Mike Hughes 20/02/2011
I met Hesta Prynn before her packed gig at the Old Blue Last in London's Shoreditch. This was the second to last night of her European tour and they had just got in from Amsterdam. For those that have yet to catch up with her, she was formerly an MC in New York rap trio Northern State, a band that was successful and famous for proving that three white girls from Long Island could rap. She's been out on her own since late 2008, has an EP out, and now a new single 'Turn It Gold', with a video that she and I both agree is kinda sexy…..
So have you played here before?
No, I've never played here.
When I saw you before it was with Tegan and Sara at a sold-out Roundhouse and I wondered what you preferred, what kind of venue?
I'd prefer a big sold-out show at a giant venue (laughs) I would love it to it to be my own show but not exactly there yet, so I'm excited, I think it's gonna be.... (checks with a tour manager if there are people downstairs, nods of affirmation) ... so I think it'll be nice and full tonight so I'm excited about that
Is it cool to ask about Northern State?
Yeah, of course. Northern State is no longer in play but we're still friends, and I'm actually going to do some old raps from a back in the day tonight, do you have any requests?
I politely demur
Well, you'll see. I've got to actually plan that at some point… (she wasn't kidding, when I got downstairs, on the stage was a scrap of paper with the intro lines to Northern State rap 'Mic Tester') I'm getting interested in rapping again - I think on the new stuff I'm going to start rapping again.
So what was the motivation then, just to move onto your own things?
Yeah well Robyn - Sprout - she's opening a cafe, and Spero, she's living off the grid at little bit, down in Arkansas, and working on her own music. I wanted to do a different kind of music. You know being in a band is a compromise and I was over it. I thought our sound was getting a little dated….it's like we were done. We did a million things, fucking toured all over the world, worked with everybody and their mom, and now I want to do something else, so that's what happened
But it really was a band that poked people in the eye.
It was and I think that was part of it. We came out with such a huge bang, that a lot of the experience of being in that band, it felt a little bit backwards. We came out, we had so much attention, we had a big record deal, all that stuff. But I didn't really learn about doing the work until much later.... until we had to become a real band, and do merch, and get fans and all that stuff that you have to do to be a real band... and it seemed that the price of being in a band was that much higher; and I was willing to do that and to pay that price and to do it on my own terms.
So now you are doing it on your own terms.
Where are you going with this? I saw you described as 'New York Princess of Pop'
I know I loved that. I think 'alt' princess maybe. But is that where I'm going with it? I don't know, I figure that's for journalists to figure out, that's your job (laughs) and I'm supposed to make the music and play the shows.
You haven't spent like long hours walking around trying to work out what is your 'voice'?
Yeah definitely, I've definitely spent some time working out how to describe what I'm doing, but I think saying that I'm some kind of princess is really funny because...
I think it means something different in New York?
I don't really know what it means here, I think it means being like Britney Spears, and you have a million dollars, and you doing a lot of drugs and don't work very hard... which sounds amazing and I would love to go there with my life, and so I'm hoping to be a princess of pop when all said and done (laughs)
So far you've got the EP out and you got the new single 'Turn It Gold' coming out on Monday which is Valentine's Day?
Yes and it is a very valentine's heavy song - the vinyl is maroon..
I haven't seen a vinyl, I've seen the video...
The video is very hot..
... it is very hot! From what I heard you were almost explaining why, and what you were doing with the ice cream?
Yeah, everybody is asking what's going on with the ice cream... and it's just something I did that was funny and hot. Making 'Can We Go Wrong' (the last video) just took so long. It was stop-motion video. I made this with the same director and we just shot it in one night. He was like " you look beautiful let's just make this video" and I said okay and we did it in LA at a friend's house and shot it. It was just how I was feeling at the time. There was ice cream in the freezer and I just started eating it and it was sexy. It was so sexy it was ridiculous so we put it in. Just like 'fuck it' ….. It was fun making that video.
Tell me not to go here if you want.
No no, you can go wherever you want.
When I saw you supporting Tegan and Sara, you were quite full on, and then when I was reading the Tegan and Sara forums afterwards.
Oh they don't like me....(sounding really crestfallen)
Oh no, I think they loved you...
I scared them...?
Yeah…. you're kind of aware of that?
I'm aware of that with that audience. Tegan and Sarah are two of my best friends in the world, and have been supportive of me in a way that there are no words to describe what they've done for me. They are the most amazing people. So supportive as friends, as people and as an artist and they've exposed me to their audience many times and it's wonderful... and most of the audience really accepts me. They buy my stuff, they come to my shows. But I think that what I do musically isn't the same as what they do musically. And I think that the super-fans that are in the front row are probably the ones that are on the forum, and - that I am a little bit too in your face for that group, which is fine....
This show is going to be a bit more rock because there's more people on stage, it's a smaller stage, it's going to be more of a rock show but I'm not like a rock chick. It going to be good though.
And is this single leading towards an album?
Yeah, I'm going to make a full length. When I get home I'm going to start that. I don't know what the details on it are yet. I'm excited to write and keep working
Both, for sure.
So how has it been here in Europe then on tour this time round?
Awesome, there's been more people than I expected at pretty much every show. People are into it and they're having fun. It's been really really fun, one of the best tours I've ever done.
What's the best thing about doing all this for you?
Umm.... the food, the money (laughs) the millions of dollars that get thrown at me every night. Not showering for days on end. But the best thing about doing this tour has been playing every single night in a row. You can't get out of rehearsal what you can get out of playing live... touring and playing every night in a row has been so educational. I mean I've done tours with other people, with 30 Seconds To Mars and with Tegan and Sara, but they are always dates. It doesn't feel like a real tour, where you play every night and go from city to city.
So you haven't had the chance to do that in America yet then?
No not really.
What is the most ridiculous thing you have done in the cause of music?
(Hesta actually has to think long and hard about this but eventually opts to tell me about having a water fight with the crowd at the Wireless festival this summer.)
I didn't know, they throw bottles that you; it's like part of the culture. So I took it personally, and started opening water bottles on stage, and pouring it all over them… They were throwing it all over me.... it was awesome, it was crazy, it was scary. But then I found out afterwards that I handled it really really well. At first I thought what the fuck is going on? I didn't know they were like just testing me. And I thought I'm from New York I'm not afraid of you guys.(laughs)
Is there anything else you'd like to say to that people that are going to read this?
Watch my videos, if you like what I do maybe download a free MP3, and if you really like what I do, maybe buy something and keep me in business. It's like buying stock in a young company
Is that how you see it?
That is definitely how I see it. If you like what I'm doing, buy stock in me and that way I can keep doing what I'm doing, and you become part of it.