In this series, Gilles Peterson, one of the world’s most influential DJs, hosts live sessions with innovative musicians you’ve (probably) never heard of. In this episode, it’s British singer Connie Constance.
Originally from Watford, Connie moved to London at 16 to pursue a career in dance. But she soon realized that songwriting was her real love, so she left dance behind to pursue her passion for music.
2018 is set to be a big year for Connie, with her debut album on the horizon and a string of live shows ahead of her. Gilles finds out more about her influences, the London scene and how she learned to love Oasis.
Gilles: Musically speaking, what was the route to where you are? What are your influences?
Connie: I grew up on indie rock, Britpop, British soul – that’s what my step-dad introduced me to. At the start I didn’t like it. He used to play Oasis going to school and I was like,”‘Oh my God, I’m going to look so uncool getting out of the car.” And then by the time I was 14 or 15 that’s all I was listening to.
Gilles: What would have been cool coming out of the car at that time?
Connie: Something on Kiss FM, some pop or something. All I knew was that this was not cool. But when I got older it was all I wanted to listen to. I just connected to it. And then eventually a lot of people in my school also listened to it. So that’s something we were all uniting under – Arctic Monkeys, Libertines and stuff like that.
Gilles: And when you were at school, how did you decide what which direction to go in?
Connie: Having a music career didn’t seem even remotely possible growing up, which sounds mad because it’s just getting up and singing a song. But where I’m from, creative stuff isn’t seen as a thing that you do. You get a job or you go to university. But I just continued writing. Luckily I managed to meet a producer and get into music..
Gilles: Amazing, and that producer is Blue Daisy. How did that happen, how did you make your first tune?
Connie: It’s funny really, I was introduced to him at a party, and I had a couple of songs recorded on my phone with a piano. My friend introduced us and I imagine he thought, here we go, another singer. He listened to the stuff, which was really rough, but he must have liked it. We then wrote Stars which came out three years ago now and we just continued creating. He really helped me experiment in a very safe place.
Gilles: What’s your favourite time around music? Is it when you are performing? Writing? Listening? Discovering? Could you pick one bit that you personally can’t live without?
Connie: It has to be writing. I could write songs all day. That is the main thing – before the music, before we work out whether it’s going to be played on keys or guitar or synths.
It’s just creating poetry out of things that are going on in my mind, writing them down and putting a couple of chords to them. That is why I don’t compromise. If I compromise on any of my songs, they won’t make sense to me, they won’t be the song they are meant to be. It seems simple but that’s it.
Gilles: So are you listening to any new music at the moment? How are you getting hold of it?
Connie: I probably search less for new music nowadays but I always get friends sending new stuff through. Rejjie Snows’ album is really cool, Slowthai is really cool.
Gilles: What is it about Slowthai that you like? He's pretty nuts isn't he?
Connie: He’s nuts and his lyrics are amazing, his flow’s awesome, his visual works are ridiculous and he's really setting a bar for UK rappers and artists. Anything like that sort of quality is just brilliant for me; King Krule just put out that new video of all his band on the moon and it’s really good art from young people.
Gilles: If you were to collaborate with people at a later stage, legends or current crop, who would you like to work with? Would you be more inclined to work with people of your age group and generation, like the King Krule's and Slowthai’s? Or would you rather be working with The Slits and X-Ray Spex?
Connie: I think there’s something exciting about working with people of a similar age – you’re both buzzing that this might be something special that you just made and other people might connect to.
London is so diverse at the moment with young people making lots of different music, really good stuff, and it’s nice collaborating because you get a mixture of what they're doing with what you're doing. I’d love to work with some of the punk legends though.
Gilles: I’m hearing a collaboration between you and King Krule, that would be so good.