Does Everyone Hate Azealia Banks?
Azealia Banks is quite an easy target for critics worldwide -and by all means- as well as perceived by many people as an unapproachable artist in the music sphere. She is used to this bad press and turns a blind eye as an answer. However, appearances can be deceiving and this is a clear example. We dug into the real Azealia in order to discover the soul inside a body and ended up bumping into a gold mine. In all senses.
A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 15th issue of ODDA Magazine.
Welcome to ODDA, Azealia. Hope you enjoyed deepening into an unknown mag for you before the shooting. I have to say this didn’t happen the other way round, but would love you to describe yourself from zero. Let your inner Azealia flow and speak.
My name is AB. I am a young women from NYC, a professional musician. I’ve been making music since I was 17 years old, but I have been in the arts since I was 9. It has always been my dream to entertain people and to make people feel like there was somebody else going through the same things they were going through.
I am not very shy, although I am very sensitive. I’m an empath so I can feel a lot of things around me. Some people may call me a psychic and that energy is what creates my music. My main goal with my music now is to make something people can connect to and make music that expresses emotions that aren’t usually expressed.
Who is Azealia when nobody’s watching?
I’m the same person. I’m always cracking jokes or writing lyrics. I have an entertaining kind of way about myself. I like to throw house parties and cook for people and make people feel good.
“I KEPT THE NAME ANNA WINTOUR BECAUSE IT WAS THE WORKING TITLE OF THE TRACK, SO I KIND OF WENT OFF THIS VIBE OF THIS WOMAN WHO SEEMS COLD AND STANDOFFISH”
Azealia Banks or Miss Bank$? Why and when do we have to refer to each of them?
You can call me whatever you want. You can call me AB, some people call me Azealia, some others prefer Zi Zi. Just keep it respectful.
What is your opinion on the ‘cultural appropriation’ concept? Is that a real thing or can it be, at times, merely understood as latest trends to follow empowered by beauty magazines?
I think that the cultural appropriation concept has kind of become a trend, as do all of the things that are cultural appropriation. Nowadays, people latch onto this buzz word ‘cultural appropriation’ without understanding what cultural appropriation actually is. Since it is such a buzz word, there are algorithms that follow these buzz words and, as soon as people type these buzz words, it riles people up and I don’t think most of the time people understand what it is. As far as actual cultural appropriation goes, I see there are people that do realize when things are inappropriate and when things poke fun at a culture, but I also think there is cultural appreciation and I just hope people have the courage and good judgement to know the difference.
There is a difference between a rapper who is not an African-American and when it is used to mock the face of the culture and use it as a way to better yourself and not pay respect to the culture you are benefiting from. With cultural appropriation, there has to be an effort put forward by the artist to show respect and not make it seem like it is pay day for them.
One can be worshipped by chance on the media one day and be absolutely forgotten or not taken into account the next one… ‘Haters will always hate.’ According to Azealia, what’s the current power of the Internet?
It makes opportunity accessible where, in a world before the Internet, you had to go through the media and entertainment gatekeepers to get you name out there. Now you can create your own business, personality and anything to get your name out there. The Internet makes these opportunities for social assent limitless. But also with that said there are rules to the Internet and companies in Silicon Valley with algorithms to push certain content and to limit certain content, so it is kind of a double-edged sword.
Being in the spotlight can help anyhow to have more visibility and reach a wider audience. You have released a line of suggestive, luxury soap bars for him and her (Pussy Pop VS Bussy Boy) where one can read slogans such as Hot mess & Hotness and Lighten & Tighten! Through your stories one can notice that you really care about your follower’s opinion, to what extent is this real?
I definitely care about my followers’ opinions when it comes to the tangible things that come out. If they want to purchase things from me, I will give them things that they need and that will work because they trust me. My fans’ trust is the biggest part, more than them liking me. I don’t always do things that they like, but they trust me. The fact that I’ve never turned my back on them and they’ve never turned their back on me is what makes the relationship so special. I always have to keep them happy.
Pussy Pop can be clearly your avatar… then who is Bussy Boy inspired by?
Bussy Boy is inspired by a couple of my friends. It is a Latino gay boy, and it is inspired by them and the dynamic that I have with them.
Internet can be also used for good. Let’s get back to your musical roots and to the moment you were discovered. It all started on Myspace. How was that moment when someone puts in touch with you and a new life starts? What was next?
I didn’t know what was next, but I knew I was on my way. I’m excited every time someone I admire finds out about my music. It is an ongoing journey. When I had the moment, it was actually when I saw myself on PBC and I thought, “Oh, shit, I’m actually famous now.” Once I actually got into the nitty gritty of it and I was traveling and all that stuff, I realized that this is what I want to do forever. I realized all the prayers I had as a little girl were paying off.
I originally dreamed to be an actress but, when the music happened, I was kind of thrown off. I definitely didn’t take it as seriously as I do now because I was waiting to get to Hollywood! My passion was always drama and acting and you can see a lot of that in my Twitter account and all that stuff and I apply all of that drama training to my music.
It is undeniable you are a very active profile on social media and use those tools to ‘serve justice’ on your own. Last June this year you accused Drag Race’s RuPaul of plagiarism on ripping off your hit The Big Big Beat with his song Call me Mother. You won, the drag’s complete album was removed from Spotify (at least). How did you live all this process?
It wasn’t so much as a process as much as an email I needed to send. I think a lot of people like to do these things in my direction as I guess there is a glamour in having this kind of interaction with Azealia Banks, like they dream of having these interactions with Azealia Banks.
For being such an ally to the LGBTQI community, I would have appreciated a bit of acknowledgement and that people think is okay to just to disrespect me because they assume I am going to react. It saddens me that people I thought would understand what I am going through would also join the bandwagon in the behaviour towards AB. For me, it was a great sense of disappointment and it really confused me and I couldn’t understand why I would be a target for that kind of interaction. You have to show a little bit of respect and, a lot of times with women and the drag community, there is this bit of disregard for women and a little bit of sexism and I would have never expected sexism from Ru Paul.
“I’VE BEEN MAKING MUSIC SINCE I WAS 17, BUT I ‘VE BEEN IN THE ARTS SINCE I WAS 9. IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY DREAM TO ENTERTAIN PEOPLE AND TO MAKE THEM FEEL LIKE THERE WAS SOMEBODY ELSE GOING THROUGH THE SAME THINGS “
Tell us about the status of your ‘upcoming’ (or not) album Fantasea II after the e-riot taking place on Instagram following your experience filming MTV’s Wild ’N Out? Did you feel there was a kind of ‘conspiracy’ against you after your crash with Cardi B?
The album is still coming to come out. I was just upset because the label I am signed to sent me to send Anna Wintour and I just couldn’t understand why that was the only TV press they got me and they didn’t prepare me for it. I kind of said that not necessarily because I didn’t want to drop the album but because I didn’t want to drop it under that label. But the album is still going to come out, it has to come out and I feel like I’ve been talking about the album forever so I’m just going to let it come out.
How do you deal with people trying to push you down?
I don’t deal with it, I used to deal with it but now I don’t [laughs]. Now, I just don’t care. I’m 27, I’ve just started this company and I’m trying to save a bunch of money to have some kids and buy a house.
Be left alone. I was young when I was doing that shit, that’s for a young girl to do, I just don’t have the energy.
Who would you love to sing a hit with?
Right now I’m going to work with Grimes, it was amazing and we’ve had some great stuff. I would also like to work with Chaka Khan, who is a legendary 70s and 80s RnB singer. I’m really into Julian Casablancas and definitely Charli XCX.
Anna Wintour gives name to one of your latest hits, with two videoclips released a cartoon one and another one directed by Matt Sukkar where the Vogue Editor-in-Chief ’s bob haircut cannot be missed. Why and how did you decide to create such a fashion-inspired song?
I was inspired to create a fashion-forward song because the beat was actually a remix of my song Ice Princess and it came to me with a sample of my voice saying, “Anna Wintour, Anna Wintour.”
The actual music of the remix inspired me to write the song about self love and just learning to love yourself and to believe in yourself.
That’s how it happened. I kept the name Anna Wintour because it was the working title of the track, so I kind of went off this vibe of this woman who seems cold and standoffish and she doesn’t have a lot of love in her life. But, really, she actually has such love inside, but then she changes and starts to show it on the outside.
Do you believe in the strong connection between fashion and music?
I don’t think there is necessarily a strong connection between fashion and music, I think fashion is strongly connected to music. Now, there is a lot of money in the fashion industry, a lot of musicians become confused and think they need fashion to validate their artistry.
I believe that the relationship isn’t as reciprocal as everybody would like to believe. Music embodies the soul and the spirit, but fashion is an outer thing. If there are not people to sell the clothes to then there’s no fashion. They’re just clothes, it is the people who make the clothes come to life. I think the fashion industry should thank the musicians a lot more for everything they do for the music industry.
What does Azealia Banks look forward to?
In the future, I look forward for more opportunities to show my art and to strengthen my writing skills, strengthen my acting skills. I look forward to the space to be myself.
I think that people kind of want to box me in and even though people want to shut me out they can’t really shut me out because they love my music. In the future, I look forward to myself and other women like myself to be given the space to evolve naturally and not be forced by the patriarchy or to conform to societal standards. In the future, I look forward to a world where it is not a surprise that a woman is her own boss.
Diana Soto is an editor at ODDA Magazine. Keen on writing, fashion, photography and art, she has made her dream job out of a lifelong passion.
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