Who are they?
Adrian Green, DJ Simmons, Simon Pipe.
What are they?
Iron Pipe is a mixture of Iron Sharpen Iron, the spoken wordists, (we’ve made that word up… We’re running with it) and Simon Pipe the musician producer. It’s a combination that has come together to make them all stronger together. In last month’s issue we focused on making it in a career that isn’t run of the mill and discussed the difficulties in sustaining a living whilst perusing your dreams. They are our perfect example.
When Adrian isn’t performing spoken word he is teacher and writes the Get Real column for The Nation and DJ is a tutor and editor. When Simon isn’t writer and recording his own music he is busy in his studio recording and producing for everyone else. So when you take a step back you realise that spoken wordists work as wordsmiths and a musician works on other people’s music it becomes even clearer that it’s possible to make a living working in an industry which is reputed to be impossible to survive in financially.
It’s not the Banjo
We opened being very open and honest with Iron Pipe… Let’s face it, they were seatbelted into the back seat of a moving car… They didn’t really have the choice. Why is it that when there is an open mic night you will always have some really fun people come up and perform some hilarious skits on a banjo before a 4-year old girl sings with the voice of an adult and then when a spoken artist comes on stage they make everything really depressing?! Well according to Adrian and DJ, spoken word is social commentary. For many it’s their way of expressing themselves in a world where they may otherwise feel muted by all around them. They’re able to be themselves in the spotlight, show their real influences and use this form of social activism as a type of self-therapy. So it may seem depressing but, unlike music, it is pure word and has a lot of its roots in hip-hop and reggae. It’s about race, religion, sex and politics (not necessarily in that order). It’s an art form. It’s accommodating and adaptable and it’s poetic, which is the root of everything.
So who should do spoken word?
Everyone! They hold open mic nights so that you can come, hear for yourself and as inspiration starts awakinging your inner wordist you should come up and perform. Once you’ve watched, listened and learned there is nothing you should worry about except getting up on stage and trying your first moment in the spotlight. From there you grow, think deeper, harder and go further.
Why the name Iron Pipe?
We were persuaded it was a mish-mash between Iron Sharpen Iron (Adrian and DJ) and Pipe (Simon Pipe) but Adrian said: Iron Sharpen Iron (the lyrics) flow through the pipe (Simon’s music). We were half right.
Together they are in a position to take something as niche as spoken word and bring it to a bigger audience with music. Simon works with them to find a way to bring spoken word out without altering it and affecting its message. The rythmn isn’t always constant, the emphases can be in the strangest places and the music has to flow (through the pipe). The trio want to make their style to represent Barbados as much as possible and they want to bring elements of spouge in. Good question. Spouge is a completely Bajan type of music that kicked off in the 60s that we think you can call a hybrid between calypso and reggae (or even ska). It’s got such a good beat and is super uplifting.
This puts Iron Pipe in a position where they are bringing a reviving genre to a quiet art form to create something entirely new. Both spoken word and spouge can be brought into a modern space.
When are we going to hear it?
They won’t let a lot out of the bag (or pipe) because it’s still in the studio but they gave us a taste at Mahalia’s corner and got a great response. One thing that was incredible was listening to the three tell us about how they’re trying to crack the code. They’re venturing into unchartered waters and want to bring it to the people in a way that we can digest. They want to show us something new but they don’t want to scare us away.
If you want to see what we’re talking about, they sang an acapella for us in the Kia(r) and it was pretty damn awesome.
Simon wants to break new ground with a new sound but his focus is on making sure it feels right because getting music onto the radio is such a crucial part and there is a radio sound that music producers look for and he has the ear for it. Simon and his wife, Carly, have been building the studio over the years and today it’s a commercial success so their sound engineering can carry on. So what does he do when he’s not recording for musical heroes? He works at the prison a lot because music is part of rehabilitation. “Some people grow up with their parents telling them that they can be a musician but what about the other child that doesn’t have parents like that? “This is why organisations like Operation Triple Threat are so important in our society.” Get the kids believing in bigger, better, faster, stronger.