Seems like Mickey Lightfoot is a busy man. "I'm good man, just running around trying to do a million things at once," he tells me on answering his phone. "The need for a clone is desperate." The reason? Born and bred Londoner Lightfoot, real name Osei Amponsa, has been carving out quite a name for himself with what MTV has termed "WTF Grime".

A heady mix of futuristic electronica, samples, and more traditional elements of rap and grime, his two EPs are captivating and electrifying in equal measure - gritty verses give way to soaring choruses, neat details punctuate thoughtful, intelligent lyrics. It's a thoroughly modern sound, a melting pot of the eclectic sounds he grew up with and more proof that the UK has plenty of boundary pushing talents trying to make themselves heard.


Is music something you were always interested in growing up? How did you end up doing what you're doing?

Music was always present in the household. I have Ghanaian parents, so everything was communicated through music I guess. They used to go to church a lot as well, so I had my stint of the usual church upbringing, being in the choir and all that, before tearing away and finding my own way. I'm a child of the whole garage era, so I was listening to my brother's records, trying to impersonate the likes of So Solid. I've also been influenced by D'Angelo records, Busta Rhymes, my dad's Luther Vandross LP's, afrobreat; those were some of the things that were around at the time. And of course, you can't deny pirate radio - that played a massive part as a music source.

Your music is very striking and different. Where do you get your inspiration from? What sort of influences are you cherry picking from?

I always find this question hard to answer, as I just sort of absorb everything that's around me and think about how it's gonna potentially react with people. Perhaps that might be the scientific side of me, where I'm constantly trying out new things and experimenting, and thinking about frequencies and so on. Plus those artists I mentioned before - there's too many to reel off really.

What are you trying to convey with your songs? What's the message at the heart of them all?

How do I describe that? Perhaps just to be free, and to be creative. If there's one thing to take from everything, it'd be feel free to be yourself and don't be scared.

The sample at the start of 'L.O.S.T.' - the repeating phrase "Why do you seem so lost?" - who's that sentiment aimed at?

I guess it's aimed at our whole generation. And it's something that I might have felt at a specific time - the whole idea of working for the man, or being part of the system but not quite finding your space. It was trying to comment on that element really.

How do you go about creating your music - do you build up ideas over time, or do you go in to the studio and get it done quite quickly? What's the process?

It's a mixture. My phone happens to be one of my best friends because literally any idea that comes to me - melodies, vocal ideas or lyrics - just go into my phone. It's then just a case of getting into the studio and listening back to what inspired me at that particular time and building from there. That's one way. Or it might be the case I sit down in the studio and just strike out some chords that make me feel a certain way, or a lyric that comes to me. I don't think there are any hard and fast rules about the way I finish my material.

Do you collaborate with anyone, or do you do everything - all the instruments, programming, production and so on - yourself?

I get a lot of help from a guy called Akara - he helps me out on keys whenever he's available, and with the mixing process as well. That's really where the help stops, although he accompanies me for the live shows as well.

Talking of live shows - have you played many so far?

Well, for this particular EP we've only done one, and that was at the Old Queen's Head - that was for Best In Class. And on the 30th November we're playing at Le Guess Who? festival in Utrecht, Holland. What happens after that is down to my booking agent - there are talks of tour support slots, but we'll see what comes of those. What's common in this industry is nothing's solid until it's in front of you. I'm back in the studio starting the next EP, in between trying to live my life, and hopefully the offers will start coming in.

Do you have a home studio, where you can sit and tinker away with your stuff?

That's exactly what I've got! It's my old bedroom in my parent's house - that's now my studio. It's nothing like a bedroom now though.

The three videos you've made are all very striking and imaginative. How involved in their creation were you?

Very, but I still happen to be working with friends as well. People like Hesky Tucker who's a very good friend of mine - he's the one who shot the first two videos. But I'm very much involved in that side of things... perhaps too involved!

Did you come up with the ideas for each one?

We tend to just sit down and brainstorm ideas, and because we're friends there's no hard feelings if something gets thrown out - like we can all turn around and say: "Aw shit, that's not gonna work." We tinker around with ideas for other visuals as well, and a lot of the time stuff gets discarded because it won't work. Plus, we're limited by budget; unfortunately, no matter how imaginative we are, a lot of the time there's just no budget to match what we want to achieve.

But they look incredible - they don't look DIY or homemade in any way.

If there was a running theme through everything I'm trying to do, it's being honest about where I'm at in terms of finances and such like, but with maximum creativity. Minimum budget, maximum impact, that's what we're going for.

It can't be easy trying to break through the massed ranks of everyone making music these days. How have you gone about getting noticed?

I'm still working that one out if I'm perfectly honest! I'm putting the records out there, trying to put them in the hands of the right people, and hopefully they'll gain the right support. But I'd be lying or a fool to say it's been easy - it hasn't at all - and perhaps it's been a little more difficult because I've chosen not to conform and do another track that sounds like Rick Ross or what's expected of me given where I'm coming from, or how people might perceive me.

So what comes next in terms of recording, and looking ahead to 2014?

I'm working on the next EP, but I'm a bit undecided on the name. There's a few floating around, but it'll still be on the theme of birds. And then it's onto the album. Hopefully, all of that will happen in the next year. The big goal for 2014 is to get the records out there and let the people decide, rather than the politics or any of the usual nonsense. And whatever comes after that, great. Anything is possible.