Interview: Chrisette Michele
Grammy award-winning singer Chrisette Michele stopped off in London last month on her journey in developing her highly-anticipated 'Audrey Hepburn' mixtape. The soul singer is known for her powerful alternative voice as well as collaborating with some of the hip-hop greats, such as Nas and Jay-Z. Chrisette took time out to talk to The Wrap Up's Kristian Galea about the late great Audrey Hepburn, collaborating with Jay- Z and the strains of the music industry…
The Wrap Up: Chrisette, Welcome back to London! What brings you here?
Chrisette Michele: I'm actually creating an audio visual presentation of one of my favourite actresses, Audrey Hepburn. I'm going to the places she visited in Europe, including London, Paris, Amsterdam and Belgium to put together a mixtape.
TWU: What are your favourite things about London?
Chrisette Michele: The fashion, the style, the way people carry themselves. People wear the funkiest outfits with such confidence… it's just great!
TWU: What can you tell us about the ‘Audrey Hepburn’ mixtape?
Chrisette Michele: It is out on December 8 and I'm on a journeying around all of these different places… I'm going to try and find her home and the first place she performed as a ballerina before acting. I'm also going to go on a shopping spree around these different places in an attempt to find outfits inspired by Audrey Hepburn portraits. The audio visual presentation will consist of 10 songs, each song named after one of her films and then a photo shoot where I wear outfits inspired by portraits of her.
TWU: Sounds great! How does Audrey Hepburn personally inspire you?
Chrisette Michele: As a person she was an ambassador, even some of the films that she chose to star in, such as ‘The Nun’s Story’ - it related to people watching it then. She was very particular in what she chose to do… all of things she chose to do with Unicef, her dedication to [stopping] hunger and helping people was a huge deal.
TWU: Who inspired your musical sound?
Chrisette Michele: Musically, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, and of course hip-hop and the likes of Jay-Z and The Roots. Just old school hip-hop in general - we also can’t forget gospel music!
TWU: You previously featured alongside Rick Ross and Drake on 'Aston Martin Music' - how was that?
Chrisette Michele: Fun times! The video was crazy, Rick Ross is really cool. I just felt cool because he was cool... The aura was just like 'f**k you' on set, you know? After all, an Aston Martin costs as much as my life! [Laughs] I had my own black Aston Martin for a whole day.
TWU: So Rick Ross didn't buy you an Aston Martin as a thank you gift?
Chrisette Michele: No he didn't! He should have though; you should call him and tell him.
TWU: You've pretty much conquered the r&b genre after winning your Grammy award. How was that experience?
Chrisette Michele: I'm grateful. It was a weird experience because I never really knew what r&b was until I started singing it. I'm happy that I received a Grammy for 'alternative r&b' because the word ‘alternative’ helps to describe me as a person better. It was just an honour.
TWU: You are preparing your fourth studio album ‘Better’. What can you tell us about that?
Chrisette Michele: It's a positive outlook on love. I've been hurt really bad in the past so I'm just ready for something new and to ultimately be happy.
TWU: Can we expect any big collaborations on the album?
Chrisette Michele: There will be more on my mixtape. I'm hanging out with French Montana when I get back to the States and hopefully [Wretch] 32 will do something as well.
TWU: Speaking of collaborations, how was working with Nas and Jay-Z?
Chrisette Michele: Awesome. Jay-Z is a perfectionist, Nas is not. So [they are] two totally different people, but they brought the best out of me. I was so scared to work with Jay-Z - he is an intimidating figure!
TWU: Would your ideal collaboration be with?
Chrisette Michele: Okay I'm going to tell the truth, I want to work with Kanye. I'd also like to work with Wretch 32 and I hope he'd like to feature on my mixtape.
TWU: Have you met Kanye?
Chrisette Michele: I have, but when I met him he was seeing how many crackers he could eat without drinking water…
TWU: Oh! I noticed in your video 'Epiphany' there was a cameo appearance from Drake when he was relatively unknown. Are you now surprised at his rise as an artist?
Chrisette Michele: Hell no, the first mixtape I heard I was like ‘are you f***ing kidding me right now?!’ Incredible. I love Drake.
TWU: So what is your relationship like with Drake now?
Chrisette Michele: Erm… [I mean] you meet somebody and you hang out with them for a day then you don't see them for another 6 months. None of it is real, it never lasts.
TWU: Is that typical of the music industry?
Chrisette Michele: It's typical of everything in my entire life right now. I got to see my little brother the other day; now I probably won't see him for another six weeks.
TWU: So, how has London inspired your forthcoming ‘Audrey Hepburn’ mixtape?
Chrisette Michele: Incredible natural hairstyles! Like, yesterday I saw a girl with a big afro and a blonde streak and I was thinking ‘I am definitely stealing your hairstyle when I take these braids out!’ Yeah, I'm excited for you all to listen to the tape.
Words: Kristian Galea (@KrisSoAppalled)