With her new single ‘Psycho’ set to be released on Monday, Matt Tarr caught up with Lady Lykez to discuss the track, what influences her music and the difficulties with being an independent artist in the UK.
MT: What was your inspiration for the new single, ‘Psycho’?
LL: I really wanted to get across the highs and lows of being in a relationship, you know the thin line between love and hate, one minute you love them one minute you don’t, because I’ve seen it so many times and I’ve been in the situation where you get that feeling of being heartbroken, it’s kind of eratic. I just really wanted to push the boundaries and show people how things can go from one extreme to the other. I think a lot of people can relate to it, girls and guys.
MT: It definitely feels like the track comes from a very personal place lyrically and you can tell it’s something that you’ve experienced yourself. Was the video also your idea or did you have a team of people working on ideas for the visuals?
LL: With all my videos me and my manager have come up with the concepts. All the videos that inspire me are old videos like old skool Ludacris videos that were really animated and interesting to watch all the way through. I really wanted to do something interesting and make it really cool and I thought ‘How can we make this crazy character, this crazy girl who seems like she’s somebody else?’ and so I pulled up pictures of things like The Grudge, The Ring and The Exorcist as I thought it would be a cool concept. Nang TV shot it and we just brought the ideas to them.
MT: You mention old skool videos inspiring you during the making of the video for ‘Psycho’ but was the track itself inspired by any other artists?
LL: Well I like a lot of old skool Hip-Hop, a lot of Eminem’s old stuff and a lot of harder underground Hip-Hop where it’s got a lot of emotion to it. When I got in the studio I knew what kind of beat I wanted; the beat’s quite sinister but kind of emotional at the same time and I really wanted to get that across well.
MT: In terms of your ‘sound’ as an artist, would you say that what we hear on ‘Psycho’ is your ‘sound’ or would you say that the single is a new direction for you?
LL: I think it’s part of me. I’m a person who you can never expect the same thing from and I don’t box myself in to be like ‘this is me now and I’m just going to do this’. I love music in general and I like to be creative so wherever my creative juices take me, that’s where I’m willing to go. So ‘Psycho’ is definitely a certain style that I can do and there are other tracks that have that kind of theatrical element to them, but I’ve got other tracks that are more fun like ‘I Love My Butt’ which is a bit more jokey and fun. It all depends on what I’m trying to get across in the track.
MT: With more artists seemingly having to change their musical style as they sign record deals and gain commercial success, is this something you would consciously avoid in order to maintain your artistic integrity?
LL: I think it depends on the label you’re signed to. When you sign to a label, I feel like it’s all about them understanding the artist and I think if they understand you, you can be yourself. What can happen is that the label doesn’t understand the artist and so they might not understand Hip-Hop, they might not understand where the artist is coming from and that’s when they try and change it and it never comes across well because you can tell that this is not who they really are and they’re just doing what they’ve been told to do. For me, I always wanna stay true to what I do and if I do go to a major they would have to understand me as an artist. I wouldn’t be willing to be fake or put something out that I don’t like because music is a form of expression and I want to make good music and not something that I don’t enjoy cos if I don’t enjoy it, other people might not either.
MT: Do you think that people still need to push for a deal with a major label or do you think commercial success is still possible on independent labels?
LL: I think there’s pros and cons to being independent. As an independent artist myself, it’s good to be hands on with the visuals and I co-produce a lot of the tracks, so everything is like ‘right this is what I wanna do, this is me’ and I feel like sometimes with labels you might not have as much creative control as you would like, but then again as an independent artist it’s really hard when it comes to funding. With me, for example, sometimes I do struggle because all the money I get I have to put back into videos and photo-shoots and everything else and it’s really, really expensive, so that’s where it’s like a catch 22 because if you had a big label then you have the funds and they can put a big push behind you with the money, which is all I would want really so I could put out expensive videos and put out bigger productions. I think it is a struggle to come out as an independent artist but there are still a lot of good things.
MT: Absolutely and if you look at artists who have had success on independent labels recently such as Meridian Dan with ‘German Whip’, he has managed to have huge commercial success and chart in the top 20.
LL: And that’s what I mean, maybe if he was signed to a major label they wouldn’t understand a tune like that, they probably wouldn’t push out a tune like that. I think in the UK it’s hard to push out, I hate to say this word, ‘urban’ music and it’s difficult to get urban rap big in the UK; if we were in America now for example, I feel like it would be a whole different story cos they love Hip-Hop over there, it’s what they do whereas over here they’re like, ‘Is it mainstream?, Are the radios gonna play it?’ and you’ll find they’re not gonna play it, so it’s hard but it’s an ongoing battle. I’ve been realising it more now that my music is getting out there more but I have been really happy as ‘Psycho’ has been playlisted on 1Xtra and Charlie Sloth premiered it and we’ve had so much support but now I think, ‘I wanna get playlisted on Radio 1’ and take it to the next level.
MT: In terms of other artists, is there anyone that you would like to collaborate with, either from the US or the UK?
LL: I think me and Ghetts could do a wicked track, that would be a good collaboration and in terms of the US I think me and Busta Rhymes would make a sick record or even me and Missy [Elliott] actually, I feel like we could do something crazy.
MT: With ‘Psycho’ being released on Monday is there an EP or an album to follow?
LL: I should be releasing my EP around August and I’m gonna do an EP launch around that time as well so just planning that as we speak. ‘Psycho’ is obviously out on iTunes on 25th May and I will be performing it for the first time at ‘Do Your Ting’ which is a live music showcase event taking place on 29th May at Vibe Bar in Brick Lane. I’m also performing at Camden Crawl this year which should be really good.
If you want to hear more from the extremely talented Lady Lykez, follow her on Twitter, purchase the new single ‘Psycho’ from Monday 25th May 2014 on iTunes and catch her down at Vibe Bar in Brick Lane performing the new single for the very first time.