ICON: Stepping into more R&B, how has Drill shaped your own style?
Headie One: “I think because I originally started doing drill music it has kind of made the way that I approach a lot of my songs unique. I still quite a lot of the time have the same approach even though the sounds could be a bit different.”
Your rise to stardom has been rapid. What has been the biggest adjustment to this lifestyle, to the attention and to the press?
HO: “I wouldn’t really say there’s been a very big adjustment. I think day to day virtually everything is the same apart from that I can’t do a lot of the basic stuff I used to do before. Other than that, I don’t really pay that much attention to it. Like just going for a walk, going to the shop. It’s not as easy and simple as before.”
You hail from Broadwater Farm in North London. How has your upbringing influenced your music?
HO: “I think it has a big influence. The area and the situations that have happened is because of where I’ve grown up. And it’s that link to where I’ve grown up as well that has made me into the kind of person that I am today. And that’s the art that we do today, that’s what we rap about. So it has a big part to play.”
Who were you listening to or who are you listening to that inspires your own music?
HO: “When I was younger, I used to listen to French Montana. A bit of everyone like Styles P, the UK rap scene as well like Tiggs [The Author], Nines, but yeah, right now I listen to a bit of everything. I try to get inspiration from as many different places as possible.”
Do you believe those sources of inspiration sets your sound apart, say from the next artist?
HO: “Yeah I think you’ve got to keep an open mind, I don’t try to limit myself and I don’t really write anything really, before trying it out, so that’s what kind of opens up my mind and opens up the narrative while I’m recording music.”
The success of your latest album EDNA is a testament to your work ethic. What is something that many people may not know about the music industry?
HO: “From the music industry, what I’ve learned is that a lot of things are very planned and strategic. I don’t really like to handle stuff like that for myself.”
“I just like to go with the flow and go with the energy and my instincts and I feel like that always brings the best outcomes.”
Talk to me about the creative process for your latest album?
HO: “When I finished recording my mixtape, Music x Road, I knew straight away I wanted to get into my album so I was already writing notes in my head but that stopped for a little while in early 2020 and then there was this whole pandemic and lockdown. I was doing a lot of work at home so I had a lot more power in my hands to get things done faster. Because it wasn’t like before, always moving up and down and moving back and forth and travelling – I was more relaxed. I had a chance to sit down and get things done. So literally it was kind of a quick procedure really, quicker than usual.”
So do you believe that without the pandemic this album would have been a bit later, or it would have been different to what it is now?
HO: “I think it would have been a bit different and probably a bit later as well.”
How does this compare to your past work, how have you seen this evolve since your mixtape and since other tracks that you’ve worked on in the past?
HO: “I think there are a lot more different sounds on this album and a lot wider range of concepts as well. A lot more different people involved in regard to the production and artistry as well. It just made [the album] a bit more broad than the rest of the projects.”
I know that there are artists out there who will write hundreds of tracks before choosing that core 10 or 15. Did you create many and cut it down to your final few?
HO: “Because I feel like I had a story to tell, I really didn’t have loads of different songs that I had to pick from because I felt that that would make it more like a mixtape. So I kind of just had a base of songs that I knew I was having on the project and lyrically I just built on from there. Just bit by bit.”
Talk to me about filming your latest music video “Siberia”. Can you give us an insight into what was happening behind-the-scenes?
HO: “It was definitely freezing. It was cold. It was terrible actually; it was snowing, and hailstorms. We were there all day. Probably caught a bit of a flu. But we got it done.”
You were practically dripping in Prada! How has fashion influenced your work?
HO: “I think fashion for me is more like… even on a normal day, I like to focus on details and dress up. So it’s more of a personal hobby for me. That probably shows through in my music videos.”
Do you have a dream fashion collaboration?
HO: “I’m not really sure you know, I just keep an open mind. I love Louis Vuitton. That’s probably been my goal too for over a year now. I had a phase where I was wearing Dolce and Gabbana. But now I think I would say Louis Vuitton more.”
In the past you recalled a man in his ‘50s from Sweden was listening to your music. How does it feel to know your music is reaching so many different people?
HO: “It feels a bit surreal and it feels good at the same time. It’s crazy that these places, these situations that I am rapping about when I was in them, I never even used to think my name would reach that far let alone my music. So yeah, it’s a blessing.”
As you mentioned before, you just go with the flow, you don’t really go into the strategy of the music industry. How do you measure success? When do you feel the most successful, the most happy and the most content with your music?
“I feel the most happy in my music when it’s reached the point where I’m a fan of it. I feel like I need to be able to listen to my music repeatedly and not get bored of it and I know that I’ll be happy, you know what I’m saying?”
Finally, what do you hope to achieve in the next five years?
HO: “I just hope to keep progressing. The sky’s the limit really, I don’t really have any achievements that I’m aiming for in particular, but progression is definitely the aim. Continuous progression.”
Headie One’s latest album “EDNA” is out now.