Dave Okumu's guide to south London
The Invisible frontman walks us through his favourite south London spots
Dave Okumu is many things: he’s singer, a songwriter, one third of art-rock cum electronica band The Invisible, and a producer whose stellar work on Jessie Ware’s ‘Devotion’ recently earned him his second Mercury nod. But, before all of that, he’s a resident of South London, and a very proud one at that. He was good enough to let us in on some of his favourite places to visit, eat or just sit and be in the corner of the capital he calls home.
Dave Okumu's favourite south London spots
Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG
‘After going to lots of different places I ended up at secondary school in Pimlico and I used to go to Tate Britain almost every day after school. Quite often I wouldn’t even get that far in because there were a few items from the permanent collection that I just always found so mesmerising. One of them was Jacob Epstein’s ‘Jacob and the Angel’. I also liked the Francis Bacon Triptych. I’d go and draw them over and over again on my way home. It was really amazing going to school there and walking from the monstrosity that is Pimlico school, which looks like a cross between a greenhouse and a spaceship, and then wandering over to the Tate and being by the river.
100 London Road, London, SE23 3PQ
‘The Horniman Museum is one place I stumbled across when I moved to East Dulwich. I guess it’s an anthropological museum, but it’s a really strange mixture. It has a room full of instruments from early synthesisers to medieval ones. As a musician, I’m always awed by what sophisticated creations they are. It’s so interesting to think that someone thought about how this would work and the mechanics of it. There’s also a room by the side where you can go and play some of them which means there’s always loads of kids in there just bashing on drums. I know that sounds potentially quite awful, but it’s just music therapy, in a way. The permanent collection is also really intriguing, it has a mix of African, Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian art as well as a lot of taxidermy – just a bunch weird and wonderful things. I really love the building as well. If you go up to the garden, there are incredible views of the London skyline. Sometimes I just walk around there and soak it up.
399 New Cross Rd, London, SE14 6LA
‘We’re quite a food-orientated band, everyone cooks and often things tend to revolve around food. We were working with our friend - the producer, Ivor Guest – and when we arrived at the studio he said, ‘Ah, The Invisible are here, it must be lunch time’. So that tells you something about where our priorities lie. We all live in Lewisham now and we often rehearse in Deptford. Quite often a good portion of the rehearsal is devoted to working out where we’re going to eat and The London Particular is a place we tend to go. It serves modern English cuisine and it’s all organically sourced. I never really understood why food has to be shit so it’s nice when you find a place that’s dedicated to making quality stuff.
Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4SR
‘A really dear friend of mine used to study at Chelsea College of Art and we would go to the gardens of The Royal Hospital Chelsea to relax. As much as I love the hustle and bustle of London, it’s nice to know there are spots where you can just find some tranquillity. Whenever I’m on that side of town I always nip in if I’ve got a few minutes to spare.
Kirtling St, SW8 5BN
‘When I was at school Pimlico it was great to be so close to Battersea Power Station. On my lunch breaks I’d find somewhere where I could get a glimpse of it and I’d eat my lunch, staring at it. It was built by an old friend of mine’s great-grandfather, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. I just love that edifice. I’d quite often dream about it. It’s still one of my favourite buildings in London.'