Songs from a room - Dynamo

The country's greatest street magician describes the tunes that remind him of home. 

Interview by Craig McLean

Cyndi Lauper

'Time After Time'  

'This was on magic FM the other day while I was driving to London. And it just reminds me of my mum, and living in our one bedroom flat on Delph Hill estate in Bradford, just me and her. Cyndi Lauper was on constant rotation when I was growing up - she was my mum's favourite artist. She just liked the excitement of this crazy New York women. My mum was a bit of a rebel herself. I saw pictures of her with punk hairstyles and going through every possible teenage culture and rebellion. She had all the looks and piercings, and Cyndi Lauper is definitely a phase in her life which is engraved on my mind.' 

Michael Jackson

'Smooth Criminal' 

'At my nan and grandpa's flat - a little two-bedroom council 1 at the bottom of Wyke Estate in Bradford - I was watching and listening to a lot of Michael Jackson. That's where I got a lot of inspiration to incorporate dance elements into my magic. For me he's one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived. "Smooth Criminal" is the best music video ever made. It actually has some elements of magic incorporated - the way he flicks the coin through the room and it lands perfectly in the slot of the jukebox. And he leans at that crazy angle, which is very similar to "The Matrix": I do a version of that in my show. So I've taken a lot of influence from him. My grandpa passed away three years ago, but the flat is exactly as it was when I was a little boy. My bedroom is just like it was then - the same wallpaper, the same posters: an Eminem "8 Mile" poster, and ones from when I started preforming in the local clubs in Bradford & Leeds.' 


'Breath Me' 

'If I think about moving to London, this song is not necessarily a happy song. But I didn't feel unhappy listening to it. When I am creating ideas I'll sit and listen to music on my iPod, and I like to find music that puts me in different emotional states. So this song by Sia, which was used at the finale of 'Six Feet Under', makes me feel kind of magical. When I first started coming down from Bradford, my friend was living in Covent Garden and I slept on his couch. But then when I actually moved down I had my own place - a grotty flat in Walthamstow. It was about £50 a week, and I was preforming in Covent Garden to pay for it. That song reminds me of developing my street magic in London. If you actually listen to the lyrics it has no relevance to me or what I was thinking. But I just found it very ghostly. It's such a minimalistic beat, and her voice is so haunting, that it makes me think of those early days, and how the song gave me comfort.'


'King Without a Crown' 

'For a while I was living with my manager, in his spare room in Highgate in north London. It did feel like it was just me and him against the world, because we were trying to build my career. My iPod was literally thousands of tracks from back then. I really like this reggae singer, Matisyahu. When I first moved to Highgate we didn't have a TV set up properly. But I brought this smart TV and it had a music video app. You could watch concerts on it, and one of them was 'Matisyahu live at Stubb's Vol 2'. There wasn't much; there were 15 different concerts, and I watched them all. But when I watched Matisyahu, I just fell in love with his music and the atmosphere his band created. 'King Without a Crown' is one of my favourites.' 

The Smiths

'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' 

'I now live in a big block of flats in north London. It used to be a psychiatric hospital, and lots of footballers and pop stars live here. When i moved in, Niall and Liam and Zayn from One Direction were living there, and I moved into the block where Girls Aloud had lived. Just after I had started living there, this guy was chasing me down in an Audi R8, and he stopped me and said, 'Oh, I'm a big fan. I play football, My name's Wojciech....' I'm not an Arsenal fan, so i didn't realise until late that was their goalie, Szczesny. He was the first person I ever met here. As I got older and a bit more mature, I started listening to music you might not associate with me. When I first moved in there was some flash guy with a fancy car driving around and playing The Smiths. So I started listening to them and Morrissey. I've been here 3 years now and, other than my wife and my dog, it's the first time I've got a place where I'm not sharing with a friend or sleeping on a couch.' 

Craig Mclean writes for The Times, The Observer, The Telegraph and Radio Times.