On your Facebook page, you describe yourself as “a bright green cactus that brings color to a canvas of barren sand”. What does that mean? : )
It’s from a poem of mine, the rest of it is “come to me and find comfort, let’s feel the music and look at the stars. Let’s give meaning to a song.” The cactus has a lot of different meanings. It is a metaphor for me being something that does not quite belong. I am a weird succulent in the swamp of Savannah, Georgia. I stand out and bring color to life. It also is a physical inflatable cactus named Pedro. This cactus equates to happiness. People love Pedro, I’ve noticed it helps people relax, dance, and cut loose. I’ve had about 8 different inflatable cacti; some have died at music festivals or after a tour. The old ones hang on my wall and are signed by friends or feature rad bands I like stickers. Each new Pedro is like a new chapter to my life.
You are a business economics major at Armstrong University in Savannah, Georgia and also work in a deli. How do you manage to make some time for your music?
During my breaks at work or school I am promoting or booking or emailing, it is nonstop. I am always jamming with rad musicians around town or people I stumble upon in life. I keep a djembe and saxophone in my car at all times. No matter how stressed out I get with my work load, music and performing always keep me levelheaded. I make sure not to force my music as well; I write and record when I feel the inspiration seeping. Having my studio in my rainbow cave (living room) is nice because recording is very accessible and quick when I need it. I recorded « Shakespearean Rap » off of Lizard Girl in between classes one day, took me about an hour. I only do one or two takes for my verses.
You mix spoken word, funk, and alternative hip hop. Which artists do you most relate to?
Kate Tempest is my idol and a goddess of unfiltered and unapologetic words. I hope to marry her one day. She makes you look outside and then inside of yourself with her work. I relate to Janis Joplin a lot. People recently have been telling me I resemble her when I’m a mess of hair and microphone on stage, so I started researching her life more. She just wanted people to dance and let loose, and in one performance is pleading with the audience to join her. I feel that so much because sometimes it feels like I’m looking out into a field of zombies just snapchatting me, but not engaging. I just want people to dance.
On your latest EP “Lizard Girl” you worked with 10 other artists. Can you tell us more about this collaborative project?
Obamabo played a humongous role on this EP, he produced 5/6 beats, mixed, and mastered everything. Vinay Arora (my deejay) produced “Acne Scars”, in which he developed the beat from my vocal track. When it came to the design I approached all of my favorite visual artists and asked them to interpret me as a lizard. That was the only direction I gave them and it was awesome to see how they each interpreted me differently.
I had GIFs and buttons by Chibu, cassettes by Pavonine Packaging, cover art by Naomi Weiner, typography and posters by Apple Xenos, videos by Toss and Shibby Pictures and graphics/effects by Ottpopart. I paid everyone who wanted to be paid, which is very important to me. I want to compensate artists for their work; I see it as an important investment. I believe in people making money off of their art and thriving.
What’s the story behind the song and the video for “Reptilian Funk”?
The song was the first song Obamabo and I collaborated with, he remixed « Never Comin’ Down » by locals Miggs Son Daddy & MothaBug produced by Tha Monsta. I sent the vocals back the next day and we realized we have some magic in our musical relationship, so we made Lizard Girl. I told Toss Productions I wanted to do a music video where I was in a car driving around and spitting the song. I thought they were going to have a dashboard camera to attach inside of the car, but they showed up with a thing to attach the camera to the outside of the car.
We drove around town with the camera hooked onto the hood of the car while Steve was watching the footage in the back seat of the car, behind Pedro. The entire time I was spitting I swore this expensive camera was going to fall but it didn’t. My dear queen Ottpopart did glitch effects on the footage to give it an edge. I love how we all came together to make this happen, and I enjoy the final product. It has this funk psychedelic feel to it and enhances as the music builds. Everyone did a great job.
How hard is it to be accepted as a woman on the hip hop scene today?
I love the look on people’s faces when I tell them I’m a rapper. Most people are confused or in awe because I look like Marcia Brady. When I first started rapping I wanted so desperately for everyone to accept me as a rapper and not just a spoken word artist. This one rapper would say, “Valore when are you going to spit bars?” Just because my bars don’t sound like old school or mainstream hip hop doesn’t mean they’re not bars. I knew my sound was unique and I didn’t compromise myself. I don’t really try to be accepted anymore, I just let my words and performance do the talking. One time this guy told me women can’t rap so I spit something and left him speechless. If you have confidence and spit raw words that move people, they won’t be looking at your race or gender; they’ll be listening to your rhymes.
Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why?
Yes because gender shouldn’t define your status in society. We have to give everyone equal opportunities.
What are you listening to these days?
KYLE’S new album SMYLE (which is super jammy math rock), Yani Mo’s Space and Simplicity (she is the best female emcee in the game right now), Culture Vulture (I dance way too hard at their shows every single time), Jungle Pussy (it’s just so ill always), The Mother Goddess (sultry Toronto femcee), The Gumps (swamp punk), Tokalos (all my favorite ladies in one band), the list expands every day. I go to live shows almost every night so random bands from across the country who play in living rooms and bars. Random things I find on soundcloud/bandcamp are always cool. The internet is an incredible place, I mean, you found me in this abyss. I have listened to Kendrick’s new album and it’s dope, makes my soul do a samba. I love how he has an orchestra of sounds and his flow is so clean with a bunch of switch ups in tempo.
What are your upcoming projects?
I’ve begun exploring the saxophone and I’m in love. Playing the sax is like taming the wind inside of me into sultry tones. My next project will be a mix of a wide range of my poems accompanied with sax and electronic elements. The poems are from very intimate and poignant times in my life. I am also starting a folk/punk/rap band with the eccentrically cool Matt Hewitt aka Mustard Shankly, we have about 5 songs laid out and are about to start playing some shows soon. One of our songs is called “Covered in Blood” and is about how Jesus comes back as Ronald McDonald to damn us all to hell. I also am going on a European tour, I just booked my flight and I’m flying into Paris August 6 and flying out October 1st. If you know any cool places to hit up, hit me up. Let’s collaborate and hang out.
What do you think about Madame Rap? What should be changed or improved?
Keep doing what you’re doing love it!! Featuring rad female emcees is awesome. You could add cool quotes from their music perhaps.
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