Vanessa Laker Meets Ruby Goe: The Interview (MTV)

You may recognise the name Ruby Goe; the quirky singer has been making a name for herself on the underground scene, gaining a legion of fans. Her alternative style and experimental electro sounds have many comparing the rising star to fellow Brit singer M.I.A. With her new single ‘Badman’ out on July 16, MTV’s The Wrap Up’s Vanessa Laker caught up with Miss Goe to talk new music, the lack of creativity in today’s industry, standing out from her competition and much more…

Vanessa: Hi Ruby! Your new single ‘Badman’ is out next month. Can you tell us a bit about it?

Ruby Goe: Hey! The song is about a past relationship of mine – which I am now out of. It’s just an honest account about the breakdown of a relationship and that final moment when you decide to give up. You know when you get to the final straw and stop fighting for him and chasing him; you just give up and realise it is never going to work.

Vanessa: There’s a lot of thought and creativity in your music videos. Do you feel that these days some artists lack creativity?

Ruby Goe: Yep, I definitely do! [Laughs] but I think different artists are different artists. I mean, some people choose to use clay to create what they want, some people choose to use melodies and some people choose to just use music. I choose to use lyrics, melodies, music and visuals to express myself.

Vanessa: Do you think some artists get caught up in image and visuals instead of focusing more on the actual music itself? 

Ruby Goe: Yes, totally! I think a lot of pop girls just focus on looking hot and what they’re wearing, which is an area of pop that’s in demand. People are out there buying The Saturdays’ music – not that I don’t like The Saturdays, they’re great. Every artist is different, but I think it’s good to find a balance.

You’ve got artists like Tyler, The Creator, Kanye West and Jay-Z, who are all incredibly creative, yet the focus is still primarily on their music. Then there are many artists who focus on their looks, instead of their vocals. For me personally, I like to focus on vocals, melodies and lyrics. But then again I also love visuals. Every time I write a song, I always get excited visualising creating the video. As an artist I like to focus on the whole aspect.

Vanessa: Your music is a mash up of so many different sounds. How would you describe your musical sound?

Ruby Goe: Errmm… Pop! [Laughs] I love pop music and I’m not ashamed of it. I listen to many different types of music and I think lots of artists that are coming through now are products of diversity. I listened to jazz when I first got into music, but then I got into drum and bass and hip-hop. I also like funk and early nineties’ dance as well. My musical taste is a complete mash up, you know?

TWU: We have so many new female artists coming out of the UK at the minute. How do you stand out and differ from your peers?

Ruby Goe: Well, they are all signed! [Laughs] Basically they’ve got cash in the bank. Lianne La Havas is brilliant. I know her – she’s a really lovely girl. I think my stuff is slightly more eclectic than hers and much more aggressive, but I love what she’s doing and her career is definitely on the up. Rita Ora is very pop; she’s in the kind of situation where I’m sure she’d want to have more control over her music. I think that control is something I’d never give up myself. Being independent, I support myself – which isn’t always easy – but it gives me creative freedom and full control over my music. However, we’re all different and there’s room for all of us. I hate the assumption that just because you’re a female, there’s only room for one. Personally, I think all of us, united, should hate that assumption instead of each other.

Vanessa: You’ve been compared to the likes of M.I.A and Santigold  two incredible artists. What’s your take on those comparisons? 

Ruby Goe: I love M.I.A and I love Santigold. They’re both amazing artists and I really do respect what they stand for. I think because I am a female who has dark skin and I’m doing something different, comparisons are made, which is really sad. They’re both brilliant! They’re amazing writers, they’re unique, they stand out and they are really strong women. So I love that comparison, it’s a huge compliment.

Vanessa: Growing up, which musicians inspired you?

Ruby Goe: Prince. He’s such an amazing performer and the fact he’s written so many amazing songs is incredible. I love Nina Simone and Whitney Houston too. Of course, I love MJ and Salt and Pepper too. The list could go on and on…

Vanessa: I hear you’re a jewellery designer as well?

Ruby Goe: Knuckle dusters, yeah! My jewellery line is called ‘By Rogue’ – which is an anagram of my stage name.  I just started off designing pieces for myself and friends and then someone suggested I take it to the next level. Now ‘By Rogue’ is stocked in Selfridges and a number of other outlets; we’re about to re-launch our website, so it’s all pretty exciting.

Vanessa: And what does the rest of 2012 hold for Ruby Goe?

Ruby Goe: Many more songs. The second single from my EP will be out in August or September; so expect lots more music. The new EP should be out in September.

Keep up to date with Ruby by following her on Twitter.

Words: Vanessa Laker (@VanessaLaker)

 

Vanessa Laker Meets LMFAO: The interview!

Their songs are permanent fixtures on the dancefloors and in the music charts, and with their flamboyant attire, LMFAO could give easily Lady GaGa a run for her money in the style stakes. Following in the musical footsteps of their father and grandfather – Motown founder, Berry Gordy – Redfoo and SkyBlu are spreading their ‘Party Rock’ sound across the globe…

MTV’s Vanessa Laker recently caught up with the Grammy-winning electro rappers to talk wild parties, knocking Jennifer Lopez off the top spot and to find out if they really are just as crazy in real life…

Vanessa: Hi guys! So what craziness have you been getting up to whilst in London?

Redfoo: Every night has been insanely crazy.

SkyBlu: KER-RAY-ZY!

Redfoo: Last night was probably actually the most craziest night ever, and that’s saying a lot. I mean, we’ve been busy as hell – we’ve done a bunch of interviews and a few TV shows, and then we did a few live shows – but we did a show at the Cirque Du Soleil, which was bananas.

Vanessa: Cirque Du Soleil is a pretty cool place to do a live show…

Redfoo: It really is. That show got wild! I mean, it was just non-stop shenanigans.

SkyBlu: Yeah, sometimes it gets pretty wild. I stage dived on a table full of bottles and cut my finger. I needed stitches and everything, but it’s all good.

Vanessa: So you guys go pretty hard then when you’re performing?

SkyBlu: We go hard all day, every day.

Vanessa: Cool. So, Laugh My F*%cking A*s Off. That’s an interesting name. How did you guys come up with that as your official group name?

SkyBlu: Grandma did.

Redfoo: Yep, straight up.

SkyBlu: Well, actually, she didn’t do it, someone in the family did. They just described us.

Redfoo: No, grandma gave us the name in a cheque and posted it to us.

SkyBlu: Oh yeah! Grandma’s amazing like that.

Vanessa: How did your nicknames, Redfoo and SkyBlu, come about?

Redfoo: You know how a lot of people choose their names? Well, our names chose us. There’s this thing where names get together and they draw out of a hat. Apparently, Redfoo came out as a little figurine of me and said, ‘POW!’ That’s the guys name I’m going to be.

TWU: Interesting! What about you, SkyBlu?

SkyBlu: Well, my mother was in the air force and she was giving birth on a cargo plane and BAM! Out in the blue sky, came SkyBlu. Straight up! Just like a balloon in the sky.

Vanessa: That’s a very unique story. Speaking of unique, you guys have a very unique sense of style. Have you always been such flamboyant characters?

Redfoo: We grew up in a playful environment, in a surfing community. It’s called the Pacific Palace, which is where they used to tape Baywatch. You know, we’ve always been mucking around and were introduced to the bright lights at a really young age – hence the bright purple trousers that I’m wearing today.

SkyBlu: Shout out to Eddie Murphy.

Vanessa: You guys are clearly quite out there. What’s the craziest thing that’s happened whilst touring on the road?

SkyBlu: So many crazy things happen. Fire extinguishers. We went to [London club] Jalouse the other night and I took the fire extinguisher and just sprayed it like everywhere. It will be on YouTube soon.

Redfoo: He just does stuff like that and once he’s full up on Red Bull, you just can’t stop him. It’s all just crazy.

Vanessa: The staff must have been pretty peeved off that night (laughs). OK, let’s talk music. Your single, ‘Party Rock Anthem’, recently topped the UK charts. What was that feeling like?

SkyBlu: It felt amazing! It was one of the most amazing feelings.

Redfoo: It’s a dream come true. It’s a fantasy come true. It’s more than just a dream, it’s an actual fantasy. You know, it’s like you work so hard to achieve what you’ve always dreamed about and now you gotta work on the struggle. We gotta keep on doing what we’re doing to maintain the dream.

Vanessa: And you guys knocked Jennifer Lopez off the top spot. That must have made the number one even more victorious?

Redfoo: It was actually better when we were behind her, at number two.

SkyBlu: Being behind J-Lo is a fun position.

Redfoo: It’s a very fun position to be in, coming up right behind her, and then BAM! You’re on top. It was like number one for four weeks. We hit that.

SkyBlu: We hit that spot, because we’re G’s!

Redfoo: Yeah, baby!

Vanessa: Now, your 2008 debut single, ‘I’m In Miami B*tch!’, became a full blown anthem – and it still is today. Did you envision it would be so huge when recording it?

Redfoo: Everything we do is a dream, it’s a vision. But when we made that track, it was an experiment. Did Alexander Graham Bell think that when he made the telephone that it was gonna be that huge? So in that retrospect, I don’t think we knew it was going to be a ‘party anthem’ – a crazy thing to get the party started. It was more for us, to go to Miami and have a song that was relevant. We made it for the travellers. It’s a traveller’s song. It’s for wherever you’re at and not where you’re from. It’s where you’re at. Right now, we’re in London, so I’ll say, ‘I’m in London B*tch!’

Vanessa: Your new album, ‘Sorry For Party Rocking’, is out soon. Tell us a bit about that…

Redfoo: It’s out on July 18. It’s a very experimental album. The ingredients were made, the experiment was done. It’s a fun album that you can really rock out to and just have a good time to. The invention is there.

Vanessa: And why did you call it ‘Sorry For Party Rocking’? What are you apologising for?

SkyBlu: For the never-ending party. It goes on and on and just NEVER stops.

Vanessa: Your new single – which features Brit singer, Natalia Kills – is titled ‘Champagne Showers’. Do you have many champagne showers?

SkyBlu: For sure! Life is one big party.

Vanessa: I hear you also have your hands in the fashion industry. Tell us a bit about your Party Rock clothing line…

Redfoo: Party Rock Clothing is every bit of passion. I wanted to dress from head to toe in something that I made: shoes, underwear and everything else. It’s a fun and fresh line.

Vanessa: And you also have a social networking site, right?

Redfoo: Yep! Party Rock People was an accessory for the fans, to show them that we’re part of the people, too. You know, it could have just been a Facebook group, but nah, you can’t control it the way you need to.

Vanessa: And if you guys weren’t making music or weren’t involved in the entertainment industry, what would you be doing?

SkyBlu: Making love for money.

Vanessa: Kind of like a male gigolo?

SkyBlu: A male gigolo!

Redfoo: You have to do what you love to do and making love, that’s a passion of ours.

Follow LMFAO on Twitter – www.twitter.com/LMFAO

Follow Vanessa Laker on Twitter –> @VanessaLaker

Beyonce Talks Love & Jay-Z With Piers Morgan!

Piers Morgan and Beyoncé

The notoriously private Beyonce gave a candid interview with Piers Morgan, where she opened up about love, Jay-Z, having babies and turning 30. The superstar singer, who gave an epic performance at Glastonbury on Sunday, followed by and equally smashing performance in London last night, revealed that both her and Jay want to avoid any scandal and be known purely for their music, instead of their relationship. When asked about her relationship with the rap icon, she admitted: “Jay and I have kind of made a decision that we want to be known for our music and not our relationships or scandals.

“We’ve been together for a very long time and I’m very happy,” she said. “Love is the foundation of everything I do.

“My music is inspired by love – from my family, my husband, my sisters. It gives me the security and confidence that you see on the stage.”

Watch the FULL interview below:

Vanessa Laker Meets Keri Hilson: The Interview

Over the last decade, Keri Hilson has made a name for herself as a renowned songwriter, penning tracks for the likes of Britney SpearsUsher and the Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. After featuring on Timbaland’s 2007 ‘Shock Value’ LP, the Georgia native went from behind the scenes to becoming the main star. Two years later and her debut studio album, ‘In A Perfect World’, was released to critical acclaim, earning the 28-year-old two Grammy nominations…

In a time where many artists are keen to adapt to the ‘popular’ sound, Hilson follows her own musical path and has become one of R&B music’s front runners, with no signs of slowing down. Not shy to push the creative boundaries and prone to a bit a controversy, the sultry singer’s ‘No Boys Allowed’ demonstrates her musical growth and style evolution.

The talented songstress recently popped into MTV HQ, where she had a candid chat with The Wrap Up’s Vanessa Laker to talk about new music, female empowerment, fashion, men, controversy and much more!

The Wrap Up: Hi Keri! How are finding your stay in London so far?

Keri Hilson: Hi! So far, I’ve only had the preliminaries to my work here. I’ve done a couple of interviews, so we’re really just getting started, but I love London.

TWU: Your sophomore album, ‘No Boys Allowed’, is currently out. How does this record differ from your debut LP, ‘In A Perfect World’?

Keri Hilson: It’s a lot more self assured. It’s a lot more aggressive. I felt that with ‘In A Perfect World’ I was still kind of finding myself – not just as a musician, but also in love and in life. A lot of the songs were written maybe five or six years ago. Now, I know a lot more about what it is I want from relationships. I feel women tolerate way too much. We don’t get half of what we need from men these days and I just wanted to call guys out, let them know we know the difference between a boy and a man.

TWU: The title ‘No Boys Allowed’ can easily be misinterpreted. What’s the exact meaning behind it?

Keri Hilson: It just means real men do real things. I prefer men to boys. To clear it up, it’s not about an older or younger thing. It’s a mindset, not age. There are 18-year-old men out there and there are 40-year-old boys. 

TWU: This album has a really sexy, self empowerment feel to it. Is this a reflection of how you’re feeling at this point in your life and career?

Keri Hilson: Absolutely! I don’t have the reason, or will, to do music that paints myself perfect. If that means revealing parts of me, that others might not… You know, I’m just a lot less inhibited and I don’t approach music the way I once did a very long time ago.

TWU: Switching to fashion, you’re always pictured on the red carpet looking very glam. How important is style and fashion to you?

Keri Hilson: I’ll be honest; I’m a student of fashion. I say that because I just wear what I feel. I’m not led by name brands and things like that. You’d much more see me in approachable brands, approachable stores and things like that. I mix the high street with the high end, but I’m not all about designer clothes. We call it a ‘label whore’ or a ‘label freak’, and I’m not all about that.

TWU: And how would you describe your own personal style?

Keri Hilson: My personal style is tomboy sheek!

TWU: Being a female in the public eye, do you feel under pressure to always look your best?

Keri Hilson: Erm, there’s a little pressure, but it really doesn’t get to me because you want to look your best. Even if you’re walking through the airport or going to pick up your mail, if you meet a fan and they have a camera, they will take a picture of you and millions could potentially see that picture – if it’s picked up by a blog or whatever. That potential is what makes me spend a little more time on the things I don’t care about, which is the girly s**t, beauty etc.

TWU: Do you feel this pressure to look good is more intense for females, compared to males?

Keri Hilson: I don’t know. I feel like men put in some effort to look effortless, it’s the one thing I’ve realised because I’m around a lot of stylish, fashionable men. Although they get to be a lot more friggin’ comfortable than we are, they’re into fashion; they just pretend they’re not.

TWU: OK, back to your album. One of my personal favourite songs is ‘One Night Stand’ featuring Chris Brown, as it kind of takes you back to that old skool R&B vibe. Did you guys set out and intend to take R&B back to its grassroots with this song?

Keri Hilson: Yeah, that was intentional. That’s the error that I love. I love everything from the 70s, 80s and 90s. I love everything that I grew up on. Well, I didn’t come from the 70s, but my parents made me have an appreciation for that music and the early 80s. So yeah, it was definitely intentional. When Chris Brown and I get together, it’s always a moment in time and I just remember having fun. That’s what it’s all about.

TWU: A lot of contemporary R&B has a European dance sound to it now, but are you a fan of the two sounds mixing?

Keri Hilson: Yes, it has happened and I feel like I’ve watched it happen, because I travel here and you can hear the sound slowly creeping into American music. Now, though, it’s full on and it’s not even just singers, but rappers as well – everyone! I think it’s a really cool sound. I think it was long overdue that the music pierced a gap over the seas. It took a lot of seriousness out of what hip-hop used to be. You had things like gangsta rap and now it’s more party mode. I think it’s a good thing. I mean, I could do with a little more of a conscious rap, I just don’t want us to lose our way, but at the same time, it’s a sign of the times and our economy. During these times, people just want to be entertained, they wanna have fun and music is a reflection of the era.

TWU: Your recent video for ‘The Way You Love Me’ made quite a few headlines and caused a bit of controversy. Were you surprised by the reaction that video received?

Keri Hilson: Erm, I’ll be honest, nothing surprises me anymore. It was what it was, or it is what it is. It was a moment in time. It was (dancer and choreographer) Laurieann Gibson’s directorial debut and we just wanted to have fun with the record. I mean, how many ways are you gonna take a sexual record? But I was surprised – as everybody else was surprised – because when I’m in the studio, I don’t really censor myself, but at the same time, after, as an after thought, you do censor your record. You do go back and change the f-words to other things. I do that all the time. But while I’m creating, I don’t think about the consumer, I don’t think about kids, I don’t think about anything, other than my feelings in that moment. But after I’d switched out all of the bad words, the bad words showed up synced to my video on World Star Hip-Hop. So yeah, I didn’t expect that.

TWU: So you were pretty surprised when you saw the video then?

Keri Hilson: Oh yes, I was surprised. I was just as surprised as the fans were when I was watching it. I was like, ‘OK, now this does change things a bit.’ The language did change certain things, but I’m not ashamed of it, I mean, I recorded it, I did it, you know? All I can say is that it was a moment in time.

TWU: Now your next UK single is ‘Pretty Girl Rock’ and the video for that song is very cool and creative and sees you pay homage to a lot of female singers. Tell us a bit about the video…

Keri Hilson: Thanks! It’s actually one of my favourite videos I’ve ever shot. I got to be multiple personalities that day. It was a really cool video shoot for me. It was directed by Joseph Kahn and the only direction I gave him was that I didn’t want the video to be about me. The song was so much about me, to the surface listeners. What I wanted people to understand is that I‘m just one of many examples of a confident woman. I want to display other women who felt the way I felt and they were great. Yes, they happened to be physically beautiful, but it was about much more than that. It’s about the way they carry themselves, it’s about the way they were groundbreaking – and that they were women. I think as women, we shy away from adversity. Everyone I chose was scrutinised for their craft, for their creativity. From Josephine Baker in the 1920s, being an African American and dancing and dressing the way she did, it was unacceptable in a lot of pockets of society, all the way through to Janet Jackson and TLC. No-one’s success comes without controversy, in the same way no average or non-industry person’s success comes without adversity. That‘s what I really wanted the video to say. I think more women need to have that tenacity, persistence, drive and confidence.

TWU: Music aside, when you’re not working, what do you like to do to relax?

Keri Hilson: When am I not working? That’s the question (laughs). I love the water, I love to swim. I like watching movies and I love seeing my family – that keeps me grounded and gives me some moments of reality. Other than that, when I’m not working, I like to sleep!

Kerri Hilson’s new single, ‘Pretty Girl Rock’, is out on July 4. ‘No Boys Allowed’ is out now.

This interview was conducted for MTV: The Wrap Up!

Words: Vanessa Laker (@VanessaLaker)

Vanessa Laker Meets Mann: The Interview

His new track, ‘Buzzin’’, is currently setting dancefloors across the globe on fire, and is shaping up to be one of this summer’s big anthems. With 50 Cent tipping him for huge success, Mann is set to be one of hip-hop’s big breakout stars of 2011. The 19-year-old West Coast rapper popped into MTV HQ earlier this week, where he had a chat with The Wrap Up’s Vanessa Laker…

The Wrap Up: Hi, Mann! Your new single, ‘Buzzin’’, has got a lot of buzz surrounding it and is set to be one of this summer’s big anthems. Did you expect it to have such a huge response?

Mann: Actually, no. I expected people to like it, but when I wrote it, I didn’t expect it to be a single. I actually wrote it expecting it to just be something I put out on the internet and then it actually turned out to be a big song. It’s overwhelming right now, I still can’t believe it. 

TWU: And it’s blown up around the world…

Mann: Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s just very overwhelming. To be over here in the UK off of that song that I made, thinking it was just going to be a leak, is amazing.

TWU: The official remix – which is the main video – features 50 Cent, so how did that collaboration come about?

Mann: 50 heard the record on radio and actually just hopped on it and did it on his own.  He dropped it online, and when he did that, I was surprised. We reached out and he wanted to shoot the video, so we shot the video, and now 50 is a mentor of mine.

TWU: Being a new artist, how does it feel having someone of 50 Cent’s calibre, wanting to jump on your track?

Mann: I feel really blessed. Not a lot of new artists get such a big co-sign. Especially seeing as I’m not even signed under 50 Cent. He didn’t discover me or anything like that, he just really believed in the song and that feels great. We’re not even from the same coast!

TWU: Speaking of coasts, you’re from Los Angeles (West Coast) and a lot of the time, LA hip-hop is associated under the genre of gangsta rap. Was it a conscious decision for you to make an upbeat record for the clubs?

Mann: Very conscious. You know, it’s kinda hard to be a West Coast artist and not be gangsta, because people don’t know what to expect. And for a long time – because I’ve been signed since I was sixteen – I didn’t know the right way to come out as a West Coast artist and represent the West Coast, and not be on that gangsta tip. I think ‘Buzzin’’ was a great mix of keeping it West Coast and also keeping the fresh ideas.

TWU: Back in the day, California was very much so at the forefront of hip-hop, but these days there are noticeably fewer West Coast-based rappers doing hip-hop on an international level, but why do you think that is? 

Mann: Because we had to go back to the drawing board. The gangsta rap and stuff, it played its course. Everything repeats. Like, now in LA, there are a lot of new rappers coming up. There’s a lot of buzz going on in LA with a lot of new artists, and I feel like I’m at the forefront of that. There’s a lot of talent, so the lack of West Coat rappers, that’s probably gonna change soon. 

TWU: Speaking of new artists, there’s a wave of new young rappers, such as Wiz Khalifa and J. Cole, who are coming up and really doing their thing. Which new MCs are you rating and why? 

Mann: I’m a big fan of Odd Future. I’m also a big fan of Kendrick Lamar from LA. I mean, I’m a big fan of Wiz and Currency as well. But for me, as far as new artists go, I think Odd Future are great, just because of their originality and creativity. 

TWU: A few years ago, new hip-hop was bit stale, but right now there are so many new artists and it’s an exciting time for hip-hop music…

Mann: History repeats itself. There was a stage when it had gotten really pop. And when it gets like that, you need something under it. It’s the same thing that happened with disco. You get that other type of music that comes under it, that’s a lot more rough and raw, that people are fiending for, because things have got too pop. It’s just history repeating itself.

TWU: Growing up, which artist inspired you to get into music?

Mann: Mase was a big inspiration to me. He had one of my favourite albums and his videos and his swag was very on point. I was pretty young when he came out, and as a kid, it was okay to like him and my mum wasn’t mad. But he wasn’t corny, he was a cool guy, and that’s a good balance to have.

TWU: Your style of rap is quite unique – it’s rapping meets singing. How would you describe your musical style?

Mann: Really, it’s just music. I like to make music for everyone. I love to rap, but at the same time, I may want to express a melody in a way that rapping can’t do. So I’ll sing it. I think it’s good to have the combination and nowadays, you have to do it all.

TWU: You mentioned that you’ve been signed since you were 16 years old, so how did you get started in the industry? 

Mann: I’ve been performing since I was five years old. I’ve been performing all over LA for years. Then I started dancing, and then I started rapping. I do it all. I just love being in front of people and making people feel good.

TWU: And what’s your association with Sean Kingston?

Mann: We hung out in the studio and he introduced me to (music producer) J. R. Rotem (Britney Spears, Rihanna) and we did records early on in my career. We’re also good friends.

TWU: Before you were discovered on a mainstream level, you made a name for yourself on the underground with mixtapes. How important are mixtapes in the hip-hop world?

Mann: Mixtapes are the most important. Three years ago, when I was 16, they weren’t as important, but then through time, after I got signed, I’ve seen how important they are now. I think after Drake, he kind of set the standard, where every artist – especially in hip-hop – needs to drop something for the fans, to assure them that their album will be worth it. 

TWU: Tell us a bit about your upcoming collaborations mixtape…

Mann: It’s called, ‘Fresh Man On Varsity’. We’ve got a lot of collaborations on there, from Kendrick Lemar to Frank Ocean. I’m trying to get Machine Gun Kelly on it too! I’ve got a lot of great upcoming artists on this mixtape. Everybody’s coming up and this project is about being young and doing things big. That’s what ‘Fresh Man On Varsity’ means. I just wanna reassure my fans and everyone that supports me, that I’m making music, real music.

TWU: And when can we expect to hear your debut album?

Mann: My LP, ‘Mann’s World’, will definitely be dropping this summer. We’re already working on it and it sounds amazing. We’re flipping a lot of records, kinda like what Snoop did with ‘Doggystyle’. We’re just keeping it real old school, but with new ideas and fresh concepts.

Vanessa Laker Meets Jay Sean: The Interview

With a new single and his fourth studio LP looming, Jay Sean recently popped into MTV HQ to have a chat with The Wrap Up‘s Vanessa Laker to discuss growth and new music, being a part of YMCMB, working with Nicki Minaj and why Birdman and Lil Wayne are inspirational…

The Wrap Up:  Hi Jay! How does it feel to be back home in London?

Jay Sean: Hey! Well that’s it, you just put it there – its home. It feels great. The hard thing about being in America is that I’m away from my family and friends and my fans, my UK fans. You see, the UK fans feel it a lot, I know they do. Because you know, they’ve been here since the beginning and I think a lot of them do understand that I’m where work is taking me. At the end of the day, it’s still a job, it’s still my work and I have to be where my employer is based, and my employer is my record company. Cash Money is in America, so all my meetings take place there, interviews take place there, studio takes place there. But I do miss home. I miss home and my people. Even though I’m in the UK right now for work, a lot of stuff gets done in the day, so in the evening I can chill and link up with mates and stuff like that, so it’s good fun. 

TWU: You recently played live at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden, opening for Enrique Iglesias. What was that like?

Jay Sean: It was just a very serial moment. I don’t think many artists in their life get to grace that stage. It’s what we all dream of. It’s pretty amazing to play that stage with my live band and play a full set, and to be handpicked by Enrique himself is not a bad thing. It was very flattering.

TWU: You’ve got a new single, ‘Hit The Lights’, which features Lil Wayne. Tell us a bit about the song…

Jay Sean: ‘Hit The Lights’ might actually be my favourite single to date, just because I feel like it satisfies something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I wanted to write a track which can be smashed across clubs worldwide, as well as (played on the) radio worldwide. That’s not an easy task to do, to try and make one song that can be played everywhere. It’s also just so exciting for me to perform. I get enjoyment from performing it, so I hope that people feel the same when hearing it. 

TWU: This is the second time you and Wayne have teamed up for a single. Your previous collaboration, ‘Down’, went to number one on both sides of the Atlantic and sold six million copies worldwide. Because of this, do you now feel under pressure every time you release a single to have high chart success? 

Jay Sean: No pressure at all. I feel like you can’t beat that, you can’t beat a number one. There’s no number zero. For me, the number one gave me faith that I can write great songs and it showed me that I have wonderful fans who enjoy my music. I just have to try and make sure that every song I do, I’m proud of it and I have to feel like my fans will appreciate it too.

TWU: You’ve got a new album, ‘Freeze Time’, which is coming out soon. Tell us a bit about that record…

Jay Sean: Well, this album, for me, is probably my favourite album, just because I feel like there are songs I’ve always wanted to write, but maybe I lacked the vocal ability to pull it off or the song writing skills to pull it off. For example, you’ve got songs on there that are real proper R&B slow jams, the kind of music I grew up listening to. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got something like ‘Hit The Lights’, which is completely fun and for the clubs and it fuses dance elements together with hip-hop, R&B and pop. Then you’ve got some songs that are in the middle, that are mid-tempo and ballads. I wanted to take the listeners on a musical journey, so one minute you could be dancing, the next minute you might be crying and the next you could be thinking about life and yourself. I really wanted to focus on musical genres, combining them in a way that really hasn’t been done before. 

TWU: What’s the meaning behind the title, ‘Freeze Time’? 

Jay Sean: The reason I came up with that name is because I feel like my life at the moment has been a rollercoaster. It’s crazy. From all the mad things that I’ve been experiencing, to the most wonderful experiences, to the insane things where you have to actually pinch yourself and go, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ Not to mention it happens very fast, and sometimes I feel like I can just press pause on life and just go, ‘Alright, stop for a second, take this in.’ I think we can all do that. You don’t have to be a pop star to wanna freeze time once in a while. Even my parents, I see how they’re so busy working and feel like telling them to chill out and just take life in. That’s what this album is about.

TWU: The first single from ‘Freeze Time’ was last year’s ‘2012 (It Ain’t The End)’, which features your label mate Nicki Minaj. What was it like working with the current queen of hip-hop?

Jay Sean: Oh, amazing! Nicki is an incredible talent. She’s very good at what she does, she’s an amazing MC, but she’s also a lot of fun and when you work with fun people, you have a great time yourself. There are lots of people who would love to work with Nicki, so it was really cool to work with her. But the best thing about it is that I got the chance to work with her before she really blew up. It was just great to have her be a part of this project. 

TWU: This is your fourth studio album, right? Now that you’ve well and truly proved yourself as an artist, do you feel with this LP you have more creative control and are free to experiment more?

Jay Sean: Yeah, it’s about growth. What is the purpose of an album? The purpose of an album is to showcase a body of work. Is to showcase how you feel at this moment in time. Where you’re at.  Where your mindset is at. What you wanna be and tell the word. I feel that nine years into my career, I’m allowed to push the envelope a bit. I feel my fans are growing with me and that’s the nicest thing. 

TWU: In the UK, you’ve been in the music industry for nine years – which in this line of work is practically a veteran. But over in the US, you’re considered a new artist. How does it feel to be a ‘new’ artist all over again?

Jay Sean: I love that. I feel you’re able to step into two different worlds. I feel like when I go to America I’m totally aware of the fact that I’m still relatively new there.  So it gives me fuel, a fire that burns inside, which tells me I’ve got so much to prove and it pushes me, which I love. What’s quite interesting here in England is that to some people I’m still considered a ‘new’ artist. We actually have an internal joke about this, some people are post-‘Down’ fans and some are pre-‘Down’ fans. Some people here only knew me after ‘Down’, so it’s okay and I’m very aware of that. But the good thing about England is that there are people here who’ve witnessed my journey from the beginning and you feel like you’ve got an army of soldiers who are behind you and rooting for you. 

TWU: Cash Money/Young Money is arguably the hottest hip-hop label right now and is a powerhouse in the music industry in general. How does it feel to be a part of such an elite movement?

Jay Sean: It is AMAZING! There is no label hotter than Cash Money right now. There isn’t. They’re taking over the whole scene. You name some of the world’s biggest rappers and people’s favourite artists and they’re signed to this label. It’s a very cool thing. The fact that it’s a family thing and people have so much love and respect for each other is the best part about it. Wayne, Drake, Nicki, myself, Bow Wow, Tyga and all of us who are on this label, we are all fans of each other’s music and when we see each other around, you know we’ve got each other’s back. It’s a wicked label to be a part of. It’s like a family. Birdman – who co-owns the label with his brother Slim – calls me up every other day just to see how I’m doing. It’s not corporate; it’s like a family thing. 

TWU: You’re the only Brit on Cash Money, so how did you end up meeting Birdman and signing to the label?

Jay Sean: They actually spotted me on the internet. I was working with a producer in New York and he happened to know the Cash Money crew, he does work with them. They were having a conversation and he got talking about me. Slim and Birdman were like, ‘Who is this guy? What’s his story?’ The guy told them and he said I’m a global artist who’d been around for seven years now. He explained that I had fans in countries all around the world, but just didn’t have a deal in America. So we sent over some music – they specifically fell in love with the song, ‘Ride It’ – they saw the video, Birdman said straight away, ‘The guy’s a star, bring him over to the States,’ he said.  

TWU: Like you mentioned before, a lot of people only know you for the 2009 smash hit single, ‘Down’, meaning that they only heard of you after you signed to Cash Money Records. But you’ve been in the business for nearly a decade and have sold millions of records worldwide, long before you joined forces with Birdman and Lil Wayne. So, does it annoy when people say, ‘Jay Sean’s only successful because he’s signed to Cash Money?’

Jay Sean: As frustrating as that may appear, I actually love that part of it. I love that I have that experience in my back pocket. I love that I have graced stages around the world and that perhaps people don’t know about it. What that does for me, is it pushes me. It means I never rest on my laurels. It means I never stop trying to push myself and take it to the next level. In life as a whole, if you have it too easy, you get complacent. It’s the exact same thing with Birdman and Lil Wayne. How many albums did those guys put out? They’ve been doing their thing for years. But it’s only now and over the last few years that they’re really getting the right type of recognition and they don’t complain about it. They use it as the fire that burns inside, and it inspires you to say, ‘OK, this is my time and I’m gonna show you all.’It’s something that I love. I’m glad that I had all the years of experience, because having all this happen only in the last two years; it might have been too much for somebody who’s a new artist to handle. So I’m truly appreciative of all the years I’ve had in this industry.

Words: Vanessa Laker (@VanessaLaker)

Vanessa Laker Talks To Shontelle: The Interview

After putting a law career on hold, Shontelle burst onto the music scene in 2008 with her summer hit, ‘T-Shirt’. Since then, the 25-year-old Bajan beauty is proving she’s a force to be reckoned with. She had a chat with Vanessa Laker to discuss her new album, fashion, touring with Beyoncé, being Rihanna’s drill sergeant and why she loves UK high street brand Topshop, all exclusively for The Wrap Up… 

The release of her debut LP, ‘Shontelligence’, introduced the young starlet to the world, but it’s the sophomore album, ‘No Gravity’, that is really going to cement this rising star’s place. With an edgier and more experimental sound, Shontelle’s new record demonstrates her growth as an artist.

The Wrap Up: You’ve just completed your UK tour with Jason Derulo. How did it go?

Shontelle: OMG! It was so good. You know the UK is always so good to me. Every night, every show was just fantastic. We just did the last show last night at Hammersmith Apollo, it was awesome.  

TWU: I was at the Hammersmith Apollo for the gig and it was a great show…

Shontelle: You were? Amazing!

TWU: I have to say your dress looked amazing…

Shontelle: Oh, thank you. Actually, that dress, I got it very last minute. And that was specifically given to me to do the London show by a designer named, Sherri Hill.

TWU: How important is style and fashion to you?

Shontelle: VERY important. I just love fashion so much. If I wasn’t so busy being an artist, I’d probably try to design a clothing line, or something. I love clothes and I have a ridiculously unhealthy shoe obsession. Shoes and handbags!

TWU: While you’ve been here in the UK, have you had much time to check out the scenery and explore the cities?

Shontelle: Not as much as I’d like to. When you’re on tour or doing promo, you usually see the inside of the hotel and the inside of the car, so you really don’t get to see much. But we did have a day off in Manchester and I had so much fun in Topshop. I always lose my mind in there. I love their clothes. I think probably 95% of my wardrobe is Topshop now.

TWU: You’ve got a new single, ‘Perfect Nightmare’. What’s your definition of a perfect nightmare? 

Shontelle: A perfect nightmare is really just a situation that you know you shouldn’t be in, but you enjoy it. You either enjoy it, or there’s some aspect or a part of it that you love so much and you just can’t let go. So that could be anything from an abusive relationship to an inappropriate relationship. Maybe even if someone was too old or too young, or you were with someone else’s boyfriend or girlfriend.  It’s just being in a situation that you really have no right to be in, but for some reason, you find it really difficult to get out because you enjoy something about it so much. So it’s like, ‘When will I wake up and scream? I know this is wrong.’

TWU: ‘Perfect Nightmare’ is the second single from your new LP, ‘No Gravity’ – which is your second album. How do you feel you’ve grown and evolved as an artist, compared to the first record?

Shontelle: I feel like it’s definitely been an evolution. There’s definitely been some growth. ‘No Gravity’ sounds quite different from ‘Shontelligence’, because ‘Shontelligence’ sounds exactly like what I was at that point – which is a girl who literally just came from Barbados. There was a lot of reggae and Island influence; it was also a lot softer and mellow. But ‘No Gravity’ has a lot more up-tempo and edgy music and that’s a choice I purposely made, because I didn’t really want people to think, ‘She’s from Barbados, this is cliché what we should expect from her.’ Especially as a songwriter and as a music lover, I just really wanted to experiment. So ‘No Gravity’, there’s a little rock in there. It’s a lot poppier, I think. There’s more dance influence. Even my next US single, ‘Say Hello To Goodbye’, that actually sounds like a pop/rock ballad. It more represents where I’m at now. I’m ready to just experiment and have a lot more fun and not take everything so seriously.

TWU: As an artist, do you feel there’s more pressure on the second album, as you feel you have to match – or overtake – the success of the first LP?

Shontelle: Oh yes, the pressure is really on. I’ve been so lucky, because having the first single from my second album just be so successful, I mean, ‘Impossible’ is my biggest single to date! It’s been quite unbelievable for me, because every artist’s worst nightmare is to be a one-hit wonder. You know, just never being able to write another album? So I feel really blessed and lucky, it’s great.

TWU: You and Rihanna grew up together back in Barbados and during your high school years, you were her drill sergeant, right?

Shontelle: Yep! We were both in the cadets together and it was really awesome. Everyone’s like, ‘Wow! You got to give Rihanna push-ups.’ But she wasn’t ‘Rihanna’ yet. Then, she was Robyn Fenty. But yeah, that’s how we first met, through the cadet’s programme.  There was a summer camp and she was the little cadet and I was the drill sergeant.

TWU: You’ve had success here in Europe and in The States, but do you feel that Rihanna has opened doors for other artists from the Caribbean to crossover to an international market?  

Shontelle: RiRi sure did open the door wide open. She didn’t just open it, she smashed it. I’m so happy she got that opportunity, because I think she made it easier for me to come after. Now, people are much more open to the idea of foreign artists being on the mainstream.

TWU: President Obama used your song, ‘Battle Cry’, during his campaign trail. How did you feel when you heard that?

Shontelle: I couldn’t believe it, because that was during the time when I was still fresh. I’d just released ‘T-Shirt’, so I was pretty new. I just felt so honoured, I really wanted him to win so bad and just having him reach out and say, ‘I really love this ‘Battle Cry’ song, I think it really speaks to my campaign and I’d really like to use it’, I was so overwhelmed. I was like, ‘Why are you even asking? Just take it!’(Laughs) He was kind enough to send me a vinyl addition of the compilation with the song, and he signed it. That was a real blessing. I was like, ‘WOW! I’m not even American, but I get to be a part of one of the most historical events in American political history.’

TWU: What was it like touring with Beyonce?

Shontelle: Queen B! That was one of the most epic experiences of my little old career. I learned so much from her. I thought I knew how to perform until I saw her perform everyday. After being on tour with her, you have to step your game up. You literally feel like you’re at the bottom of the sewers or something when next to her. Every night she just blew me away. I’ve done a few tours, but Beyoncé’s tour was the only one that I’d stay and watch every single night. I’m a fan. During the tour, I got to speak with her in her dressing room and I was so nervous. They literally had to push me in. She’s like a living legend. She was just the sweetest, most accommodating, and most present artist to be around. And she gave me such great inspiring advice. She’s amazing.

TWU: And finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2011?

Shontelle: It’s gonna be a very busy year. Next from here, I’m going to Nigeria – which I’m really excited about, as it’s my first time going to Africa. After that, it’s Malaysia – there’s a whole lot of travelling ahead. But I get to go to Barbados in April to shoot an ad campaign, so that’s amazing, as I get to pop home for second. I’ll be focusing on the album, I’m gonna release a repackaged version of ‘No Gravity’, which will feature some new songs. I’ll also be promoting the singles around the world and performing lots. It’s a very busy, but fun year ahead. 

Shontelle: ‘Perfect Nightmare’ – is out now.

Stay up to date with Shontelle on Twitter – www.twitter.com/Shontelle_Layne

Words: Vanessa Laker (@VanessaLaker 

This interview was conducted on behalf of MTV UK.

Vanessa Laker Talks To Encore: The Interview

The UK has a new urban male group on the scene, but Encore are not your average boy band. The three-piece collective, consisting of singer and noted songwriter Mark Asari, 21, singer/producer Cairo Woodwood, 22, and 23-year-old rapper Pierre Joseph, are bringing a new element to the table. Vanessa Laker recently had a chat with the lads, to discuss their current single, ‘Wind Up’, their upcoming LP and how Jay-Z inspired the band’s name, all exclusively for The Wrap Up

Vanessa: Tell us a bit about your latest track, ‘Wind Up’, and the concept behind it…

Encore: The concept behind the song is basically about being in a relationship where the girl can’t make up her mind whether she wants you to go, or whether she wants to be with you. She just doesn’t know whether she wants you there or not. She just can’t make her mind up. 

 Vanessa: Your sound is a mixture of many genres: R&B, pop, dubstep etc. How would you describe your sound?

Encore: We don’t have a specific sound. We like to describe our music as the ‘Encore sound’. We’re not taking any particular direction. We’re not taking a dubstep or R&B direction. It’s a mix. We’re into a mixture of different genres and they all reflect in our sound. We have so many different influences. We’re like three different artists ourselves, so when we come together the outcome is such a diverse and cross-genre result: From hip-hop, pop, rock, dubstep, R&B, soul, rap etc. So many different sounds influence us. We never want to limit ourselves.

 Vanessa: So, how did you guys get together as a band?

Encore: Basically, we knew of each other before we actually met up. We were introduced by other friends, who arranged a session for us and we wrote a track and then developed from then onwards. In the studio we really gelled together. Two of us already had the same manager and that’s how we pretty much connected and we really worked well together, so we stuck by it.

 Vanessa: And how did the name Encore come about?

Encore: I was listening to Jay-Z’s track, ‘Encore’, which came on by shuffle. And at that moment it just clicked. I was like, ‘This is the name. This is our name.’ It just felt right.

 Vanessa: Despite being talented singer/songwriters, the term ‘boy band’ sometimes tends to have a negative ring to it. Do you feel that because of this, you have to work that little bit harder in order to prove yourselves?

Encore: To a certain degree, yeah. Not that the term ‘boy band’ is anything wrong. But these days, a lot of boy bands are very polished and clean and you can see they’re very put together. But we’re not like that. We’re more raw and quite edgy. It’s very organic. I think just being songwriters, we have to put that extra effort in. And I think putting that extra effort in our writing, in our vocals and in our performances; we’ll prove that we’re very different to what some people may perceive us as.

 Vanessa: You guys are definitely not your ‘typical’ boy band. You write, rap and produce…

Encore: We have a lot of creative freedom in what we do. We’re very involved in every aspect of our career. We wouldn’t really classify ourselves as a ‘boy band’. We’re more of a collective of artists that have come together as a group – more of a group, than a boy band.

 Vanessa: The UK urban scene is really thriving at moment, but which artists are you guys rooting for and why?

Encore: I’m really feeling UK rap. I’m very much supporting the UK rap scene. Wretch 32 is definitely doing his thing right now. Also Jessie J is amazing. She’s a great songwriter, great vocals. She’s very organic. Just a great all-round artist.

 Vanessa: Growing up, who or what inspired you musically?

Encore: Just music itself is what inspired us. But to mention a few artists, people like Michael Jackson, Boys II Men, Usher. The early R&B scene was a big inspiration. Stevie Wonder’s probably one of my biggest musical inspirations. His music and artistry is just legendary.

 Vanessa: You guys were on the road with N-Dubz and Chipmunk. What was that experience like?

Encore: Yeah, we did a few dates for their tour which was pretty great. Just performing to such huge crowds is such a motivational experience and gets you ready for hopefully what’s to come. So it was a great experience and we’re just looking forward to doing more live shows.

 Vanessa: Your debut album is released later this year. Tell us a bit about it…

Encore: We’ve been working really hard in the studio. We’ve got loads of tracks – about 60. So we’ve gotta narrow it down to pick the best few. The sound is very unique, we mix many genres. Being that we’re three quite diverse artists, when we come together that reflects in our music and the outcome is really interesting and very musically diverse. So we’re really enjoying the process and very excited about the record. We’re still working on it, but it should hopefully be out around September time. 

 Vanessa: And what are your plans for the rest of 2011?

Encore: Of course the completion of the album is one of the main things, but we’ll be doing loads of shows. Performing live and lots of studio work.

Stay up to date with Encore on Twitter – www.twitter.com/WantMoreEncore

 Words: Vanessa Laker (@VanessaLaker)

This interview was conducted for MTV UK’s The Wrap Up

Vanessa Laker Talks To Kelis: The Interview!

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.

VANESSA LAKER MEETS ALEXIS JORDAN: THE INTERVIEW!

Alexis Jordan is one of the rising stars of 2010. Her debut single ‘Happiness’ has already topped the Billboard charts and is causing waves across the globe. Jay-Z’s new signee recently popped into the MTV HQ where she had a chat with Vanessa Laker and discussed everything music, what it’s like working for the Jigga, her crush on Twilight actor, Taylor Lautner, and also revealed that Simon Cowell’s actually a little bit of a softie, all exclusively for The Wrap Up

Despite being just 18 years of age, Alexis Jordan has been working in the music industry for many years now. The teen star began writing songs at the tender age of 9 and by the age of 12 she was the opening act for Smokey Robinson at a Stevie Wonder tribute. At 14 she appeared on the first season of Simon Cowell’s America’s Got Talent series and by the ripe age of 18, Alexis was snapped up and signed by Jay-Z. A very impressive CV indeed. But with a new single out and her debut album on the way, things are about to get even more impressive for this young star.
 
The Wrap Up: Hi Alexis, how are today? How are you finding London?
 
Alexis Jordan: Hi, I’m very well thanks! I’m finding it really cool. There are some incredible buildings here.
 
TWU: Have you had much time to look around and explore?
 
Alexis Jordan: A little bit. I’m going to have some time later today to check it out properly. It’s my first time here, so it’s pretty exciting.
 
TWU: I went to your live show at Studio Valbonne the other night, you gave a great performance. How was it for you?
 
Alexis Jordan: I put my heart in it with the band and the dancers, it was an incredible feeling. The UK audiences are really attentive. They stand there and really look at me. It’s cool, I really love it.
 
TWU: Even though you’re only 18, you’ve been performing for many years now…
 
Alexis Jordan: Singing in front of audiences, I’m used to that, as I’ve been doing it for a while. But singing and dancing is kinda new to me.
 
TWU: You started writing songs at the tender age of 9, so you’ve known for a long time that you wanted to be a musician…
 
Alexis Jordan: I realised I wanted to be a singer when I was really young. I always used to tell my mother, ‘Mom I wanna be singer, mom I wanna be a singer.’  I never really said it to my friends at school, but I always told my mother.
 
TWU: When you were 12 you opened for Smokey Robinson at a Stevie Wonder Tribute. What was that feeling like at such a young age?
 
Alexis Jordan: It was amazing, but because I was so young at the time, I didn’t really know how big it was. Now I look back and I’m like, ‘WOW!’ That was pretty huge.
 
TWU: You’ve got a new single called ‘Happiness’. Tell us a little bit about it…
 
Alexis Jordan: ‘Happiness’ is a great record. It was bought to me by Stargate and co-produced by Dead Mouse and was written by (New York singer/songwriter) Autumn Rowe. It’s a great single; you can hum to it and really enjoy it. I love it.
 
TWU: A lot of musicians say their first single and first music video is always the most memorable. You’re at that stage right now, so how is the feeling?
 
Alexis Jordan: It’s absolutely incredible. I mean you can go online and watch the video anytime. Making my music video was just amazing. It was around the time of my 18th birthday, so it was kind of like my 18th birthday present. So it was absolutely incredible, a really great feeling.
 
TWU: Now your new single went to number one on the Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay chart. Did you expect it to be so well received?
 
Alexis Jordan: Erm, I did and I didn’t. It’s your first single, so you’re always gonna be nervous about the outcome. So it was kind of that YES feeling. I let out a big yes out, when I got the news about the chart position.
 
TWU: How did you celebrate?
 
Alexis Jordan: I celebrated with my mother, father, brothers and sisters. It was good and very important to me to share that moment with my family.
 
TWU: Four years ago you appeared on the Simon Cowell-produced reality series, America’s Got Talent. What was that experience like for you?
 
Alexis Jordan: It was kind of bitter-sweet. Because I was 14 and I was singing these huge songs that are perceived as me being so much older, but I had such a big voice and those were the only songs that were great for me to show off my vocal talents.
 
TWU: Those types of shows are very intense and the contestants are put under immense pressure. At 14 years of age, how did you deal with such pressure?
 
Alexis Jordan:  It was very intense, but my mum told me to have fun with it. If you win, you win, if you lose, you lose. At the end of the day, it’s just the beginning.
 
TWU: Is Simon Cowell as scary in real life as he is on TV?
 
Alexis Jordan: No, he’s very sweet. I met him and he gave me a great compliment. He said I was brilliant and at the age of 14, that was crazy for me.
 
TWU: And would you recommend shows like America/Britain’s Got Talent, American Idol and X-Factor to up-and-coming musicians?
 
Alexis Jordan: Yeah, I would. To just get that exposure, even if you don’t win. You get that thick skin, so you know that truth of how tough and harsh it can be in the music biz.
 
TWU: You live in Atlanta and over the last few years there’s been some great music coming out of that city. What is it about the ATL that produces and creates such talented musicians?
 
Alexis Jordan: I think Atlanta is a spot where everything is quite calm and collected. Then you’ve got this creative side. It’s a great place.
 
TWU: I hear you have a little crush on Twilight heartthrob, Taylor Lautner. I take it you’re team Jacob then?
 
Alexis Jordan: Oh gosh *blushes*. Yeah he’s cute; I’m team Jacob all the way!  
 
TWU: You’re signed to Jay-Z’s label, so how did that all come about?
 
Alexis Jordan: I’m signed to StarRoc/Roc Nation. The StarRoc side, they found me on YouTube and bought me to Jay-Z and he signed me, so that was awesome.
 
TWU: Was it intimidating meeting Jay-Z?
 
Alexis Jordan: It was just a big surprise. I mean, of course I was nervous, but I was excited as well.
 
TWU: It was announced recently that Jay-Z has signed Will Smith’s 9-year-old daughter, Willow Smith. How do you feel about the latest addition to the Roc family?
 
Alexis Jordan: It’s wonderful! She’s another Roc girl. Me, Bridgette Kelly, Rita Ora and now Willow Smith. We all have to get together.
 
TWU: Tell us a bit about your debut album and what type of music can we expect to hear…
 
Alexis Jordan: You can expect to hear all different types of music; I don’t want to be kept in a box. I’m that pop artist, but I can switch it up and turn to R&B/soul and do lots of ballads and the hip-hop swag. It’s very versatile.
 
TWU: Are there any collaboration on there?
 
Alexis Jordan: I can’t say…
 
TWU: Is it complete?
 
Alexis Jordan: I’m still working on it, I’ve almost finished. It’s going to be an amazing album. I’m very excited about it.
 
TWU: Which artists inspire you?
 
Alexis Jordan: Michael Jackson is a big inspiration for me. I like Billie Holiday’s sound and Beyoncé too.
 
TWU: You’re an actress as well. Are we going to see you taking up some acting roles anytime soon?
 
Alexis Jordan: I would love to do that in the future, but music is my main love and my main focus right now. But it’s definitely something I’d love to do in the future.
 
TWU: And what does the rest of 2010 hold for Alexis Jordan?
 
Alexis Jordan: You can expect more single’s to come. Right now ‘Happiness’ is the main priority. Everyone’s going to get really hyped off the Roc Nation.
 
Alexis Jordan: ‘Happiness’ – is out October 17.