21 year old, Electronic Soul artist, Lulu James has created what she and co-writer/co-producer Domzilla describe as 21st Century soul, blending classic soul with glitchy, dark soundscapes. Hit single 'Closer' was released to public and critical success which led to James performing alongside Emeli Sande and on Later. With Jools Holland. Lulu prepares for the release of her debut album, due for release early 2014.
Lulu discusses new single, Step By Step, her debut album and her favourite alcoholic beverage!
CM: 'Step By Step' has just been released, can you just tell us a bit about the track?
Lulu: The track is basically just explaining to my audience that I'd like to take it a step at a time with them and sort of let them in and get to know me properly first before they have my album so I don't just come out of nowhere. For some people, obviously, it'll be like, 'Who's this girl?' but the people that already know me, I'll just take it step by step with them and that's all. It was a very fun track, the video was influenced by the four elements and it was a very fun thing to do.
CM: What's the response to the song been like?
Lulu: When I've been performing it live, it went down so, so well and everyone just loves dancing along to it and I think it catches people's attention as soon as the intro kicks in. However, obviously the video was like illuminati, she worships the devil bla-dee bla-dee blaa and it's like, 'Alright then, girl from South Shields, 22-year-old, definitely worships the devil' so take it how you like it, I'm not really a**ed.
CM: Your most successful song to date, 'Closer' has multiple remixes, what are your opinions of their impressions of the track?
Lulu: Well, the Domzilla remix was obviously a massive one for me because obviously me and Dom have been working together since I started my first song. I think the Domzilla remix meant like more about the sound that I came from. I think Kidnap Kid represented the sound of the current charts. So yeah, I think I wound up with a bit of everything on there.
CM: If there was any artist that you could collaborate with, or do a remix with who would that be?
Lulu: Collaboration I would say FlyLo (Flying Lotus) would be an amazing one. But in terms of remixes I'd love to see, I don't know, maybe a Flume remix?
CM: Are there any specific style icons that you aspire to?
Lulu: Just a bit of everyone. I think I like to just create my own style through everybody else, through their image like Lady Gaga, Grace Jones and all of that and I just like to take a little bit of whatever I like from whatever they've got and sort of make it into my own. I like experimenting with a lot of different looks and stuff like that so I think I'm just finding my feet with the image that I want to represent.
CM: 'Be Safe' was your first hit to be featured on mainstream radio, what was it like as an up and coming artist, to be hearing your song on such high profile radio?
Lulu: It's a really bizarre feeling. I've sat and listened to MistaJam, Annie Mac for years and years and years, attended a lot of festivals that they've done and stuff and now being played by them and them recognising me and knowing who I am was just an amazing feeling, never mind all the people that actually have it.
CM: You mentioned listening to these radio stations and presenters whilst you were growing up, were you hoping that one day you'd be on these stations? - Was music something you always wanted to do?
Lulu: Absolutely. When I started writing and stuff like that and started really, really getting passionate with music. Because I think, when I was really young I focussed on running a lot because I was a good runner, but as I started writing my own music and stuff, obviously I listened to a lot of radio to listen to what was happening and anyone that I'd like, find anyone new, so obviously I totally wished that one day I would be getting played by them DJs. And it's happened so it's great!
CM: You were born in Tanzania, has that influenced you music in any way at all?
Lulu: I think harmonically it has, definitely. I think I've got that sort of ethos of an African sort of harmony thing going on. Occasionally, there with every band I'll ram a bit of an African choir sort of harmony as well as just your norm.
CM: You were brought up in Newcastle, do you think performing at your local city is more significant?
Lulu: Absolutely, it's playing at home, isn't it? Playing to your family and friends and people that actually are supporting you far more, it just means a lot. It's like what they say, isn't it: "Charity starts at home" - support starts at home as well, them are the people that push you to go forward and find support elsewhere. So it's amazing everytime I go back there, it does mean a lot.
CM: Earlier in the year you performed on Later. With Jools Holland, what was that like?
Lulu: That was just surreal, it was brilliant. The crew and Jools himself were just so nice and made the whole nerves thing a lot easier to deal with because you were there for a couple of days, you got to meet everybody and see the set and rehearse and everything and it was just brilliant. The way they deal with you is just great. It was surreal because obviously knowing that the likes of your family are sitting watching and it's you they're watching, it's brilliant.
CM: We mentioned Annie Mac earlier and you're on the Annie Mac Presents. Tour now - are you excited for that?
Lulu: Yeah, I'm so excited. It's gonna be great.
CM: Do you feel like your on-stage persona is an example of how you are in real life as well?
Lulu: Absolutely. I am who I am and I literally can't help that. I haven't got an alter ego or anything. I can't help being me.
CM: What was it like performing with Emeli Sande at the Ballroom in London?
Lulu: She was absolutely lovely; it was an absolute pleasure supporting her. Very, very genuine person. And it was a massive crowd, it was like 5000 and odd people. A massive buzz, it was great. And they had really good food.
CM: Are they the sort of shows that you'd like to be playing one day?
Lulu: Absolutely. I'd like to be as big as the world can make me. Emeli's had such a massive achievement, I would definitely like to follow in her footsteps.
CM: Where do you see yourself next year? Could we be expecting an album out at that time?
Lulu: Absolutely. We're aiming for the end of January for the album which should be called 'Now the World' - which is, 'now the world is Lulu James' obviously. Hopefully, the album will get received well; I think a lot of people are waiting for it now so I'm dead excited to give it to them.
CM: Has that been recorded then or are you still in the process?
Lulu: No, we've pretty much recorded all of the demos, some of the tracks aren't mixed yet so we're in that sort of mixing period at the minute and then they'll be ready for my offering. I'm just polishing off the album really, trying to get a couple of guests on there and stuff like that and just do a few collabs maybe.
CM: If you could give one piece of advice to somebody coming up in the industry in a similar place that you were, what would you give them?
Lulu: It's totally clichéd, but it's so important to believe in yourself. If you go doubting yourself, it's a very hard industry to get anywhere if you doubt yourself.
CM: Was there ever a moment that you doubted yourself?
Lulu: I wouldn't say I have done, I think that's way I've sustained the level of what I'm doing now. And I still don't, I'm still really, really looking forward to releasing the album and getting it out there and for the world to hear it. And I'll hopefully get received well, I'm so excited about it all, I'm so positive and, hence the book, I totally believe in positive energy. You have to give it to receive it.
To finish up, we thought we'd do a little quick fire.
CM: Are you a tea or coffee person?
Lulu: Ooh, that's a hard one. I'd go for tea.
CM: Who was your favourite cartoon character when you were growing up?
Lulu: 'Hey Arnold'.
CM: The last album you bought?
Lulu: Alt-J, 'Awesome Wave'.
CM: Who's the biggest celebrity you've met?
Lulu: Thom Yorke. No, Mick Jagger!
CM: Your favourite 90s film?
Lulu: I was born in the 90s. Is 'Pretty Women' in the 90s? It is, isn't it?
CM: Your favourite book?
Lulu: It's gotta be - that's how much of a famous book it is, I can't remember the title. I think it's either called 'Secrets' or 'Energy' and it's about basically like positive energy and negative energy and all that sort of stuff.
CM: What's your favourite alcoholic beverage?
Lulu: Coffee Patron or Champagne LPR.
Thanks for speaking with us Lulu!
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