RI Exclusive: Interview with IGGY AZALEA



Iggy Azalea is a trend setter. Tall, blonde, Australian; not your typical rapper stereotype. But don’t be fooled. Iggy mixes it up with the best of them and has come through the ranks with a street-level following that many established Hip-Hop artists could only dream of.  Joining us in Dublin for Arthur’s Day, Iggy Azalea made a point to have a chat with Rap Ireland, give her views on Kendrick, Miley’s twerking attempts and whether she could ever date someone in the industry again.


Let’s jump right into it. Things weren’t always so cheery for Iggy Azalea. In a previous interview on The Breakfast Club you said you were late because you had to travel there on the bus. What was the story with that? Was no money being made, or simply bad management?
Yeah, it was bad management. I had a booking agent who was stealing all my money. It was just a bad situation.

You got that all sorted out?
Things can change in a year!

So what’s changed?
Emmmm… I don’t know. I guess in a way it’s still the same. It’s weird. It’s like… I don’t know, it’s weird, it’s weird. Being an artist is weird with money coz it’s like you can have everything without still really having anything, if that makes sense? It’s like oh I have a really nice house, but if you don’t sell records it will be taken away. Soooo…[laughing] it’s good! I have a lot of nice stuff now, nicer than what I had last year! I definitely wouldn’t catch the bus anywhere, I have a driver now… but I definitely don’t feel like it’s mine in a way. I feel like I’m borrowing someone else’s life.

And is that because you decided to go the label route rather than the indie route?
Yeah, I think if I went the indie route I wouldn’t have most of the things I have…

Why did you decide to go that route? When we were with Macklemore he was adamant that he wanted to stay indie… was it a bankrolling issue for shows?
Yeah it was bankrolling. Not just for shows. I had contracts I had to get out of. I had people I had to sue, people suing me. There’s a lot. You’d be surprised at how much it really costs.

Now to your music… I’ve noticed your style seems to be a bit different in the States to what it is here. Over here you tend to go more for the EDM style, while in America you stick to the more ratchet tunes. Is that a deliberate decision; different music to different markets?
Yeah! Well kind of. I feel like I make music for whoever would like to hear it. But when I’m releasing something of course I think about radio and I go and meet with program directors and they tell me if they’re going to play a song or not. And they tell me that they’re not going to play those songs, so I release what they say they’ll support, and it’s based pretty much on that.

And how has the reaction been on this side of the water as opposed to the States. Is there a difference?
It’s hard to gauge. I think both reactions have been really positive but in one market we’re talking about millions and millions more people and a massive population so in terms of the media gratification it takes longer in America because there are a lot more places you have to reach and a lot more groundwork to do but things have been going really well there, I’m happy. “Work” is the only record I’ve released there that’s been in the Top Ten.

That’s been doing quite well in the clubs here too…
Yeah so I’ve heard. So I’m happy with that, it’s going well.

So do you need to just focus on the big markets out there, like New York, Miami, Atlanta, or how do you approach such a vast marketplace?
You do big markets and then you do regional radio tours, so you do both. You’ll do like small towns and then you’ll do big cities. But like it’s the same here. Like if I go to the UK I do regional radio too, I’ll get in a car and go to the smaller towns. So I guess it’s the same, just on a smaller scale.

So we won’t be hearing those Iggy Azalea twerking songs getting released in Ireland any time soon?
Not unless you can get your program directors to support them! But you can still get them, they’re all out there on the internet. And if I come do a show here, I’m still going to perform them, and I would hope that people would listen to them all. But the thing you have to consider is people might say “Well why wouldn’t you release them anyway”. Well if I release it anyway, then people are going to pay for marketing for it and a lot of other things. And if they are correct and it doesn’t sell like they say it won’t sell because they won’t support it on radio, then I’m going to owe a lot of people a lot of money so I can’t take that risk.

So we’ll see. I don’t know. They do weird testing on radio, it’s not just some guy sitting there saying I don’t like this, they poll people and call people and all this weirdo stuff and apparently you don’t have great reactions to Twerk music, so what can I do…

Well you missed our Twerk-It Party by a couple weeks… Those old Pu$$y tunes were in high demand…
[Laughing] Yeah that’s so cool, it’s good to know, I need to play one of those!

Did Miley wreck Twerking for us all?
I don’t want to put the blame on one person…

So that’s basically a yes…?
[Laughing] Well Miley didn’t go and write all those articles on Twerk music, or call Ellen and tell her to do Twerking. Some things just go viral I guess, and twerking went viral. I don’t think you can blame it all on Miley Cyrus. Maybe she could have opened it up and everybody could have done a great job twerking and twerking wouldn’t be ruined, but most people do a horrible job at it [Laughing]

So coming up in Australia, I guess it would be like coming up in Ireland as a rapper, it’s not exactly your…
Ideal? haha

Exactly! What was it like coming up?
Yeah I was always a fan of rap music from an early age but I don’t think I was always trying to rap. I was only in Australia for at most 2 years before I moved, trying to pursue it. So it wasn’t so bad. But I think the first year or two that you do anything you’re, I don’t know…

Really bad…?
[Laughing] Ha yeah not really getting it together. Not soo bad! But yeah there’s not a lot to offer there

Do you get much respect from back there?
I don’t know, I haven’t been back! I’ll go back on tour with Beyonce in about 2 weeks so we’ll see!

So you came to America and I’m guessing they had never seen an Australian rapper before. Now when I listen to your music you sound much more Americanized than when you’re talking to me in your Aussie accent. Is that something you had to do to break through?
No, definitely not. I mean there’s rappers like M.I.A who have “non-american” accents and they get played. I think music is music and that’s all that really matters. However you want to say it or deliver the message, that’s just artists and personal preference, not really so much marketing or what you think will work for a territory.

I’ve heard so many stories about your labels, your affiliations; way too complicated, so from the horses mouth explain it to us.
Well I’m signed to Mercury, which is merged now and is actually Virgin EMI, that’s my label. And in America that is Island Def Jam. Which is all under the Universal Music system. Which is all… the same thing! It’s funny people always concern themselves with this, when really, fucking Polydor, EMI, Universal, Def Jam, Capitol Records, Interscope, Island, are the same fucking guys. It’s the same shit. There’s really only Warner, Sony and Universal, and everything else is whatever; fucking camouflage for the same person.

So you wouldn’t buy into that whole gimmick of rappers starting their own label that everyone seems to do these days?
I’m not interested in that. Just not. Grand Hustle yeah. I mean my publishing is through Grand Hustle so I have business with them, and obviously T.I is my mentor. I was never signed to Grand Hustle officially, just my publishing.

Does T.I still have much of a say in stuff?
Well he never had much of a say, but that’s because I’m stubborn as hell [laughing]…

So you tell him what to do…
[Laughing] Nah I don’t tell him what to do. He’s my mentor, so you know, I think a mentor and a boss are two different things. Maybe perhaps people got that confused. T.I is my mentor, he’s someone I look up to and someone who gives me advice, and sometimes I ask him for advice, and sometimes he gives it when I don’t. Whether I choose to listen to that is up to how smart I want to be on that day. But in terms of him saying you should do this or this is your direction, that’s not the job of a mentor, that’s something a boss or a dictator would do and that’s not his role for me. Of course, yes he’s still involved and still gives me advice, and hopefully he always will. As long as I can take it from him I would, he’s a great rapper. But he doesn’t control. He’s not in the studio when I record. That’s not really our relationship. So it’s good.

Speaking of “Control”, all the hype earlier in the month was over the Kendrick “King of New York” verse. What were your thoughts on it?
Emm… Just rap bravado! [laughing]

You don’t think it’s warranted?
Em, do I think it’s warranted, to say he’s the “King of New York”? No. Only someone from New York could be.

Is he the best lyricist out there right now?
I think he’s definitely up there, he’s great. Kendrick is very brilliant. I’m really excited to have somebody like him making music. I think he’s great.

Nice answer. For that you get an awkward question. There seem to be so many romantic rumours flying around, the latest I heard being Nas. Is it impossible to see anybody in the industry?
It depends on the person, but of course it’s possible [laughing]

And is that the route you’d like to go again?
Ehhh… would I go that route? Em for an exceptional person I would, but I’d prefer to avoid it. I’d prefer not to.

Too much hassle?
Too much hassle! And also it’s nice to , it’s nice just to em…

Escape yeah. There obviously was a time when I thought I enjoyed doing the same thing as somebody, and it was nice to almost have a companion that you could experience these things with, that you didn’t really understand or that you were going through for the first time. It’s nice to have someone who is doing that or has done that, and you can feel supported in that way, so I can understand it like that, but as I have spent more time doing this job, I feel that that is less of an appeal to me and now it’s becoming the opposite…

Like it’s a rivalry…
Yeah exactly, like if I want to date someone I want to hear about something completely different. It’s almost like bringing your work home with you. It’s like, I’ve been talking about this all day, and I don’t want to talk about what Rick Ross did, I don’t care [laughing] I just want to do the opposite.

What does the next 12 months hold?
Who knows what they’ll hold, because it’s so heavily dependent on other people, and if they’ll support me, or write songs. It’s hard for me to control that but I’m really really pleased with the album that I’ve created. That will come out at the very top of next year. And I suppose what happens after that, whether uphill or downhill, will be dependent on how people feel about it. I will go on a tour. I will tour America and I’ll tour Europe.

Have doors been opened now, in terms of features?
I feel like they have actually. It’s funny that you say that because before I felt like I’d never get asked for features, but in the last month I’ve been asked for a lot and I’ve done a lot too, that I can’t really talk about. Actually T.I has been somebody who’s helped alot with that. I guess he’s got friends and he’s like “Why don’t you get Iggy!?” and I’m like “Thanks Tip” and end up on a song but yeah recently I’ve been approached a lot more and done a lot more features than I had in the past. Before no-one would really ask me.

Rap Ireland would like to thank Iggy Azalea for taking the time out to speak with us.

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