We recently spoke with Swedish rapper (yes, really) Elliphant before her show opening for Charli XCX at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.
Weeping Elvis: You worked with Mø [detailed discussion of how to pronounce Mø in Danish vs Swedish]. How did you meet up with her?
Elliphant: I contacted her a long time ago, like maybe two years ago, cuz I heard her song “Pilgrim” and I really liked it, and I could see her face popping up in the same similar … the same people writing about [my] Elliphant project wrote about her, so I just thought it was interesting to have someone to represent. And I really like her stuff I like her energy. I’m not so into music and stuff, she’s one of very few reach outs I did. She instantly reacted and we became real good friends. We’ve been hanging out and on tour and met in America a lot. We obviously didn’t have a chance to become friends in a normal way but for what we have we’re really close.
If you don’t reach out much do they come to you? Your EP is full of big guest stars.
Yeah I’ve been really lucky, those big names like Dr. Luke, Diplo, and Skrillex, all of that was reach out to me so I’ve been really fortunate. But some like Mykki Blanco I tried to reach him for like over a year and he’s not responding. A lot of West African bands and stuff I tried to reach out to, and even like some Arabic bands and stuff. When I reach out its usually someone a little more hard to get than the superstar producers, I’ve been very lucky with those collaborations actually.Katherine Gaines
Your style is very eclectic, and you work with all sorts of different types of musicians. People have also mentioned M.I.A. as an influence for you?
I totally understand the M.I.A. thing, but actually I never listen to M.I.A. whatsoever. I’m very wide, like, for my project everything can happen. Its gonna be pop songs, its gonna be reggae songs, its gonna be hip hop songs, its gonna be all type of — a lot of 90s inspired — but always gonna be different type of productions. I think M.I.A. in itself, has … I’ve been opening for her a couple times and I’ve been listening to her stuff since [?], but she’s not — I mean, I’m much more inspired by Leila K, or like The B-52s, or the whole 90s vibe, even 666, and even fuckin’ Scooter and stuff like that, I’m more inspired by that shit really than her I think. M.I.A. has her own thing, which I appreciate so much because she kind of took the first big wave, which without her being full power for 10 years now I think projects like me and Grimes or Mø, or any type of project in the world reaching into the pop world would have much more problems, so I’m always going to be in debt to her for that. But she’s not my inspiration in my music at all; I don’t know any other song than “Paper Planes.”
Your upbringing was pretty tough. How has that influenced your writing style?
As an artist/personality you’re always gonna use creativity as a filter for the things that you haven’t dealt with. For me I think since I turned into a grown up person I’ve been taking a lot of responsibility for myself, and I’ve been doing good. But as a kid, and as a very young grown up I had big problems with the world, and the world had big problems with me. And I think that’s still where I find my inspiration, and also because I’m coming from a drug addict home I obviously find a lot of inspiration in the addiction of humanity. I’m so interested in it. People think I take more drugs than I actually do, I don’t take any real drugs — I smoke sometimes. But I don’t take drugs like that; I just have a major interest for it. I’m also very humble to the fact that humans need this. I don’t look down on people losing themselves in drunkenness or a need to get high. I find it very natural for people to look in those directions in a world looking like it does today, in this new industrial world people look just for nature. We don’t have anything like that, so I just think its a natural thing.
Do you turn to music as a way to deal with all that?
I did a lot of photography before, and all my inspiration was always drugs, and women and drugs, in my whole photography career all the stuff I did there. And yeah for sure, its still there a lot. At the moment I write a little about love — not that I’ve really found it or have it. But I’ve started to have a big extreme fantasy about love, because I think I want it. I want to find it, so it’s the easiest place to find inspiration is in your fantasy of what you’d like to have. So I write a lot about love and relationships. and even relationships with friends and things like that.
Your (wrist) tattoo is beautiful, does it mean anything specific?
It stands for evolution. Its been since I was like 20 when I did this tattoo — or 19. I’ve been religious in the sense that I created my own religion around evolution. I kind of feel like I can find comfort and I can find reason always in the evolutionary system. The fact that I need to be exposed to … whatever happens to me needs to happen, even if it hurts, even if I don’t get anything really back from what I just experienced, like if I have pain and I don’t get anything directly back, I can still always find comfort in the fact that my experience is now: one love, one universe, one evolution. That’s also how I can find peace in friends that I have that take suicide or people that choose their own way of life. Traveling in Asia and seeing kids on drugs, all the stuff you can’t find a reasonable place in your heart or in your mind to like figure out. I think through evolution I kind of found my peace and I think that’s the whole reason for religion from the beginning.
Thanks for sharing!
All Photos | Katherine Gaines
9:30 Club, November 9, 2014, Washington, D.C.