Riz Ahmed is undoubtedly be one of Britain’s most in-demand young actors after starring in Chris Morris’s ‘Four Lions’, he may be one of Hollywood’s bright new stars after co-starring with Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’, he may even be deflecting rumours of his involvement in the much-discussed spin-off ‘Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One’… so it’s understandable that he’s apologising for multi-tasking when we speak on the phone (he’s eating his breakfast at 5pm).
He’s also one of the most interesting, with more than one string to his bow, and the reason for our chat today… well, it’s all about the music in general, and his brand new project in particular, under his musical moniker MC Riz.
Halflife is his collaboration with DJ Distance (Greg Sanders). Riz, who’s been performing musically since he was 15 alongside his blossoming acting career, and Distance were drawn together by their mutual influences – rap, dubstep, drum and bass – Riz describes it to me today as “a natural, shared heritage”.
They introduced their collaboration with ‘Subtle’ five months ago, and have now released ‘Rip Me’. Riz is forthright both in his music and in person about the problems he believes young men are having in their relationships – what he calls their “quarter-life crisis”. He tells me:
“What I see around me is the Peter Pan syndrome. You remember when Tom Hanks swapped bodies with a 13-year-old? Well, I not sure there’s so much difference between those two ages.
“The commodification of every aspect of our lives has contributed to this. There’s no area of our lives we don’t subject to this, including friendship and love.”
The theme of Halflife’s album is “love in a digital age” – as Riz explains, “What does lifelong commitment look like when we’re all being programmed to look for the next upgrade? Consumerism is based on that.
“The only time we see the word ‘content’ written down is with ‘online’ next to it. Settling down has negative connotations, you’re meant to keep striving.”
With Riz’s screen career on the rise, I wonder how important success – chart, sales, contracts – is when it comes to his music. With the ease of a man who doesn’t have to worry, he says only, “This is out of my comfort zone, but it came from a really honest place. I just hope people will connect with it. And that they’re pleasantly surprised.”
'Rip Me' is the second single from Halflife, following the success of 'Subtle'. Click here for more info.