One of the many things that X-Factor tries to push on its viewers is the idea that a back-story is as, if not more, important than the talent on show. It’s a strange concept that the producers presume that we can forgive a lack of talent, in what is still, essentially, a talent show, if there is some sad and/or harrowing story that lies in the participants past. If Lulu James were to enter the competition then those same producers would have a field day; for her past is one filled with intrigue and turmoil.
But does that matter? No, of course not. I’m sure it’s had an effect on her personality but listen to the music she’s creating and isn’t plainly obvious that she isn’t dwelling on it. The music that Lulu James is making is soulful, hypnotic – and incredibly danceable – pop music. Her latest single, Be Safe, is one of the years stand-out singles and you don’t need any knowledge of her family history to know that.
We caught up with her for a chat about how the year has been, the new single, and what the next few months hold for her…
Hey Lulu, how has 2012 treated you?
2012 has been proper mint thanks – the year has treated me really well.
You put your debut EP out earlier this year, were you pleased with how it all went?
Yes the idea of the EP was just to say “Hi – this is me – whatcha think?” It was received really positively and people loved the vibe so I was really pleased with the response.
You also have a new single out next month – what can you tell us about it?
If I told you I’d have to kill you! Ha! No really it’s been great working with Hostage & Kidnap Kid and all the Black Butter crew on ‘Be Safe’ – they have an amazing thing going on and it’s great to have been invited to be a part of that. Also watch out for ‘Stuck’ which will be released as the AA on the single – written and produced with the mysterious Mao.
So as not to dwell on it, would you like to sum it up you formative years for us in a short paragraph?
I can sum it up in three letters if you want – FML x
Was it a difficult time when you first moved to the UK?
It was a whirlwind to be honest – I think you only understand ‘difficult’ when you have something to compare it too – at that time I didn’t having anything to compare it to so I thought everyone had the same challenges.
Have those unsettled years had a big impact on your own music writing?
I guess so – my work is inspired by darkness put always with a positive ending.
At what point did you first start getting into music? Who were your inspirations when growing up?
I first sang in my Grandmothers choir in a little village in Tanzania but I lost that memory for a while – she was my first hero. As a kid I loved Whitney & India Irie – as I grew up and discovered my love for electronic music, people like Jamie XX and Diplo became heroes to.
What’s the plan going forward…can we expect at a full album next year?
The plan is to keep peddling darkness with a happy ending – ha! The plan is to finish the Album which is well underway and to get on the road to promote it – I don’t have a real strategy other than to do what I love and to take it to as many people as possible.
You’re playing a few shows next month. What can people expect from your live show?
The shows I am doing in November are club shows so will just be me, myself & I – I’m rehearsing a band at the moment so you can expect to see the full live show in the Spring. The club shows will be uptempo and aimed at the dance floor so you should be able to get your groove on.
How much do you enjoy playing live, compared to the writing/recording side of things?
Performing in front of people is my real high – I do proper cack meself just before I go on but once the beat starts and my lungs fill I feel like I’m flying. Writing and recording is amazing obviously but nothing really gives the buzz of doing it live.
Finally, tell us a little-known fact about yourself…
I’m shit hot at poker, do you want to play for money?
Interview by Tom Johnson