Wise Words: Scroobius Pip On Tackling Insomnia, Negativity And The Best Advice He's Ever Received

Wise Words: Scroobius Pip On Tackling Insomnia, Negativity And Practical Advice

Spoken word artist Scroobius Pip first came to our attention thanks to his music, but in the years since he pressed 1000 copies of his debut album 'No Commercial Breaks', the Essex-born rapper has turned his hand to everything, from film and club nights to a midnight Xfm show, and most recently, his 'Distraction Pieces' podcast.

Now, he's once again preparing to host Bestival's Satin Lizard Lounge, which will play host to the UK's finest spoken word artists - so who could possibly be better equipped to take on our Wise Words questions?

Scroobius Pip

Here, he tells HuffPost UK how he copes with negativity, why Brazilian Jujitsu is on his bucket list, and the extremely practical advice he'd give his younger self...

What do you do to switch off from the world?

I struggle hugely with switching off. I recently did a sensory deprivation tank for the first time which I thought was amazing. You get in, and its water, salt and saline solution, so you float and then close it, so you're in complete darkness. It's completely soundproof and it was the most amazing reset button. I did an hour in there and it flew by.

Day-to-day, it’s tough. I suffer quite a bit from insomnia so I’m not the ideal person to ask this, but I sometimes do self-hypnosis of an evening, which is something I was taught to do when I had hypnosis to try and help with my stutter. It’s breathing techniques and specific thought routines - other that it’s just TV and music like everyone else.

How do you deal with negativity?

I’m a massive believer that we have control of our brains, which sounds really simple, but if I begin to feel down or feel negative, I’m always aware that that’s a choice. If I choose not to be, then I don’t have to be any more.

On a personal level, that’s how I deal with it, I choose not to be negative. With the public, or Twitter or social media, it’s kind of hilarious to be honest. I’m a big believer that you should take any praise you get online with a pinch of salt, the same way you would negativity. It can still be damaging to your personality, because, especially in this industry, you can become a dickhead. It’s all nice sometimes… but you should ignore a lot of it.

When and where are you happiest?

In general, in my day-to-day life of the last eight or nine years, it would be on stage. Touring is exhausting but during that 120 minutes on stage it’s a joy and the bit you’d do for free - it’s all the rest of it that’s exhausting. But I’m on a year or two off from touring now, for the first time in eight or nine years. I’d normally do 100+ shows a year. Now the place I’m at my happiest is sat in my living room with my brother, when there’s a good UFC event on. It’s quite the opposite.

Dan Le Sac Vs. Scroobius Pip performed their final gig together at 2014's Bestival

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

When I was 18 I tried to go and travel America on my own. I failed miserably, it was horrible but before I went - it was obviously the first time I was going out into the world on my own, as such, without any friends or contacts or anything - and everyone gave deep meaningful goodbyes, but my brother just gave a quote, from a film called ‘The Best In Show’, and he just said: “If you get hungry, eat. If you get tired, sleep.” That’s solid advice to live by really, and all you need in this world.

What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?

The hardest lesson implies that any of them are negative. There’s a lot of death, in my lyrics and a lot of people see that as dark or morbid, but I think everything is just part of journey as hippy as that sounds. Any hard lessons I’ve had along the way, I’m grateful for.

There’s one that I’ve maybe learnt too much, but generally being relaxed. I’m an incredibly relaxed person and as a teen I wasn’t and that made my stutter worse. And when I had the hypnosis at the time, it made me less stressed out and anxious about stuff. If anything it was too well, because it was around the time of my GCSEs, and I was too relaxed about it.

What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

I would say save up all your pocket money, and in 2005, at half-time of the Champion’s League final, Liverpool will be losing to AC Milan. Put all your money on them to win. I’d go very ‘Back To The Future’ on it, that’s the only advice I’d give.

What 3 things are at the top of your bucket list?

I would like to go to Iceland, the country not the shop, obviously.

I’d like to dedicate myself and get better at Brazilian Jujitsu. I train in it a bit, but not nearly enough.

And finally… Well, it sometimes confuses people that I do so many things. I do music, a podcast, club nights, a film night, and my on-going bucket list is just… to try and do cool shit. And I don’t mean cool as in Shoreditch, or beards or whatever, just things that are fun to do, so I’d have that as my last one - even though it’s technically neverending.

What do you think happens when we die?

Nothing. I think we just die, and I think that’s fine. In a recent episode of my Distraction Pieces podcast, it’s a sense of death special and it’s about discussing death and the ideas of death a lot more and not being scared of it. I talk to a mortician, and she explains that one of the reasons it’s so important is that she’s previously been in the funeral industry and people get ripped off. People don’t want to discuss it, so they’ll sign off on anything and on services that they don’t need, because they don’t want to talk about it, because death is scary. Life is a million times scarier than death. Death just ends, and what’s going to happen to me next week in general is far scarier to me.

When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?

I definitely feel it, 100%. About three years ago, I saw Prince play, and that was evidence that we’re leaving in the presence of something bigger than ourselves. I’ve been going to gigs since I was 15 and would always spend all my pocket money on it, but Prince was the first person who walked out on stage and I was like, ‘I don’t even know what this is. This doesn’t feel just like a dude walking out’. Bruce Springsteen is famously amazing live, but he’s still just a man walking out on stage. Prince is some other worldly creature, it sounds like I’m joking, but I’m 100% serious.

What do you try to bring to your friendships and relationships?

I just try to bring what that person needs at the time. I’m always happy to talk to my friends and give them advice, but I’m also always happy to shut the fuck up, and not get involved or say, ‘here’s what you should be doing’. I try to be attentive to what they need at that point.

What keeps you grounded?

I still live in the same town I’ve lived in for 34 years, Stanford-le-Hope. I did a spoken word gig once, in front of a sold out Hammersmith Apollo, and shared the stage with Steve Coogan, with Stewart Lee, Brian Cox and so many other people that I’m so in awe of. Then I was on the last train home and some girls from Tilbury tried to steal my shoes and set fire to my beard, so that’s a wonderful of keeping grounded. Living in an area where it’s not that nice, but it’s home and it’s what I’ve known. Those girls didn’t have a clue that I’d stood on the stage and done that stuff for thousands of people - and quite rightly so.

What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?

It’s a small one, but it’s something I always notice. Yesterday I did 10 hours of driving, and I was coming back through London and there were roadworks and traffic, and someone let me in. Everyone is always out for themselves and cutting each other up but someone held back, and let me in when they could have just kept going.

The Satin Lizard Lounge returns to Bestival's Ampitheatre this year. For more information on Bestival, including how to purchase tickets, click here.

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