As Posted on NeonNettle.com
Meet Espa, A New Artist Blurring The Lines Of Music And Fashion
Her EP ‘150th and Broadway’ is out now
Refreshingly, new artist Espa is unafraid to call herself a feminist and stand as an example of a female singer who doesn’t need to sexualize herself in the media to be heard. Her debut EP ‘150th and Broadway’ aims to unlock a sense of imagination in its listeners, as she truly believes that “imagination is the lost gift of childhood.”
At the tender age of 23, Espa touches on quite profound subject matter in her lyricism that shows maturity beyond her years. Despite recently launching her solo career, she has previously worked with the likes of Balistiq on hit single ‘Louder’ and similarly to artists like FKA Twigs, she tends to incorporate her love of fashion into her music.
Neon Nettle sat down with the London-based artist Espa to talk about her female role models in the fashion and music industries, genre bending, feminism and her new EP ‘150th and Broadway’.
NN: How would you describe your sound to those who haven’t heard your music yet? What genre would you classify yourself as?
Espa: I consider my music to be of the miscellaneous category or genre bending. My influences are so vast that it’s hard not to channel a little piece of all of them through my music. Today I’m listening to Jai Paul; yesterday it was Billy Holliday.
NN: Your latest single ‘Apartment 2f’ has already received overwhelming support, what was the inspiration behind that song?
Espa: The song is about growing up. The moments in your early twenties when you realise you’re not a kid anymore and you need to get your shit together and look after yourself. It’s an honest portrayal of a time when I was very vulnerable and far from home. In that moment I was able to see the truth of the situation, that’s the ‘light’ that I talk about in the song.
NN: Your close friends The Flatbush Zombies produced the track, how did you guys first meet and decide to work together?
Espa: The first time I worked with Erick Arc Elliot (FBZ rapper and producer) it was very explosive. The tunes were pouring out, we wrote about six tunes in the first couple of sessions. I’m so fascinated by those boys; the dedication to their art is astounding. I wrote some choruses for them, Erick wrote some beats for me and so we shall continue!
NN: You also collaborated with them on hip-hop track ‘Red Light Green Light’, have you got any more plans to dabble in hip hop or any other genres of music other than your own?
Espa: Hip-hop is a huge part of who I am and my sound, so I will always make music that has one foot in the tradition of hip-hop. And as long as I’m working with artists like FBZ, and now the new super group with The Underachievers ‘Clockwork indigo’ (Espa sang on their debut track, ‘Butterfly Effect’), there is no way that I can deny hip-hop a place in my sound. I’d also like to collaborate with Dave Grohl one day.
NN: What would you like your fans to take from your new EP ‘150th and Broadway’?
Espa: I would love the listeners to feel some or all of these things: Transported, energised, moved and inspired. It’s important that, as adults, we start tapping into our wonderful, extravagant imaginations. I hope that this EP, and the visuals that go with it, are a gateway to your own imagination.
NN: How was it working with Shiftk3y and Todd Oliver? What was the dynamic like in the studio?
Espa: These boys are two of my best friends. So with all that history, a very safe creative space exists. There’s a lot of bravery and honesty in the studio. There’s also a lot of laughter and silliness. We have a very profound understanding of each other’s musical brains and can often preempt what the other person is going to suggest. Spoooooky!
NN: You previously spoke about the EP being inspired by renowned photographer Rankin’s ‘Book of Portraits’, what spoke to you about this particular body of work?
Espa: The EP artwork is loosely inspired by that book. There’s something so magical about Rankin’s work. It feels to me that he is very in touch with his inner-child and imagination. That speaks to me and to the millions of people who adore his work! I’d love to work with Rankin one day.
NN: Are you comfortable with the feminist label and why?
Espa: I saw a poster the other day, it said: ‘Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians’. This amused me. It was clearly written by a very fearful man! Feminism is about the pursuit of equality. Although, the sheer fact that ‘feminism’ exists as a label proves that inequality still remains. When the day arrives that the human race can’t recall that the word ‘feminism’ existed, that there was ever a pursuit for ‘gay rights’ or that there was such thing as the class system, that is the day when we will be truly equal and, therefore, truly free.
NN: You’ve previously described Bjork as being one of your inspirations, what other artists influenced your take on music growing up?
Espa: I grew up with a grandfather who toured with Frank Sinatra for 20 years. He also played with Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Judy Garland and many more. I was only allowed to listen to music of class when I was growing up haha! I eventually rebelled and started immersing myself in Jimi Hendrix, Wu Tang, Nirvana, D’Angelo, Nas and Amy Winehouse. Let’s not get this twisted though, my love for Frank Sinatra is unconditional. That man was a G to the highest level.
NN: What was the highlight of London Fashion Week for you? Were there any collections in particular that stood out?
Espa: Moschino’s Barbie Collection. It’s pure genius. Jeremy Scott really is an advanced creative genius.
NN: Would you ever consider starting your own fashion line, once your career in music is further established?
Espa: Art is art. Whether your muse is music, poetry, cooking or fashion. I’m into it all. It would be a wonderful privilege to get into fashion at some point in my career.
NN: Who are your role models in the fashion world and why?
Espa: Vivienne Westwood. It takes a brave woman to rule the punk rock movement from a throne of safety pins, skulls and couture gowns. There is such a rare union of rebellion, opulence and ethical consciousness about what she does. I’m in awe. I’m currently rocking her ‘Save the Arctic’ tee. Go Viv!!
Another artist who blurs the lines between music and fashion is cyber-pop artist Veronica Vesper, check out my interview with her below:
Music and fashion have always gone hand-in-hand. One genre that has had a major influence over contemporary style cycles is hip-hop. Read my article below: