Interview: Etta Bond

I met up with Etta Bond, after the release of her new EP #CoolUrbanNewTalent and ahead of her sold out gig at London’s Birthdays! We chat about inspirations, weirdos and savoury pancake recipes. I’m just waiting for the day Etta releases a cookbook.

You’re from London. Describe a typical weekend in the life of Etta Bond?

House party Friday, hangover Saturday. I just always have friends at my house, I don’t really go out. My house is like the club so I like bringing my friends to my house. So that’s about it, I’ve got people at my house all weekend. It’s a weekend rave at my house.

You’re signed to Labrinth’s label. What’s it been like working with him, you randomly spoke on MySpace didn’t you?

Yeah I met Lab when I was 16 and our manager as well, we’ve known him for the same amount of time. We’ve all sort of come up together. So when Odd Child got created, or whatever, or set up, things just carried on how they were really because we were still all making music together, it was still all the same people. We just had a little more support form other areas, I guess, now, in terms of what labels are for now, I think not musically. So in terms of making music nothings changed really, but it’s cool. It’s like being with my family.

You’ve worked with some really cool people, producers and artists, like Wretch 32 and Raf Riley. How has that influenced your solo work?

Well in terms of producers, obviously I would say I build quite a strong relationship with anyone I work with. I like to build long-term musical relationships. That started with Lab, I met him when I was 16 and I pretty much didn’t work with anyone else until I started working with Raf. And that was really because things started happening for Lab when Sunshine and Pass Out and everything happened.

I then started working with Raf and building that relationship. But I say that Lab was my first love musically, and we grew with each other. That’s the thing about having a relationship, like a long-term relationship with someone, any relationship, including musical. You learn from each other and you grow with each other. There’s a lot of things that I took from Lab and that we took from each other. The same thing with Raf. Working with Raf definitely opened my mind a little bit more in terms of the music I was making. So I don’t know, you can learn something from everybody. But yeah I’ve learnt a lot from both of them. From everyone that I’ve worked with.

Are you taking a new direction with the EP now you’re riding solo?

It’s not about now taking a new direction, I’m constantly growing. I’m striving to grow all the time, as a person, musically, whatever. So my music will always progress in terms of it’s sound because I’m growing as a person. As long as I’m growing as a person then my music will continue to grow and progress and change with me as I do. So it’s not like it’s a plan, it just happens. I’m growing so my music is bound to.

On your Facebook, you’re described as ‘soul with a bit of weird’, what’s the bit of weird?

I don’t know, to be honest that’s probably someone else typing for me saying I’m ‘soul with a bit of weird’.

Is that how you would describe it?

I wouldn’t describe myself with as anything. I don’t want to, that is too much, I can’t… like no. I’m not here to be defined or understood. I’m not here to be worked out. I’m an artist, I create and I express. I feel it. I’m not going to explain any of what I do or anything like that. It’s up to you. It’s the same as if you look at a piece of art on the wall. People go to art museums and they look at a piece of art and think about what it means to them. It’s always what it means to you do you know what I’m saying? So I don’t know what I am.

What does the EP mean to you then? How did you get to it?

I get to an EP by… I don’t really think about it like. Making music is constant to me. Before I made EPs or whatever, I was still making songs. Song after song after song, it didn’t matter if people heard it or not. I was making songs because it’s my form of a diary. I just make loads of songs and at some point some of them start to stand out or fit together. I just make sure that I feel the songs that I chose represent who I am as best as possible at this moment because I can tweet and tell people how I feel and all that stuff. But expression gets lost sometimes. Or I feel that I best express myself when music is surrounded by my expression. I just make the songs and let it happen. That’s how it happens really.

Your gig at Birthdays (November 17th) is a sell out! That must feel good?

Yeah, of course. It’s cool that it’s sold out; I mean it’s not the O2 Arena or anything but it’s cool of course. The support is great, I’m always grateful for it. I’m excited for it. I think as well that what’s nice about it being quite an intimate show as well really, I feel like ill have a lot of my supporters there which is cool. I’m looking forward to it.

Have you had any cool inputs for the competition to win tickets? (Where  free tickets to her sold out gig at Birthdays were won).

Yeah man! Some people have been doing some cool drawings and stuff. Some people have been taking some cool pictures of them like, but I’ve had some cool things. The illustrations are pretty cool, I like when people show me their creativity.

What’s the weirdest thing that anyone’s ever tweeted you?

Not really, I mean like there are just loads of weirdos out there so people just tweet weird stuff all the time. Everything’s a bit weird. I mean we don’t know anyone and

And yet everyone’s following each other.

I mean people like to, I don’t know. Like I said people are just weird. I’ve had a few weirdos on my Twitter. I’m weird, so it doesn’t really bother me. I don’t mind.

I was going to mention fashion and music, do you feel like you’re style reflects your music? 

My clothes are just another expression. Anything I do, I suppose, anything I do I do it expressively. I express myself in the situation. So it just depends, it’s the same with my clothes, it depends how I feel. I don’t know, a lot of the time people may see me and think a certain thing, I don’t know.

But I see sometimes my image as armour, sometimes. Not an armour, but I feel like certain people would look past the fact that I’ve got a skinhead or that I’ve got loads of eyeliner on. Some people might find that, I may go out in West End and if I went to a West End rave like that I would probably X out a lot loads of wasteman because they wouldn’t… like if you’re not attracted to me or you can’t see past it, or it’s scary to you, then you’re probably not my sort of person anyway. I could very easily go out in hair extensions and a mini skirt and heels, but I would probably be attracting the wrong sort of people.

I like anyone that can be themselves, so anyone that accepts me for that… I am this person, and I am strong. I think that’s what it is, a lot of the time my image is a strong image and I am strong but I think it’s about the people that see past that and see that I am strong but underneath I’m vulnerable and all of those things too. I guess only certain people would be able to get past that. It might be a self-protection thing in some ways, I don’t know.

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Is there a certain style you go for when you’re performing?

It just goes with the music. The stuff that I was performing when I was doing Boring Bitches and Resolve and stuff with Emergency Room, I just dressed the way I would as if I were going to a rave. When I wrote the songs I was raving a lot and my standard outfit was DMs, shorts and a belly top. So I would go out on stage in that and it’s pretty much what I wore on stage all the time because it’s what I wear all the time. But as the music changes I’m sure so will my costumes on stage.

I like to be comfortable really. It’s nice to be glamorous but I choose comfort over glam. It makes me feel more comfortable. Comfy clothes, I don’t know. Just see where the music takes us. That’s what I do, see where the music takes me.

And have you got anything planned for the horizon? Where do you wanna be in say two years time?

I know a lot people think it’s good to have these definite goals or whatever, but I live in the moment, I live in the now. Tomorrow isn’t promised. So two years time, I might not hit that two years time. I might not end up doing those things, then what? Have I failed? I’m where I belong, wherever I am. As long as I’m making music that I love, that’s where I want to be in two years time. Still loving what I do. Other than that, I don’t mind. I’ll go wherever the music takes me. I will end up where I belong. That’s it.

To round it up, finish off these sentences…

If I could work with anyone it would be… unless I make a song, or in a moment, and I’m like “I need this person, I hear this person on my song” then I just think it’ll happen if it’s meant to happen sort of vibe.

If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life it would be… pancakes. I like pancakes.

Pancakes? You like savoury pancakes as well as sweet ones? (I recoil in horror whilst remembering a past experiment with pancakes and baked beans).

I guess I’ll have to like them if I’m eating them forever. Spicy pancakes, a bit of cumin in there. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, I bet it’s great. I bet if you made a pancake with cumin and put a little bit of curry on the side, I bet it’s smashing. I’ll do it one day.

If I were invisible for a day, I would… legalise cannabis. I’d go wherever you need to go scribble something out and change it to legal. No football changing rooms, I don’t need to be invisible to see naked men, soz babes. But let’s change the law!

If people saw what I did when I was alone, they would see… that’s telling man. I’m looking at a picture of Rihanna across the room there, she’s just like any other person and you will never know that unless you experience it. That’s the thing that people need to remember, there’s always something that you don’t see, there’s things that you don’t know, there’s side of me that… and that’s why I make music. That’s my way of showing you what I’m like when I’m on my own. The whole EP that I just made, #CoolUrbanNewTalent, is basically, really most of them songs are built around the idea of me being in my room on my own. If you wanna know what I’m like when I’m on my own, then listen to the EP. That’s who I am when I’m on my own.

Words: Eliza Frost