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Madrid City in English
Saturday 25th of November 2017
Tim Inkling 1209 19th of September 2012 by Laura Tabor 19th of September 2012
Kreayshawn

Having stormed the internet in 2011 with her single “Gucci Gucci”, Kreayshawn hits Madrid as part of YouFest this month. speaks to her about her style, success and soft toy

"I’m definitely more confident. When I signed my record deal I was 21, and next month, I’m turning 23. If this hadn’t happened, I still would’ve been growing up,” says Kreayshawn from sunny Los Angeles, commenting on her whirlwind success and recording contract with Columbia Records. Her first single, “Gucci Gucci”, was only released in May last year, generating three million Youtube hits in three weeks, and the record deal quickly followed.
    Kreayshawn, whose name is a wordplay on “creation”, has certainly had to mature rapidly in the music business, but growing up in Oakland, California, presented its own challenges. She is of Russian descent (born Natassia Gail Zolot), she has never known her father, and her mother, Elka, is a former member of various punk bands (The Trashwomen, Spoiled Brats, The Spastics, Eight Ball Scratch, The Glamour Pussies). She had been expelled from two schools by the age of 16, but by that point had already entrenched herself in both filming and rapping, having started using a video camera when only ten years old.


Lookin’ good
Glance at any of Kreayshawn’s videos or photos, and her unique style jumps out at you, whether by way of her glasses, accessories or clothing. Her right arm is covered with tattoos—cartoon characters, bats’ wings with lips, and even a chicken leg. “Some tattoos have a deep meaning for me, and some don’t have a meaning at all—like the chicken leg, I just got it for fun,” giggles Kreay. “I’ll be online and I’ll think, ‘Oh my God that’s such a cool picture! I want it on my body forever!’ So they’re a mix.”
    For her “Gucci Gucci” video, most of her clothes came from thrift (charity) shops, but success brings other options. “For photo and tape shoots I usually have a stylist because if I style myself I have to bring all my clothes that I usually wear on the street,” she confides, “You can usually tell the difference—if I’m wearing jean shorts I probably didn’t have a stylist. I’m probably just wearing my clothes.”
    The song itself, together with the video, made an enormous impact on her life. “It was just the reactions it got—people analysed every word and every move I made in the video. That’s when I realised the song was bigger than anything; it became a cultural statement, and that’s when it really hit me that it was huge.”


Goin’ hard
To experience her vast style spectrum, look no further than her latest video for her single “Go Hard (La.La.La)”. It’s a melting pot of animation, reality and fashion, along with a dancing boar, giraffe, dragon and horse. “In the beginning I directed all my own music videos and was really hands on, but then with ‘Go Hard’ I wrote the treatment, but thought it was important to have somebody else behind the camera,” she says. “If it’s me, I don’t get to concentrate on eye movements or my attitude in the video, because I’m so worried about the lighting and everything looking right. ‘Go Hard’ was really cool because even though it was still my kind of idea, I got more of kick being the star of the shoot. It’s reflected in the video because I look a lot less stressed!”
    The track comes from her first album, Somethin’ ‘bout Kreay, due to be released on 18 September. The goal was to have every song inspired by a different genre, from Brazilian-style to techno music, and she’s more than satisfied with the result. “I think everything, according to how I hear it, is really good. People ask me what’s my favourite song, but the entire album is like a whole song. You know what I’m saying—if you listen to the thing the whole way through, it’s like one song that changes speech, rhythm, content and genre. I like the whole thing.”
    There are collaborations with artists such as Kid Cudi, Diplo & Sissy Nobby, and 2 Chains, not to mention a very distinct album cover design. “I was really on everyone’s ass about the album cover being exactly how I wanted it,” says Kreay, “and I was able to find an artist [slvstr design] from the Bay Area, where I’m from. It was really cool because it was literally ‘I wanna be on this cover, I wanna be half animated, I wanna be in an alien space world’ and when the artist showed it to me it was exactly how I’d pictured it in my head.”


Goin’ soft
Clothes and tattoos aside, there was an unexpected acquisition from the set of “Go Hard (La.La.La)”—a blue, straggly teddy, christened “Babyfriend”. “Oh my God!” squeals Kreay when he’s mentioned, “I found Babyfriend on the set of ‘Go Hard’, and literally the day after that video shoot we flew to Europe, so I ended up just taking him with me for a couple of months. He’s definitely a European treat. We had this whole European festival tour, and bands got to meet him. Wiz Khalifa fell in love with him and he got to hang out with Mac Miller [Both Wiz and Mac are fellow American rappers]. I think it’s cool that there’s a bear that everyone can touch and it kinda brings everyone together..” she pauses, then growls with a giggle “..with a big bear friend!”
    Was there a danger of the limelight being stolen? “I was jealous because Babyfriend had his own tour video, with Wiz and Mac in it,” she laughs, “I didn’t have them in my tour video. So I was a little jealous of the celebrity cameos!”


Taking the rap
One key line that attracted a lot of attention in the lyrics of “Gucci Gucci” was “I got the swag and it’s pumping out my ovaries.” It’s great vocabulary and provides a wonderful image, but how does Kreay define “swag”? “Swag is like your fashion sense. Anyone can have swag. It’s like your own.. ,” she pauses, then realising no other word will work, giggles and continues, “..swag, right? You probably have your own English swag for sure. You sound like it. It’s all about the confidence though. Confidence is key in swag.”
    I answer, “I don’t know”, which elicits an immediate friendly laugh, as the comment fails miserably to suggest any confidence at all. Kreayshawn, however, oozes it—current Youtube hits exceed 37 million, and there’s fashion, rapping, directing and touring. That’s swag by the bagful.

 

Appearing in Madrid

Kreayshawn will be appearing at YouFest, the Festival of the YouTube generation, on Fri 28 Sept at the Matadero. The festival takes place on Fri 28 and Sat 29 Sept, at the Matadero and La Rivera, with the likes of Underworld, Primal Scream, Diplo and Rick Astley. See www.you-fest.com for full details. Kreayshawn’s website is www.kreayshawn.com. For album cover art, see http://blog.slvstrdesign.com/


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