After gaining notoriety in her native Britain VV Brown burst onto the scene in the U.S. in 2009 with her debut album, Traveling Like The Light. The multitalented artist has performed at Glastonbury and even snagged a show for Prince Charles during the Princes Trust Celebrate Success Awards. Prior to working on her own music Brown was a session singer and songwriter for the Pussycat Dolls. In addition to her vocal and songwriting capability, the Northhampton native has a strong sense of style, which garnered her an ad campaign for U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer. It’s safe to say that Brown’s success in the U.S. matches her success back in the U.K. She’s appeared on Ellen, Rachel Ray, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and has performed alongside artists such as Mary J. Blige and Jill Scott during BET’s Black Girls Rock awards. Ikons had the wonderful opportunity to chat with the British singer, songwriter, and model on her 28th birthday. An excited Brown talked about her new upcoming album Lolllipops and Politics, making music she wants to make, and her great sense of fashion.
Ikons: Happy Birthday!
VV: Yay! Thank you. Twenty-eight years young.
Ikons: What does 28 feel like?
VV: It’s quite scary. Two years before 30 and you’re questioning everything. It’s exciting at the same time. Scary and exciting.
Ikons: What’s the difference between Lollipops and Politics and Traveling Like the Light?
VV: Traveling like the light was an album that was written about love. At the time I was listening to a lot of music from the 50s. It was a very genre specific album. It’s very retro sounding. With Lollipops and Politics the door was open a bit more. It’s a lot more pop. It’s not centered around a relationship. It’s actually centered around questioning what’s going on in the world. It has a political edge to it. I think it’s a much more mature record.
Ikons: Were you in a different place mentally than you were before?
VV Brown: Yes, definitely. I’m in a much different space. The first album was written in 2008. It got released in 2010. I’ve gotten used to the album over three years. I was much younger then. I hadn’t traveled as much. Now, I’m much older. I’m in a relationship. I’ve shifted.
Ikons: You seem pretty confident about the album. A lot of artists get sophomore album fear. Did you?
VV: No. It was really easy. It felt effortless almost. I think it’s because I trusted myself and I worked with really talented writers. I wanted this album to come across showing more of the musical side of me. I felt the first album was very centered around my look. With this album I want people to see me as a musician and a live performer.
Ikons: How did you select the children for the vocals on your single “Children”?
VV: My mother has a private school in England. She’s had the school for maybe 28 years. My siblings and I all went to that school. It’s still running until this day. So we just chose the children from my mom’s school.
Ikons: You got your name from freestyle battling on the playground when you were younger. Will we ever hear you rap on one of your albums?
VV: Actually, in “Tough Like Glue” there’s a small rap. (Raps Verse) I’m rapping a bit on that song. I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to Hip Hop and I don’t think I’m good enough. I really like pure Hip Hop like J Dilla, Q-Tip, and A Tribe Called Quest. I’m not really into the newer stuff. I’m more of a Lil Kim fan vs. a Nicki Minaj fan.
Ikons: How do you balance making the music you want to make vs. pleasing a people?
VV: You have to basically put your music first and the label just has to except what you do. If they don’t accept it then you just don’t do it with them. You have to bold about the belief in your music. I think the fans will believe what you believe. Sometimes you have to eliminate the politics and the record company and just make the music that you want to make. You’ll find that when you make the music that is true to you everything will come together.
Ikons: Your promo videos for the new album are very avant-garde and they don’t give much away. A lot of artists tend to give too much away these days. Was that done strategically?
VV: I just like building things up. I really want people to just see me as a musician and see that it’s coming from a real place. I wanted to show what the album was all about and what I’m all about and then bring in the fashion, etc. I think it was strategically done to show the inspiration behind the music first.
Ikons: Speaking of fashion, where do you get your great sense of fashion?
VV: I really like Bianca Jagger and Dorothy Dandridge. I really like beautiful black women who are strong and iconic and break down boundaries.
Ikons: If you could collaborate on a photo shoot with any designer or stylist dead or alive who would it be?
VV: I really like Yohji Yamamoto. He’s a Japanese designer. Also, Alexander McQueen.
Ikons: What would you like for people to take from Lollipops and Politics?
VV: To question the world. We’re living in a very frustrating time. The economy is upside down and the value of kids is changing. This is an album of empowerment, change, positivity, and hope. That’s what my message is to the people who buy the album. I really would love to go around the U.S. to different schools and sing. I want to get the communities involved. This is more than just another Pop album. I want it to make a difference.