RAPPER, poet, novelist and playwright Kate Tempest is a creative force of nature.

The South Londoner, a former Brit and Mercury Music Prize nominee, holds a Ted Hughes Award for her work Brand New Ancients, while the poetry book which accompanied her album Let Them Eat Chaos was nominated for a Costa Book of the Year award.

And she is still only 33.

Tonight she performs at the O2 Academy Oxford in support of latest release, The Book of Traps & Lessons.

We found out about her life and work...

How would you compare the new album to your previous works?

The music is like a score other than a beat. The music and the lyrics on my previous albums are entwined; they are part of each other but for this album they run their own course, separately. It’s a different experience.

The music is extremely important, it’s doing things that you don’t even know it’s doing and these lyrics wouldn’t even exist without that music. The music has been set free from the lyrics, and the lyrics have been set free from the music. It’s mad.

How did the idea behind the album come about?

When we started to write it, we had absolutely no idea what we were doing

 When I say ‘we’ I mean Dan Carey and I who writes the music with me and I had been called up by Rick Rubin who said “I’ve seen you doing your poetry, I’d like to make a record with you”

 Rick had this vision that he wanted us to do. What led the way with the album was us trying to write demos that would infuse Rick. He couldn’t tell us what he wanted us to do, he could only tell us when we weren’t doing it right, and point out the way for certain things. He didn’t know how to explain what it was that he wanted; he needed us to discover it ourselves.

It’s not like we began being like “right I’m going to make this 45 minute album that’s going to be one long piece, and it’s going to have this this and this happen” it was none of that. With my old albums, I began with a map and filled in the details, but with this it was a process of discovery and it was a bit challenging along the way.

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Did you enjoy that challenge?

It was amazing. You have to understand this was an experience like I’ve never even dared to dream. Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, I can’t explain what that place means to someone like me.

How would you say your live shows have evolved over the years  from raves and house parties to Glastonbury?

It is definitely something that is evolving. The bigger the stages get, the bigger the opportunity there is to grow and make the size of that stage bigger. The temptation with a bigger stage is to throw more and more stuff at it but we’ve actually gone smaller than the last album tour. We’ve stripped it right back. Intentionally, we’re trying to be as clear and direct and precise as we possibly can be because that’s the stuff I’ve learned from Rick.

Oxford Mail:

Are you doing this all alone on stage?

When we were touring the last album, I had my mate Gene on drums and Dan Carey was on synth, two people I’m extremely close to.

We had this connection between us that created this support structure, it’s like having stabilisers on. I’d be there with Gene my drummer and we’d be together and being together at Brixton Academy, it was incredible, it felt like we really achieved something. But with this album, Gene’s a father now and has kids, it’s not the same. You can’t come out on tour the same way but that practical concern created something new that had to happen with the large shows. The light, the set, the particular making of this new album and how we play it. It’s different, it’s all grown up, a more accomplished approach. It’s pretty intense. It’s not like I go out on stage and it’s a real buzz, I’m really enjoying it and rapping my head off - It’s not like that anymore, it’s like I’m delivering this work.

You have a new production taking place at the National Theatre soon, how are you feeling about that?

Really excited. Something I reckon is relatable for lots of other people is that I find the different things I do energise me to do different things. If I just did one thing I think I would be exhausted. But because I switch my focus from working on touring an album to suddenly thinking about dialogue and the play it gives me this new rush of energy and I really enjoy it. It means I can do lots of different things at the same time. I’m not suffocated by the work load.

Is there anything else you’ve wanted to try your hand at? Art? Acting?

I don’t really think about what I want to try, I just think of ideas and hope that I can continue to put them out and I’m so lucky I’m in a position where I am able to make records and write plays. It’s a huge luxury and I feel so grateful. I hope I can continue. It’s my whole being. It’s such a mystery; I could wake up tomorrow and have nothing to write, which might be the case. I didn’t ask to have ideas, I live in this perpetual fear that it might just stop one day.

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And how do you feel with chatting about the music?

Sometimes it’s a bit redundant when someone says “what did you mean by this line” and I feel like saying “it’s all there, just listen”.

I think it’s amazing people want to speak to me about my music. I remember reading interviews with musicians and thinking “I want someone to ask me questions about my work” so I can’t really complain too much. Sometimes I do get a little bit aware that I may be talking rubbish.

It’s hard to have a really profound discussion every time with somebody you’ve never met talking about something most important to you. You can’t be lucid and profound, and inspiring all the time, you can’t do it. Sometimes you talk shit. It’s the one interview when you’re not on top form that gets the most attraction and gets out there the most, you just have to hope that the work speaks for itself. People connecting to the work is the most important thing.

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And how do you feel about coming back to Oxford ?

I did a gig once in this downstairs cellar in maybe the University - not the big one, the smaller college. It was cool, I did a couple of poetry readings there.

I’ve always found it to be an interesting town with an interesting mix of people there. The two worlds happening there. I’ve always found it to be an interesting place. You have these ideas of what Oxford might be about but you go up and it’s really normal, it’s a whole community of people putting on gigs.