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Princess Superstar: Princes, Paupers and Celebrity Culture ::

Reported by Trackitdown TID on August 7, 2005

“Princess Superstar is definitely an alter ego but there are definitely elements of me in there and vice versa. Princess Superstar is really out of control. Now more so than ever.”

Chatting as she jams costumes, cosmetics and the entire contents of her West London hotel room into one giant bag, New York electro-rap star Princess Superstar certainly seems to be as out of control of her wardrobe as she is her time, squeezing in one last interview in the moments before she checks out. And while her alter ego is that of a voracious tough as fuck, eat-em-up and spit-em sex-bomb, in person she’s both disarmingly friendly and charmingly down to Earth, a million miles away from the ‘Bad Babysitter’ character depicted in her biggest 2001 hit.

Not that she’s even slightly homely or interested in babies, she stresses.

“Part of me is like this Celia Cruz type person. She said: Why would I need to have babies when the world are my babies? Doing music. Part of me feels that way; then another part of me is definitely like a softie old romantic who wants to fall in love,” she laughs.

 “I haven’t found anyone to fall in love with yet, so I guess I’ll have to get back to you on that one. Aaaaah. Are there any readers of Skrufff magazine out there who want to take me on a date?”

Dating issues aside, she’s much more pre-occupied with her new album My Machine, a concept album set far in a dystopian future, where an all powerful Princess Superstar controls all aspects of celebrity. Featuring contributions from friends including Armand Van Helden, Junior Sanchez and Arthur Baker, the album is her most ambitious project yet, though one she admits she’s been dreaming about for longer than she’d have liked.

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): Doing a concept album seems like such a big project . . .

Princess Superstar: “It’s something I’ve been wanting to do forever, I just didn’t really have the balls to do it before. I just got to a stage where it was like ‘this is in my heart, I’ve been trying to do it for six years’, but I was afraid. I’d started in it before but stopped because I was like ‘nobody will buy it’. Then I just thought one day I’ve got to satisfy my heart. I went through a very painful writer’s block [hase where I couldn’t write anything and I took this concept album idea off the shelf and dusted it off, and I finally decided I have to commit to doing this. I’d been going through a whole year of not being able to write, and hating music, which was a very painful period, then when I started doing this album, although it was very difficult, I began to get happier.”

Skrufff: What made you develop writer’s block?

Princess Superstar: “It really coincided with me DJing a lot. All of a sudden I was a new DJ and I was traveling all over the world, having a really good time, but simultaneously I think I was almost going mad thinking about the fact that I was getting paid to put on everybody else’s music. I cannot explain it, it’s this weird thing in my head, but I thought ‘Why aren’t I playing with my own band?’ Although I adore DJing, I love it and now I’ve come to peace with that, but I think that was bugging me before. Nobody really knows why you get writer’s block.”

Skrufff: How do you write?

Princess Superstar: “I found that sometimes I do have to force myself to sit and write. A lot of people say they have to wait for the creative thing to hit them; well forget it, because I’d be working a day job right now if I was like that. I have to actually say to myself ‘Right, from ten to one, I’m going to write. Even if it’s shit, I’m going to just do it.’ I love this story that Nabokov, the writer, used to make his wife lock him in a room and he wasn’t allowed to come out until he’d put a certain amount of pages under the door. So I adhere to that approach.”

Skrufff: When you are writing music and lyrics, are you doing them simultaneously?

Princess Superstar: “No. Often I’ll work on a beat first though usually it starts with music, then I’ll write to the beat. I find it really hard to write without music. I need the music,I’m very emotional, I need the emotionality of the music to make me write.”

Skrufff: You’ve worked with people like Armand and Junior Sanchez on the new album and lots more quite opinionated characters. How did that work in practise?

Princess Superstar: “Literally it was very disconnected. In other words…it’s kind of how I like to work, maybe it’s the opposite of most artists, but I’m like ‘just give me the music and I will do my thing, and send it back to you’. I’m a control freak, they are control freaks, and I don’t think it works if you are both in the studio with two control freaks. So I do my thing, they do theirs, then it works out great.”

Skrufff: What was the Arthur Baker arrangement, with him executive producing?

Princess Superstar: “With Arthur it was entirely different, I was very happy to work with him, very closely. I came to London with a lot of the tracks in half - way done mode, and Arthur put his magic touch on it. It was so great to work with Arthur, because you could tell that he’d been in the studio for like thirty years. He’d be checking his e-mail while I’d be cutting vocals, and I’d be so fucking pissed. Then he’d look up from his e-mail and say: Change that, do this, get rid of that, that’s horrible – redo that. And I’d be finished in like five minutes. Whereas I used to cut vocals like a hundred times. Arthur just was like boom, boom boom. You thought he wasn’t even paying attention, sometimes he’d even fall asleep in the studio. He’s renowned for sleeping in the studio. Then he’d wake up with a start and say: Change that – and go right back to sleep. He’s great, I love Arthur.”

Skrufff: I understand you recently appeared in Playboy

Princess Superstar: “I was fucking in an article they wrote about me, with a sexy picture, but not like in Playboy. I would not do that. No, no, no. You’ve got to keep an air of mystery about you as a woman, I believe.”

Skrufff: The album is very futuristic. How do you se the state of the world?

Princess Superstar: “Part of me feels the world is very bleak right now, such as those aspects that I skewer on my record. The obsession with celebrity has come to a complete and utter head. When everyone is obsessed with whether Mary, Kate and Ashley are like foam thin or not. Like who fucking cares? But then I’ll be at the hairdressers and I’ll read it in a magazine; like a car crash or something. That’s part of what my record is about. Then on the other hand, there are some great things happening in the world too. I always mix my political stuff with humour. I feel like it goes down a lot easier when you’re not being preachy, so I always do that. I want to make people think and laugh, all the good things that you want people to do.”

Skrufff: given that you are Princess Superstar, there’s a contradiction there in you critiquing celebrity culture surely?

Princess Superstar: “It’s kind of like I am a celebrity in a way, so I guess there’s that factor but what’s cool about me, I think, is that I’m part celebrity but part have my foot in the underground camp too, so I really can comment on celebrity culture, in a way, because I’m not a huge celebrity. But it is ironic that I should be talking about celebrities when I am one, sort of.”

Skrufff: The album is very hip- hoppy….

Princess Superstar: “I think it’s like new wave hip – hop.”

Skrufff: How are you regarded by the regular hip – hop world?

Princess Superstar: I don’t know how I am any more, but I used to be real cool. They used to be really into me, the underground.”

Skrufff: Have you had much feedback from this album?

Princess Superstar: “No, because it’s so brand new. I haven’t heard anything so I don’t really know, other than some journalists told me that it’s a masterpiece, and I love that.”

Skrufff: Do you believe in destiny?

Princess Supertar: “Yeah. I do believe in destiny. I’m very much like a karma person, or that things happen for a reason.”

Skrufff: You’ve built your own label, you’ve done your own thing. Did you decide at one point: I’m going to do this?

Princess Superstar: “You have to have a lot of faith in yourself. I was very insecure on the one hand, but I guess the passion for the music and what I was doing just drove me the whole time. That overcame any insecurities. I wanted it so much, to do what I’m doing now, so I just kept going, even when I had no money, through all these let downs. In any kind of artistic career you’ll have like a million promises made, and a million promises broken, and when you think you’ve made it, you certainly haven’t. So I find it’s really important to be in the moment and be grateful for what you have; Right in the moment. That’s a daily thing that you have to do, because you always want more. Like that song on my album, it’s like: What do you want? More and more and more. That’s the human condition. I think I’m happy, finally. I think I’m happy, for once.”

Skrufff: What are some of the biggest obstacles you have had to try to overcome?

Princess Superstar: “I think I’ve been through the hardest thing already, which is working a day job and trying to be a musician at the same time. That was so fucking hard. I was working a job and trying to run a label and be an artist, and it was like: Oh God, I’m never going to make, I just feel so small. That was really the hardest thing. Then to a funny degree, having some success is also really difficult, because of course you want more and more and more.”

Princess Superstar: My Machine is out shortly on K7 Records, as is her next (fantastic) new single Perfect.

Jonty Skrufff (