By Kathy Iandoli
It’s been a bizarre ride to the stateside for Lily Allen. While jousting with the media’s incessant need to place her and Amy Winehouse at war, Lily’s been keeping her head above water through harsh paparazzi and missing her family and friends back home. The UK starlet may have canceled half of her US tour, but that doesn’t stop her fans from showering her with love as her album makes waves in both the pop and Hip-Hop worlds.
Her album, Alright, Still is still doing quite alright in both the U.S. and abroad, thanks to Lily’s knack for fusing multiple genres into one tight work. In fact, there’s a rumor in the air that Lily will be working with none other than Common on his next project.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with Lily Allen twice – at the beginning of her tour and post-cancellation. With so much going on in her life, Lily expresses her gratitude towards her fans for sticking with her through thick and thin. She vibed with us on the many rumors surrounding her, the kidnapping and rescue of her dog, and the biggest prices to pay for being one of music’s overseas “it” girls.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: How is the adoption of Lady Sovereign working out?
Lily Allen: [laughs] She hasn’t really gotten back to me. We’re ready and waiting, so…
AHHA: What was the whole problem between the two of you? Weren’t you two cool?
Lily: Oh yeah, she just made a few funny comments about how my dad boosted my career, which bugged me a bit. I [made it] on my own though. [My dad] gave me advice like any dad would, but I worked hard to get where I am, so I just didn’t appreciate her comments.
AHHA: Since both of your parents are in entertainment, when you made the decision to sing, was it something they urged you to do? Or did they advise you to stay away?
Lily: A bit of both.
AHHA: But you didn’t listen, obviously. [laughs]
Lily: Yeah, that’s one thing I don’t do..is listen. [laughs]
AHHA: Since you’ve come out, who would you say is more vicious with paparazzi: The UK or the US?
Lily: Oh the UK. Some [paparazzi] in the US are quite friendly, actually. In the UK they’re in your face more.
AHHA: Have your fans been supportive of your decision to cancel a portion of your tour?
Lily: Very supportive. My fans are overwhelmingly supportive!
AHHA: How were your shows at Coachella and SXSW?
Lily: Coachella was brilliant. An amazing setting, cool crowd, perfect acts. A perfect festival! [SXSW] was fun! Quite interesting. I didn’t really get to spend a lot of time at the festival. I was staying kind of outside of it, really, but it was fun. Good energy, there.
AHHA: Really? What was the crowd like? I just imagine industry people and cowboys at SXSW.
Lily: You’re right. It was really kind of full of company executives and really industry, so the gig itself wasn’t like performing in front of my fans, but you know. It kind of felt a little bit like a fishbowl. [laughs]
AHHA: Being a UK artist, what was your take on the New York crowd?
Lily: Webster Hall had a really good vibe there. One of my top ten gigs of all time, I’d say. There was brilliant sound as well, and just great energy there.
AHHA: At your Irving Plaza show in New York, you were shocked to see a fan in the front row crying. What was that like?
Lily: Quite emotional.
AHHA: I recall later that night you were a featured DJ at the New York premiere of YOYO. How long have you been DJ’ing?
Lily: I’ve been DJ’ing ever since I bought my first record!
AHHA: Well you do have a strong foundation of great DJ’s surrounding you like Seb Chew, Mark Ronson, and Aaron Lacrate. Have they given you any pointers?
Lily: If they gave me any advice, it would be, “Don’t give up the day job yo!” [laughs]
AHHA: Will you be releasing any more mixtapes?
Lily: I would love to. I’m a perfectionist, so I never find the time to make one.
AHHA: What would you say is the most annoying aspect of being famous?
Lily: Being in airports all the time. I would say that and not being home with my family and friends. That’s the hardest part. If I could take them all on the road with me, I would be happy.
AHHA: A short while ago, your dog Maggie May was kidnapped! How did that happen?
Lily: She was stolen basically. There’s kind of a big…a lot of people are known in England to steal dogs for money. I’ve never experienced it before [then], but we have her back and I’m so happy!
AHHA: You have a personal relationship with your fans through your blogs. Have any fans ever crossed the line?
Lily: No, but sometimes I’ll get a call on my phone and I don’t know how they get my number, [laughs] like, “Come on let’s hang out!” And I’m, “Well, I’m a bit busy. I have some stuff to do.” My fans are really cool and I have a great relationship with them. They’re all very honest and tell it how it is.
AHHA: Your music has been readily embraced by the Hip-Hop community. How do you feel about that and your contribution to Hip-Hop music?
Lily: I’m very excited; it’s brilliant. Any contribution I can make towards the genre, I’m really happy to do so. My music kind of spread across the board, and I love Hip-Hop music. It’s what I’ve grown up listening to, and it’s very important to me…something I feel passionate about.
AHHA: Rumor has it you're working with Common on a project. Are you able to speak on that?
Lily: We hung out together in the studio…He is a good guy and gave me some good advice.
AHHA: So I understand you were a big fan of TLC…
Lily: TLC was one of my first albums! They had this incredible independence, and I just remember listening to them all the time in my room when I was growing up.
AHHA: Do you feel that we have a lot of those female role models around now?
Lily: I mean yeah, there’s a lot of good [female] artists around now. I wouldn’t say “role models” because that’s a word I don’t like to use often, but musically there’s a lot coming out this year that will surprise us.
AHHA: I heard somewhere that someone compared you to Paris Hilton…
Lily: [laughs] Yeah I do not get that comparison.
AHHA: There was also a rumor circulating that your accent was fake.
Lily: Yeah, I don’t know why. [laughs] It’s not fake, but it is what it is. Mine is more of a North London accent.
AHHA: Let’s talk about your videos. They’re so detailed and fit perfectly with your songs. Do you have any input in the creative process for the videos?
Lily: Oh yeah I have creative input. I have an idea and kind of develop it. I like the fact that all of my videos have all been different in how they feel. Songs like “Smile,” “Littlest Things” and “Alfie” are all like completely different songs and what I wanted to do in those videos was portray that difference from black and white to using a puppet. It’s important for me to get a different feel and not be…I want people to be surprised and not like, “Oh yeah I thought she’d come with that idea.”
AHHA: In your song "Knock Em Out" you describe an annoying encounter with a guy who can't take a hint. What would you say is the worst pickup line you've ever been told?
Lily: “I’d like to get in your pants!”
AHHA: [laughs] Wow. Your sense of style is pretty fresh and often imitated. If you had one designer to pick to create an entire wardrobe, who would it be?
Lily: I would ask Karl Lagerfield to make my wardrobe…or maybe we could work together!
AHHA: What about your new clothing line coming out?
Lily: My line is with a new look. I modeled the designs on prom dresses and dresses I wear everyday. There are several different designs – all individual, bright, comfortable, and easy to wear!
AHHA: What’s your favorite brand of shoe?
Lily: Christian Loboutin
AHHA: If you had to choose, which would you give up: Nikes or junk food?
Lily: Junk food.
AHHA: Tupac or Biggie?
Lily: Biggie. I had a show in Glasgow [on March 9] and held a silence for him. I’m not even sure most of the crowd knew who Biggie was, but it was something I [wanted] to do.
AHHA: Your dream Hip-Hop collaboration?
Lily: Whoa. Jay-Z and Timbaland!
AHHA: If you could come out as any artist during any era, who would it be?
Lily: Joe Strummer in the ‘70s or Jay-Z today!
AHHA: If you weren't here doing this, where would you be?
Lily: I’d be a florist.