Darq E Freaker & Lulu James's Puma Partnerships

A grime star in the making and your new favourite Geordie soul singer on the mates that keep them great

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Make-up artist Krystle G & singer Lulu James Photography by Cameron Alexander and styling from Nell Kalonji

After shooting four new musicians with their key collaborators for Dazed & Confused, today we publish their extended interviews. Today is crucial grime producer Darq E Freaker and South Shields songwriter Lulu James, check back tomorrow for RoxXxan and Unicorn Kid, and many thanks to Puma for the great trainers. 

Darq E Freaker

Peckham-based grime mainstay Darq E Freaker may have recently collaborated with uncompromising Detroit rapper Danny Brown, but still reps for his London buddy Mr Wize, an up-and-coming artist in his own right who works with Darq on his behind-the-scenes visuals. "I've been working with Darq for a while now," says Mr Wize, who also recently appeared in Mykki Blanco's 'Haze.Boogie.Life' video. "Darq E Freaker has sounds you haven't heard anywhere before, and he inspires me to hone my craft more."

DD: Where are you originally from, and when did you start making music? 

Darq E Freaker: I'm originally from Peckham in South East London, and I started making music around 4 or 5 years ago.

What's the thinking behind your pseudonym?

Obviously the 'Darq' is 'Dark' with a 'Q' instead of a 'K' to add some je ne sais quoi. The 'E' stands for eyes 'cause I have some scary, almost demon possessed-looking dodgy eyes. And 'Freaker' because because I'm a computer freak and I've always been on the computer doing quirky things. These days it's primarily making beats, of course.

Does Darq E Freaker have a motto?

Yes, my slogan/signature is 'Ultra'. You'll hear it before most of my tunes drop so listen out for it.

How did your collaboration with Danny Brown on 'Blueberry (Pills & Cocaine)' come about?

Danny did an interview with Pitchfork where he spoke with the UK producer Joker about grime music.  When queried about his knowledge of the genre he mentioned me and my tune 'Cherryade'. We hooked up via Twitter, and a couple of emails later we had birthed the cross-genre Frankenstein of a track that 'Blueberry (Pills & Cocaine)' is. Hanging out with Danny is a blast, he's a funny, intelligent being. He's an awesome guy, and we're also due to be on each other's albums so watch out for that.

How did you get your break in the grime scene?

I was always in doing things in grime but the Tempz track gave me a boost.

What is it that excites you about the London grime scene to this day?

Grime will forever be exciting because its energy and unique style isn't matched or mirrored by anything else on Earth. It's our fundamental underground music expression here in the UK. I just hope the whole world gets to see it in its true form so it can properly manifest into a multi-million genre one day, like hip hop.

Where would you take Dazed for a night out in South London? 

I would either take you guys to Plan B for 'BUMP' on a Friday, or I'd take you to Club Cable in London Bridge where a range of different events are held, with flavours from grime to dubstep, bass, hip hop and trap.

What have you got planned for 2013?

2013 should hopefully be a year of epic greatness, and I'll be releasing a fair bit of material and working with a few new and established people. Stay tuned to DARQEFREAKER.COM.

Will you be making any New Years Resolutions? 

My only resolution every year is to go harder than the last year.

Lulu James

South Shields girl Lulu James has attracted a steady following with her simmering 21st Century Soul after her supporting Rudimental on their 2012 tour. For her current single 'Be Safe', James worked with her regular collaborator Krystle G on the video's striking make-up, where Krystle covered James' face in rhinestones that glisten in the mauve light. "There's a strong level of trust between us," explained Krystle. "Lulu's happy to let me to do my thing and explore creative makeup together that suit her style and music. It makes makeup artistry fun and interesting."

DD: What did you write 'Be Safe' about?

Lulu James: 'Be Safe' is about a dark time in my life - it's about me going back to that time and offering advice to myself based on everything I've learned since then. It's about letting hope prevail and staying positive.

How long have you been singing?

I'm 21 and I've been singing all my life. I first sang in my Grandmother's choir in Tanzania when I was four years old. I forgot about singing for a number of years, but thankfully the inspiration to sing came back to me. I was never really confident that I could sing, but my friends always said I had a good voice so I started to go to open mic nights and perform. The response was amazing so I gained confidence from there.

How did you hook up with your producer Domzilla?

I met him through a programme that is run by an organisation called Generator in Newcastle. It's amazing what they do - they put together people to create. There's no fixed or firm way we do things, it might start with me humming him a bass line or a melody and then we build from there. Sometimes he throws me a groove and I ride over the top of it. One of the great things about working with Domzilla is that there are no fixed formats, it's all about the vibe.

What are your thoughts about being tagged as 'post-dubstep'?

I don't mind it. I can understand the reference, it kinda fitted my first EP I suppose. I like to call what we do '21st Century Soul', but as long as people like what we do I'm happy for them to call it what they like!

You've played shows with TEED, Rudimental and Ghostpoet. Which one's been the craziest?

They've all been amazing for different reasons. It's a massive buzz for me to be on the same bill, as I'm a massive fan of all of them. They've been a real influence on the music I make. The XOYO show with Rudimental was very special. When I'm supporting artists like that you know where to find me when they're on stage - right down the front having it!

Who are your Top 3 all-time favourite singers?

Amy Winehouse is at the top of the list. She was a very special person and you knew she meant everything she sang. India.Arie is up there too, as she has amazing soul. Gil Scott-Heron was also a real inspiration for his unique tone and creativity.

Where would you take Dazed for a night out in Newcastle?

I would take you to The Town Wall first for Scotch Eggs and a pint, then we'd go for a couple of cocktails at Tokyo before going clubbing at Digital which has the best sound system in town. I would make you give me a piggy back between venues though - it's murder trying to get around in massive heels but I just have to wear them!

What have you got planned for 2013?

I will have my debut album coming out in 2013 so all my focus is on that. I am working with Dave Okumu from The Invisible, Two Inch Punch, Kid Harpoon and of course Domzilla who binds things together in an amazing way.

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