Categories
Interviews Work

Maz Catches up with Keri Hilson

As Keri kicks off her worldwide tour and makes her way to destinations like Dubai, Beirut and Berlin, I manage to catch the Miss Pretty Girl Rock on the phone as she settles into her top Paris hotel.

She is soon coming to London as part of her tour and will be bringing along UK singer/songwriter AnGel and fellow home grown RnB favourite, Starboy Nathan to warm up the show. Touring is no doubt exciting, but I want to know what life is like when you’re sleep deprived, far away from home and constantly on the move. Yes, pop stars have it hard too you know. More importantly, I need to know how she still manages to look so damn good whilst she is on the road (or in the air).

Although she tries to conceal it with a smiley “Hello, how are you?” Keri sounds tired when she answers the phone and I feel guilty, like I should be letting this chick sleep; she sounds exhausted. I ask how she is and if she is enjoying the beautiful city of Paris.

“I don’t know yet… I’ve only been in my hotel room. I’m a little tired.”

How’s the tour going?

Well, it now it REALLY begins.

You’re coming back to the UK in a few days. What can we expect from a Keri Hilson show?

Well… Without giving away too much, you can expect to see an estrogen powered show; it’s a lot of fun and very engaging for females. You can expect to hear older songs and newer songs.

How do you find the energy to perform all night? I need that kind of stamina.

I think even on your most tired days, the thing that keeps you going is knowing that people are waiting to see you, people pay to see you, they drive for hours sometimes, just to see you perform. That gives me a natural boost, you know? I don’t drink coffee, I don’t drink soda; I try to do it in natural ways. It’s the realisation that people are there for me that gives me a boost.

What brings you comfort whilst you are on the road?

I look at pictures of my family… I really miss my bed, but there isn’t anything can do about that part! Being in a different bed every day… [Grumbles] But yeah, I would say pictures; I always look at them when I am missing my mum and my dad.

Have you picked up any cool trends or fashions whilst travelling the world?

Hmmm… I’m sure I have, but I can’t think of any. I have my own sense of style, so it’s about picking up this and that wherever I’m at.

Your skin is positively radiant. How?

Thank you! Yeah, it’s hard, especially with the under eyes; it can be hard to look alive. Water is my best tool – it sounds clichéd – but I think about how long I’ve been doing this and I realise I had to go back to the basics. It’s the simple things; wash your make up off and drink loads of water. Those things keep your skin clear and keep you looking healthy and feeling good. And working out, of course.

So water isn’t just a myth? I drink over 2 litres a day, maybe I need more…

No seriously, it works! I notice a difference, if I don’t drink water for a while, even for just three days, when I get back on my regime my skin clears up, my body improves and I lose that water weight, I mean, you actually lose weight when you drink water.

 What is your favourite track from ‘No Boys Allowed’ that gets you going on stage?

Right now, it’s Pretty Girl Rock.

You’ve had many different reactions from that track…

Yeah, and that’s fine. I do music through a lot of different layers. I love a consumer who can appreciate more than what they are just hearing, they get to the feeling part, the real emotion that you are presenting. I mean, that song is all about being SO confident, that no one’s opinion will break your spirit. I walk in a room, all eyes on me… [starts singing] even if it’s not true, you should FEEL that way. And that is what the song is all about.

I go on to ask Keri about her songwriting skills before we play a game, but you will have to catch the rest at the original source of the interview, Flavour Magazine, here.

Categories
Interviews Work

Maz Meets Chipmunk

 

My colleague Cat and I went to London’s South Bank on behalf of Flavour Magazine to see Chipmunk perform a secret gig. The 20-year-old platinum selling rapper and songwriter hailing from Tottenham took time out to chat to us about his taste in ladies, future plans and getting mobbed…

Cat: So what’s going down in South Bank today?

We have some competition winners here; they’ve come to see me perform. The gig is in conjunction with Adidas and Footlocker. They picked me to be the face of their new campaign to help appeal to the ‘kids like me.’ [laughs]

Maz: A lot has happened in your career over the last four years. What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Honestly? Working with Chris Brown. Yeah, man. When I started music, he was already THAT guy. There are other moments, but I would say working with Chris because that was when I thought ‘Rah, this was what I dreamed of and its reality now.’

Cat: Were you star struck when you met him?

Na! I never get star struck. I think with artists you don’t get star struck because you’re all under the umbrella of music. Everyone has many different talents. He [Chris Brown] looked at me like ‘woah this guy is a sick writer’ and I looked at him like ’you’re some alien, the way you’re singing and dancing!’ It’s a lot, still.

Maz: How are received in America? Do they ‘get’ your music?

I haven’t put out any music in America you know. Everything I have done with American artists has been for my fans here who are also fans of Chris Brown and Trey Songz. I think a lot of people forget, but amongst the artists there is a high respect for me as an English rapper that they can actually understand me and I sound English! But swag wise, I’m just like them… We’re into the same things.

Cat: Have you got any plans to release any material out there?

I got plans to get a name in the US, you know. But everyone forgets that you can’t skip stages; I came from the BOTTOM. Unless you don’t mind having a song that is bigger than you, you have to start from the bottom. I don’t wanna go over there and have a big song and people know my song but I can still go to the mall, you know. I wanna do it properly.

Cat: So you wanna be mobbed, do you?!

[Laughs] Na, it’s not that I wanna be mobbed, but I never wanna have a song where people are like ‘who are you…? Oh, you’re him!’ Na. It’s gotta happen at the same time, I wanna do it from the ground up, just bars and gain the respect.  The respect is coming from the artists, you know. Tinie is doing well, but I don’t know another UK MC that has had the love simultaneously from so many different artists at once.

Maz: That being said, who are YOU feeling in the UK scene this year?

Umm… If I took myself out, as a fan, I think the best rapper word for word; forget about making a hit… I would have to say Wretch32.  He’s a sick rapper. I think the best all-rounder in terms of singing, delivery, character… it would be Dappy. I think N-Dubz splitting up has allowed him to gain the credibility that he has been dying for.  It’s amazing man. I like Dappy.

Maz: I didn’t know they had officially split up, I thought they were just on a break. But I guess you know them so you would know…

Yeah I know them… [Silence]

Cat: We’re gonna do some quick fire questions. Ready?

Always.

Cat: Kelly or Beyonce?

[laughs] BE-YON-CE; you mad!

Maz: Blondes or Brunettes? [the rooms is full of brunettes]

I just like pretty girl’s man, you could be bald!

Cat: In 3 words, what is your ideal girl?

Beautiful inside out. But if you’re talking looks, I do have a type.

Maz: Which is…

Pretty! No discrimination here…

Cat: Chips or Munks?

I’d have to say Chips.

Maz: Only Way is Essex or Made in Chelsea?

I don’t watch either of them! But if I had to watch one I would say The Only Way is Essex because a few of them have got their names out there. That’s when you know you are doing well, when you subconsciously be hearing their name. I respect that, that’s what I call hustling.

Maz: You’ve had many international collaborations. Are there any more we can expect?

There’s some coming. There are some certified ones that are gonna happen, but ones that I wanna make happen are with Wayne and Drake. That’s the two collabos that I want.

Cat: So what else is next for Chipmunk?

I’ve got my new free mix tape coming out, Spazz.com. It is gonna drop in the next three weeks. It’s just me MCing with my peers. Wretch 32 is on there, so is Tinie Tempah and Sneakbo, he’s doing well for himself. So yeah… Spazz.com. Then I wanna live some more and then start working on my third album.

Cat: You’ve dominated the music scene. What about TV, any plans for you being on a reality show?

Nah, my music is for the public, I try and keep my personal life personal. I think that’s when people start falling off when they do them sort of things. I’m not really on that.

Maz: What direction are you planning to take on your next album? Are you gonna be hopping on the bassline thing like many other artists are doing at the moment?

I’m not even about to jump on the bassline! I like Ms Dynamite ‘Neva Soft’, but to me that sounds more like bashment anyway. It’s got a Caribbean flavour to it. If something like that comes up, I’m in. Otherwise, I’m not really that head banger kind of guy, it’s not really me man. I’m gonna stick to what I know but I am gonna try and branch out and do different stuff as well. But that Dynamite tune is my favourite song right now… it’s crazy!

 

* This article was originally published at Flavour Magazine *

Categories
Music Work

Review: Wireless Festival 2011

On the tube down to Hyde Park Corner, the excitement mounted as I thought of the acts I was yet to see. This year was different. For once, there was a strong presence of British artists and not just ones who were ‘fillers’ for the ‘real acts’ i.e – the American artists. British music has had an amazing time over the past few years, which has led to our own sound being spread and eventually accepted across the globe. Although the festivals first headliner was The Black Eyed Peas, I was more pumped to see Example and Plan B.

Fellow NXG team member Emma Knock and I arrived fashionably late, only picking up pace after my sister called me screeching “The queues here are ABSURD, Maz! Hurry.”

Arriving in somewhat of a fluster, the queue had completely vanished, so we walked straight in. Phew. It was my first time at Wireless and I was surprised to see how relaxed it was. Its location told me to expect pure mayhem, constant barging and other typically London mannerisms.

I was massively disappointed to see that we although we had dodged the queues, we had arrived towards the end of Example’s set. I managed to glimpse a regrettably small portion of his performance of Changed the Way You Kissed Me, which was electric. We also managed to have a little groove to Far East Movement’s performance of Like a G6, which was undoubtedly one of the best high energy performances of the Friday. Although I previously doubted their longevity as artists, I could not doubt their stage presence. We then went to explore the park, which was filled with food stalls and bars of extortionate prices. I instantly regretted not smuggling a bottle in my bag as I reluctantly purchased a plastic glass half filled with rosé for £4.

Emma and I then tottered along to the main stage to check out Tinie Tempah’s highly anticipated performance. This was our second time seeing the Plumstead born rapper, after initially seeing him at the Hammersmith Apollo earlier this year. I had expected that the Pass Out star would have perfected his performances with the amount of practise he’s been having. I was disappointed to say this was not the case.  I was taken aback when Tinie freestyled over several current pop chart instrumentals and the DJ set was exactly the same as when he has performed at the Apollo, several months ago. Was he playing it safe or was he simply lazy?  Who knows, but it did not impress me. The rest of the set lacked charisma and confidence, but was overall acceptable. First time Tinie Tempah attenders would have been more than satisfied with the set; perhaps I expected too much.

Dressed all in black, I was boiling. Emma had a spare white t-shirt, so after a change of clothes right in the middle of the park (“Rock n Roll behaviour – thus totally acceptable at a festival” Emma promised) we went to find some munch before the next set, David Guetta. We grabbed a tiny portion of chips for £3 to share and sat down on the eroded grass for supper. David’s set began earlier than I realised, so we hastily finished our humble meal and tried to get a good spot in the ‘rave tent’ which was dazzling with lights, confetti, occasional fireworks and unbearable body heat. We were unlucky in this pursuit (which suited me, I was hot and my new pink shoes had been trampled on enough) so we watched from a distance. With his large audience, I was surprised that he was not on the main stage, but the rave tent was perfectly suited for him; it was almost made for his vibe of music. Mass amounts of bodies grinded, swayed and jumped about to When Love Takes Over, Sexy Chick, I Gotta Feeling and many of his other dance floor fillers.

Restless, we moved along to witness the remainder of Plan B’s set on the main stage. Dressed in his signature black suit and tie, he looked, sounded and acted the part. His song choices had a slight alternative music/rock edge, which prompted me to question which genre his future album will reflect. Although I prefer Plan B’s urban sounds, it was clear that he knows what he can get away with in terms of diverse music and he also knows what he is comfortable with and it works for him. Witnessing his set was to see a true artist perform, one with as many layers as an onion.

Next up was the headliners, what most people were here to see. The Black Eyed Peas.

For the rest of my review, please go to the NXG website where the original article can be found: http://bit.ly/obZ1Ux