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From Hackney to Hollywood: you probably know Idris Elba as ruthless drug kingpin ‘Stringer’ Bell in HBO’s The Wire, but the A-list actor started out as a pirate radio DJ in East London. We called him up to chat about his obsession with everything Apple, making music on the iPad and why the best place to enjoy an app is the gents lavatory…


I love time-wasting apps…

“The best time-wasting apps are games like Cut The Rope because you can play them without anybody knowing what you’re doing. Then there’s Real Racing 2 HD. That is proper! The only thing is, you look like a right pr*ck sitting there turning the iPad round and round. That’s one for playing in private; even if you’re in a restaurant and you go for a number two, you can have a game on that real quick…”


Garage Band on the iPad is frickin’ awesome….

“GarageBand on the iPad is really intuitive. They’ve made it really simple. You’ve got the chords, the smart keys, the smart piano, the smart drums; it’s perfect for putting down an idea in ten minutes. With the drum kits in GarageBand you can knock out a phenomenal beat. They add different kits, too – I can’t wait for the updates to that.”


I wish I could customise my iPad…

“I’d have the iPad smoked out. Black gunsmoke metal, like a frickin’ plate of armour. I could hold it next to my chest and it’d look like body armour. And I’d have my company logo – my company’s called Headshell – etched into the back. Phwoarrrr! To be honest, I’m going to have to go and do that right now…”


Before I got my big break in The Wire, pirate radio was my bread and butter…

“My first music-making experience was in school, where I learnt to play the drums. Then I left school and started DJ-ing on pirate radio as DJ Kipling (‘Exceedingly good tunes’) and bought my first drum machine, a Roland 303. It was phenomenal, one of the best pieces of technology I’ve ever bought. Then I got one of the first four-track mini disc players. Before that it was all tape, you know – this was Minidisc and it was crisp! I made loads of songs on that little set up. Although these days, if I’m DJ-ing in a club I’ll use my MacBook Pro with either Serato or Tracktor.”


My parents thought acting was just a hobby…

“My secondary school drama teacher was Welsh. She was a great girl – really encouraging. I had a crush on her, too. Although my parents didn’t mind the idea [of me becoming an actor] for a long time they thought it was just a hobby. I think they’ve started to like the idea now…”


Follow Idris Elba on Twitter at @idriselba or listen to his latest tracks at Driis.com.

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Hot chat, right here!


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