Having profiled the London-born singer-songwriter last year, the Spindle crew caught up with Etta for a fresh catch-up about the evolution of her music, the challenges she has faced as an artist and personal thoughts on her chosen industry. We also couldn’t resist shooting an exclusive editorial showing off her ultra-cool new look.
We haven’t caught up with you since last autumn. What’s been happening?
Haha I have no concept of time. I’ve been living life! Over the last few months especially, I’ve felt extremely passionate, inspired and driven. Got lots on the way.
How did you first get into music?
It’s simply what I was drawn to the most, I think. Diary-keeping got me into writing. As for getting my music heard, that started on MySpace – that’s how I met Lab, when I was 16 and had just moved to London. You aren’t told in advance how who and what might change your life, so you’ve got to pay attention when the universe brings you into the presence of someone or something special.
And how did you meet [fellow artist/collaborator] Raf Riley?
Our manager forced it upon us. We actually live together now.
How would you describe your music to somebody who hasn’t heard it before?
I dunno, I hate describing my music. I like people to make up their own minds. I just like to keep my words to be truthful and my melodies; heartfelt. I like it to feel free.
What are your thoughts on the increasing number of nightclubs being shut down in the UK?
When any business closes, people are affected.
What do you think should be done to stop more closures?
Ban house parties! Lol NOT REALLY don’t fucking do that… Can’t we just start ignoring the orders given to us by everyone in a suit and tie?
How important do you feel it is for musicians to be role models?
If we are role models at all, it’s not in a sense of taking responsibility for someone’s life choices, but showing them a way to cope. Writing and music as a whole has helped me get through life – not only that, but given it constant beauty too. I would love everyone to know the benefits of expressing yourself. I will always be honest, so I may never be perfect. But none of us ever will be – and that is fucking great. ‘Cos perfection is not real and doesn’t exist :). So if you’re someone who thinks it takes being perfect to be a ‘role model’, then your role models are hiding something from you. We’re all human. We are all allowed to stand for something different.
How involved are you in the creative process?
As much as possible.
Do you think our increasingly digitally-focused world has made music promotion more creative or less?
There are things that we’ve lost, but there’s also a lot we’ve gained. Just gotta roll with it, contribute and pay attention to new ideas.
We love your new look. Do you think your style has an impact on your stage persona?
The same way it helps when I leave the house in the morning. I like to feel strong and powerful when I step out.
Your tunes always have the best beats. Who were your favourite artists growing up?
I listened to a lot of R&B. Destiny’s Child’s The Writing’s On the Wall. P!nk’s Can’t Take Me Home. Aaliyah. Tweet. Eric Benet. Missy Elliott. Dru Hill. Loads of Neo Soul. Jill, Erykah, India, Floetry, Musiq. #AmyWinehouseForLife… I should stop.
Who are your favourite new artists this year? Who should we be listening to?
Avelino, Kojey Radical, Bonkaz, Ashnikko, Ray BLK, Jack Garratt and A2. I listen to A2 every day. That’s a golden list of people right there.
What are the main challenges facing you as an artist?
You make sacrifices and there’s a lot of bullshit within the industry, but it’s all necessary to live a life that answers your calling. Your challenges are meant for you. I get to do what I love, and I’m always appreciative of that, so I take the good with the bad and live my life.
What’s your advice for any budding musicians reading this?
Follow your heart and trust your gut.
How have you grown as a musician since you began as a vocalist?
The way I will continue to grow.
What’s in store for you for the rest of 2015?
I’ve got a video coming out VERY SOON, and new music is fast approaching.