Iggy Azalea

If you only listened to the radio, you might not have heard of Iggy Azalea–or you might get her confused with that other vulgar-tongued and similarly named rapper, the one from the 212. But those paying more attention to YouTube numbers than Billboard charts know that the 22-year-old Australian’s provocative videos have drawn not only pageviews, but also attention from big names like T.I.: The Atlanta rapper teamed up with Iggy for the song (and underage pageant queen-starring video) “Murda Bizness.” On the day before she performed at the Fine Line Music Cafe and sat down for an interview with MPLS.TV, Iggy decided to split with her Interscope management and take control of her own career. That entrepreneurial authority was evident as she had her nails done and shared her thoughts on her videos, Internet culture, and what might be next.

No fear of failure: People are like, “Why would you call your album ‘New Classic’?” People are too scared to fail. That’s why they don’t do so much stuff, and they don’t realize how many things they could do if they just weren’t afraid to fail at it. I’m not scared to be a loser sometimes. ‘Cause everybody is. You can’t win every single time, and you’ll never know if you don’t try it. I just try to set the bar as high as I can.

Me and [my best friend] Peezy–we plan on being super big businesswomen. That’s kind of one of my goals. It’s just kind of my dream–I just want to be really successful, especially with Peezy, ‘cause she’s my business partner. I want to be like 40 and write a book, like, “Young girls, this is how to do your business.” I already registered all my businesses. Everything. My touring company’s registered. Everything’s New Classic: New Classic Touring, New Classic Records. We got it tattooed on us, so we can’t really change. I’m not scared of the word “classic,” or the word “great,” or any of those things. Even if I’m not ever them, I’m not scared to try to be them.

Parting ways with Interscope: I hate the word dropped… I took control of my situation. I love them, don’t get me wrong. Those people have been in my life since the beginning of 2009. They pulled me out of Atlanta and took me to L.A. I wouldn’t have any of this shit. They gave me the tools to be able to do it. They’ll always be my friends, forever. So it’s not that anybody was doing a bad job, it’s just that I have this thing in my mind now, where I’m like, fuck this shit, I want to be independent. Does that make sense, being managed by a major label when you’re independent? I’ll tell you. It fuckin’ doesn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I fucking love Interscope management. But the problem is they’re not Iggy Azalea management. They can’t be me. And if I’m gonna be the shit businesswoman, I can’t do it if they’re doing it for me. Sometimes I think everything is a learning curve and it’s easy to get scared, like, oh no, I’m gonna make mistakes, and I need someone who knows what they’re doing so I don’t have to worry about the pitfalls of it all. But at the same time, you miss out on learning a lot of stuff that way. I think I have so many great people around me now, to where I feel supported and I know who to go to ask questions when I need their help. I don’t want anybody to get that confused and think that I don’t feel like I’m a student of life or business or music, ‘cause I am. But I just think you have to be hands-on to learn a lot of the stuff, ‘cause most of it’s not written in books.

Censorship, radio songs, and the Internet: When I put out “Murda Bizness,” [my management] didn’t like that, and I was like, “This isn’t for radio.” There was so much emphasis then on trying to find this radio song. It started to resonate with me and make me realize, is this what the next five years are gonna be like? Trying to find a radio song? Fuckin’ probably, and I can’t be mad at that, ‘cause they sell records! That’s what they do! And that’s always said in such a negative way, but they’re supposed to, they’re a record label, what the fuck else are they supposed to care about? And that involves putting this shit on the radio. And I like to put cats on my vagina on the Internet. So it’s two different things. I just don’t know how that’s supposed to be a smooth transition. I need to be able to know I can wake up in the morning and stick a million cats on my vagina if I want to, and nobody’s gonna be able to tell me I can’t do it.

I don’t think that I would be able to have a following if I didn’t have the Internet, ‘cause I feel like if you censored what I do and what I say, I don’t think I would make any sense. I know that for a fact. I like to comment on heaps of sexual stuff. I don’t know, I just think that stuff is funny. All the power roles, and just society’s gap between rich and poor. I’m really interested in different cultures’ stereotypes. What’s allowed, what’s not, what’s expected–just all that stuff. Those things are also taboo, and you never really see them spoken out in just regular media. I don’t think I could ever come out and be like, “Hey, I want to call my first video ‘Pu$$y,’” or–even with “Murda Bizness”! I find that to be a very mild song, and they won’t even play it.

Viral culture and Carly Rae Jepsen: It makes you notice that there’s so many things that everybody has in common, no matter where you are. The Internet is proof of that. Some of the stuff’s really lame, though. Especially pop songs. I don’t even know the name of the song, but there’s this really lame song that went viral the other day–“Call Me Maybe.” I’m sorry, I’m sure that’s a sweet girl, but that’s the lamest fuckin’ song ever. That song fuckin’ sucks. I was like, this shit has 82 million views. And fuckin’ 82 million people felt some shit when they listened to this, and I don’t know what the fuck it was, but they all felt it. When I see shit like that, I’m like, “I fuckin’ hate that shit.” But people see my shit and go, “I fuckin’ hate that shit.” And it’s just so cool to me that we have the Internet, and it’s so cool to me that there’s so many, a plethora of things that we can all like together no matter where we’re from. Even if I think it’s corny, there’s 82 million people that identify with that shit. That feel like, “Hey, man! ‘Call Me Maybe’! Resonates, right in my heart. Right in my chest.” I don’t know. It’s cool.

Meaning in art: I think the best art doesn’t necessarily have to be understood–what it’s about–for it to be great. I think every picture that an artist paints usually has a motive behind it other than just the vanity of it all. I feel like that in my creating, too, but I just like to make sure– I don’t want to say that people are all stupid, but…people are all stupid. I said it. So you just have to make it so it’s good on both levels. It’s good if you get it and it’s good if you don’t.

Music videos: I always say that if I couldn’t have music videos, I wouldn’t even rap, because that’s the part of it I like most, adding visuals… I was always into being a rapper, but realistically I thought I would go to college and do film and blah blah blah. I ended up dropping out and going crazy. I couldn’t stay where I was; it was making me lose my mind. But if I could have stayed there and not lost my mind, I would have gone to film school.

I’m super heavily involved in everything I do. But I just feel like an asshole when I’m like, “I directed that,” because I don’t feel like you can direct your own video when you’re in it. How can you be on both sides of the camera? But I do everything: I do my mood boards and my color boards and concepts, I get all the photos and stuff and send them, and we go through the song, lyric by lyric, and figure out what shots. Sit there while they edit–everything.

“Azaleans”: Some of [my fans] freak out and go crazy and cry and stuff, and some of them make me cry. Some of them act like we’ve been friends forever. Some of them’ll come to the shows and I’ll know them from Tinychats. I like when they write me letters. That’s the nicest thing, ‘cause I can keep it, and I said I want to make a scrapbook of it. Some days you do feel kind of down, and I always keep all the letters and read them. It’s crazy to see people write things about me that I used to feel about Tupac, or listening to music where I’m from. I understand that feeling and empathize with them. To know that I can be that artist for them…is really just like a mind warp weird thing to me.

How to set goals: Set goals that seem unrealistic, but don’t ever make them specific. They just have to be non-specific, because oftentimes you can achieve what you wanted but in another way that you didn’t think. Sometimes you might never get whatever it was that was so specific that you had in mind, and you’ll always be disappointed that way.

I always wanted, ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be signed to Interscope. In a way, trying to achieve that goal, that kid dream that I had, “Interscope, I want to be signed to Interscope”–it can lead you in the wrong direction. And then when you don’t achieve it or it doesn’t work out, you can feel like you’ve failed yourself. I feel like my ultimate goal, what I should have said is, I just want to be successful, I want to be a rapper, I want to touch people or reach people. Nonspecific but unrealistic, together. ‘Cause everything’s unrealistic. All the good things are, I think, anyway. Nothing realistic is worth doing.

Dick-measuring and John Travolta: I fuckin’ hate it, but it’s true, my friend always says, “Iggy, it’s not a dick-measuring contest.” I’m like, “The fuck it is. My dick must be the biggest, or I’ll not be happy.” When my friends are successful, it’s kind of messed up–like, I’m happy for them inside, but inside I kind of want to kill them, too. Like…that should be me! Not like I would ever want to take their thing, I don’t mean it like that. The other day my friend was like, “I’m doing this major movie with John Travolta,” and I was like, “Fuck, bitch! Get it together! You’re not getting offered any movies with John Travolta! Shit!…I’m happy for you, but I have to go work now, or I’ll be sad.” Not like I want their movie with John Travolta, it’s just like–fuck. [Q: "Do you want to be Rihanna in Battleship?"] Not really–not necessarily that. I just want them to ask me to be Rihanna in Battleship.

Novelty and longevity: People just see me as a novelty, I think, a lot of the time, and I think I have to fight a lot harder for a lot of the things that kind of come easier to a lot of artists. It’s like, “Uhh, is this real? Is this not? Does this have longevity?” I think it’s hard for them to say, or I think people are scared to say that they think it does, ‘cause I’m kind of the first one to–I’m the first me. I don’t know any other white female rappers from Australia doing this shit. It’s easy when other artists come out, like, oh look, it’s a guy singing R&B, where there’s something in the past you can relate to it and go off of and say, “This will have longevity, because look, in the past this was successful, and this tells me that.” And there’s nothing to say that with me. It makes people, I think, hesitant to want to give me shit that they give other people so easy. ‘Cause it’s kind of like a sure thing, other shit, and this isn’t.

Directed by Young Summer. Produced by V.O Collective and Erika Ochoa. Shot by Eric Schleicher and Erika Ochoa. Interview by Chris Cloud. Transcribed by Colleen Powers. Special Thanks to: Courtney Wilson and V.I.P. Hair and Nails of Minneapolis, Fine Line Music Cafe, MPLS.TV, and Peezy.