PHOTOS: Paul Kalirai for EMI
Catching up with the fabulous VV Brown, one of the UK's most captivating new voices: The 27-year-old has songwriter-fashion model has returned with new music and is about to embark on an American tour.
"Children" —listen and download at iTunes—is the deliciously catchy first single from Lollipops & Politics, the eagerly-anticipated second album from the singer-songwriter-fashion model VV Brown. The track was released digitally in the U.S. last month. Lollipops & Politics is due early next year
"Children" begins with an ice cream truck hook and builds into a message of youth empowerment and justice. "I was outside in a car park and an ice cream truck drove by," VV Brown tells Rod 2.0. "I took out my iPhone and we sampled it. I ran to the studio, put in the computer and [we] wrote a song around the sample."
Listen to the interview:
Watch the videos AFTER THE JUMP ...
"Children" is perfect first course for a track listing of pop ballads and mid-tempo songs that emphasize politics and social justice.
"It was important that we wrote a song that had a message, the questions of the youth and what’s going on in the world at the moment," VV tells R20. "It's about having hope despite the economy falling. And I liked the idea of the ice cream truck. I’s fun and youthful, but twisted and has a dark meaning. “
"Children" debuted at around the same time of the London riots and became an anthem. "There was so much going on, and the youth on the street were talking, especially where I live in Hackney," she tells R20. "You could feel it in the air. When the riots happened, you could hear the song. The youth are frustrated."
Lollipops & Politics is the follow-up to VV's 2009 debut Travelling Like the Light. The third single "Shark in the Water" which also focused on social justice sold 500,000 singles in the U.S. and was featured on several commercials and the soundtrack to The Backup Plan. That's an incredible debut.
"We were lucky," VV tells R20. "It was just ridiculous. But I’m very grateful the first album received so much critical success."
Watch the videos AFTER THE JUMP ...
“I was outside in a car park and an ice cream truck drove by. I took out my iPhone and we sampled it. I ran to the studio, put in the computer and [we] wrote a song around the sample. It was important that we wrote a song that had a message, the questions of the youth and what’s going on in the world at the moment. About having hope despite the economy falling. Our generation has hope that all will be fine. And I liked the idea of the ice cream truck … it’s fun and youthful, but here it’s twisted and has a dark meaning. “
Where you surprised when “Children” resonated so strongly during the London riots?
“I had no idea that it [would resonate]. I did know that there are a lot of things changing. The government in the UK has imposed all these student fees. My sister is at university and fees have gone from £3000 to £9000. That’s a lot for the UK. There was so much going on, and the youth on the street were talking, especially where I live in Hackney. You could feel it in the air. When the riots happened, you could hear the song. The youth are frustrated and society is frustrated. And now it’s not just riots, but it’s happening all over the world.
Were you in the UK during the riots?
Yes, I lived right down the road in Hackney. If I would have walked three minutes, I would have been in the middle of it.
How did you come up with the name Lollipops & Politics for the album?
I just really want people to know that this is an album about empowerment and a message. It’s about questioning what’s going on, questioning ourselves and questioning our world. But I don’t want it to comes across as preachy. I love irony and I love messages, and twisting messages. Listen to nursery rhymes, they’re happy but listen to the lyrics: Humpty dumpty is about an egg, that fell off a wall and broke its head. But it’s a happy song! So I love a spooky way about expressing a dark story.
The lollipop side is the happiness, the youthfulness, the playfulness. The politics is about expressing this with a meaning. You put the two together.
Do you see a major difference between the youth in the Uk and America? In terms of disconnection, politics and social justice.
The world is becoming really smaller …. There are so many similarities. The internet [allows] people to express their feelings very quickly. The youth in UK are very similar to the youth in the US. People … are just unhappy. I think the internet is providing a bridge [inaudible] … Look at Twitter, it’s bridging a gap across thousands of miles. I don’t think it’s that different, everyone is feeling similar.
I like "Famous." I heard it last night and it has a really catchy sound.
"Famous" is my favorite song on the record. I love, love, love that song. I wrote it with a guy named Bjorn Bjorn [Yitting] of the band Peter Bjorn and John. I really want this to be the second single.
There is some great soul and hip hop coming out of Sweden nowadays …
Sweden is amazing. As cold as it is, it has some soul! You think that Swedish people are so reserved or straightlaced, or that Stockholm is so [cold], but the music coming out of there is incredible. Little Dragon is my favorite band in the whole wide world. Plus Nikki Lee and all the pop writers that Rihanna worked with. The guys who co-wrote “Shark in the Water” are Swedish. Stockholm is becoming the music capital.
Going back to Shark in the Water: That’s the first time that I heard you. I loved “Shark in the Water” and “Bottles.”
Thanks very much.
And you made a soundtrack on your first album, The Back Up Plan!
Yea, yea! We were lucky. Almost every single on the and advertising community was very responsive, it was just ridiculous. But I’m very grateful the first album received so much critical success.
That was great, that your first album took off. And you performed for Prince Charles, too!
[Laughing] Yes, I met Prince Charles. And he had this dashing charm and power about him. And his father as well! His father, too. When I shook his father’s hand he said, “Ohhh VV!!” I could’ve believe he knew me, I thought he thought I was just another Black girl, maybe a dancer or a teacher. I ran out of Buckingham Palace, it was quite a highlight, I was talking or bragging about it.
He probably recognized you from Marks & Spencer.
Probably! But I didn’t have time to ask. … When you’re at the Palace, you don’t have [a name tag] or your name called out. Unless you’re Lady Gaga, who is rock royalty of course.
Going back to your new album: You’re about to going on tour.
We have 14 dates and we will play all over America. I’m really excited and I love performing live. I will love for fans to hear the album before it comes out.
Are you here in the States or in the UK?
I’m here in the States. I’m in Kentucky.
Well, we love you here. Thanks so much for talking to me, VV.