British style with Greta Bellamacina and Kojey Radical

What does it mean to be “British”? It’s a knotty question which multidisciplinary artists Greta Bellamacina and Kojey Radical have been tasked with answering. The occasion? The launch of Ted Baker’s MiB SS21 collection.

Styled by Harry Lambert and shot by photographer Elliot James Kennedy in famed Hoxton pie-and-mash shop F. Cooke, the campaign film for Ted Baker’s MiB SS21 collection is an ode to modern British eccentricity. Across a table, multidisciplinary artists Greta Bellamacina and Kojey Radical present contrasting – but not opposing – visions of the place they call home.

Ted Baker’s MiB SS21 collection is a love letter to the eclectic influences of modern British luxury and style”. A light-hearted ode to the Great British Summertime, the collection references seaside towns straight out of Martin Parr and sticky nights in the city with light jumpers, macs, Harrington jackets, blouses with frilled sleeves, 70s-style denim flares and loungewear, naturally.

Dressed in the collection, Greta Bellamacina and Kojey Radical share bespoke spoken word poems penned to explore the notion of Britain. When it came to the inspiration behind his poem, Kojey Radical returned to a simpler time in my mind; waking up in the East End to the sound of market stalls and shop shutters, and people grafting and getting to work as early as possible”. Greta Bellamacina wrote with the sound of Bronksi Beat’s Smalltown Boy in mind, the satellite towns which line the way back into London from the countryside and the small towns flicker[ing] by like emblems of hope all lit up in the distance”.

We caught up with Greta Bellamacina and Kojey Radical to hear more.


As a medium, how does poetry allow you to express yourself?

With music, there are verse-chorus structures. If you find a pattern or rhyme-style within a song, there’s not much space beside you to further explain your thoughts and feelings. Poetry allowed me to fully convey what I wanted to do with these pieces of music personally, so that by the time I got around to writing the record, I already knew what I was expressing because I had a more detailed way of expressing it before the music.

How would you describe your voice?

The voice is an instrument. People don’t normally consider rap voices to be instruments. But all my favourite rappers, their voices cut through records in a way that almost made me feel like I was either listening to another snare or I was listening to another synth line.

I really had no interest in poetry or music when I was like a kid. I wanted to be a cartoonist. When I was drawing characters, I’d give them voices. I know I have a poetry voice and I know I have a rap voices, but sometimes I don’t know where it comes from because at the base of it is still me.

What does Modern Britain mean to you?

It’s almost like a divisive statement to call yourself British these days, because everyone identifies as British second, unless they have to.

Britain, at its core, was based on its diversity. It was based on the inclusiveness of all of these different races and cultures. For me, the most exciting thing about being British was knowing that I had more access to different cultures than I would in other parts of the world. And I could use that to learn about different cultures; I could use that research to better myself.

No one really gets to choose where they’re from. You’re born somewhere and you learn to adapt and you learn to love and you learn to understand your surroundings. And I think there’s always ways to find things that you love. And there’s always ways to find things that you hate. But I think you’ve got to look at who you are at your core, what you represent and what you value, and then make that the benchmark for what you love about where you’re from.

You’re working on your debut album at the moment. How is that going?

I think it’s getting into the mindframe where you’re making hard food, you’re not making fast food. You can get music out easily these days but I think to get music out with intention and purpose is the harder job.

What does creating with intention mean to you?

Choice and then the ability to let go. You can choose what your work is about until you’re blue in the face, but once you let it go, people are going to decide what it means to them. And I think if you have an intention behind your work, it allows people to find themselves in a little bit easier.


Is there a specific moment in time that you can remember first connecting with poetry?

I have always written poetry without any understanding why I would do it. It’s been the most consistent voice in my head. It wasn’t until I started reading poets like Anne Sexton, Ted Hughes and Allen Ginsberg that I started to feel more awake and deeper in the newness of the language. I read T.S. Elliot’s The Wasteland quite young and it is still a poem I go back to in one way or another, it seems to be a constant shadow on my wall.

As a medium, how does poetry allow you to express yourself?

In a number of ways, I don’t think poetry is just one medium. I think it can transcend into a lot of the other art forms. I often go into a new project with the search for its poetry, whether it’s a film or decorating a room in a house. I am always searching for the magic within the mundane – I think poetry should reinvent the ordinary again and again.

How would you describe your voice?

I would say it usually begins with nature as its backdrop. I think tragedy and love are deeply connected in nature. And, in someway or other, my words always seem to end up at sea. I love Jeanette Winterson’s quote on poetry, a tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is”.

Where do you go for inspiration?

The garden, the streets, the graveyard, it can be everywhere and anywhere. I like having coffee alone in the morning, observing the early risers. I find that time of the day to be enlightening.

What does being British mean to you?

It is about being a part of a community of strange and wonderful voices. Sharing one space in time together, both challenging it and growing in it. Being British feels like being in a moving circus, fizzing with eccentricity and hopeful joy. It makes me think of that Ian Dury song, reasons to be cheerful…

What were your early style influences, and how would you describe your style today?

I think from old films, my absolute favourites were Terrence Malick’s Badlands and Days of Heaven. I watched them over and over. I love that the female costumes were always romantic and feminine in contrast to their characters, which were usually runaways and outlaws. I think I decided early on that you could be complicated and raging in a dress. That your clothes could contradict your voice and I liked that. There is a sort of power in that.

Greta Bellamacina is represented by Viva London

00:00 / 00:00