to perform at the University.
Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
Will Smith. I’m a big fan of him and he is a fan of my stuff – so I am slightly biased. He is my favourite actor and I met him for breakfast in LA – he is a great guy.
What are you doing after this interview?
So I’m in this period of re-learning. When I was younger, I loved to draw. I’ve got this book called ‘How to Draw the Marvel Way’ so every evening I spend an hour or so drawing/ learning.