Richard Ashcroft has spoken about his love of grime music, saying acts in the genre have “rewritten the blueprint” for UK music in the last few years.
The rock singer-songwriter, who has had success for more than 20 years as a solo artist as well as with The Verve, spoke to Sky News about the new artists he is listening to as he collected the prize for outstanding contribution to British music at the Ivor Novello Awards.
He said he is a fan of acts including Skepta, Bugzy Malone and Stormzy, who presented an award at the ceremony.
“The last few years I suppose I’ve been mixing it up,” he said. “The grime guys have kind of rewritten the blueprint for people, as far as creativity, songwriting, ownership, doing your own videos…
“So they’re sending out a real positive message I think to people, that you can do it yourself in a punk way, and you can still potentially be successful and get to people.”
“Grime, or I call it hip hop… really I listen to more hip hop probably than most other things. That’s where I get a lot of my influence from because it’s so eclectic. So that’s what I love.
“Hip hop, rock and roll, soul, blues, jazz; I listen to everything, but like I say, out of the contemporary acts – the Stormzys of this world, Bugzy Malone, Skepta – they’ve all done a great job for their culture.
“But it’s all one at the end of the day, we’re all one, it’s music. Music is power.”
Ashcroft was cheered by the audience as he received his Ivor Novello Award – which comes 21 years after he was named songwriter of the year at the ceremony following the release of The Verve’s biggest album, Urban Hymns, and singles Bitter Sweet Symphony, The Drugs Don’t Work and Lucky Man in 1997.
At this year’s event, he revealed that the rights to Bitter Sweet Symphony had been returned to him following a legal dispute that has lasted 22 years.
The track sampled The Rolling Stones’ song The Last Time, using a composition by Andrew Oldham, and became the centre of lawsuits which saw Ashcroft stripped of rights and royalties.
Announcing the news on stage, he said: “Thank you so much Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, for acknowledging me as the writer of a f****** masterpiece – it’ll live forever.”
Speaking to Sky News, Ashcroft said it sometimes felt hard to believe that period of his career was 20 years ago.
“[Sometimes] it seems like it’s flown by. I had no children then and now I’ve got a son who’s taller than me, so time’s flying. So that’s why you’ve got to seize the day and enjoy it.”
The singer, who grew up in Wigan, also said he felt positive about the current UK music scene and that the future “is in safe hands”.
Speaking about his own route to success, he said: “We all feel sometimes… we have those insecure moments where we feel like we’re blagging it, you know, ‘are we just blagging it? Am I just blagging it?’ And in a way I am.
“If I believed in the negativity or the horizons that were set for me when I was younger then of course I wouldn’t be here now. You have to build yourself up a bit. You have to believe in yourself, because not that many other people will, you know?
“So to be here now and to be celebrated… it’s great for me, it’s great for my family and it’s also I think good for songwriters out there.
“Certainly up North, kids in their bedrooms now. They can do it. They can write the next lot of classics, I know it, I’m sure of it, and they will, you know – they already have.
“It’s all good. You know, the future’s in safe hands, certainly in this country because we’re so talented. We’re the most talented musical island ever.”