In conversation with Miss Red
There are always many sides to an artist and music performer, this is what this chatattack with Miss Red is meant to enlighten. If you will ever witness her perform, she will for sure leave a deep mark on you. Her aggressive style, mashed with a strong attitude and energy, an approach that on top of The Bug’s distorted heavy bass and beats, define the meaning of sound pressure.
The self-released debut mixtape ”Murder” had amazing riddims from The Bug, Mark Pritchard, Andy Stott, Stereotyp, Mumdance and Evian Christ. Working with Kevin “The Bug” Martin she has released for labels such as Pressure, Ninja Tune, Warp, Soul Jazz, Sounds Of The Universe and Acid Ragga, but she also stepped up by collaborating with Trilion and Bim One Production for Scotch Bonnet Records, GAIKA for Mixpak and Ishan Sound & Rider Shafique for Hotline Recordings.
Her past portfolio while in Israel includes experiments within Rejoicer’s Raw Tapes label and his collective in Tel Aviv, hip-hop jazz producers like Juve Rejoicer, Beno and Eyal Talmudi, but also with electronic fusion bands like Haifa’s 3421 and her hometown hip-hop and reggae Easy Rider crew.
Just yesterday Miss Red announced her new Ep ”The four bodies”, produced by The Bug, which will be released through Pressure label, starting June the 5th. So, take your coffee, lean back, play the music loud and follow this nice talk with Miss Red.
| Your first album is out for some time now. How do you relate to this, do you feel the pressure is out and you are ready to drop new music?
I think my album is the most honest thing that ever came out of me. I feel like I created my own language for this one. Sometimes making a tune I get lost along the way and music making is like that for me sometimes. Reaching people with your art, your music, only with time becomes clearer. Delivering your perfect voice and message just is something that you build like a craft. With this album I feel it is a direct connection from me to the audience, to the fans. It is deeply rooted in my personal story and my family is in there too. All the stories inside are about fighting this game, the music industry, where you can’t really stay inside, unless you push it forward. From the people you need to connect and network, to the people you need to have a good relationship to start or finish something. It is the same with life too. Because it is a living, music is a way of life. It sounds philosophical and it is.
I consider the album something I needed to release, to put out. It was a burst of everything that came through me, even if the music was aggressive or chill, for me it’s very much therapy. Sound has a therapeutic quality in my mind, and making the KO album was just that. I have released through this album my passion, my fire, my anger, whatever it is I was and felt. In a way it was a mark, a point where I was dealing with these things that I then put into music. KO is all of it. I will knock you down! In way you can see it also in the names of the songs, the way they follow each other and they all deal with my feelings, shocking it out, dealing with war, or being a part of dancehall, talking about how big it is for me.
| No Guns from your "Murder" mixtape was a strong political song. Do you plan to keep in your future releases religious or political messages?
100%. When I say KO is my most honest work I am talking about all the reality around me. Passing through my message and agreeing about everything I do. I will keep on saying in my lyrics how everything really is for me. My nomad life and every place I live and go is touching me and I keep trying to be a part of this world. How humankind has been on this planet and all this promotion of a materialistic life, the soul gets so dark. You can’t see any more light in you and it’s just like trying to bring that bad up. After darkness comes light, this is how nature works. You get to a point in life when you realize just what it is that you have to be passionate about.
I find religion very intimate, I have a lot of things that I like to connect to, read and talk and be aware and conscious about. In this moment in the world you might get to a moment where religion has a bad name. What has it become? It’s not going anywhere. I do think that I am religious in a way in my art and my music.
I respect religion, I do not find it unreasonable, it’s very nice and important, but written religion can be very easily misinterpreted. It really depends how we look at it. Some might take in a wrong way, but that is life. I feel much closer to religion inside, than in the books. I feel like there are always two sides of a story, two different directions. Sometimes even to an extent of religion taking people out of a connection with themselves inside a system. And systems are always for themselves, not for the people. My thing is, keep it to yourself, look for yourself, be yourself. Your freedom of speech is the most important thing in this world. There is too much talk about religious countries. There are the Ten Commandments in the Bible, don’t steal, cheat, don’t lie but they do all of them. You have to fight that as a living person.
Love is the higher source though, it is a blessing, a long life that has a big deep meaning.
| You put a lot of energy in your shows. How do you feel the crowd responds to this? Is your energy connected to The Bug presence?
Me and The Bug, we are together in this and we are here bringing our new fresh sound. I’ve had shows in different places with other DJ’s, but they don’t feel the tunes I want to play. I don’t mind playing with other dancehall DJ’s, but if it’s my show, if you want Miss Red, I rather take The Bug with me.
We are going there with our sound, I started doing this from the first place, we wanted to create something unique, special and alien. We are aliens, you know? Everybody is asking and labeling us, is it dancehall? Is she black, is she white? What is this, what is that? You know what? As a fan I want you to come into this room, to our show, free of any genre and labelling, because this is why I am here, I want to bring you something brutally out of here, out of this planet. I can do all of these things only when Kevin is with me. When we do it together, it works the best for all fans.
In this world people can understand what you are talking about, come and join the boat and feel connected or they won’t. There are those who come and say: I don’t want to listen to sounds like that, they want to listen to something safer. In music, in life, I want people with me that feel the sound. The fact that people are afraid of evolution is sad. Some folks just block growth and I am feeling that I am growing every day. This is why an interview with me a few months back is not the same with this one. You cannot mix an answer from me in 2018 with one from 2019! Even tomorrow it will be a different thing, a different time, a different Miss Red. It doesn’t matter if it is 20 days or 20 seconds, I am not the same. We change every day in this sense, we keep changing the place, the spot, but our essence stays the same.
| And how do you feel about the dancehall scene of today?
I love a lot of things about it. Doesn’t have to be a specific artist, mostly I enjoy listening to riddims. I play around with them, it is not something that I have to put in a pocket. Of course, it is a bit to the point where I want to hear outsider sounds, experiment to what is happening in Jamaican dancehall and this is why I am doing my mutant dancehall. I’m into these sounds. I see Jamaican dancehall, it is popular and fun, but it is kind of in a pop place and I don’t feel all of it.
Koffee is a very sweet girl and I like her, but it is still pop though. Those are the sounds that they can play in the radio. The feeling I have though, is that they are not pushing the sound boundaries in Jamaica anymore. Music-wise I hear only pop-dancehall-soca kind of themes. In some places you
get the roots scene and the rub-a-dub style, but if there really is a riddim that is shocking me out, it is normally not very popular.
| Have you ever listened to the reggae albums nominated on the Grammys? What is your view on all these music awards in the industry?
I don’t watch the Grammys I’m sorry, I’m not in this industry thing as I don’t believe in it. Yeah, I can make the effort if somebody would give me something, I can pretty say thank you. But as a part of the culture I like, I am parallel to these awards. If I would get nominated somehow, the only thing I would do is say thank you: Thank you very much for noticing the shit I do!
This music industry is definitely not my interest. My interest is to make something and move people. For me, in art in general, I like to see something that move me, I hate being bored by music and art. This is what I love and if my music and art is not going to move me, it won’t move anybody else either.
The world of art and music is a bit different today and that is bothering me. I keep seeing music coming out continuously, none of those sounds are interesting to me and it becomes super popular and everybody loves it. Why are people that much into average sounding music and art? I don’t understand. The art world is big, we are going to be in 2020 soon and people are only talking about pushing boundaries, getting out of boxes and trying to get people curious and out of boxes. But I see most individuals holding on to plastic art and artists. It’s all plastic!
You are going to come to a show and I’m going to give you a record, I promise my show is going to move you. And that if you got a basic understanding what art is. Make a conscious decision about your art and how you want it performed. How you like your sounds. I am not about just pleasing out people and telling them everything is going to be ok. The world is violent, it’s nasty and you sit here in Europe and everything is ok.
I perform in Europe because I have the option to come here and play across the countries, to open borders, open minds, everything is nice. I do not want to go to a show that is going to tell me everything is safe, wave to the left, wave to the right. It’s more than dissatisfying the present day’s art world, it makes me very sad.
| You talk a lot about The Bug and I can sense you have a special connection. Is it possible to transform a professional relationship, like the one you have with The Bug, who is both your producer and manager, into a more familiar one?
Yes, we are family. We both make music out of passion. And this is why we are friends and family. We are in nobody’s race, if you know what I mean. The only place we are, is in this moment, right now and we are creating something wicked, we are enjoying it, it’s perfect!
Our shows are a trance too, I get in a fucking trance! I’m not with you, I am with the spirits completely. That’s the effect of music!! hahaha
| What were your favorite live shows during your musical career? With The Bug, or back in Haifa with the crew or the live band?
The shows in Eastern Europe like Ukraine and Russia were like fucking fire for example. Just Wicked! Opening for the Die Antwoord was a very exciting show, in front of a lot of people, actually the biggest crowd I ever saw.
I haven’t counted them. I did hundreds of shows by now! I can tell you that shows and gigs at home are always fun, for example we did one in Tel Aviv in a bar without a full band like we do sometimes, but nonetheless it was really exciting. Like all the time we link up, me and my good old friends. I love to travel and see all this sunshine. Too bad I have to be back in Berlin. After Croatia, Spain and beaches and the blue skies, it’s hard to come back to this wintery city. I might be getting the winter blues a little bit. Every year the same shit. I am used to heat and sun, because in Israel, winter is just two weeks. I like the sea but I almost drowned a few times, so I don’t surf. I wanted to learn how to do it, but I just kept drowning so I said fuck this shit, I don’t want to die in the sea …
So, I love the Pressure shows Kevin Martin does here in Berlin a lot. You should come and see the Gretchen club shows he does with his own sound system. It is a must to see one and the energy is exciting! They are really wicked; the sound system is banging and the vibe is so good.
| Have you played at an instrument by now?
If we are really going back, my first instrument was the violin. I was six and I was in the school’s orchestra. For some time I’ve played it, but then my brother and sister started laughing at me and I’ve moved to the guitar. My sister already played this instrument, so I caught on it straight away. For some years I played electric (metal music) and classic guitar. The singing was there too. As a child I was always singing to the radio in the car. I knew all the lyrics to all the songs.
I was born and grew in Haifa, then I lived for one year and a half in Tel Aviv, then I moved to London for two years. Diss Mi Army for example I made it in the first year I lived in Yaffo in Tel Aviv, during my time in the army. And then when I finished the service I moved to the UK.
So I always play on things, I love to play around! I find it crucial for me. I don’t even think about it too much. It’s hard to say whether one day you will find me on the stage with an instrument in my hand. Maybe not, but it’s hard to say haha.
The Miss Red persona is nothing to be confused, it is me, the fact that I am doing all kinds of things and all kinds of sounds in my private time, is something else. I have created a pattern for Miss Red, I don’t know where is it heading, all I can tell you is: I do things instinctually.
| What type of music and artists were you listening back home?
I was playing classic music and heavy metal on my electric guitar. I played black metal too. A lot of reggae at 16, I was locked on reggae and rub-a-dub back then. Obviously also hip-hop all the time, Wu-Tang Clan was really big for me, Mos Def too. I am also a fan of soul music. And I am enjoying middle eastern music too. I think that into music you need to bring your own to make it as different as you can. You can’t keep doing the same shit over and over again.
| How about your future plans? What's cooking?
Music is my need. I have to keep on doing new songs. We started to roll and we are going to keep it rolling. This continuation has a lot of unexpected details popping out, but we carry on. We have more releases in the plan, we have our eyes on the future. Patience and we will announce everything soon. Very soon.
It’s not that I like to be mysterious, but how can I tell you about it if something is not in my hand? If I am cooking something, you know that I am cooking, if you are asking me how it will taste, I don’t know yet. I promise you that I know what I am doing. I am good at cooking, you know?
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