Issue 81

Monthly newspaper and online publication targeting 18 to 35 year olds. The ultimate guide to the hottest parties, going out and having fun. Music, fashion, film, travel, festivals, technology, comedy, and parties! London, Barcelona, Miami and Ibiza.

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Page 46 of 55

Hey, how are you? I'm good, I'm good! What have you been up to recently? Writing, playing music, being a musician and trying to stay afloat and keep up with everything. So you're playing at The Lexington for the Ja Ja Ja club night, is this your first show in London? No I last year I played New Shapes at The Notting Hill Arts Club, right when we released 'Bullet'. Will Street, we released it on Chess Club Records, he invited us to play. So this is the second time. And what can people expect from the show? My rule of thumb is if it's ugly, it's usually good [laughs]. I always try to forget myself and try to forget my vanity because usually when I'm in the audience that works for me. So hopefully it's going to be ugly! Do you have any pre-show rituals? We were actually talking about it yesterday because we had one but then we dropped it because it wasn't working. We used to listen to 'Pump Up The Jam', it worked the first couple of times we did it and we got that extra energy but now it's just not working anymore. I think we need stronger drugs [laughs]. Music drugs of course. Of course! So tell us about Kill J and how she came into being. Well she's me. It sort of grew from a previous project that myself and previous music partner were working on. It was a very complicated project and we wanted all sorts of styles and I'm not really sure that we knew what we wanted to be honest. One day we did like super electronic stuff and then we wanted guitars and then we wanted all sorts of weird, funky instruments. It just grew to be this big mess and we started killing off everything that didn't feel 100% necessary, and what was left was this. But the whole killing me thing, I thought it would work well psychologically with me, to sort of kill off my private or my own person because I'm a shy person and I really don't like standing and performing on a stage, I'm not a natural performer. I think that your music now still has different elements – electro, pop, hip- hop beats – which is great because there's something for everyone in there. Oh you think so? Yeah I think so but how do you describe your music and your sound? You can't just say you're pop because you have all these other bits, you can't just say you're electro because you have other pieces, so what do you call it? Well I do call it pop [laughs]. I think in the end, it's such a hard question to answer and I'm sure you've heard this before when you interview musicians, it's really hard to put yourself in that box, and at the end of the day it's not really our job, it's your job! Yes it is but it's hard! But I regard myself as a pop musician, I know that my label doesn't agree. They would like for me to be more pop but I do and I find no shame in that, pop is not a crime, as long as you have something interesting to say. I'm a pop musician and I'm proud! Okay good! So you've taken some time in releasing tracks, five over a year or so, was it a conscious decision to do things on your own time like that or is that just how it ended up? Yes and no to be quite honest. I'm kind of sick of not telling the whole truth so I started to because this project started as a duo and it's not anymore, it hasn't been for a year and a half. Going through that process of realising that we couldn't work together anymore and the process of me accepting that this was now my baby and not our baby, it took a while, and there was a lot of shit to deal with, legally, personally and emotionally. I spent this period of time working on new music and refining myself as a producer so I have a lot of stuff coming out now that has just been sitting there waiting, and it has been a frustrating process, no doubt about it. But of course it's also a conscious decision for me not to release something when I'm not ready. That was a very complicated answer to a simple question. I want to talk to you about 'Propaganda', it's a very bold statement about sexism in the industry, so I wanted to know if there was one particular moment or conversation or meeting that you had that prompted you to write the song or was it a build up of many things? It's definitely been a build up of many things and I'm actually answering yes and no to this question too. I think you get to a point where you get so fed up answering questions like "who writes your music? Who produces your music?" or a random sound guy comes up to one of your musicians after the show complimenting him on how he wrote this or how he produced this or how he tweaked this sound, and I'm standing there right next to him going "thank you!" There's so much stuff. I wasn't ever really confronted with my gender before I entered this industry and I have never considered myself a feminist. Where I'm from it's sort of a dirty word and I used to think that white western female feminists needed to chill the fuck out and I don't feel like that anymore, at all. I didn't know that I was challenging all of these norms. I discovered that I am by being the gender that I am, the age that I am, looking the way that I look, producing myself and writing myself, all of this stuff I never knew that that was challenging but I realise that now. And yes I was inspired by a very specific thing that happened to me. I was talking to a group of A&R's and one of them, not my A&R, was talking about another Danish artist, I can't tell you her name of course, but she's similar to me in age and the kind of music that she does. He said that she'd been doing really well and wished her all the best but he never really truly believed in the project because she had no fuckability. And I was sitting right there and he didn't really realise that that was offensive or outrageous. It's the way they talk everyday, they don't realise that it's fucked up. It's funny how you were saying how people ask you if you write your own music, Annie Mac wrote a piece for Vice about the questions she gets asked because she's a female DJ, like "can you DJ in a dress? Can you DJ in a pair of high heels?" Do you still get these questions even though you've made a whole song about calling it out? Do I get stupid questions like that? Yes I do. But the funny thing is, the way you said it, people ask, "do you write your own music? Do you produce your own music?" They don't ask me like that, they ask me "who writes your music?" So they assume just by looking at me that I'm not the author or the writer or the producer. Of course I get asked stupid questions but there's a lot of really, really positive things too and I think there are more than good questions than there are stupid questions. Good, progress! Your new single 'You're Good But I'm Better', it's one of those that you want to turn up really loud and sing along to, it's very empowering. Can you tell me the meaning behind it and is it about someone in particular? Again, yes and no. I've been in that situation a couple of times and I like to think other people have, that it's not just me but yeah it's inspired by real life. It's about more than one person, and I didn't sit down and think "I'm going to write this story", I sat down and did this humming part into the really crappy built-in microphone in my computer late at night, and then I woke up the next day and listened to it and I thought it sounded like this drunken slur, like it has this drunken bounce to it, and that's how I figured "ok this is going to be about a drunken, broken heart". We've established that you write all of your own music, so I was going to ask about the writing process because everything that you write feels really honest. Do you write with other people or completely solo? How do the lyrics come to you? That's actually the first thing I ever said to my A&R; "I value your advice and I want to learn and I want you to challenge me but don't interfere with my lyrics ever" and he hasn't, which is really good. I haven't really been co-writing lyrics, actually I have once with two Swedish songwriters but that hasn't been released at all, it wasn't really working. Usually the lyrics are very private and personal, not that I'm saying that that's right or wrong or better, it's just the way I tend to do it. And as well as your strong sound you've established a strong visual identity. Is that an aspect you enjoy working on? Yeah from the beginning I knew that I wanted to look like the music, which is why I created this crazy hairdo, but I don't enjoy being in front of the camera, it's pretty awkward. I'm learning and I'm forcing myself to and I know that one day I'll really get to enjoy it but I see it is this necessary part. I do think that the visual acts an extra layer and it is important. I have to ask, is an album in the pipeline? An EP is in the pipeline and it's done! Oh great, when is it going to come out? I can't tell you! But I already started working on the second one. Got a lot of cooks in the kitchen right now and have to do what the label want to do but I have another single from that EP coming out probably in about a month, and then after that the EP is coming out. There's some fantastic music coming out of Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia at the moment, why do you think the scene so strong there? I don't know. Well the Swedes are amazing but they've always been amazing, they've been amazing since ABBA. The way they build up a system, they are creating these amazing songwriters and musicians and singers. They really have focused on supporting creative communities in Sweden. They are a lot better at that than in Denmark and I know that Denmark is trying to model that, some Danes are trying to model that, but it needs to be decisions that are made politically. Like getting a rehearsal studio for example, in Sweden I heard it's free. Stuff like that of course helps musicians a lot but I don't know what it is. Maybe it's not so much that a lot of good music has been coming from that area, maybe it's just that everybody is looking that way right now. What's been the proudest moment of your career so far? Oh shit, I don't know! That's a really good question, I wish I had been prepared for that. This year I played SPOT Festival, which is a festival in Aarhus, Denmark, and I was invited to something called the NAKED concerts. We weren't naked but the concept was very simple. There's this really cool pianist called Gustaf Ljunggren and he invites four different artists and then we interpret four of each artist's songs together. He did that with me this year and it wasn't like, because you asked me what was the proudest moment or the most prestigious moment, it's nothing like that, it's just a moment where I was caught off guard. It was in this concert hall and it was this really special atmosphere, people were sitting down and no one was being noisy, everybody was just really focused on what was going on onstage, it was completely quiet. When I finished playing, I'd never experienced applause like that in my life and I was very moved. I think that's probably the moment when you ask me right now. Yeah I was very proud and I was very moved. If you could fill a swimming pool with anything, what would it be and why? [Laughs] Are you kidding me? Okay, whatever I want? Anything in the world. And I get to bathe in it? It doesn't even have to be for swimming, it's the quantity of a swimming pool, whatever you want. You can pick a liquid if you like but it doesn't have to be. Then I would have to pick gummy bears. Absolutely. So my last question, do you have a life motto and what is it? I think I have many. I don't know if it's a life motto but I have many little rules of thumb. Like I said earlier, if it's ugly it's usually really good, that's one. Yeah I think I'm going to stick to that one. 47 Issue 81 / 2015 INDIE / ROCK Singer, songwriter and producer Julie Aagaard, aka Kill J, is one of the most exciting artists to ever come out of Denmark. She effortlessly combines pop and electronica with heavy beats and silky vocals, and as demonstrated by tracks like 'Propaganda' and 'Your Good But I'm Better', she's not afraid to speak up and stand out. We chatted to her ahead of her performance at The Lexington to find out why pop is good and ugly is better " My rule of thumb is if it's ugly, it's usually good "

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