INTERVIEW : Old-school Pipes, 21st-Century Gripes


I was hired as a music writer for Interview, the magazine made famous for popularizing the paradigm of the most talented minds from the worlds of art, fashion and entertainment engaged in a one-on-one conversation. From 2002-2005, I interviewed celebrity musicians, as well as up-and-coming artists in the genres of hip hop, R&B, folk, world and rock music. I was also assigned the task of selecting, rating and reviewing new album releases.

Old-school Pipes, 21st-Century Gripes

Estelle Swaray, a 28-year-old Brit recently transplanted to New York City, is set to release Shine (Homeschool/Atlantic), a stutteringly sexy amalgamation of poppy romance, gritty rhymes, and dancehall rhythms. “The bass line, drums, and reggae-dub all come from my [Grenadan] father’s side,” she explains. “And my maternal grandmother was African, so there was a lot of that kind of music growing up.”

This self-proclaimed lifelong “West London chick” started her career focusing on rap. In 2005, Swaray was an opening act on John Legend’s Get Lifted tour, and his mentoring led him to sign Swaray to his new label, Homeschool. Legend encouraged her to concentrate less on rap than on her singing, and he put together an all-star lineup of guest performers (including Kanye West) and producers to mix her vocals (Swizz Beatz, Wyclef Jean, and Mark Ronson, among others). Her catchy sound has drawn comparisons to that of Fugees’ songstress Lauryn Hill. Swaray replies, “I’m nothing like that.”