Clapton drummer geared up to appear on Britain's Got Talent semi-finals tonight
PUBLISHED: 15:32 28 May 2013 | UPDATED: 11:57 05 June 2013
Ever since he was a little boy, Joshua McKenzie has wanted to make it into the league of the big guns and now it looks like his dream is finally coming true.
The Clapton Pond born-and-bred drummer - known as MckNasty - will be performing at the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent tonight and will release a mix-tape called Nasty by Nature in June.
Although better known as singer Labrinth’s big brother he’s no stranger to success having been Tinie Tempah’s musical director and drummed for the likes of music stars Lady Gaga and Plan B. He got his first break as a drummer for singer-songwriter Daniel Bedingfield.
Speaking about his brother, he said: “We got the same mummy. We can’t help it. I’m just blessed to know I’ve got people like that in my family.
“I want Labrinth to keep excelling. I want to be known for what I do. I’ve been recording a lot. I jut want to saturate the music industry.”
Speaking to the Gazette, he recalls always racing to get ahead, saying: “My uncle used to play the drums in church and I always wanted to be the big performer and hang out with the big guys.
“He noticed I was into it and would let me come to his house after church. We had all these great gospel acts and I would work out all the patterns. When I was six my mum bought me that drum kit and that’s when it really started to take off. That’s when I thought I was in the gang. I definitely earned my stripes!”
McKenzie, who attended Millfields Community School in Hilsea Street, Clapton remembers his grandmother telling him “to slow down”. He said: “I just wanted to grow up and be with the cool people. I wanted to hang out with the older people. It was food.”
The 27-year-old hails from a close-knit religious family for whom music was a “glue”, so it’s no surprise that music is a passion.
He said: “My grand-father was not receptive to music other than gospel music so we grew up listening to that. It was not until I was 13, that I developed a new ear for various different sounds like The Roots and Stevie Wonder.
He likens his family to the Winans family, a successful gospel music family in the US who they listened to growing up. He said: “We are like the British Winans family!”
He has fond memories of his childhood, saying: “It was just vibrant. A lot of fun. There was never any reason for us to go elsewhere because we were never bored. We had our own little world and it suited us fine.
“When we get together, we sometimes pray and give God thanks. Before that, we all sing and get a sense of bonding. Music has always been at the centre of everything we do. It’s the glue.”
He said that music kept him on the “straight and narrow”, saying: “I was right on the former Murder Mile. There was so much that happened on Lower Clapton Road. We were oblivious to it because we were soaked in the music.
“When you’re younger you want to hang out in the park, but we would go to the church.
“We were brought up to be a god-fearing house and to treat people respectfully and have love for your neighbours.
“Having such a strong spiritual background kept us on the straight and narrow.
“I was so unaware of all the thing that were happening because I was so into my drums.”
He believes that church is a “good breeding ground for musical geniuses”, saying: “When you look at people like Whitney Houston, they grew up in church singing and playing.
McKenzie recalls playing in Cargo in Rivington Street, Shoreditch and going to The Premises Studios in Hackney Road, Hoxton while growing up. “There are so many good memories of good music and good vibes”, he added.
He did not get any formal musical training which he feels has helped him to become better at improvising: “You have to use your ear a lot. In terms of improvisation, you feel your way around. Your ears become more developed.”
Speaking about his decision to go on Britain’s Got Talent he said: “It was something I wasn’t sure about initially. Should I do this or not do this? How am I going to be perceived by people? But then I decided that If I wanted to go further, I needed to take myself out of my comfort zone.
“I’m glad I did it. It’s opened up a lot of avenues. My peers are taking me more seriously. I definitely want to go all the way. I want to be an inspiration to a lot of young people and change their head space. I want to instil belief in them that you can do a lot of things you want to do.”
He admitted he was looking forward to the semi-finals, but needed support from people in Hackney, saying: “I definitely need the Hackney crew to support me!”
n. McKenzie will be appear on Britian’s Got Talent semi-finals on ITV tonight at 7.30pm.