Icelandic rapper Countess Malaise told us about her latest single That Bitch, from her upcoming album “All By Myself”, and her “sex-positive, radical, honest and vulnerable” feminism.
Where does the name Countess Malaise come from?
When I was thinking of a name, I was reading a comic book called Modesty Blaise and I was hanging out in the studio with my ex Lord Pusswhip. I was like joking around saying “what about Modesty Blaze?” and he rhymed back “Countess Malaise?” and I decided to look up what “Malaise” meant (: a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or unease whose exact cause is difficult to identify), and I pretty much said “ok, that is exactly how I feel all of the time so I guess that is my name”.
Sometimes I feel like maybe I should change my name because I don’t want to feel like this but now I feel like the message has changed more to …..I AM SICKENING.
How were you introduced to hip hop and how did you start rapping?
It’s a long ass story, I’ll try and keep it short. I was introduced to hip hop through my uncles, TV and radio. I grew up with karaoke in my house so singing/performing has always been a part of my life. From a young age, I started writing stories and poems about my life. I had diaries in boxes filled with drawings and writings.
But when I was 19, I was in an abusive relationship with a violent and obsessive man. I stopped writing for a long time during and after that, but when I finally got out of that abusive relationship, haunted by PTSD, I started hanging out with Pusswhip again and writing again. We kind of just started making music together and we just truly believed in each other.
So that is really how it all started. Writing, rapping and performing forced me to keep fighting through the pain and the flashbacks.
If someone wants to discover your music, which track would you advise them to listen to first and why?
That Bitch. Because it slaps, it’s fierce but it’s still vulnerable. Or an oldie but a goldie Goddam I love my man. Because it’s my softer side, I talk explicitly about sex, about being in love and feeling loved deeply.
You just released the track That Bitch. Is it part of an upcoming project?
Yes it’s a single from my upcoming project : “All By Myself”. It was supposed to come out on Halloween like my last project “Hystería”, but this year has been shitty so I decided to release That Bitch and postpone the whole thing until the beginning of 2021. But it’s soon!
You often denounce sexism and rape culture in general in your lyrics. Do you see rap as a tool to express feminist ideas?
Rapping originally comes from Black oppression and their need to get their voices heard, to be respected. Femmes and BIPOC are still in this today, fighting for their rights….So it’s only natural to use the biggest and most influential music genre to get the message out and keep on fighting against the sexist and racist system of everything.
How would you define your own feminism?
LGTBQ+, BIPOC, radical, honest, vulnerable and sex positive.
Who are your female role models?
How is the female hip hop scene like in Iceland?
There are a few females. Not much happening right now at least. But you know it is whatever…I don’t limit myself to Iceland…I have sisters around the world and I wanna be worldwide baby.
What are your upcoming projects? How does the coronavirus pandemic impact on your activity?
I’m making visuals and merch for “All By Myself”. Collaborating with dope artists! Mainly via the internet.
Coronavirus fucked up my plans, but desperation teaches a naked woman to spin threads or whatever.
What do you think about Madame Rap? What should be changed or improved?
I’m really excited to learn about Madame Rap, I think a platform LGTBQ+ folx in hip hop/rap is a really great way to build a sense of community and good way to discover.
I think it would be a major thing if you would put a PRODUCERS link on your website. I wanna see more BIPOC female LGBTQ+ producers blowing up too!