UK Radar: Etta Bond

UK Radar: Etta Bond

To some, Etta Bond might not exactly be a brand new name; I first interviewed the singer/songwriter way back in 2012, when alongside producer Raf Riley she was one-half of ExR aka Emergency Room. Together they created beautiful noise; meshing dubstep, soul, rave and uncut lyrics to deliver an authentic underground British sound. The first to be signed to Labrinth’s Odd Child Recordings in 2011, Bond has been busy nurturing her soulful sound, continuing to work with Raf, alongside Chris Loco and also a few features here and there; Skepta’s "Mastermind" being a standout piece.

Admittedly #CoolUrbanNewTalent – see what she did there – was released at the end of 2014 but there’s a timeless feel to the EP and those experiences surrounding relationships. Plus having followed up with another Chris Loco collaboration "Seen and Never Heard" late last year, it’s safe to say the pace is picking back up for Etta. With so much music being churned out nowadays, for fear of being forgotten or focusing on what their peers are up to, it’s refreshing to have an artist like Etta; who picks her producers wisely, keeps features to a minimal and most all doesn’t feel pressured to become something that she’s not, just to get a step ahead.

Over the past month, a number of organically crafted, super sultry renditions have surfaced on her Soundcloud; all built almost within 24 hours of receiving the instrumentals via a request on her Twitter account. Together with her friend Rosie Matheson, she has even added a visual element for each track. If this is due to her being fresh from a recent relaxing yet inspiring trip to Jamaica, we’re all about supporting her next trip out there.

Intrigued to find out more, we took the train up to Tottenham to catch up with the laid back artist at her home to talk about a stream of projects set for 2016, whether artists benefit from being rebels; the importance, or not so much of ‘blowing up’; sickening social networks and how venturing into other areas of the industry may possibly aid her upcoming music.

On the stream of new releases…

Sometimes I put an email address out on Twitter and just get people to send me stuff if they feel like it. Literally the day I recorded 4U, I was supposed to have a session and it got cancelled, so I was feeling the need to create and got a bit upset about it. I went through my emails I just came across this one beat by Furozh and thought it was kind of wavy, so I wrote to it and I was around a studio so my friend said lets record it. It was a weird one because it was the first time I’ve actually recorded something someone sent to me but I kind of like the idea that its someone from Twitter essentially, it was really cute.

On people resonating with "Seen and Never Heard"…

Because it’s the truth, I guess and people like truth. I don’t really think about it too much because it’s just what I do. [I didn’t think too much about the song or video and that’s what was so nice about it because it came about pretty naturally. We made the song and that same day I took the photo, which was used as a cover picture and then from that photo I wanted to expand on that for the video. It kind of says everything that I want to say; it wasn’t until we actually shot it that I realised how much of an effect or a moment that would be for me. In terms of just the people that were involved it was something that you couldn’t really predict, it was so special. The process of that was almost even more important than it being filmed. It was like, not only am I naked in front of everyone but they’re filming it too even if you didn’t have the camera there it would have been a moment for everyone, it was really empowering.

On the reasoning behind #CoolUrbanNewTalent

It was about where I was; maybe it was the meeting of my personal life and the music industry. Releasing #CoolUrbanNewTalent was the sort of time where I really started feeling the industry and everything affecting my life and the way I felt and my relationships. Saying that, in that EP I remember actually finding it quite difficult to write honestly at the time because it’s like, I don’t want everyone knowing my business but I want everyone to know how I feel, so it was like a new angle for me. It was like a new challenge, which I don’t mind because you can always find a way to create.

On the importance of having a rebellious nature as an artist…

It can either help or hinder. I feel like I’m quite against a lot of stuff but I feel like it will stop me going into dangerous places that are not good for me. At the same time in terms of being rebellious what is rebellion? In an industry like this, if you don’t have that in you, you’re just going to end up as that sort of artist that everyone wants you to be and expects you to be and then you’re living a life that isn’t yours and to me that’s not the route to happiness. I’ve just always done what I want, I’ve been like that annoyingly since I was really little, so it has been my help but also my hindrance over the years. Others might say it’s hindered me; you know people say things like, ‘Oh why haven’t you blown yet?’ ‘Or ‘you’re so underrated’. I’m like; well maybe I don’t want to necessarily be a superstar, that’s not my fucking aim in life. It’s not to be so disgustingly worshipped that no ones opinion actually matters, that isn’t my idea of life. I feel uncomfortable when people compliment me in a weird way on Twitter. I get weird with people making it about me rather than the things I felt. I don’t mind being congratulated on being able to express the things that I did because it’s difficult for people to express certain emotions sometimes but I get uncomfortable with unnecessary amounts of praise. The rebellion, which might have hindered me in other peoples eyes, to me that might have actually been my saviour because I don’t actually think I’d have been happy if I was a superstar, I don’t think that lifestyle would fulfil me. I don’t really know if that’s where I’m supposed to be, I just like making things.

On taking the pressure off of music…

I’m planning this year to put out a series of projects, which is cool because last year I didn’t even put out a project. I tend to put one project out a year but this year I’m just planning to really go in and make loads and release loads. Pressure, I hate that word, is there pressure? There’s pressure for me to pay my bills and I want to go back to Jamaica, but other than that what’s the pressure. I’m going to start deejaying as well soon. I thought about it for a while and I just think I’d like to start doing things that lift that pressure. I’m just spreading myself out a bit, so I’m not putting all of that pressure of paying my bills on my music because my music is like my heart, it’s precious to me. I want the pressure to be the natural pressure from myself not if I don’t hurry up and sell some tickets, I’m gonna get kicked out of my house. I don’t want it to be like that, I want it to be about freedom that’s why I want to go back to Jamaica because I felt so free out there and that to me is the best thing for music. I’m not saying I’m not gonna make music here, I’ve just come back and I’m feeling very inspired, so I’m hoping I’ve got enough juice and relaxation to last me until I’ve made enough money.

On venturing into deejaying…

It was something that the people around me and myself always thought about but out of choice, most of my time is spent on music because that’s what I love. Most of my heart and attention will be on music but I’ve got enough time to do other things, we all have the same amount of time as Beyoncé in a day. So I can make music, DJ and do radio, I can do these things. Right now I just got back from JA so all I want to play is bashment and dancehall but I don’t know if that would run. I love old skool hip hop and R&B but I’m gonna really and truly sit around with all my friends that I listen to music with and have a think about it with them. To me deejaying would be like having a job, in my mind, it would take me back to the days when I was at college and went to the studio in my spare time. I’d get to the studio and I’d be like finally whereas now I don’t always feel like that. It’s not the same, everything has to be scheduled and planned. I’m not waiting for the schedule anymore, I’ve learned to not wait for someone to put it in my diary, I’m calling people up on a daily basis; I’ve got two options if someone flops me. I don’t want it to sound like I’m over music but it’s just another outlet and it will make music a little bit more fun for me again because it all gets a bit serious out here and I’m just not into that.

On the sad state of social networks…

It seems like a bit of a circus sometimes on Twitter, I don’t really get it, it’s all very intense. To be honest Twitter is a very strange place, it’s like I wish I could unfollow everyone because I j feel like I’m seeing just bare bullshit. Glorifying the most distasteful - in my eyes - stuff, and not encouraging the best mind set. It does benefit me as an artist but as a human being I try and stay the fuck away because I’m not trying to look at the last persons retweet of laughing at really distasteful things and I wouldn’t like to encourage it or have it in my life. It’s just really sad and dangerous for our minds the things that are glorified, like people will do anything for retweets. But I use it to talk to the people that are cool enough to support me.

On the growing strength of females in the homegrown music scene…

I think more people are coming through now. There seems to be more female singers in the past than there has been female rappers or MCs. I think sometimes maybe it’s taken us a little bit longer to not try and be Beyoncé and the guys have already given up on being Dipset a long time ago, they got over that and they started doing their own thing. In terms of, ‘how do I make soulful music without copying Beyoncé?’ It’s just starting. I’m not a stranger to being compared to Lily Allen because she’s obviously someone that sings in a British accent but that’s not everything. Ray Blk is coming through now and before I kind of thought that it was an accent thing that annoyed me but she proved me wrong. She still feels very British and sounds very British; she’s talking about things that affect her in her area and her life and I feel like I know her. Its that thing of feeling real, now the scene is doing a lot better for itself that is giving people the confidence to actually be British and be themselves. You’ve got people coming through like Nadia Rose, I’m a fan of and support her but in terms of girls, I’m definitely becoming more proud. I’ll roll to a Ray Blk show on myown because I wanted to see her, she’s sick, she’s dope, I would co-sign her 100% she’s nang.

Look out for more tunes and visuals dropping from @EttaBond and check out the previous UK Radar acts here.