The short biography of Brussels hip-hop artist Scylla reads like a snappy philosophical treaty, the kind which immediately submerges you into his sombre universe. Hitherto unbeknownst in Flanders, Scylla has worked on lengthening his curriculum in Wallonia and France. After a first EP, an album and four years of waiting, this wordsmith finally unveils the sequel next month at Cirque Royal — a date that’s bound to sell out any minute now.
Your lyrics are often remarkably philosophical.
“Philosophy really is my thing, especially big spiritual questions. I’m often thinking about all things spiritual and I feel inspired by all the forms they appear in. That doesn’t mean my lyrics have any religious inclinations though, even if some parallels are to be made with Buddhism, Catholicism or Islam. I try to reflect the common threads in my lyrics, mixed with some fundamental questions about everyday life.”
Your stage name, Scylla, is borrowed from Greek mythology. What on earth have you got to do with a sea monster?
“I picked this moniker on instinct. I have a leniency towards all things ocean-like and a sea monster quite accurately captures my personality. I can be very calm, but also so very surprising (laughs).”
Abysses, your debut, is among Belgium’s twenty best selling records of 2013. Most folks in Flanders have never heard of you, though. Is that disappointing?
“I think it’s mostly to do with the language barrier. Lyrics matter a great deal to me, which I think is the biggest stumbling-block. My lyrics are poetry, but without the complexity you will find in some poets’ oeuvre. I guess my songs aren’t what you call musical wallpaper. You need time to appreciate my work. Plus, us French speaking people hardly know any Flemish rappers either.”
What gets your creative juices flowing?
“I find inspiration in all kinds of everyday things. Everything and nothing all at once. Most of my lyrics are written in a very natural way, I just jot down a whole or half sentence without really thinking them through. Afterwards I start structuring everything I’ve written down in a very personal form.”
The video for Qui Suis-Je has hit the 500.000 mark on YouTube and your record will be on the shelves next month. What else have you got planned this year?
“I’m presenting my new album at Cirque Royal, which is almost sold-out, by the way. That night marks the kick-off for my new tour. In the next few months I’ll be in every corner of France and Switzerland. And I think we’ll tour Canada too. So I guess I’m kind of busy these days (laughs).”