Don't debate, collaborate, with two of music's hottest risers and their trusted allies
In the spirit of open-source collaboration, for our January issue, we got four great new musicians to chat about their mates, and shot them wearing Puma's new collection. Yesterday Darq E Freaker described his visual collaborator Mr Wize, while Lulu James spoke about her favourite make-up artist Krystle G. Below, happy-hardcore kid Unicorn and Brummie MC RoxXxan spill the beans.
On her debut mixtape 'Prepare4WhenILand', RoxXxan raps with a fire and passion that's been building since she started rhyming in a youth group at the age of 13. The main main for her visuals is Damian Collins, who styles the rapper and directed her recent 'Guerilla' video. "I was blown away by RoxXxan's energy and delivery when I first saw her on YouTube," Collins recalls. "As luck would have it, we met through a mutual friend shortly after. We developed a bond through music and creative expression - Roxxx handles the music and I come up with unique visual ideas to help bring her vision to life."
DD: When did you start rapping?
RoxXan: I started properly when i was about 13. In the area that I grew up, all the kids used to go to a 'play scheme', and one day they took us to a studio where we ended up each writing 8-bars to a track. I loved the whole experience and it gave me a drive to turn it into something real.
What's the rap scene like in Birmingham?
RoxXan: The rap scene in Birmingham is huge! But back then it wasn't as big. Grime was big in London, but in Birmingham a lot of us were influenced by American rappers so we started making songs, as opposed to the bars that London grime-heads were writing.
Why did you decide to put a 'xXx' in your name?
RoxXan:Not for dagga purposes! It stands for "Me Myself and I." I wasn't lonely growing up but I'm an only child so I was always alone.
When did you write 'Too Fucking Facety'?
RoxXan: I wrote 'Too Fucking Facety' about a year ago with Mikey J. Things were really hard at the time and everything was going wrong. I was an hour late to the studio and had got stopped and fined by London travel. I was explaining it to Mikey and was getting a little heated when he turned to me and said, "Roxxx, you're too fucking facety!" I replied "Is it because my jeans hang low below my waist G?" The rest is history!
You collaborate on your styling with Damian Collins. What's your #1 style tip?
RoxXan: I always have one swag piece - whether it's a watch or very sick trainers.
Which rappers are your all-time icons?
RoxXan: Missy Elliot is probably my biggest inspiration for the way she skips on a beat. Eminem is insane, I love his word play. SpaceGhostPurrp too, because he doesn't follow any pattern - he just does his thing and that really inspires me.
There's been a lot of speculation about your sexuality and who you're dating. Does that annoy you, and would you like to set the record straight?
RoxXan: It used to, because I was finding myself and becoming who I am. To set the record straight I am bi, I like boys and girls - I don't discriminate! Right now I'm in a happy relationship.
To those that don't know, what's your definition of "facety"?
RoxXan: 'Facety' equals rude, don't give a fuck - this is me!
Are you still unsigned?
RoxXan: Yes, I'm still unsigned and loving it. My focus is to build a solid fan base, tour, make more music that is real to me, and build my career to a point where the label needs me. It's important that my career is built on what I want to say and who I want to be.
Will you be making any New Years Resolutions?
RoxXan:For 2013 my plans are: work hard, play hard and live life so i can write about it. And to make the best album since Lauryn Hill and Ms. Dynamite!
Edinburgh-based pop producer Unicorn Kid (aka Oliver Sabin) makes big tunes best enjoyed with lasers, glowsticks, and an energy drink on the go. To complement the vintage rave cave setting of his recent video 'Feel So Real', he regularly collaborates with Bradford-born photographer Alis Pellechidi on shoots which explore an industrial-meets-sportswear aesthetic. "I think we both understand the excitement of colliding our different worlds together, as music, style and imagery combine to create a fantasy explosion," Pellechidi explains. "Growing up, I spent a lot of time taking photos in my room to upload to Myspace, which I relate to Unicorn Kid creating music in his bedroom and putting it on Tumblr. What starts as a fantasy world grows into real life. I see him as a kind of magical creature."
DD: What's the sample in 'Feel So Real' from?
Unicorn Kid: I originally wrote 'Feel So Real' about a year ago. The sample is from an old rave track by Love Decade called 'So Real'. I released an early instrumental version in November last year under the name 'Chrome Lion' 'cause I didn't think I'd ever get the vocal cleared, so as soon as I had the vocal sample sorted I decided to do it as a proper single. Sometimes tracks can be written and finished in a couple days, but this one was a work in progress for over a year.
The rave posters in the 'Feel So Real' video are great. Did you make them?
Unicorn Kid: Nah, I sent over a bunch of references for the set design when we were planning the video. It included a photo of some old rave posters and the production company perfectly recreated them.
You grew up in Leith, Scotland. How did those surroundings inform your early music taste?
Unicorn Kid: Growing up, I was heavily into UK Hardcore, DJs like Hixxy, Darren Styles and Dougal & Gammer. When I was about 12 or 13 that stuff was still really popular. At school and in my area people pretty much only listened to hardcore or chart RnB. Happy Hardcore was always considered to be 'chavvy' working-class music. It just reminds me of getting drunk and wrecking shit as a teen. It's such positive music but it also feels really violent and hedonistic in a way.
What's the one musical act or genre that the world needs to wake up to?
Unicorn Kid: I love the new hardstyle stuff coming out of the Netherlands, it's very close to all the hard and heavy dubstep and house that's taking over the USA right now, I think it's only a matter of time until they wake up to hardstyle too.
Who's the ultimate Unicorn Kid fan? Who would you be most flattered to see in the front row of your show?
Unicorn Kid: I have a few megafans that I recognise from online. Some of them have tattoos and stuff or just tweet me constantly. It's quite weird to me to have that kind of fandom but I love them and try to engage with them as much as possible. The coolest thing for me is recognising a fan off the Internet in a crowd. I like when stuff from the web comes into real life like that.
I read that you had a collaboration in the works with Kele Okereke?
Unicorn Kid: I did that collaboration a couple of years ago. It just came together through a friend of a friend, I sent him the instrumental and he recorded over it but I wasn't that happy with the final product, so I think it's been shelved. It wasn't Kele's fault or anything, my instrumental was just pretty weak.
What's the first thing you'd save if your house was burning down?
Unicorn Kid: Definitely my computer. I haven't backed it up in months - if I lost the data I wouldn't have an album to release!
Which vocalist would you love to guest on one of your tracks?
Unicorn Kid: I've been listening loads of Kylie Minogue recently, tracks like 'Love At First Sight' and 'Come Into My World' totally have that modern J-Pop sound to them. I'd love to make some Perfume-style pop tracks and have her on them, maybe Sophie Ellis-Bextor too.
Why do you make music?
Unicorn Kid: I fell into making music accidentally, but I like not having to work a regular job. It's cool to making money doing something you love, people work their whole lives to get to that point. I don't really have any qualifications or experience working so this is all I know, I don't even know how I'd get a job if I ever needed to.
What have you got planned for 2013?
Unicorn Kid: I'm finally releasing my debut album at the start of 2013. It's been almost 3 years in the making so I'm just happy to finally get it out. I'll probably start working on the second one and take on some production work too. I have a few other project ideas. I wanna do to hardstyle what Skrillex did to dubstep, and I also wanna manufacture a teen pop group - but I probably won't do that until 2014.