Photos by Matthew Joseph
Interview by Amar Mehta
“London has it all. So many of my friends are from different backgrounds and cultures, This really inspires me. I am just inspired by life and what’s happening around me.”
From a young age, Ryan Henry, known by his stage name DEACON, has had a penchant for music and poetry. Rather than simply keeping this as a hobby, the south Londoner decided to pursue this as a career path. After years of hard work and graft, it finally seems to be paying off and DEACON recently signed to record label Future Rebel Records as well as releasing a string of singles and supporting Akala on his UK tour earlier this year.
Unlike many young musicians, he did not start out making music, he started out writing poetry. DEACON said:
“I always had to find a way to express myself and poetry was the main way I did this. I then started to rap on top of music and it sort of went from there. I watched a lot of Def Poetry Jam, they were really inspiring and had a beautiful way of saying things. In terms of my musical inspiration, Encore by Eminem was the first album I bought and from there I started listening to more music, especially the UK Grime scene. More recently I have been inspired by J Cole and Kendrick Lamar. Akala is another big inspiration.”
DEACON grew up in Tooting and now lives in Wandsworth, he spoke about his love for the city:
“London is beautiful, I realised that after I started travelling. It is just a hub of so many different cultures from all of the place and world. It’s really about interacting with people from different cultures and there aren’t any cultures I cannot see. London has it all. So many of my friends are from different backgrounds and cultures, This really inspires me. I am just inspired by life and what’s happening around me.”
“I always had to find a way to express myself and poetry was the main way I did this. I then started to rap on top of music and it sort of went from there”
In 2011, DEACON met Akala at an open mic night, where he was told about Hip Hop Shakespeare and it wasn’t long until he started writing with them. He described Hip Hop Shakespeare as a big pillar in his career and a gave him a platform to perform.
In April, DEACON got the opportunity to tour with Akala. He said:
“Touring with Akala was amazing, working closely with him and being surrounded by so many inspiring people was great. I learnt so much. Playing in front of so many people across the UK was amazing, especially Shepherds Bush Empire which was my highlight. London is my city and seeing so many people sharing the love in the crowd was great.”
DEACON draws inspiration from his surroundings but a lot of his music is based on concepts. His first EP will be released later this month and is a concept album reflecting on the journey ex-slaves have taken.