Hotly tipped London singer talks familiy values and Beyonce's legs...
Michael Baggs
17:31 19th April 2012

Five-foot-nothing London singer Yadi contradicts her petite stature with a ferocious stage presence and a collection of brilliant pop tunes. She is one of 2012's most exciting and interesting new female singers.

Blending influences from her London upbringing with a rich heritage (Algerian, Norweigan and Italian), Yadi's debut EP 'Guillotine' is a stunning mix of pop melodies and offbeat production which straddles the commercial and credible with ease.

We caught up with Yadi recently to discuss her debut release, and find out more about her onstage persona, and her place among music's premiere female stars...

You have an impressive heritage. Is there any one part of that which most inspires your music?
I've got quite a musical family. I grew up listening to quite a lot of Algerian music and from that I branched out to its origins and Malian music. Me and my dad would sit and listen to music, and from that I would pick out percussion instruments. Whether you can hear it or not, those are the layers, especially on 'Gold' and 'Guillotine'. I've used Kakabo, which are heavy metal castanets, and I've tried to bring in a lot of those sounds to give it a different texture. There's always music on in my house - when my Algerian family come round, we put music on and all dance.

What do your grandparents think of your music?
They love it. They're very proud and dance to it. My gran is the most incredible dancer! I don't want to say she does bellydancing but it's this really subtle dance where they just move their feet and their whole body quivers. I'm still learning. I need a bit more meat on me.

Listen to 'Guillotine':

 

Your onstage persona is quite ferocious. Where does that aggression come from?
I guess the songs are where I store it. They're an outpouring of emotions and my onstage personality is completely different from who I am. I'd like to think I'm quite a nice young lady! I feel that way when I'm writing the songs. I take myself into the land where the song lives. I imagine a short film with characters and I try to bring them on stage.

Is there a Lana Del Rey sort of thing happening with your stage persona, or is it not that extreme?
I don't really know what happened with her, but I discovered her - and I'm not the only one - and watching the videos seemed like her, and everything that's happened since seems like an extension of her. I don't think anyone said to her 'You're the next Marilyn Monroe'. I love the idea of having a character and developing it. Maybe, as you get bigger, you need a greater distinction between your career and private life.

Who do you think are today's most inspirational female artists?
Well, it would be wrong not to say Beyonce. I'm a huge fan of Beyonce and she still looks classy, even if she's wearing a leotard with her legs out. I'm yet to master that. She can't seem to put a foot wrong. She doesn't use her fame for the wrong reasons, seems in control of what she's doing I think and that's pretty inspiring. There's never anything sleazy about her and she's doing it for her art and keeps her life separate.

Do new artists struggle to launch themselves without a platform such as a reality TV show or something similar?
It doesn't happen these day, but Edith Piaf was noticed singing on the streets! I don't think those shows are evil, it just becomes another way of AR-ing acts. Personally, I wanted to develop my songwriting so it's been a longer road, but I'd rather do that than go down a different road and not sing my own songs. It's hard to maintain because it's not coming from that person and I think people sniff that out pretty quickly. I love writing and performing songs. For me, there was no other way. Writing songs was a way of getting on stage, so I came from a different angle, but as long as people work really hard it's ok to use different platforms.

What's been the highlight of your career so far?
I think I would have to say one of my first trips to LA. I was writng with some guys called The Free School. It was the first time I'd written in a totally different place and there were engineers and four producers and it was a really diferent, fast-paced way of writing songs. I learnt how to be freer with my ideas. I can sometimes get stuck in my own head and punish myself for not getting a lyric, sitting there for days trying to get it. They're not afraid to ask for ideas and loosen up there.

Is everyone as beautiful as the movies have us believe?
Not beautiful - even on Hollywood I remember seeing some homeless guys. It's quite a sad place in a way. They were the most beautiful homeless people I've ever seen though. One of them looked like Oliver Reed. He had these piercing blue eyes and I just wanted to go and ask him his story. There are a lot of people who have made it and a lot who haven't. You'll see someone talking to themselevs and you don't know if it's a crazy person or an actor practicing their lines. Everyone's got a story.

Do you think people are becoming more interested in the tragic side of Hollywood at the moment?
I don't know, people seem to be interested in the glamour. Having recently seen 'My Week With Marilyn', I know everyone has their ways, but I thought people want to see the glamour; like they're untouchable. I liked it in the old days when stars were more untouchable. Michael Jackson was so untouchable and unrealistic that afterwards everyone wanted to know what the man was like behind it all. Maybe it's dangerous to know that and we should just enjoy them on the stage.

Yadi's debut EP 'Guillotine' is out now.

We also discovered that Yadi is rubbish at playing 'Draw Something' on iPhone when we asked her to draw herself - as the following proves.