In light of all the hype surrounding the release of Cooly G’s debut album Playin Mevia Hyperdub, Magnetic decided to give her a call. We chatted about the album, her musical origins and future, her record label and even her foray into football and rapping. Our conclusion is that she is who Aaliyah was talking about in “More Than A Woman." Enjoy...
…were just having fun making a bit of money on the side and having packed out shows. That’s good enough man, you can’t be too greedy.
So what have you been up to?
Being a mum, I have a five year old and I just had a baby girl she’s three and a half months.
How’s life as a mum treating you?
It’s all good mate, it’s the best thing that could have happened to me.
So where did the name Cooly G come from?
It was a street thing, people used to call me Cooly girl and stuff like that and I just kept the name.
When did you first start making music?
I first properly started just after I finished school, I was about 16.
Did you start producing straight away or did you mess around with traditional methods first?
Well I started singing when I was about eleven thinking I was gonna be a singer and then I started rapping. I was basically just going through the motions of what was musically going on at the time. In terms of producing I was DJing first because my uncles had a sound system so obviously I was just wanting to be involved in what they were doing. I was interested in how the tracks mixed together and stuff like that, I made a lil bit of money bought some decks and I produced my first track by sampling the guitar off a Missy Elliot tune.
So you were trying different things out seeing what suited you the best, have you officially settled on producing as your first love?
The sound that I’m coming up with now seems like a mix of everything I’ve grown up listening too, I think I just combined them all together and this stage feels the most comfortable.
So was it mainly your family and community that inspired you to make music?
Yeah my mum could sing and my dad had a little analogue studio in the crib. I was just obsessed with music from a very very young age. I went to drama school where music was involved, I used to play the drums and my uncles had sound systems and millions of records, it was what I was interested in, instead of you know, Barbie’s.
Did your parents spot your musical talent and nurture it or did you do everything off your own back?
Well, I've done everything mainly off my own back because my parents were worried about me going into the music business at first. They found it difficult trying to make it in those days so they thought I would just get heartbroken if I continue with that career, but I just said to them, I’m not going to stop doing something I seriously love. This is not even something I think about, it’s just something I need to do and I ended up carrying on getting a little bit of success and now they are well happy.
Do you still rap or is that chapter closed?
I rap to my friends when where having a little chinwag, playing instrumentals and stuff like that but I don’t do it on tracks. Sometimes I surprise guys as well, there like “fuuckin’ hell, what the fuck.”
You just blow their minds with some deep bars.
What about football how did that come about, I heard you were semi professional at one point?
Yeah I started playing football in school, but the boys were like “you can’t play football, you’re a girl!” so they put me in the goal were I saved a penalty for them and then I suddenly turned into the best person in the world. So everyone loved me and let me play football and I actually became very good at it so I started entering little competitions doing kick ups and stuff like that. Then when I had my son I went on trial for Tooting and Mitchem ladies and they just put me on straight away, but then the music was starting to pop off and then I was like I can’t do all of this. I was getting exhausted looking after a baby on my own, training three times a week with a match on Sunday not to mention the music.
To be fair you sound like some sort of super woman.
Haha I get it from my granny, she just died on Saturday but she could do everything, a proper super woman.
So how did you first get signed to Hyperdub?
I was going out with some boy but I didn’t really want to be in a relationship but I proper loved him off. Then we broke up and my friend was like come on make a tune and I was feeling in a certain kind of mood obviously, so I made the track "Love Dub." I put it online on Sunday and then by Wednesday I got an email from Hyperdub saying they liked my stuff and they wanted to put it out and I was like “let’s do this” because I didn’t know how to get my music out there. I didn’t know anything about Hyperdub at the time or that whole scene it came from. When I did it just became dramatic after that.
What do you think makes the label so unique?
It’s really weird because everyone at Hyperdub are different types of people and they are all nice and family orientated. We all do weird and stupid things when we hang out, everyone’s sound is different but there is something inside us all that is the same. I don’t know if it’s the personality or the way they think, but it's definitely something.
So how does it work, do you guys meet up and discuss projects or do you all work independently?
I think people mainly work independently, there might be times when I hook up with some of them and discuss remixes and collaborations. For instance The Bug will be like “oi I’m working on this project” and talk about his stuff, so we all talk to give each other and give advice.
What have you learned while being at the label?
Oh my days, I’ve developed a lot because I used to make tunes and not really do anything with them, not really seeing a future for them because as far as I’m concerned, I was just making beats and looking after my son. I wasn’t like “I’m gonna make my own label and push it.” I wasn’t thinking like that at the time, but I’ve learnt more from Steve on how to conduct myself, how to deal with things, even paperwork and legal stuff. Steve has been like a big brother and uncle, even if I banged my toe I would call him.
What producers do you click with the most on the label?
I really like hanging out with The Bug and I really loved it when Darkstar was on the label, I miss them so much. I cry about them sometimes I’m like where are they, I’m just hoping to be booked on the same show as them.
Why did they leave?
They got a massive record deal from a label and Steve was not gonna stop them from doing what they wanted to do. If it doesn’t work out for them I hope they come back to us.
Could you leave Hyperdub if you got a big record deal?
I would be scared, I won’t even do tracks for other peoples' labels and they get mad at me. I’m like bruv, I’m on Hyperdub I don’t know about anything else. I’ll do remixes and whatever but I’m not gonna give your four tracks to release like I’m your artist or something, I’m fully giving my heart to Hyperdub. Where not on having big stars like jay Z and shit, we're just having fun making a bit of money on the side and having packed out shows. That’s good enough man, you can’t be too greedy.
You were great a KoKo by the way, your performance seemed very organic and natural. It was really nice to watch. Having said that, do you think vocals are an important part of your music? Or do they go hand in hand with the productions?
I don’t really think anything is important right now, I’m just one of those people who gets on with it if it works, it works. Reading the reviews and stuff and how they describe the vocals I’m like “you’re going in bruv, where you going, I was just chilling” so I understand those kind of questions but I don’t really have an answer to them, I’m just here like BAM, making beats, mics on! Sing a tune! BAM! Call Steve if I want and then whatever happens, happens, I don’t think about the final product I just get along with it
Does "Playin' Me" have a concept, what charged it?
Basically when I got asked if I wanted to do an album, I was just like yeah I’ll do it but then I went on tour, so whenever I had the chance to make a track, I would make it based on how I felt that day. After I finished the album I realized it was like a journey, the whole album was a journey of all the things that were going on in my life and it just blended naturally. Originally there were twenty tracks but Steve thought it was too much so he was like pick thirteen, so we picked them out and it was like a mini journey, guys that were getting on my nerves and stuff. It all boils down to “Playin Me” the track itself is about me knowing in advance that this guy is going to play me, whether it’s this year or the year after, so I’m not gonna be letting him play me, that’s what it’s all about
What direction do you see your music taking after the album?
Errm I mainly want to build my label Dub Organizer up, I’ve got a lot of unknown artists on it that are really good and I just want to push them and nurture them and help them get their stuff out there, get a mini Kode9 thing going on. I really want to get into soundtrack stuff for films, all kinds of things, helping my community, loads of stuff.
Have you encountered any promising talent from through your label?
Yeah I really like Arethis from North Carolina, he reminds me of a Burial untold kind of thing. When I release his EP people are going to hear the potential this guy has got, when I went to tour in the US he drove twelve hours to see me. He’s really talented man, he’s paranoid but that’s what I like about him, he’s sick man. I like DJ Royce Rolls too, he’s very technical he’s goes through the mixing down of his tracks and stuff and I really love that attitude when people know what sound they want and what to do to get it. There is another artist called Medi that I have been nurturing for three years, I taught him from the beginning and now he is making these sick tracks, there proper dramatic.
Are you working on anything new or are you mainly focusing on your label?
I just moved into my new house and I’ve made music already. It’s really different to my previous stuff, and I’m exciting about it, I got a new vibe. I’m happier, I’ve got a place, my sons in a better school, everything is working out nice, where as before there were just crack heads and prostitutes.
Do you encounter much prejudice being a female in a male dominated industry?
The only thing annoying about it is when people ask me that question. Most people I have spoken to who like my music have been like “Oh my days that beat! It’s so good I’m scared of you” and it’s funny because they love me, but there also scared of me. But I have encountered a bit of that kind of thing like when I’m at shows by myself without Hyperdub in Belgium or somewhere, that’s kind of annoying because they’re afraid to speak to me, but I’m actually quite normal. When they do speak to me there like “oh, you’re really cool” and I’m like "err yeah, what did you expect.” I feel like I have experienced it but I just walk past it, I don’t really get all emotional. It’s like there were people commenting on my tune on some blog and one person was like, “nah a guy made this tune,” so I streamed a video of me making the beat live, just to let people know that it is me, I do this on my own, I do everything on my own.
That’s probably what intimidates guys, there just like “she makes good beats, plays football, raps and shit, it’s just too much!”
Yeah it is too much, it’s so bad that I can’t even get to be in a relationship. There all happy at the beginning, but then they get all weird with me, because I do all this stuff and I don’t really need them for anything so I have a feeling that I just have to be on my own, I’ve just got issues.
It sounds like the guys have got the issues rather then you, to be honest.
Yeah I guess so. I hope so.
You’re going to have to meet a guy who makes better tunes then you, so he will be ok with you.
So what do you do when you’re not making tunes?
I just chill. I do a lot of designing if I can in my spare time, like mapping out how I would design a house and stuff like that. I make little accessories like earrings and that kind of stuff. I keep creative in what I do, I’ve just started to make my son a Lego clock for my sons room, coz his whole bedroom is basically made up out of Lego now.
Are you getting your kids into music?
Well not trying to get them involved, but when I’ve been doing my stuff over the past two years my son has been getting involved with the engineering side. He actually engineered a few of the vocals on my album when I was heavily pregnant with the baby. I didn’t want to keep going back and forth so he was like “let me do it” and I just taught him what to do.
What would your perfect set of gear be?
Oh my days, CDJ2000 and DJN2000. But honestly I’m not that high maintenance, I’ve got a mini digital studio, I got Chaos pads, launch pads, AKRA ATC’s, Novation. I’ve got everything I need, I just don’t have decks but I never practise DJing so it’s all good.