For many of us, there is an innate desire to try new things. We fantasise about the possibility of suddenly switching profession, or testing out a new idea. Hope Ikpono Jnr is someone who has taken advantage of this. Many will be most familiar with Hope from his breakthrough role on UK drama series Top Boy, although this has only been the beginning to a varied career. We had the chance to speak to Hope off the back of his collaboration with Marc Jacques Burton, which is a result of Hope’s recent foray into the fashion world. We discuss his music, career, and what we can expect for the future.
Hello Hope, thank you for taking the time to speak to us! Congratulations on your new track My Way. It seems like you’re getting more personal in your newer songs, is this a conscious choice?
It was definitely conscious. I feel I’m still finding my feet as a new artist; listeners still don’t know who Hope is. I have around 100 songs and only 7 released, so it’s hard for listeners to paint a full picture of me. I’ve yet to really delve into the personal side of my music, where the best and most honest stuff reside - it’s why I started music in the first place. I’m gearing up to drop an EP at start of the new year to remedy that so I thought it was time I start showing that side more. My Way was a little glimpse into what will come.
Your recent Marc Jacques Burton partnership is an interesting one, blending your current career with an interest in fashion. How did this come to be, and what has it been like working with MJB?
I met MJB last year on my 21st birthday in Paris and we’ve been locked in ever since. It was fashion week, and I was telling him how I just started music, he took an interest and asked if I would want to perform at one of his events with Overwatch. The fashion elements are great because it’s just another opportunity to show a different side to yourself and do something different.
How has fashion played a part in your life up to this point, and is it something you would be eager to do more of in the future?
I was never one who had a massive interest in fashion growing up. My Dad always did and that may even be a reason I don’t, he took all the fashion genes. But as I started going to Fashion Week more, attending shows, I saw the spark and it became cool to me. I like the spectacle side of fashion e.g runway shows. It’s an aim of mine to do more fashion stuff in future. It’s cool putting on pieces I wouldn’t usually wear for the sake of one dope picture.
What do you find interesting about fashion, and who are some designers who you are particularly passionate about at the moment (other than M J B, of course)?
If I had an artsy bone in my body, I would probably try to make my own clothes. I think clothes and or fashion is the first instance of self-expression we see whenever we meet someone. Some people care less about that type of thing compared to others, I’m one of them, but when people pay a certain amount of care to their look, I find it cool. One of my friends, Liz Sanya, is a designer who made 99% of the things in her wardrobe. Which means anything she wears is self-expression and that side of fashion I find really interesting. She’s recently partnered up with Nike on a future collaboration, I’m excited to see where she goes with that.
It must have been quite an adjustment going from being at school to suddenly being launched into the world of acting, music, and fashion. How did you find this transition? It’s great that you’re still able to explore the things which interest you.
My two main interests in life have always been film and music. It’s always hard to be taken seriously when making the transitions from one to the other. But I feel that if you can prove you’re here for the art form and not just for the sake of it, as well as meet that expectation with a level of quality - you can break out of that box. I feel artists should only be bound by one thing - and that’s their imagination. The sample of Kano’s award speech I used in Can’t Box Me says it best - “You can do what you want”.
Your music is synonymous with London culture and the music scene of the city. Do you think your London identity will always be important to you?
Born and raised in Hackney, it’s impossible to sever that from my identity, it’s what makes me, me. I can’t see a world where it’s importance dwindles, or becomes any less apparent in how I walk, talk and act. It sort of set the foundations for new experiences to build upon.
Have you got anything in the works which you can tell us about? If not, what can we expect from you in the future?
I’ve got things cooking on both the acting and music side. Recently I wrapped up my EP titled Mirror Man, which I plan to drop at the start of the new year. Film wise, I star in The Kitchen, co-directed, co-written and produced by Daniel Kaluuya. Which is set to release within the new year also.