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)

 

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Mac Miller – Live At The HMV Forum, London: Review!

Defying Tradition.

If there’s ever an artist to defy the traditional route of making it to the top of the charts, then Mac Miller’s your man – proving you don’t need a big label in order to reach the dizzy heights of success. While the twenty-year-old Pittsburgh native may be considered a newbie in the rap world, having only one official album under his belt, Malcolm McCormick gained legions of fans worldwide, after releasing seven mixtapes over the last five years. And the hard graft paid off, because the young wordsmith’s debut LP ‘Blue Slide Park’ became the first independently released record to top the Billboard charts in over fifteen years. So when the rising hip hop star brings his ‘Blue Slide Park’ tour to the UK, it’s no surprise Miller’s Brit fans turn up in their droves for the occasion.

It’s one of the hottest days in the year and just one glance at the audience outside the HMV Forum and you can feel the jubilance and excitement in the young crowd. Once inside the insanely hot North West London venue, the atmosphere is electric – even before the main man’s hit the stage. So when Miller arrives, there’s no surprise pandemonium erupts as ecstatic fans fist pump and go crazy for their idol.

Dressed in a white “I LOVE LDN” T-shirt, jeans and hat, Miller keeps it simple, with no gimmicks. Taking rap back to its essence, the US star is simply joined on stage by his DJ and hype man – the show is purely about the music. “Yo London, make more muthf*ckin’ noise,” he confidently declares, before spitting verses from his debut LP and numerous mixtapes – showcasing an impressive catalogue of material for such a young artist (Miller released his first mixtape at the tender age of fifteen).

Songs such as ‘Loud’, ‘Party On Fifth Av’ and ‘My Team’ has sweat-drenched revellers energetically shape-throwing, whilst rapping along to every word. Miller’s live delivery is precisely sharp and stage presence incredibly strong. Current radio smash ‘Frick Park Market’ raises the temperature, but it’s tracks from the K.I.D.S. mixtape that are the highlight of the night, with the likes of ‘Knock Knock’ and ‘Nikes On My Feet’ causing frenzied applause.

Feeding off the crowd’s infectious energy, Miller even provides some dance moves – showcasing his humorous side. The hour long set also includes tributes to Michael Jackson and the late Beastie Boy, MCA. And saving the best for last, Miller closes the impressive hyperactive show with his smash and fan favourite ‘Donald Trump’.

The name Mac Miller may still be unfamiliar to many, but it’s only a matter of time before this young contender starts to really rival some of hip hops heavy players.

D’Angelo Live at the 02 Brixton Academy, London REVIEW!

Back in the Nineties no artist defined soul music quite like D’Angelo did. The Virginia native’s 1995 debut album ‘Brown Sugar’ helped revolutionise mainstream modern-day rhythm and blues, and along with the likes of Maxwell and Jill Scott, D’Angelo and co were at the forefront of the popular neo-soul era.

However, it was D’Angelo’s long-awaited sophomore LP ‘Voodoo’ that really put the multi-talented singer-songwriter on the map, swinging Michael Eugene Arche in a lane above his rivals. Released in January 2000, the critically acclaimed and commercially successful double Grammy-winning record fused contemporary soul with old school funk, whilst exuding traditional jazz – resulting in Robert Christgau dubbing the young star the “R&B Jesus”.
Later that year D’Angelo embarked on what is now being described as his historic “Voodoo Tour” – a host of live shows that saw the soul sensation travel the world with his group The Soultronics, cementing his place as one of the genre’s most influential musicians. Fans eagerly awaited the follow-up to ‘Voodoo’, but to much disappointment, a third album never arose.

To really understand the complexity of this comeback, one has to be aware of the reasons behind D’Angelo’s long hiatus from the limelight. A new album has been in the pipelines for many years, but a long battle with alcohol and substance abuse, as well as numerous court cases, have kept the star off track, both musically and personally. And in 2010 he was arrested for attempting to pay an undercover cop for oral sex in New York. The notorious mug shot that followed revealed a shockingly dishelmed, overweight looking D’Angelo – a figure a million miles away from the muscular physically toned man who stripped naked for the infamous 2000 ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’ music video.

It’s been over a decade since he performed live and a staggering 12 years since the release of his last album, so when PhatNights announced the R&B superstar would be coming to London for two gigs as part of a mini European tour, fans wasted no time snapping up tickets for one of the most eagerly anticipated R&B shows of modern times.

It’s 9.20pm and Brixton Academy is at full capacity. The main man is running slightly late, but audiences are excitedly patient, whilst being happily entertained by his impressive live backing band. Suddenly the lights dim, exhilarating cheers and screams engulf the venue as a healthier looking D’Angelo enters the stage to ‘Player Player’ intro. Donning a leather black jacket and a wild west inspired black hat, with his guitar in tow, the 37-year-old opens with a funk rendition of ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’. Upon hearing the first song alone, any suggestions that D’Angelo isn’t fit to make a live comeback are quickly diminished, as the singers emotionally raw and flawlessly powerful vocals declare that the soul legend is officially back like he never even left.

Old classics such as ‘Devil’s Pie’ and ‘Chicken Grease’ complete the nostalgic moment, with an extended version of ‘Shit, Damn, Motherfucker’ sending audiences into frenzy mode. Half way through the up-tempo James Brown reminiscent set, D’Angelo takes it down a notch as he jumps on the piano. New songs ‘The Charade’ and ‘Sugar Daddy’ are greeted warmly, but it’s classic ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’ which garners the loudest applause. The encore comes courtesy of a remixed version of ‘Brown Sugar’.

Neo soul singer D'Angelo performs live at the O2 Academy, Brixton.

Can the live show triumph translate to new album success? Only time will tell. But the public have been waiting an extremely long time for this moment and judging from the smile on his face whilst performing this weekend, it’s evident the iconic soul singer enjoys being back on stage and has been waiting for this moment equally as much as the fans have. And with contemporary R&B music in such a dire state right now, the genre needs the “messiah of rhythm and blues” to come back and inject some credibility back into modern R&B music.

Words by Vanessa Laker

V Festival 2011 with Eminem, Rihianna & Elie Goulding: The Review!

V Festival 2011
Chelmsford, Essex

When it comes to festivals, the line-up doesn’t come more pic ‘n’ mix than Virgin Media’s V Festival. And while V (generally) opts for commercial acts, when it comes to genres, the bill is about as randomly diverse as a night bus stop in central London.

Over the weekend the likes of Manic Street Preachers, Hanson (Yep, those guys are still around), N-Dubz, Pendulum and Tinie Tempah all graced the stages at Highland Park and Chelmsford for the annual late summer festival. And while there’s something in there for everyone, this trait has its cons, as well as pros.

Arctic Monkeys were Chelmsford’s Saturday headliners and injected some much needed rock ‘n’ roll to the weekend. And while the weather was unpredictable and rainy the previous day, Sunday is the definition of summer, as the sun beams down in Essex.

Spread out over four different locations across the park, acts of all genres take to the stage. Ellie Goulding is an early crowd pleaser. Songs such as Starry Eyed set the tone and the petite singer proves a hit with revellers.

In general scheduling and timetables clash heavily, meaning you have to choose between many top acts. A large amount of audiences at the Script’s set seem to be Rihanna fans who turned up early to the get a good spot for the Bajan stars set.

Rihanna performs on day two of the V Festival at Hylands Parl (Pic: Getty)

Although it provides a wide range of music, V Festival generally caters to pop fans and Rihanna’s appointment is a fine and fitting one. Dressed in a pair of the tiniest black leather hot pants, fishnets and a tied up denim shirt, the 23-year-old sizzles as she churns out hit after hit of her chart-topping songs. While her vocals are not the strongest, the likes of Disturbia, S&M and Rude Boy have the crowd joyously singing along and waving their hands. A rendition of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song is well received, but it’s the finale performance of Umbrella that garners the biggest applause and prompts many revellers to erm… get out their umbrellas.

Rihanna’s set is a perfect warm up for the main man Eminem, who closes the show with an impressive 90 minute performance of songs from a career that spans over a decade. The Detroit MC was reportedly paid £2 million for his two day’s at V Festival and while I can’t say it was a £2 million worthy performance, Marshal Mathers rarely comes over to the UK, so it was a rare opportunity for fans to get a glimpse of arguably the best rapper of our generation.

Dressed in his trademark casual attire, Em’s set gets off to a slow start, but quickly picks up paste. Joined by his hype man, early tracks The Way I Am and My Name Is have the crowd amped up, but recent tracks such as Not Afraid and No Love from 2010’s Recovery also receive an equal level of applause. When Em brings out D12 for their hits Purple Pills and Fight Music, a moment of nostalgia kicks in and for a second I felt as though I was back in Secondary school.

At 38-year-old Eminem’s wild hell raising days are well and truly behind him (there were no chainsaws or cursing of other acts), but his stage presence was still very much in tact and 13 years down the line he’s still one of front runners in contemporary music.

The down point of the set was Em’s mic being too low, which meant at times his vocals were drowned out. Also the US star constantly referred to the crowd as ‘London, UK’ – someone clearly forgot to tell him we were in Essex. But even a technical fault and a slight geographical error wasn’t enough to ruin this memorable performance. Stan was a magical moment and reminder of Eminem at his very best. When Rihanna came back out on stage for the pair’s duet Love The Way You Lie, the crowd screamed with glee. Closing song Lose Yourself was a general crowd favourite and a fitting encore to an impressive show.

Although the Eminem of today’s live show is not quite on the same level of his performances of the past, fans were treated to something quite special and it’s clear to see just why Rolling Stone magazine recently named him the “King of Hip-hop.”

Kanye West Big Chill Festival 2011: The Review!

Big Chill, Eastnor Castle Deer Park

Before Kanye West even took to the stage for his grand headlining slot at Saturday’s Big Chill Festival, so much had already been written about the eccentric rapper. Living up to his diva status, West apparently booked the luxurious 12 bedroom Eastnor Castle for his stay – costing a whopping £7,000 per night. Known equally for his flamboyant stage sets and outspoken behaviour as well as his music, The Chi Town MC’s performance at the Eastnor Park venue is true to form and doesn’t disappoint in the creativity department, despite leaving audiences slightly divided in opinion.

Appearing half an hour late, many revellers are frustrated by the rappers tardiness and begin to jeer. But when West finally arrives on stage, appearing from the sound tower at the centre of the crowd, the boos soon turn to cheers. The 34-year-old begins his set with Dark Fantasy, while 20 ballerinas and his three-man band are situated at the Roman statue themed main stage.

Kanye West is not your average rapper and his theatrical set is more reminiscent of a Broadway musical, as opposed to a hip-hop show. It’s this artistic trait that separates West from his peers and pleasantly differentiates his live shows from his rap rivals.

He swiftly makes his way to the main stage and the show really begins. Power, Jesus Walks and Diamonds Are Forever are greeted with rapturous applause, as fans rap along and throw their ‘Roc’ signs in the air.

The two-hour set is a combination of new and old songs, taken from West’s five studio albums, as well as verses from Monster, Swagga Like Us and Katy Perry’s E.T.

Good Life and Love Lockdown are general crowd pleasers and have audiences singing out loud. And while fans are enjoying the up-tempo set, this is by no means the multi-Grammy winner’s best performance – an admission he expresses.

“I’m sorry for losing my voice earlier and turning up late, we’re trying to get this perfect,” he said during a seven minute talking period. “I’m very frustrated that I can’t perform at the level… I’m going to try as hard as I can to give you the best show I can. Even with half a voice.”

He went on express his frustration at being labelled a “monster” by the media and comparisons to Hitler: ‘I walk through the hotel, and I walk down the street, and people look at me like I’m insane, like I’m Hitler,’ he told the crowd.

While most fans appreciated the rappers honest and extremely personal accounts, some saw it as yet ‘another rant’. But either way, when the music kicked in, all divided opinions were vanished, as the crowd lapped up hit after hit, including Stronger, All Falls Down and Gold Digger – which garnered the biggest applause .

West closed his set with a touching Amy Winehouse tribute, playing a medley of the Brit singers ‘Tears Dry On My Own’ and ‘Back To Black’, after dedicating his show to his late mother.

Although audiences may have expected a little bit more from the festival’s biggest ever headliner, Kanye West on a bad day is still better than most on their very best.

Erykah Badu Live @ O2 Brixton Academy: The Review

In the Nineties there were a host of female soul singers at the forefront of music – from Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott, to Angie Stone and India Arie. And while female singers are currently dominating today’s mainstream charts, neo-soul has become somewhat of a niche genre, and authentic soulful sounds are noticeably absent in contemporary commercial music. So when Erykah Badu flew into town for a one off gig at London’s Brixton Academy, it was a show not to be missed.

The 40-year-old songstress is notorious for turning up late to shows (at her last UK gig she was nearly two hours late), so it was a pleasant surprise when the veteran singer started her set slightly earlier than scheduled.

With her trademark heavy long hair tied in two plaits and rocking a full-size blanket-inspired poncho, Badu lives up to her unique style. As soon as she bursts into song – accompanied by a full ensemble – the mood at the south west London venue immediately lights up and a euphoric feeling is in the air. Badu’s vocals alone make the show; husky yet smooth, fierce but still subtle, floating from a resonant mid-range, then hitting high notes that seem near enough impossible to achieve, yet done with such ease.

Fans are treated to an array of songs, both new and old. Current album New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) exudes a slightly more modern feel, and hits such as “Out My Mind” and “Window Seat” are greeted with heavy applause. Badu is fully aware of the controversy that engulfed the latter; she stripped naked in public for the video, proclaiming: “Do I look like a fucking role model?” It’s this raw, unhinged persona that separates Badu from her peers.

Although the newer songs are received extremely well, it’s the singer’s earlier material that really gets the audience going. At this point the poncho has been removed, unveiling her flamboyant black glitter high-waist trousers, accompanied with a tucked in white shirt.

“London, shall we take it back to 1997?” she asks the crowd in her distinctive southern twang. Songs such as “On & On” and “Tyrone” garner rapturous applause and have concerts goers in a moment of nostalgia, and it’s at the this point that it’s drummed in that Erykah Badu is a rare gem and part of a dying breed of genuine soulful singers.

At times the show followed an irregular pattern with regards to pace and tempo, but all was forgotten as soon as the vocals kicked in. And many were left perplexed by the absence of fan favourites “Bag Lady” and “Next Lifetime”.

But with that said, her live show still leaves her competition in the shade. Badu’s stage presence is compelling and her charismatic aura is electric, yet calm. The two-hour-long show fused jazz, soul, and rhythm and blues with hints of electro and hip-hop, taking fans back to a time where authentic music stood tall in the mainstream charts. Very few musicians can rival her vocal ability and this iconic diva sure could teach some of today’s singers a thing a two.

Vanessa Laker Meets Jess Mills: The Interview!

She earned her stripes on the underground club scene, but following the release of her critically acclaimed ‘Vultures’ EP, Jess Mills is predicted to take the music world by storm. Exuding an emotional, euphoric dance-inspired pop sound, the north London singer-songwriter is on course for mainstream success…

MTV’s Vanessa Laker recently caught up with the rising star to talk new music, playing at Glastonbury, growing up with Ms Dynamite and why old skool garage doesn’t need to make a comeback.

Vanessa: Earlier this year, you released your ‘Vultures’ EP – which was very well received. Were you overwhelmed by the positive reaction towards it or did you feel that this was your time to shine?

Jess Mills: I don’t think you ever know that at all. You just have to believe in the record yourself. You always have to put your best foot forward and, when you’re making music, there’s always a sense that you’re jumping off the edge of a cliff and you don’t know whether you’re going to fly or fall. If you’re lucky, the wind catches you and you sail off – but there is never any guarantee. It’s just really exciting when people do listen to it and they seem to be genuinely getting into it.

Vanessa: When a new artist comes out, they’re automatically compared to a similar artist that’s already out there. But that hasn’t really happened with you, as you’re pretty much going in your own path. How would you describe your musical sound?

Jess Mills: I find it hard to categorize my music, as I’ve never set out to particularly follow any genres. I wanted the music to have a strong dose of freedom of spirit to it. My music is more of an emotion than an actual genre itself. Someone recently described my music as ‘wintery emotive electronica.’ I thought that was a pretty good description.

Vanessa: You’ve been doing music for quite some time now – mainly on the underground club circuit. How does it feel to finally be getting the right type of recognition, which many would say is so rightfully due?

Vanessa: You never think of it like that. I’ve never put a timeline on it. I’ve always known I’ll be making music ‘till the day I die. What’s happened now is a really amazing opportunity to make an album that people really have the chance of hearing. I’m just so lucky and extremely grateful. Even though I write the material, making a record is such a collaborative effort – from the producers, your managers that are working all day, radio pluggers, etc. This is definitely the most exciting part in my career so far, but I have to acknowledge that it is a team effort. When a record is successful, it’s not just down to the artist, it’s a team effort and I’m working with such an amazing team.

Vanessa: Although your music doesn’t necessarily follow any particular genre, which artists and sounds have inspired you?

Jess Mills: As a songwriter, I’m very influenced by The Cure – both in terms of songwriting and sonic landscape. They made some of the most seminal crossover electronic music of all time. Also, Thom Yorke and Radiohead. On a lyrical level, Joni Mitchell. Fleetwood Mac, too! There are just so many.

Vanessa: You played Glastonbury this year, right?

Jess Mills: Yeah, with Breakage.

Vanessa: Playing at Glasto is what every musician hopes to do. What was it like playing at such an iconic event?

Jess Mills: It was amazing! We played a late night, dirty, mosh pit set, so it was wicked. I’ve been going to Glastonbury since I was nine years old, so to now be the one performing on stage was quite a moment.

Vanessa: You and Ms Dynamite are childhood friends. Will we be seeing a Jess Mills/Ms Dynamite collaboration in the future?

Vanessa: When me and Niomi (Ms Dynamite’s real name) get together, we don’t even talk about music. When you get together with your friends, you rarely talk about your professions. You talk about what you’ve done over the weekend, or say, ‘Let’s go out to this party.’ We just generally have a good catch-up.

Vanessa: And what’s this I hear about you and Dynamite doing dodgy dance routines at assembly…

Jess Mills: (Laughs) Me, Niomi and a group of girlfriends would always find a way to embarrass ourselves. We were definitely partial to some dodgy dance routines in assembly. We did ‘Here Comes The Hotstepper’ (laughs).

Vanessa: We now know you liked doing dodgy dance routines in assembly (laughs), but how did you get into music? How did it all start for you?

Jess Mills: I’ve always played music. I’ve played classical piano since I was 5 or 6 and I started singing gently to myself when I was 12 or 13. I was quite private about my singing, although I always took it serious. Even when I was at university, I always knew that music was my chosen path.

Vanessa: Growing up, were you a fan of garage?

Jess Mills: Yeah, I was. I was out at the clubs on the weekends, and obviously Niomi was doing her thing. She first started MCing when we were in our teens, so we’d bolt around London and support her wherever she was playing – sometimes going to three clubs in one night. Back then, garage was a movement that was so specific to London in those days. It was really exciting and everyone involved in that whole scene loved the music so much. A lot of good music came from it. It’s funny, when you listen to garage now, it sounds so retro. 

Vanessa: Yep! It sounds really old skool now (laughs). Do you think garage can make a comeback or is it strictly music of the past?

Jess Mills: I think the genre just evolved. You have to allow music to evolve. I think it’s important not to try and take something from a point in history and try and position it in the present. Everything’s got its own context as to why it had its moment at that time. I don’t think it needs to make a comeback. It’s birthed life into so many other forms of music.

Vanessa: True. It paved the way for grime, funky and all of those other genres.

Jess Mills: Exactly! Now you kind of look at garage in a nostalgic way. I don’t think it needs to make a comeback, it just needs to be loved from a far (laughs).

Vanessa: And lastly, tell us a bit about you debut album. What can we expect from it?

Jess Mills: The album will be out next year. ‘Vultures’ and ‘Live For What I’d Die For’ are a hint of what the record is shaping up to be. It’s not all epic-sounding electronic tracks. There’s an electronic spirit laced throughout the whole record, but there are much more kind of spacious, downtempo and introspective moments. Lyrically, it’s drawing on my life – from tracks about deep loss, to tracks about the biggest heartbreak you’ve ever felt, to the best love you’ve felt, to just having a good time. Emotively, I’m covering a lot of ground and that’s very reflective and representative in the sound and tone of the record. I’m still writing, but I’m really looking forward to finishing it and putting it out for everyone to hear.

Stay up to date with Jess Mills on Twitter – www.twitter.com/JessMillsMusic

www.jessmills.co.uk 

Follow Vanessa Laker on Twitter –> @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.

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Beyonce Album Review: ‘4’

After a nine-month break away from the limelight to do “normal things”, Beyoncé is back with a vengeance! On Monday, I was invited to the Swarovski Lounge for an exclusive listening session of the R&B star’s new album, ‘4’, and just two minutes into the record, it was clear to see that the 29-year-old is at an entirely new stage in her life – both musically and personally…

The 12-track LP sees the star revisit her rhythm and blues roots by adopting a soothing, slightly laid-back and mature sound. With the likes of Frank OceanBabyfaceKanye West and Diane Warren all involved in the project, the triple threat singer is pushing towards longevity and a time-defying record, over chart-topping songs that can often become forgettable with time.

The album opens with ‘1+1’ – a soulful and rhythmic power ballad – and from the get-go, Beyoncé is sending a firm message that this new record is all about the vocals. ‘I Care’ continues with the theme, but gives fans that familiar Beyoncé sound – one that is slightly reminiscent of the Destiny’s Child era.

The Frank Ocean-produced ‘I Miss You’ demonstrates a vulnerable side to the usually confident diva and ventures into new territory. ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ is more of a safe bet and is a definite single contender.

‘Party’, which features vocals from Outkast’s Andre 3000 and produced by Kanye West, adds some much appreciated tempo. The care-free, ‘I just wanna have fun’ style song has Bey’s alter-ego, Sasha Fierce, written all over it.

The calm mood is then restored with ‘Rather Die Young’, only to switch up a gear with The Dream-produced ‘Start Over’ – an edgy/pop song that’s likely to be a future single. ‘Love On Top’ takes listeners on a nostalgic journey with its summery, 80s R&B vibe.

The carnival-inspired ‘Countdown’ is a personal favourite and is the most experimental track on the record. Sampling Boyz II Men’s ‘Uhh Ahh’, the drum filled party song is an absolute banger. ‘End Of Time continues with the upbeat genre-clashing theme and is another one for the clubs.

The straight talking power ballad ‘I Was Here’ – produced by Ryan Tedder (AdeleLeona Lewis) – sees Beyoncé acknowledge her position as an icon in popular culture. But ‘Run The World (Girls)’ seems slightly out of place when it abruptly comes in as the closing song.

Overall summery: With its melodic vocals and nostalgic instrumentals, ‘4’ showcases Beyoncé’s raw talent and not only demonstrates the sassy singer’s growth in life, but also in love. It’s artistically diverse and arguably her best album to date.

4/5

Beyoncé’s album, ‘4’, is out on June 27.

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)