We loved your live show last week at Birthdays – how do you prepare before a gig? Are there any backstage rituals?
The band and I have done a kind of all hands in huddle before shows in the past. It’s all boys and me, so I imagine it’s similar to what happens before a team goes out to play a sport. Generally, a couple of hours before shows I take my time warming up and then getting ready. I like to be alone while I warm-up and get dressed.
You seem as much a visual artist as a recording artist – do you set out to immerse your audience in the whole aesthetic of your show?
Yes, absolutely. It’s been and continues to be a goal of mine to create visuals that make up a world for an audience to be able to explore. I want people to think of a mood and place whenever they listen to my music, so I like to create visuals that help that along. I work with an amazing group of people, who help me bring these ideas out of my head and into reality, which has been so rewarding. My hope is that people who see the show forget they’re in a venue, forget about the deadlines at work they have and just get to be in the middle of this song, singing, dancing, crying whatever it is they feel like doing, just for that short little time.
You’ve recently relocated to London from New York – what is it that you will miss most about the city?
Bodegas. Hands down. They are similar to small corner shops in London except they stay open all night long and serve sandwiches at 3am. I also miss a good slice of New York pizza, you can’t beat that. I’ve lived in New York my whole life, so it’s actually been really nice to set myself down somewhere else for a little while and explore a new place.
Tell us more about your new track ‘Give Up The Ghost’?
The track was one of the songs that came together toward the end of a time period of being in the studio for about a year. I co-wrote it with Tom Fuller, who produced my upcoming EP, and The Nexus. The whole thing really started with the bass line and the song grew out of a mood, which was a new way of writing for me. Lyrically, I was really interested in the theme of a person being not as they seem. It’s not about a relationship but more a kind of person that I think a lot of people meet along their way, that appear to be intriguing and full of mystery and then you realize that it’s a diversion from who they really are. Ultimately it’s about releasing yourself of those experiences and kinds of people and moving on, which is why we called it “Give Up the Ghost”.
How do you intend to set yourself apart from all of the other incredible female talent that is saturating the industry at the moment?
I try not to worry about what I’m doing in relation to other artists too much. I love new music and discovering new artists, so I really look to that for inspiration and potential for finding people to collaborate and work with. At the end of the day, I think it’s about having strength in your conviction, having a vision and being brave enough to stick by it. All you can do is make what you believe in, put it out and the world will tell you if they’re interested in it or not.
Are there any particular or standout tracks from your forthcoming EP that are your favourites, and why?
There’s a track on the EP called “Dirty Dancing” that’s a bit of a confessional song, which I’ve never really written before. I had behaved quite badly in a relationship and never really acknowledged it. This song serves as my apology for it, which on a personal note makes me quite nervous to put out but I don’t know if the person will realize it’s for them. I guess I’ll find out when the EP comes out!
How do you tackle the process of creating music? Where does it begin for you?
Every song starts from a different place. I have a notebook that I keep with me as well as an ongoing note in my phone which has lots of random lyrics that I like to pull from when I sit down to actually write. Some of them read like poems and then I’ll sit down at the piano to write chords and a melody to fit the lyric. Tom Fuller and I created a lot the songs and the tracks simultaneously while making this EP. We’d start with a synth sound or we’d create a hook by sampling my vocal and messing about with it and songs would grow from there. Other songs, I’ll sit down and write at the piano and then we’ll build the track around the chords and melody. I think there’s a lot of freedom in the idea that there’s no right way to write a song. Some of the best songwriters I know don’t even know what chords they’re playing. The beauty of music is that it’s a mix of craft and instinct and I don’t think one holds more value over the other.
The fashion press love you just as much as the music media – how would you describe your personal style and how does it differ on and off stage?
I think I’m actually always trying to marry my personal style to my stage style more and more. Obviously on stage, there’s an opportunity to really play and amp things up. I’m inspired by the style and attitude of the late 70s and early 80s. When female rock musicians were really feminine yet still strong. Things were a bit messy but always felt heightened. I love textures, like silk bomber jackets or black denim dungarees. On stage, I like pieces that make me feel really free yet grounded, like I could dance all night but never get tired. No matter what I’m wearing, I’m always a sucker for a bit of glitter. You can never go wrong with a touch of glitter.
If you had to curate your own festival with 3 headline acts, who would be your ideal choices?
Goldfrapp, Foals and Prince.
If you had to duet or collaborate with any other artist,who would be top of your list, and what do you think that track would sound like?
I’d love to do a duet with Robyn. Her melodies and productions are just so in sync. They are completely infectious and it’s impossible not to move to them. I’d hope it would be a song with the lushest synths and deepest beats and anytime people heard it, everyone would lose their minds and dance.
What else do you have planned for the remainder of the year?
We’re currently planning a music video shoot for the next single, which I’m really excited about and can’t wait to release. We have a couple more shows coming up in December, which I’m looking forward to as well. It’s great to end the year playing live and creating new material and content to put out in 2016 – next year is going to be very exciting.
Do you have a career bucket list? Is there anything that you want to achieve, such as a Grammy, or any other accolades?
My bucket list is always growing and changing actually, I add to it and switch things around as I continue to make music and change. Playing Radio City Music Hall was the first thing on my list and has been the constant on it. Being able to sell out that venue, in my hometown, would be an absolute dream come true.