Coverstar: Iggy Azalea

IGGY 1b

We gave Iggy Azalea her first UK magazine cover – read the interview.

Words by Joshua Nevett.

We talk to badass new hip-hop star Iggy Azalea about making it big in a man’s world, twitter feuds with Azealia Banks and upsetting parents with her PU$$Y (the song, that is).

We meet Iggy Azalea mid-photoshoot in Sophisticats near Oxford Circus, London. The controversial hip-hop star is being shot standing on a raised platform in this dimly-lit gentlemen’s club. ‘Don’t-fuck-with-me’ is the vibe projecting from the podium.

She’s working it for the camera and displaying the attitude that has catapulted her to the forefront of the hip hop and electro scenes. To say Iggy’s lyrics can be sexually-charged would be an understatement. It was the cheekily-sleazy promotional video for her debut single “PU$$Y” that helped her breakthrough in 2011. Now she’s finally touring the UK (with Rita Ora) it’s not surprising that she’s causing quite a stir:

“I wasn’t prepared for how young the fans over here were going to be,” says Iggy. “I feel a bit harsh on their parents when I’m saying ‘pussy’ repeatedly to their kids!”

Iggy spent her own childhood in Mullumbimby, a quiet town in New South Wales, Australia. “I was always the kid who liked to dress up or just do shit that other kids didn’t fucking want to do. When you’re from a small town, you get caught up in that small town mentality, and I was into trying new stuff and those kids just weren’t. I always felt like I didn’t fit.”

After a holiday to the States with her granny when she was 11, Iggy was besotted with American culture. This and her obsession with hip-hop shaped her style.

“I always liked people who were almost like cartooncharacters, things that were eccentric, fantasy and dress-up.” She cites Bootsy Collins, Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot, Lil Kim, Andre 3000, Pharrell and even the Spice girls as influences. “I liked what the music was saying. There was this energy and I just felt that energy too. I always felt so isolated and I wanted to get out of where I was and that energy attracted me.”

At just 16 Iggy had big plans to escape her small world: “I felt like I’d ruined my life to be honest with you. I got kicked out of high school, and everybody knows if you get kicked out of high school, you’re going to have a shit job. You’re in a small town and you’re thinking ‘what can I really do if I don’t graduate high school. Work at a supermarket?’ So I thought well, if I have fucked it then I may as well just go give it a shot.”

So she got on a plane to the United States: “It wasn’t that big of a deal for me when I left, because when I said: ‘fuck you guys I’m going to be a rapper’, I thought, well, you all already hate my guts anyway, so I’m just going to do whatever the hell I want.”

“It wasn’t really running away it was more like running to something. I had thi s preconceived notion that people in America dress crazy, or people in America wear high heels, or people in America dye their hair purple, or they like hip-hop and they have parties. I thought America was the place to go to be weird and wild so I could finally fit in.”

She landed in Miami in 2006 but it was in 2011 when a number of her freestyle videos went viral (including ‘Pu$$y’) that Iggy’s career really took off. By September she’d released her first project, a mixtape called ‘Ignorant Art’.

“I wanted to make people question and redefine old ideals. Part of it does break down some of the stereotypes, but I think I didn’t go all the way in the way I wanted to go. If I had, half of you wouldn’t even know what to fucking do with yourselves. ERGGHH, POW! Your brains would explode.” In 2012, she became the first ever woman to be named on XXL’s Freshman list, a ground-breaking milestone which was voted for by her fans, or ‘Azaleans’, as she likes to call them. Iggy emphasises that hip hop does not favour women: “It’s all men in that industry, it’s all guys. I know high powered guys in the industry who do not, fucking, like, me.”

Her inclusion in the list was ill-received by another up-and-coming rap diva, Azealia Banks. She accused Iggy of “seriously trivialising aspects of black culture” in reference to her lyric, “runaway slave master”on the contentious track ‘D.R.U.G.S’.

This is Iggy’s response to Azealia Bank’s ‘Twitter beef’: “She says that shit about fucking anything. She called Perez Hilton a faggot, I

think she trivialised gay culture… fucking whatever. She’s biased about everybody and everything, even towards the people who help her. She even talked shit about the fashion industry after they basically gave her a career. I don’t think anything about that girl man, she fucking talks shit out of her arse and that’s her business.”

Last year she drifted away from t radi t ional hip-hop and st rayed into the world of EDM (electronic dance music). Acclaimed producer Dipl o c u r a t ed h e r s oph omo r e mixtape, ‘Trapgold’.

“It was cool, I loved working with Diplo, he’s awesome. He’s always like, ‘blonde buddies for life’ [squeaky voice], because we’re both blonde. I don’t know a lot of producers with credits like Diplo that would give away their tracks for free and let me re-arrange them and put them on a mixtape. Shit, I don’t know if I’d give away 11 of my beats if I was Diplo.”

Iggy is just as positive about her collaboration with Steve Aoki, for the club-friendly anthem “Beat Down”.

“Steve’s funny because he’s the monk. He has like organic almonds and peanuts in his dressing room, and weird smoothies made of grass and stuff. He totally talks about planets. He fully goes off on these tangents and thinks there are alternate universes and stuff.”

Although Iggy might have southern rapper T.I. waiting in the wings, she’s keeping one foot firmly inside the EDM camp – and for good reason. Her full-length debut album, The New Classic, has now been more than two years in the making as legal problems, record label re-shuffles and musical uncertainty have all delayed its release. Iggy’s finally found a consistent sound for her new record, which is due this summer.

“It does involve EDM,” she explains. “I just like that sound, I don’t know, there’s just something about it. I feel like it fits me better and I feel more comfortable rapping on music like that rather than straight hip hop beats.”

Iggy starts flicking through a drinks menu on the table in front of her that’s full of pornographic images. She reads aloud the terrible sexual-pun drink names with the sort of delight you’d expect from someone who wrote the lyrics : “Open ya mouth, taste the rainbow, taste my Skittles ah. Pussy pussy pussy.”

Before we wrap things up we ask why she thinks the world should know about Iggy Azalea?

“I think you guys should just know who I am anyway. I don’t mind talking a load of shit. I probably say stuff that everybody else thinks but I always have the balls to say it. I have an interesting story and I probably inspire a lot of people to believe they can achieve anything they want too although it seems so impossible. If you want be a lawyer, or even work in a fucking strip club, you might not think you have the jelly to shake it, but trust me, you do.”

Long may she shake.

Interview: Skip & Die

http://laura-andalou.blogspot.co.uk/
http://laura-andalou.blogspot.co.uk/

South Africa’s Amsterdam-based singer of tropical bass outfit Skip & Die, Cata.Pirata, chats beautiful music and er, cockroaches

 

WORDS: MAYA VON DOLL

 

Where are you right now and what are you doing today?

I am in two minds whether or not to say. The one mind says Portugal-on-tour, the other says stuck-in-a-pencil-caressing-paper. Then there’s this third mind (that suddenly appeared out of who-knows-where!) that won’t stop babbling about cosmic forces and systems of electrodes. Suspicious stuff minds. Where was I?

You’re not afraid to touch on politics in your lyrics – what message are you hoping to get out?

The universe is our muse – we explore it, we soak it all up, we form our own opinions, we shape our own journeys. And we hope to stimulate the same cognitive shift in consciousness within our audience. Touching on poignant (social) matters is a way for us to destroy certain taboos and their repressive powers.

What do you make of the reluctance of western artist-writers to share their views on politics in music?

Aha! Now that’s politics in itself! :-) There are numerous paths to enlightenment, to each their own. I don’t choose to share my views on politics, I choose to share my views, which contain notions of social struggle as well as personal poetics. The personal is political, is it not?

You’ re in charge of the mad/ beautiful/unique visuals, artwork and videos. Does image play a bigger role in a bands’ success these days?

We see it as a whole. When we perform people aren’t only dancing to the music, they are reacting to the energy they see on stage. Same goes for a cd-cover or a video, they influence the way you listen to the music. It’s hard for us to imagine composing a piece of music without it having a visual association. Music can sound dark or colourful. The visual aspect is integrated organically within what we do. It adds another layer to the storytelling, it’s an extra medium with which to titillate the senses.

How important is it for you to play live?

Extremely important. We love taking our music to the people. Luckily we’re mostly on tour and the band dynamics really rock us out. It’s one thing to sit and ponder our existence in artistic solitude, but entirely next level to celebrate it with a crowd.

Love the fact that cockroaches get a mention in your biog alongside ‘blazing sun’ and ‘skulls and bones’. We don’t think we’ll ever see them in any one else’s press release. Do you hate them or have you developed a tolerable respect towards them since your travels?

In South Africa we call them Parktown Prawns. I grew up with them all around. They’ll nestle themselves right into your bed if you’re not careful. It’s a love-hate relationship. They never die – no matter how often you try to kill the buggers . They’ re survivors. I have respect for their determination to live.

You’ve talked of ‘the beauty and mess’ of what inspires your music – the personal, the political, the people and the party. Nothing sums up this dichotomy more than your awesome song ‘Love Jihad’, tell us what it means to you?

To me this is a song of emancipation towards whatever or whoever is trying to hold a cloak over your eyes, regardless of religion or gender. One can so easily be misled. Be it by your lover, your government, your TV or the people you trust as your teachers. The song to me is also to some extent a ‘Jihad for True Love’: If you love, love with no strings attached. But be warned: If you mislead, you shall be misled.

 

Interview: Linda Perry

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You might not know the name Linda Perry, but as one of the most successful songwriters in the business you’ve definitely heard her music. MAYA VON DOLL chats with the songwriter. 

 

 

Do you think girls have taken over pop music?

No, not really. I think it seems pretty even to me. I think it stays pretty even. People are maybe getting confused with the hype nowadays. If you take away all the drama and gossip it would look pretty even. Lately there’s more drama from the women so it makes it look like they’re taking over in pop music, but really it’s drama.

But in the last couple of years we’ve seen the demise of guitar bands in the charts… And they have been dominated by Adele, Kesha, Katy.

It’s a phase we’re going through right now. The last 7/8 years have been very electronic both women and men doing a lot of auto-tuney effects. It’s a phase that’s dying right now. And you’ll see by next year the guitar driven bands will be back. You’ll get your Fiona Apples, your rock bands, and then the boy pop bands will show back up, it’s just a cycle. There were a lot of guitars in disco.

Is there a song out there that you’d wished you’d written?

No, not really. There are tonnes of songs that I love and I’m really happy for that person that wrote that song because I couldn’t have written it. You know, it came from them because of their emotions and their feelings. It’s just like I have people that run around and say “I wish I wrote ‘Beautiful’” and I’m like “Why? Be thankful and appreciate it and be happy for me that I did”. I love music, I don’t wish to be anything but what I am.

Is there anyone dead or alive that you would like to collaborate with?

I would have loved to have made records in the late 50s or early 60s. I would have loved to have been sitting next to Phil Spector while he was producing records. That style of music to me is just, you know… I love the 70s but to me there’s something about the late 50s/early 60s. It was a really great time for music. So risky, diverse, so easy and feel good and it just sounded good too. It was very musical. If you hear the 60s and then the 70s, 70s is more rock and roll but it’s not as musical as the 60s. There’s something very atmospheric when you put on the Velvet Underground or The Hollies or Diana Ross.

You wrote and produced ‘Beautiful’ for Christina Aguilera. How personal is that song to you?

Really personal because I wrote it from exactly the perspective that people hear it from. You know when the lyric is ‘I am beautiful’ you know it’s not from someone starting in the mirror thinking ‘OMG I’m gorgeous’. You know they’re coming from a place of insecurity and trying to convince themselves that ‘I am good enough, I can do this’.

So it wasn’t written with Christina in mind

No, I wrote the song for me. But not long before I met Christina

Why didn’t you sing it yourself?

I didn’t want to be an artist anymore. The thing about me, is I just do what feels right. I left a band [4 Non Blondes] that could have had a very popular second record. I know because I wrote the songs and I knew what they sounded like and it was a way better record than our first. Plus the record that I wanted to make wasn’t the same as the band wanted to make. I wanted to do something darker and weirder and the band wanted to do the pop thing. But I just couldn’t. So I walked away, got my thoughts together. Honestly, the funny thing about my career is, I’m not a pop person. I don’t even understand how I got here. But you know once in a while I write a good song that people seem to like. I’m not doing it every day, cranking out pop hits in the studio – but once in a while I’ll write a good song and it’ll make somebody feel something. That’s enough to make me happy.

Do you find in the role of producer-writer you’ve become a sort of therapist ?

Well yeah of course, writing music is intimate, it can be the most intimate experience or the most detached experience, it depends on who you are and what you want to accomplish. Me, I want to have longevity, want my career to go until I can’t go anymore. Some people just want it for right now, wanna make some money and then bla bla bla… they’re not in it for the long haul, they’re really actually not even quite artists but really they just wanna sell perfume or really they wanna do clothing.. and they’re using the artist selling records as a way to market themselves or to brand themselves. Those kinda people I don’t really work with and don’t have much connection to that. But I’ll write a stupid song – I mean ‘Get the Party Started’ was the most stupidest song that I’ve written and I love it.

You were quite troubled as a teenager. Is there a certain right of passage in becoming a great songwriter or artist?

Aren’t we all troubled? Sometimes I guess they say that when you are suicidal and dark that you are gonna have a higher creative outlet but I feel that for me I don’t know where else to put it. I could have been a tennis player. I would have used all my energy towards that. I could have been a great teacher. I believe that we choose where we want to focus our energy. I know very troubled people that can’t seem to make anything creative happen and it’s been devastating for them, they’re too overwhelmed. There are a lot of people that are so talented and they don’t go anywhere because they become their own problem. Because they’re not being able to channel their energy properly.

You can have a girl that’s grown up all posh, cookie-cutter mom with a lifestyle that’s all money, food on the table, anything she wants – but I guarantee you that girl is gonna be troubled because it’s not a realistic life to be in. I think actually poor people are better off than rich people because I think they have a more realistic idea of life. If you give a poor person money and then take it away they’ll be able to survive because they’ve been poor. You take away money from someone who only knows how to be rich they’re not gonna know how to survive being poor.

What was the last tattoo you got?

I think it was ‘My Beloved’ across my back. Two of my dogs that passed away so it was a dedication to them

How did you chip your front tooth?

I chipped it on the water fountain in 11th grade (about 7 years old). Yeah someone bumped me. I’ve never fixed it though, but my girlfriend won’t let me fix it.

If it wasn’t for music…

I’d be a tennis player.

 

Interview: Gin Wigmore

Gin Wigmore 3New Zealand born, Australia based blues rock sensation Gin Wigmore has got the lungs and the songwriting skills to go all the way. But a horrific car crash in her teens meant it could’ve been very different

WORDS: MAYA VON DOLL

 

You played [classic rock venue] Water Rats in London last night. Did you crowd surf?

That did not happen, ha ha! I’m not going to crowd-surf just yet. But it was a late one. It was my first London show ever, it was very exciting. I think I got a little too over-excited afterwards

The top YouTube comment under your deliciously dark video for Black Sheep is ‘She’s filling the Amy Winehouse-shaped hole in my life’ – how do you feel about that?

That’s cool, I’m happy to fill any void in any person’s life, to be honest, so long as it’s music that’s OK. I don’t want to be filling anyone else’s shoes but if it’s music and they’re digging it that’s great.

In your artist bio you come across like a cool B-movie heroine. A bolshy spirit finding herself in all the wrong places. Do you see yourself like that?

Gin Wigmore 2

[Laughs out loud - a fantastic rasping, naughty laugh!) I don’t think I try to find myself in the wrong places I think it just turns out that way, unfortunately. But I always thought that my bio should be written by me because it’s about me. I enjoyed doing it that way.

We read you put your university application form away again when your EP took off?

I did yes. I’m not much of an academic but, surprisingly, I’m actually doing a teaching degree by correspondence right now.

Is that what you had applied for at uni originally?

I did and then I - fuck my life hey - I had all intentions of doing this teaching degree when I was 18 and then I was having my leaving party to go down to Wellington in Auckland and I got into the car with this guy that I’d been obsessing about all through high school. He was much older than me. And finally this night he was like ‘Right Gin, tonight I’m gonna kiss you’. And I was like ‘This is my lucky fucking day!’ I got into the car with him and stupidly was too drunk I didn’t wear my seat belt. We had a terrible accident. I went right through the front windscreen and was in intensive care. I didn’t go to university because of brain damage and shit

Oh God that’s terrible!

It was horrible. And then I changed my mind about university, I pulled out of my teaching degree and started Religious Studies and Spanish. After 6 months I was like ‘I don’t know why I’m doing a major in Religious Studies’ I’m not very religious at all [Laughs].

How long were you in hospital? Did you break all your front teeth?

I was so lucky. The doctor said to me it was a miracle that I hadn’t broken my neck. Because I was so drunk I had no reflexes so when I was going through the glass he said ‘you weren’t tense and if you had been tense you might not be here.’

We thought that was a myth!

No it’s actually quite true! If you’re going to do something stupid make sure you’re pissed because it might help you in the long run! But then again I might not have got into the car if I was sober. Catch 22 really.

Gin Wigmore 1

Why have you called your album Gravel & Wine?

AARRGGH! I didn’t know what to call it! I’d just finished the record and I was totally drained. It’s actually a lyric from my song ‘Black Sheep’. Yeah I was trawling through all the lyrics and found that.

We love your video to ‘Man Like That’. Where does a rock chick learn to dance like that? Specially one that’s nearly broken her neck! Or was that the trick?

That might be why.. I was obsessed with this dance called the ‘Black Bottom Dance’ which is when a cow gets stuck in mud, which is what it’s supposed to look like. So it’s kind of like that!

 

Finally, you’ve probably been asked loads of times about this… What was it like working with Daniel Craig for the Heineken/Skyfall commercials for your song?

Ha ha that’s cool, I thought you were gonna ask something lame like ‘what are your hopes and inspirations?’ I didn’t actually get to meet Daniel Craig he was about 20 meters away. They shot us at different times but we were all on set on the same day. I was staring at him probably a little bit creepily (laughs). He’s very cool, he’s totally like ‘Mr Bond’.He’s a dude and looks like he’s been in a few fights so he fits the part.

 

Interview: Phreeda Sharp

602024_241955662599990_2064133529_nThe UK’s hottest new rapper tells us about her gig regime and her all-girl team

 

WORDS: MAYA VON DOLL AND SAM NAHIRNY

 

 

We caught one of your live shows (at London’s ‘The Garage’) it was siiiiick. Your beats were filthy as fuck but with just the right amount of hooks on top. Has this been your plan all along?

Yeah it has. I’m attracted to big beats and even though the core of it is usually hip-hop, I like it when producers merge genres and give me something quirky and different. I need big drum and bass lines and I’m happy! I grew up in Ghana and over there the music is so sweet and melodic, very catchy hooks and I think that’s where I get most of my inspiration from when I’m writing.

What gets you fired up?

Close-minded people. Rigid know-it-all types. Bullshitters. Bullies. Chauvinists.

We heard about you through producer Fabien Waltmann and checked out your video for ‘Bad Jane’. Who’s the original bad girl?

Bad Jane is a term I made up. It’s not necessarily someone who just went off the rails and becomes bad. It’s more of a metaphor for the girl that is real, as in different from what people think every girl should be like. Bad Jane isn’t perfect, she’s imperfectly perfect. She’s a rogue, she’s strong and she’s outspoken. There’s too much pressure on girls to have to look and act a certain way and we spend so much time and energy trying to live up to an ideal that is completely ludicrous. Bad Jane doesn’t give a fuck about fitting in and being liked, she’s too busy doing her own thing. That’s who an original bad girl is to me.

What’s your writing process?

It involves me playing a beat really loudly, pacing around a bit, rapping random stuff out loud until I catch the rap rhythm that I love, then I sit down and put the meat on the bones.

 

How do you prepare for a gig? All those lyrics…

Once a track is recorded the lyrics are forever stuck in my head, I don’t even have to think about it they just come out. If I fuck up I just pretend I didn’t and no one knows anyway, they are too hyped up to care.

How do you prepare for the after show?

As soon as I get off stage I have a strong shot! Clean with no chaser. Then I take a sec to get the adrenaline down before I chat to anyone.

The after-after show?

More and more shots and a dance-floor

 

You’re a very hot rapper. Have you had any strange requests from fans?

Thanks. Nothing too strange. I think guys just find me quite scary so they tiptoe around everything in case I bite their heads off haha!

When we saw you live it was an inspiring all-girl assault is this part of the message?

Most of my team are women from the live performances to my management etc. My music and my lyrics promote feminism but I try to do it in a way that is relatable to men and women. I want girls to feel they can be who they choose to be, it doesn’t matter what that is as long as it’s their choice and that celebrating their sexuality or wanting to be just as powerful as guys is totally acceptable. We don’t just want to be the best females doing what we’re doing, we want to be the best full stop.

Interview: Fake Club

12479_526518850799796_2041787284_nThis five-piece all-girl band atones for the dearth of great new guitar bands in recent years

 

WORDS: MAYA VON DOLL

 

Do you want to tell us WTF happened to guitar music in the UK over the last 5 years?

We’ve got a theory that Simon Cowell and his cronies have been having mass burnings of any demo CDs with the slightest audible bit of guitar on them.

And are girls the only ones that can save guitar music?

No there are some really cool acts emerging at the moment. Were really into Peace and Jake Bugg at the moment, but aside from that Tenacious D have been steadily holding up the flag for saving guitar music.

Your press statement says you’re ‘sick of the values of the current generation’. Do you mean painted-on eyebrows, false-lashes and a love for The Kardashians?

Hey come on there’s nothing wrong with a bit of scouse brow! Even Kate Middleton loves it. But yeah we just wished there were more positive role models for girls in rock music when we were growing up learning our instruments. The choice was pretty much either Avril Lavigne or Dave Grohl… We’re just creating the music we enjoy playing, inspired by bands we love.

Vivienne Westwood used your track ‘Do What You Gotta Do’ for her Red Label collection promo video. Are you a fans?

We were totally honoured that she used our track, she’s an old school punk! It doesn’t get much cooler than that! In terms of band style though, we’ve got our ‘old trusty’ outfits that we generally wear every gig – usually just jeans and a t-shirt but we’re up for anything really. Previous outfits have included cross-dressing hillbillies, electro-pop short blonde wigs, my big fat gypsy wedding, the Spice Girls and 1930s ballroom Jazz band style. We like to keep our fans on their toes.

You posted a vid of yourselves outside HMV singing a sad acoustic song about its closure. Why was HMV important to you?

Its true most singles are only released digitally, but it seems a shame that the only major record shop is closing down. If you don’t live in a big city, your only option to buy a CD would be from your local Sainsbury’s or Tesco where they have the top 20 chart consisting of Olly Murs and Little Mix…

Who are your bi g musical influences?

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Beastie Boys, Led Zeppelin, Deftones.

Who’s got the most irritating tour habits?

Chloe.

Your press kit says ‘The Runaways meets the Spice Girls’. So we need to know all your nicknames:

(To be said in an X Factor style voice)

Soooo ladies tonight we’ve got: Rosie aka Daddy Warbucks (But you can call her Daddy); Aicha aka Pacemaker Djidjelli; Chloe The Force aka Jeremy Dingwall; Vicky aka The Ace of Bass; and Carmen aka Jim.

 

Tell us about your monthly club night in Holloway, London?

We’ve got this massive warehouse space where we rehearse, play ping-pong and have a film club occasionally. So we thought why not put on a club night once a month? Our first one was really successful. We had fire breathers outside, our mates band Jackal Pack played, we played and had a few DJ’s on too.

 

What’s next?

We’ve just released our newest single ‘Over and Over’. We have another club night coming up on the 14 March that we are also filming for a TV pilot. There are some awesome bands and DJs playing, a few artists will be doing murals and we’re screening an independent film. Were also releasing our 1st edition of FKR Mag to coincide with the club night around the theme of ‘giving up growing old’.

 

Interview: Eli & Fur

Eli Fr

They’ve written tunes for Girls Aloud, and rocked party crowds worldwide. We talk to the 23-year-old DJ -producer – fashioni s t a duo Eli & Fur

 

WORDS: CECILIA BORJESON

 

How would you introduce each other?

Eli: This is Fur… Gemini.

Fur: This is Eli, she enjoys festivals and strawberries dipped in chocolate.

How would you best describe what you do?

Fur: We DJ and make music, and it’s something we want to keep doing for a long time.

What is your working relationship like – who does what?

Fur: Getting on so well is a plus point when working together, it’s great fun. For ideas we will find a beat we like or a chord sequence and both come up with melodies. Then we pick our favourites and build the songs that way. For DJ sets we both spend a lot of time finding music and then work on mixes together.

List your top three hang-outs in the world..

Le Baron Club, Tokyo; Home; So High Soho, London – it’s a fancy dress shop!

From playing with electronic stars like Alex Metric and Fedde Le Grand, you are now billed alongside underground house and techno heroes Maya Jane Coles and Maceo Plex. How will your musical direction develop in the future?

Eli: Being able to play with all those names has been a great experience. We have worked hard to get gigs and spent a lot of time practising, so it’s great getting to DJ with people we love. We want to keep experimenting with different sounds and ideas, and there’s so much we want to achieve. We are both excited about the future!

What were last year’s highlights?

Fur: Playing Dimensions Festival [in Croatia] last year was a definite highlight. Hopefully we’ll see bigger and better DJ sets, and some new music this year.

Are there any other female acts out there that you are digging?

Eli: We think Kim Ann Foxman is great. There are lot of female singers we have been inspired by growing up: Debbie Harry, Britney Spears and Gwen Stefanie to name a few.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to deal with so far?

Eli: Getting your name out there and your music heard is always hard – it takes a lot of patience and time, but it is all worth it just to see progress.

What are you into right now?

Eli: Anything Hawaiian.

Fur: Woodkid ‘I Love You’.

Tell us something about the other person that we are unlikely to have read elsewhere.

Fur: Eli loves to snake board.

Eli: Fur is a massive animal lover, and a dog whisperer.

Where could we find you letting your hair down on a night off?

Fur: At a mate’s house. We like doing Mexican nights, making fajitas and drinking tequila.

Musicwise, what do you have coming up? And what do you have in store for you own imprint NYX?

Fur: We have a new track coming soon called ‘Nightmares’, and we will continue to release new music on NYX all year.

Interview: Bebe Black

Photo by Rokas Darulis www.rokasdarulis.com
Photo by Rokas Darulis www.rokasdarulis.com

Bebe Black became an ‘Icon’ with her Benga collaboration. But that’s just the start for Dorset’s darkest new diva

WORDS by CECILIA BORJESON

Hey Bebe, what you been up to?

I’ve been very busy! I just finished my album and now we’re getting ready to release my new EP – which is called ‘Deathwish EP’ – in February.

So who is Bebe Black?

I am Bebe Black…

 

But that’s not your real name? Or is it?

Bebe was what my mum used to call me when she’d write me letters. My real name is Naomi.

How would you describe your sound?

I would describe it as leftfield pop. I don’t want to be confined to one genre! I want to be able to write ballads that consist of piano and strings and soulful vocals, and I also want to be able to write epic, anthemic pop tracks with dance elements and for them to sit nicely together. I like lots of percussion. I like using my voice as an instrument.

You used to be a part of a jazz/blues/rockabilly duo, Bebe and Paolo. What brought about your change in direction?

I don’t think there was a change in my life or anything. I was just growing as an artist and as a woman. When I was 19 I enjoyed writing songs that were almost coquettish and cheeky, but after a couple of years I became comfortable with writing in an honest way, as my confidence grew in myself as an artist.

 

You used to be a part of a jazz/blues/rockabilly duo, Bebe and Paolo. What brought about your change in direction?

I don’t think there was a change in my life or anything. I was just growing as an artist and as a woman. When I was 19 I enjoyed writing songs that were almost coquettish and cheeky, but after a couple of years I became comfortable with writing in an honest way, as my confidence grew in myself as an artist.

Do you still live in Camden?

I’m not in Camden anymore. I lived there for a year or more, while I was writing for the album. When I listen back to the songs I wrote during that period, it’s strange. It was an eventful year. The lyrics are a diary of that time. I think that people will be able to identify with those stories, though, so it’s not completely self-indulged.

There are heaps of dance elements in your music. Where did that come from?

The decision to have a dance element to my music was a conscious one. Ilike to mix organic and electric sounds.

You famously (re)wrote and sang the lyrics on Benga’s ‘Icon’. Do you have any more work in the pipeline with him?

There’s nothing else planned at the moment. ‘Icon’ is a very different track in comparison to the music I usually make, and for now I want to establish my own sound. It was a wicked experience, though – Benga is a charming man. Did you know they made us jump out of a plane for the video?

 

What did it that feel like?

I was very scared and very cold. We fell through an ice cloud. It hurt.

 

 

Interview: Misha B

MishaB new1

From X-Factor to hit factor, guest DJ at the latest Shut Your Pretty Mouth party is going places

WORDS: MAYA VON DOLL

 

Your single Home Run was a great summer hit, it was like Rihanna crossed with Bond-esque Shirley Bassey vibes. What was it like writing it with MNEK?

A very, very fun, energetic process. Me and Uzo bounce off each other’s energy so it’s always hyped and enjoyable.

What do you plan to do to UK pop?

Soul is a big part of who I am. So, incorporating that into the mix, I want to create a sound that transcends musical barriers.

Is there any other era you’d love to be working in as a singer besides right here right now?

I’d love to have been around in Diana Ross/James Brown era. Oh and Elvis! So I guess the 60s. That would have been bag-loads of fun.

Although it often gets dissed, the X-Factor was the platform that launched you as a proper artist. What was the best and worst thing about being on X-factor?

Best thing: performing – I had the opportunity to perform to millions. I also met some amazing people. Worst thing: the pressure is intense so I don’t miss that!

Who have you worked with on your album and what can we expect from it?

I’m working with TMS, MNEK, Naughty Boy, Matt Prime, Cutfather… and a few other great producers. My album

will be a bit like a diary of my life so far. Can’t wait for you to hear it.

Scrolling down your Facebook page we see big hair, a big smile, and big heels.. We’re feeling a lot of love for Tina Turner here.. How do you describe your style?

For me, it’s about freedom of expression. Not taking it too seriously and embracing everything.

Who or what has been the biggest inspiration to you throughout your life and career?

My aunty, who raised me. She is the reason I am where I am today.

Coverstar: Riya Hollings

Riya herselfTake a peek @

Riya Hollings’ online editorial Love Your Life showcases incredible work from up-and-coming artists. Find out what she loves about hers and sample some of her stunning photography on the pages that follow

WORDS: DIGBY

Riya Hollings is a freelance fashion stylist and photographer living and working in London. From 2005, Riya studied the arts of fashion and design, graduating from Leeds University in 2010 and moving to London to further her career in the industry. In 2011 she started her own online editorial, Love Your Life, to capture and promote artists in her own extrovert style. Riya built a team of incredible creatives to help her bring her visions to life, fusing arts, fashion, film, music and photography. A unique editorial that represents and promotes interesting and beautiful individuals in their rawest form. Love Your Life showcases up-and-coming artists through a more personal editorial style, using a series of Chapters to capture the real talents of the underworld. The result is a collection of adult fairy tales with an honest expression of true desire and fantasy. As director of the company, fashion editor and photographer, Riya has committed herself to building Love Your Life into not only an editorial but an online directory and agency. It will be coming out in print very soon, watch this space…

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What is the concept behind Love Your Life and what is on the horizon?

Love Your Life is a creative project I set up to capture and promote artists in my own style. I wanted to create a unique and personal editorial that represented and promoted creative people, with a real rawness that other shoots don’t have. The project is set out as a series of chapters, one released each month on my online blog www.loveyourliferiya.tumblr.com. We are also hoping to release a free magazine with the first six chapters before Christmas, in the lead up to our annual book release, coming next year. We haven’t got a publisher as of yet, but with support for the project gaining momentum, we’re pretty confident this will change. The concept is a collection of adult fairy tales representing the desires and fantasies of the featured artists, giving an honest expression of their characters, with no reservations. We talk sex, filth and fantasy, asking questions that are usually left unasked, digging deep inside the mind of the unconventional woman.

Where did it all begin and what are your main inspirations for the project?

The idea was born when I was at university in Leeds. In our house we would always say it to each other – it became a bit of a house motto. It’s about projecting what you want to receive: if you love your life, your life will love you back! I truly believe that this attitude has had a huge impact in getting me where I am today. Everyone should love their lives and I am trying to get people to remember and celebrate how amazing they are every day. I guess my main inspiration for the project is powerful women – real goddesses who are not afraid to share their dreams and fantasies with the world. I feature beautiful and talented characters and hate conventional models and studios. It’s about real women, real chat and real fashion.

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Who makes it all happen?

I have a team of incredible individuals that help me bring the ideas to life, including hair, make-up, art direction and film. Joe Hanshaw (one-eye-focus) is my right hand man, capturing the shoots through beautiful motion picture. We use a rare handheld analogue camera that creates an authentic vintage and romantic feel to the films. The rest is up to me as director: doing the styling, shooting and putting the editorials together. I decided to turn the company into an online directory and agency, so I am also scouting girls to feature in future chapters.

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Which was your most influential shoot and why?

My most influential shoot was Chapter 2 ‘The Bear the Dear and the Bathtub’ (see page 25). I’d always wanted to shoot girls naked in a bath of milk and decided to add it into the story. The girls were really up for it, adding a sexual element to the shoot. A look that could be perceived as quite pornographic is artisticly disguised. I have been massively influenced by soft porn from the 70s and its analogue film and set styling.

What or who has been most influential to your style?

One of my largest inspirations over the last few years has been Kimi O’neill, a stylist I assisted when I first started working in London. She has such amazing style and a great presence. She taught me a lot about how to be successful in the industry. I also love the trashy-glam look of Alabama from the film True Romance: she was such a kick-ass bitch! Classic designers such as Versace and Moschino have played a huge part in my evolving style – I f requent ly feature thei r more vintage looks. They’re not afraid to really mix it up.

What do you wish to achieve in this lifetime?

I have always wanted to work in fashion and editorials. I guess I’m just following my dream and hoping it will come true. How am I going to achieve this? Keep doing my own thing and hope that the right person will see it. I have realised that being a nice person and working hard gets you to where you want to be. Nobody will do it for you – you have to have total self-belief and drive. If you keep going like that you’re sure to succeed. My secret to success is never to be satisfied!

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And what do you look for in the next?

In the next lifetime, my dream would be to live in a Moroccan hut on stilts. I’d be surrounded by beautiful, sweeping sand beaches with a man that totally gets me. I can orgasm at the touch of a button and turn into a mermaid when I get into the sea!

For more information on Riya Hollings and Love Your Life visit –

Website: www.riya.uk.com

Blogs: www.loveyourliferiya.tumblr.com

www.riyahollings.tumblr.com

YouTube channel: LoveYourLifeRiya