Friday, March 29th
In the front room of his top floor flat in North London, Maverick Sabre (aka Michael Stafford)
sits at his laptop, flicking through the clips of movies, music videos and short films that have inspired his new record. There’s a full length keyboard on the floor, a mic stand set up in the corner, a fretless bass leaning against his stereo, two copies of the same Noam Chomsky book, and on the sofa by his side is a Aria jazz guitar that most of his new music was written on.
Mav is a visual person. All the music he makes must have a visual reference, even if it’s just a 30 second clip of an ocean’s surface shimmering under sunlight. He draws sentiment and atmosphere from things he sees and the world around him, and then tries to turn them into pieces of music. For this specific record, he’s drawn inspiration as varied as the 90s French
social realism of La Haine to the hip-hop cinematography of Kahlil Joseph. And around 90% of the music was written in this very flat, on this very sofa, as the clouds passed and the faint British sunshine gleamed through two massive French windows.
It’s been seven years since he first arrived on the UK scene as a fresh-faced Irish (but London born) rapper with a brassy singing voice. Championed by Plan B, his music drew a line between the Irish, American and UKrap scenes he grew up on and the timeless blues and trad Irishmusic of his family’s heritage. His debut album, Lonely Are The Brave, was a roaring success. Arriving at #2 on the UK album charts and going on to sell over 250,000 copies, it was the pure and unapologetic sound of young man seething with thoughts. His follow up, Innerstanding, was a mature and exploratory collection of songs that tried to capture a dark period in his life in which it felt like everything around him was in a state of flux. He followed it with a tour around the world in which he stripped it all back to just him and either a guitar or DJ.
Mav was born to Irish parents in East London, but grew up in a small town of around 8000 people called New Ross in County Wexford, Ireland. His dad was a musician, and there was always blues, soul and traditional Irish music playing in the house. As a wide eyed kid, he would often be taken along to band rehearsals. He learned guitar at the age of 8, but things changed when he found Tupac in his early teens. He taught himself to MC and spent his adolescent years relentlessly gigging on the Irish hip-hop scene. One night in Dublin, he supported Plan B, who gave him some stirring words of and vice. Mav listened; at the age of 17 he dropped everything, moved to London (where he lived off his Aunt’s sofa) and pushed music as far as it could go. By 20, he was performing live on Chris Moyles’ BBC Radio One show to over 3 million people.
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