In recent years I have been lucky enough to witness the overwhelming rise in popularity of the spoken word scene in the UK. Through the Satin Lizard Lounge Spoken Word section on both my XFM radio show and stages at Camp Bestival and Besitval I have been able to watch, first hand, the swell of excitement for this ever strengthening scene.
Here are my top 5 UK spoken word artists:
- Kate Tempest
Kate is truly unparalleled in the spoken word scene. Every time I see her perform or play one of her pieces on my show, I see a whole new army of followers devoted to her every utterance. I genuinely believe she could start a cult if she so desired. Seamlessly combining tales of South London life with Greek Mythology, a love of literature and her uniquely passionate yet warm delivery, Kate is a unique treasure.
Polar is the reluctant king of the spoken word scene. You see…he doesn’t really like a lot of aspects of spoken word that much. He just happens to be incredibly gifted in making fairly regular tales of day to day life and growing up somehow incredibly engaging. I personally believe that all the amazing work he does teaching poetry workshops at the Roundhouse are purely with the end goal of speeding up his exit from the scene, knowing he is leaving it in safe hands. The king is dead, long live the king.
- Rob Auton
I had been aware of Rob Auton for some time, having caught short pieces of his at great nights like Bang Said the Gun and Tongue Fu, but this year I managed to catch his hour long “The Sky Show” at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and it was easily the best thing I have seen all year. An hour long show of a man talking about how much he loves the sky. Like all of his work it was engaging, hilarious, odd and heart warming. I recently had Rob do a 20 minute set to a packed amphitheatre for me at Bestival and, in 5 years of putting on spoken word at festivals, I don’t think I have ever seen a crowd and performer share so much joy.
- Chris Redmond
Chris has been performing at the top level of the spoken word scene for some time now, whether it be through his one man show or his critically acclaimed Tongue Fu night. but, in the last year or two, it really feels like he has come into his own. If you see him speaking, unaccompanied, he has the energy and gusto of a full orchestra. Add, as he does at his Tongue Fu nights, a live band to improvise in and around his pieces and you have one of the most energising performances currently available for human consumption.
- Ross Sutherland
Ross is another performer that has been doing this for some time now but his current one man show “Stand by for Tape Back Up” has left all of his previous work in the dust…along with pretty much everyone else in the spoken word scene. In one hour Ross manages to deliver the type of heart-warming, clever and insanely intricately written piece that leaves you climbing the wall at the thought of what he could possibly come up with next.
Scroobius Pip is part of the hip hop, duo dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip. Check out their latest video here: