Joshua Idehen of Benin City talks…Boredom

Back in April this year, I made a magazine solely about the emotion boredom. I managed to catch up with lyrical progeny Joshua Idehen from Benin City to find out how he is inspired by boredom.

It’s not easy to proclaim that you’re bored, but for London based poet come musician Joshua Idehen boredom helps with the creative process. “I think boredom is necessary to write, because if you are excited then there’s a problem.” He says, sipping on a steaming cup of black tea in Camden Roundhouse.

In recent months Joshua’s schedule has been very busy; supporting To Kill A King at their album launch, promoting and organizing a spoken word event at the Southbank as well as kicking off his musical career in the electro brass band Benin City. He is tired and had come straight from a photo shoot set to go with their debut album. “Boredom is a way for you to retreat back into your mind, and for example today I’m really busy, but when I get home I won’t have the time to spare, so naturally I wont come up with anything.” he exclaims. “I have video games and Internet which are just a massive abyss that you tend to lose yourself in. A lot of writing involves thinking and reading, and it involves just laying down and just wondering, not going to sleep or doing anything stupid, sometimes not even listening to music, just sitting there and letting your mind just breathe the story out.”

Watch Joshua Idehen perform My Love at Latitude 2013

 Joshua was not always interested in poetry.  From a young age and growing up in Nigeria, Josh had a passion for writing and comic books. “When I was younger I used to do comic books for my youngest brother. I couldn’t draw to save my life, but I could mimic stories I got from Saturday morning cartoons. When I was in secondary school I liked doing bits of writing,” he says, losing himself in thought. “I did secondary school in Nigeria so a lot of people were into football and all that. I was into video games but I didn’t have any, so I had to write and draw comics. I did long and short story pieces where everyone died, because I was so depressing and everyone died.”

In his final year at Roehampton University, his tutor commanded that he had to go to a poetry reading or he would fail. Without thinking how his lecturer would know, he dragged himself along to one and was immediately enthralled.  “I was in Uni and I had to do a module in poetry which I hated. I didn’t hate the class, but I hated poetry at the time. When I was in one of the classes I was very absent-minded. I didn’t care what I did, and thought this was going to be a daydream class. I absent-mindedly heard the teacher say ‘If you don’t attend one poetry reading I will fail you.’ I didn’t actually think about how he was actually going to check, but I decided I was going to go to because I thought he was being serious, which he assures me he wasn’t. I went to a poetry café and it was an open mic night. It was a mixture of the brilliant and the terrible. The absolutely amazing, awe-inspiring to the ‘Wow, I could do that!’ I put myself in the middle and then I did a performance about three weeks afterwards.”

Benin City – Faithless

When Joshua performed (poetry) back in February in a converted Hackney warehouse, he was met with a nothing but praise and laughter. His poetry is honest and personal, and reflects the person that he is. “We used to have this saying after I passed my poetry collective for my spoken word, so when we did anything really stupid, or got really drunk would say, ‘It’s good for my spoken word.’ And they’d be like ‘why are you dating this girl?’ and I’d be like ‘It’s good for my spoken word’. She’ll inspire me to write a really good love poem when we break up.” Joshua laughs.

What’s most intriguing is Joshua’s capability to acknowledge when he needs time and space in order to be creative. “Be more creative: in a sense of which you have devoted your life or your time. One of my biggest problems is I am still a fan of the right moment and I never find the right moment. Probably there’s no such thing as inspiration.” He says between slurps of tea. “Stick me on a bus and suddenly ideas come from things and I create a lot of stories in my head and figure out where they are going and where they are going to end up. I can write stories of an ice cube just from staring at the cup just because we are here. Thinking about that and staring out of the window, and just the idea of moving is wonderful. And in the bathroom, I’m sure a lot of people get inspired in the bathroom. One time I did consciously try to find a laptop that could withstand water being splashed on it. In the toilet? No. But in the shower is absolutely perfect. If I were to rhyme it would be in the bath. Go take a shower and everything comes straight out.”

 Joshua’s innate concept of boredom is extensive and clearly held through personal experience.  His thoughts and opinions raise some interesting questions about boredom: whether it can actually be used to help our creativity, and more importantly find ourselves. His personality is infectious and friendly, and it’s no wonder he is such a talented wordsmith.

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