Kelis is set to headline the Russian Standard Vodka Originals winter festival at the end of this month. In the lead up to the event, Vanessa Laker had a chat with the ‘Acapella’ star to talk fashion, live music, the inspiration behind her upbeat new sound and how motherhood has changed her life, all exclusively for The Wrap Up…
Since bursting onto the scene in 1999, with her infectious debut single ‘Caught Out There’, Kelis has always been a poster child for originality. From her distinctive yet unique sound, to her elaborate sense of style, it’s always been hard to pigeon hole the New York native, as she’s never quite fit into one specific category. More than a decade later and five albums down the line, her music continues to evolve, as does her style.
“I think the best way to describe my style would be, it’s just really emotional,” Kelis explains on defining her personal fashion style. “I dress according to how I’m feeling and I shop according to what mood I’m in. And it sort of comes across in everything that I do.”
It’s no surprise fashion is an important factor in the singers life, having a mother who’s a designer, meant that fashion has always been used as a form of expression. “It’s more than just clothes, it’s an emotion,” she explains. “I sort of put a theme and I stick with it for a while and then I move on.”
Throughout her career it’s not only Kelis’ quirky fashion style that has been reinvented, her music has also taken a dramatic change – in its sound and emotion. Her previous records, although still considered alternative, had an urban essence and oozed a somewhat mellow vibe. But current LP ‘Flesh Tone’ is more of an upbeat, electro, feel good album. The positive nature of the record reflects Kelis’ personal transition in life.
“The inspiration behind my album is very reflective to what my mood was at the time,” she explains. “I was writing how I was feeling and the music I wanted to make pretty much represents the mood I was in at that time.”
During the recording of the album – which features production from dance hit-makers David Guetta and Diplo – Kelis was pregnant with her first child and the albums upbeat positive sound, reflects that joy: “I felt really good at the time, I was pregnant and it really turned out to be a really upbeat record that you wanna dance to.”
Kelis lights up when taking about her now one year old son, Knight – her child with ex husband and rap icon Nas – explaining how becoming a mum has really changed her life: “Motherhoods amazing,” she gushes. “It makes everything else seem not so important.”
Over the last year Kelis has been a regular fixture on the UK festival scene and on November 29 she’s set to headline the Russian Standard Vodka Originals winter festival at the HMV forum in London. The six day music extravaganza will see acts, including Plan B, White Lies and The Hoosiers, play exclusive free gigs across London and Edinburgh. “I’m really excited about the show,” the ‘Trick Me’ singer says. “You know, festivals are always fun, so it should be a really good time.”
With once popular music TV shows like Top Of The Pops and CD:UK no longer around, music videos and more particularly live performances have never been more important: “(Music) videos are important, live shows are important,” Kelis explains on the importance of music videos vs. live shows. “It’s interesting (because now a days) we have to work harder to connect to people. But on the same note there are so many different outlets in order to do that – where as there weren’t that many 10 years, so you know, its give and take.”
The leading factor behind this drastic change in the music industry has been mainly down to the revolution that is the World Wide Web. People no longer have to wait to see their favorite band play live; they can just log on to YouTube and watch it on demand. As an artist who’s been around before and after the internet revolution, Kelis has first-hand experience of the affects of these changes…
“The internet has had such a huge impact,” she explains. “On one level we have so much more access to fans and to music web forms. But on the other hand, they have so much more access to us. But you know the internet has pretty much taken us all over the world, (so) I think it’s actually a bit of both, there’s good and bad. There’s a balance.”
The BRIT award-winning singer songwriter’s music has always been particularly successful here in the UK and she’s collected a number of British music gongs along the way. “I’ve always been well received over here, so I do feel like I have a good relationship (with the UK). At the end of the day I just do what I do and whoever responds to it, responds. And whoever doesn’t, doesn’t.
“I think it’s more of an individual response that I get. The people who enjoy listening to my music and understand what it is that I do, I think no matter where they are, if we were all to be put in a room, we’d all get along.”
To find out how to get free tickets to the show visit www.rsvoriginals.co.uk
This interview was conducted for MTV and originally printed on the MTV UK site.