Scroobius Pip: The broadcaster who’s never let his stammer hold him back

Scroobius Pip arriving at the Dunkirk World Premiere in London

While he sounds like a character from a Dickens story, Scroobius Pip – real name David Meads – chose his moniker from an Edward Lear poem about a creature who didn’t know who he was.

And it seems this name has been a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the Essex boy moves seamlessly – and successfully - from career to career.

Pip first made a name for himself as a spoken word poet back in 2006 with the release of his self-released debut album No Commercial Breaks.

Prior to breaking into the music scene, Pip worked at HMV. He saved enough cash to quit work for a year, and tour around the country in a Space Cruiser. Although, as he explained on White Wine Question Time, it might not have been a perfectly formulated plan.

“My problem at times is just I don't necessarily think things through before I decide I'm doing it,” Pip told podcast host Kate Thornton.

“This was the case with my music career. I'd quit my job, I made an album and I was going to play on street corners and do whatever I could. I hadn't really thought about the fact that at that point I'd never played live at all!”

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip perform at launch of nationwide music festival 'Oxjam' at Dalston Oxfam Shop in 2010

Pip went on to team up with fellow Essex boy Dan le Sac and form hip hop duo, Dan le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip. Their single Angels became one of the biggest independent releases of 2008 and the pair went onto play many festivals including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, Bestival and Coachella.

A childhood tragedy

Pip’s journey was almost cut short by drowning when he was as a child. Recalling the event on White Wine Question Time, Pip said he actually had no memory of the event until he went through hypnosis as a teen.

“I'd forgotten that it had happened,” he said. “I didn't know I'd almost died because my parents quite rightfully downplayed it massively to try and keep me calm.”

“My dad rushed into the sea and got me because we were walking on a quiet beach and a wave swept up and took me out to sea. My dad noticed and rushed in and got me. And all I remembered was him saying, ‘Oh I've ruined my trainers’ because they were purposely trying to downplay it because they didn't want me to be panicking.”

While he survived the event, it was after this time that Pip developed his stutter.

“It's seemingly where my stutter came from because it's often assumed to be from a traumatic experience,” he explained.

Pip, who was recently made a patron of the British Stammering Association, has never let his stutter hold him back though. In 2013, he was given his own weekly show The Beatdown on XFM.

Pip said being a broadcaster wasn’t the most obvious career choice for a man with a stutter. “I had to have my arm twisted to start doing my show on XFM,” he told The Guardian. “Within a week or two I fell in love with it.”

Changing careers

The show went onto win the very prestigious 'Best Specialist Music Programme' at the 32nd annual Sony Radio Academy Awards. However, by 2014, Pip quit the show to launch his own podcast Distraction Pieces and to try his hand at acting.

He was encouraged to quit his radio show after appearing on a podcast with Joe Rogan, arguably the most successful podcaster in the world. Joe asked him why he worked for someone else, to which Pip replied that it was because they were on the radio.

“He pointed out that most of my listeners were listening online,” Pip said in an interview with The Guardian. “So I left XFM in 2014 and started Distraction Pieces. Now I couldn’t do it any other way.”

He also cites Seinfield, and a quote he read once from the comedian, with encouraging him to forge on with his career.

“It just said, if you've got something to fall back on, then you're more likely to fall back,” he told Kate Thornton.

“I've kind of done that repeatedly – when I quit my job in a record store to do music, it was because I don't want to do music on the side. I wanted to be 100% in music so that it had to succeed. I don't come from a wealthy family, so I gave myself a year. I'd saved up enough for a year to do music because it's got to succeed.”

“There isn't an option of not succeeding and that was the same on quitting the radio show to do the podcast and stopping touring and doing music to do acting.”

Even though podcasting was somewhat in its infancy, Pip decided to leave the comfort of his successful XFM show to launch The Distraction Pieces, a weekly conversation between Pip and a wide range of guests, which so far have included Simon Pegg, Russell Brand, Gail Porter, James McAvoy and Kathy Burke, to name but a few.

Alongside his super successful podcast, Pip has now also tried his hand at acting. Even though he didn’t appear in the final cut, he filmed a role in Guy Ritchie’s movie King Arthur. More recently he landed a role in BBC drama Taboo, playing a smuggler called French Bill, alongside Tom Hardy.

“I clicked with Tom Hardy and Steven Graham, who are two of the people who I've got all of their DVDs,” he said on White Wine Question Time. “They both just really took me under their wing and helped me and guided me. It feels like they're coaching me along in this weird career change.”

Who knows what’s next for this king of the portfolio career? As his friend and fellow podcaster Chris Glasson said, his attitude means the world is his oyster.

“The master of positivity is Pip,” he told Kate Thornton. “The reason why he is successful and irritating to be around a lot is because you can't bring him down!”

Listen to Scroobius Pip chat podcasts, greatest inventions and friendship with mates and fellow podcasters Chris Glasson and Stu Whiffen on this week’s episode of White Wine Question Time. Tune in on iTunes or Spotify.