Rapper Vital, real name Vernon Caisley, talks about the thrill of having his own radio show on BBC WM celebrating the glorious people of the Midlands
The Wolverhampton-born (yes we know not strictly a Brummie, but we’ve let it slide…) musician is thrilled to have been given a Tuesday night slot on BBC WM. The show, which is called the Midlands Source, features music, arts and culture with Vital chatting to a mixed bag of guests from jewellers and tree surgeons to rappers and musicians with the common theme of celebrating the region.
He explains: “I chill with three or four guests. There’s great conversation and I delve into their lives touching on topics such as life, culture, family and always music.” Vital loves the idea of radio. He says: “It’s so different to TV. When you’re listening to radio, you’re locked in and you’re part of the conversation. I hope people feel that about the show.”
Vital first picked up a mic aged 14 and started burning CDs to sell for £1. He recalls: “That was my little hustle!” He became the ‘king of myspace’ trying different techniques and watched his following grow. By 18 he was taking his music more seriously and on graduating from university he was interviewed on Midlands Today and has performed on BBC 1Xtra.
Many musicians we’ve interviewed in these pages grapple with the dilemma of moving to London which remains undoubtedly the centre of the UK music scene or staying in the Midlands. A fair number of artists we’ve chatted to stay here and do perfectly well – Lady Sanity being a prime example. Vital explains: “I fight with that every day but I couldn’t make that move. It’s too far from my family and would feel a bit empty. So empty that I don’t think I’d be able to make music.”
Vital’s close to his mum who he speaks to ‘all the time’. In fact, along with Kevin Hart and Will Smith she’s one of his heroes. While financial support hasn’t been an option, Vital’s mum has always had his back. Not that the family was on the breadline, he’s keen to point out, but like many families across the country there were choices to be made when he was growing up. He explains: “Mum would say to me, ‘I have £100. I can either throw you a party or you can have a toy’ and she would let me decide.”
Funding a career in music is difficult without backing, which Vital recognises and one of his ambitions is to live comfortably enough to be able to help youngsters through that period of getting started. He says: “Young people need help. I’d love to be in a position to say to someone, ‘here’s some space to do your thing’ or ‘here’s some money to invest’.”
Since launching in September, Vital’s new BBC show has received a lot of praise, so much so that Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden sent a hand-written letter congratulating him. Vital says: “Having my own show is one of the greatest feelings, especially that it is on the BBC. I want everyone from Birmingham, Wolverhampton and the Black Country to see the show as a place to showcase and celebrate who they and we are.”