Rhyme and reason: Daedelus and Joshua Idehen talk collaboration

Daedelus & Joshua Idehen Press Shot

At the beginning of 2020 Daedelus and Joshua Idehen began collaborating remotely.

The LA-hailing beat maker and Stockholm-based MC and poet, respectively, sent beats and verses back and forth but the direction of the release changed its course at the end of May that year.

Following the death of George Floyd and the resultant Black Lives Matters protests all over the world, Joshua felt an obligation to speak about what he was feeling; these thoughts and emotions form the basis of the songs across Holy Water Over Sons, the pair’s mini LP on Albert’s Favourites.


Joshua’s words ruminate on life as a Black man, from themes of protest and depression to identity and grief, while Daedelus’ ethereal electronics bubble underneath, providing the perfect foundation for Joshua’s poetry.

It’s a powerful and important release from two artists who have put their individual stamp on their respective scenes – Daedelus with releases for Warp, Ninja Tune and Brainfeeder, as well as collaborations with MF DOOM and Madlib, and Joshua with Mercury-nominated spoken word for The Comet Is Coming and Sons of Kemet, with whom he’s worked with again on their most recent album.

In the below interview they reflect on their collaboration, the process behind the lyrics and productions and what their future works will hold.

Joshua: Hey mate, so shall you ask first or me?

Daedelus: Good point! How to start? Maybe just how are you feeling in these final days of 2021?

Joshua: Heh, great start.

Me, I’m feeling a heady mix of grateful and apprehensive: this year has ended with a real career highlight: joining you and Miguel Atwood Ferguson on a record. Legit the first time in my career as a poet/musician I’ve actually thought “you know what, if this is the last thing I do, I did good. Young me wudda been proud.”

But there’s so much more forthcoming I’m excited about, which leads on to the apprehension. I’m looking at you, Omicron. There’s also the small issue of my little girl, Birdsong, who’s really blown the doors on my definition of love and joy and made my entire wardrobe smell of vom. There’s a poem in the second bit.

Daedelus: Goodness feel you on the young ones among us. My Clementine has been shattering my constructed reality this year long. Such sublime heights as backdrop to increasingly normalized extraordinary circumstances storming towards us. Thanks then for bearing witness on our album you so eloquently put so.

Joshua: Your music IMO goes so well with poetry… are there any other poets you’ve worked with or would love to work with?

Daedelus: I mean most on the nose is Saul Williams, poet with laureates to prove it. Can I include some of the emcee’s with their unique turns of phrase? If so I’d also nominate MF DOOM, full of Bukowskian bravado, and Mike Ladd who more intones than spits rhymes. As for wishes Elizabeth Bishop is my current obsession, she made words dance so there isn’t much need for me in the mix, but what a dream to…

Joshua: I FORGOT ABOUT MR DOOM. Mad tings!

Daedelus: What’s it like holding that title of Poet? Does language matter when lungs are being deprived of air?

Joshua: Ooof, I actually struggle with that title. Initially I only accepted it because it was what other people called what I was doing, even when I was trying to sing/rap. And yes, language doesn’t always need air, as I’m sure our sign language brethren would agree. Jk I’m guessing you mean in these covid, fascism days: I think language, communication, connection and empathy matter so much more now than ever. It feels like we’re at the mouth of mordor at the moment, and we need to abandon our current ways in the fire and move together, to save ourselves, but rich white men be like “nah”. Still, we don’t really have an option.

On a lighter note: how did you choose the melodies on this project?

Daedelus: I believe in the kismet of music arrives to us. Asking up into the airs, or perhaps welling up from within, but most certainly not because I thought a song and made it so. Production is more an act of editing. This project was much more music, and whittled down to it’s few fine songs. You were a kind shepherd of those, and brought them home.

How did you find the words for these things?

Joshua: I initially wrote a number of drafts inspired by Aesops Fables. A lot harder than I imagined. And then George Floyd was on the news and somewhere between my first comedown ever (I’d done molly a few days before for the first time) and all that rage: I remember in my head going “nothing’s gonna happen, this is going to keep happening, people are gonna be angry for a bit and forget like Philando Castile” and then being mad at myself for forgetting about Charles De Eenezes. The words came to me in those months. I read up on Tamir Rice and built a poem of details about his final hours. Floyd – I’ve never watched the video – I read the news reports and tried to put myself in his place. Plus I listened to a hell of a lot of Blood Pt 2 by Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti.

Joshua: This is my last question so I’ll cheat and ask two: We seem to be falling arse first into another pandemic, what does that mean for you as an artist and person?

Also, what sounds and themes would you like to explore on a forthcoming record?

Daedelus: You ask the hard hitting questions Joshua! I’m left reeling at the thought of another pensive year. Only a few days in and it’s just maybe better? Could it be light at the end of this sewer? All that said the extra bit of family time has been a gift and I hope the dawning awareness these past couple years have given won’t just up and away once the all clear sounds. Speaking of which if we are almost through it should we make a ghastly fun album following? Doesn’t seem the straight forward answer, maybe it’s more sultry guitar for you to intone upon? One day at a time.

Joshua: Ooooh, an LP.  You had me at ‘should’.

Holy Water Over Sons is out now on Albert’s Favourites.