One to watch: Iris Gold

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If you’ve been awake any time in the past two years, you’ll probably agree that the general cultural atmosphere is a little dark. From unruly presidents, to on-going revelations about inequality in the workplace, it seems as if everywhere you turn, there’s something to grumble at – possibly, your playlist included!

However, if you’re looking for some respite from the ills of the world, we have your remedy in the form of singing sensation Iris Gold. Raised in a ‘hippie commune’ in Copenhagen, Denmark, she’s had quite the journey to being a rising recording artist today. She recently spoke to Pride (while getting a fabulous manicure) about her unique upbringing, and her signature style of ‘hippie-hop’ music.

Pride catches up with Danish soul singer and ultimate ray of sunshine, Iris Gold!

What was it like growing up mixed in Copenhagen?

Iris Gold: My mum’s from India, and my dad’s from Jamaica – but basically, everyone else is blonde with blue eyes, so I did stick out a lot at school. At one point, I wanted to change my name and become ‘Lona’, which is a popular name in Denmark. And my mum, being Indian, didn’t know what to do with my hair – she just put coconut oil in it, and my hair was like a ball, with one plait at the back! People would say that it looked like I had a poo at the back of my head!

Not only that, but you grew up in Copenhagen’s ‘hippie commune’ – what was that experience like?

IG: There was a big range of ages, so I had a lot of different kinds of musical influences. I gravitated towards 50s, 60s and 70’s music – I loved stuff like Cat Stevens and The Mamas & The Papas. A lot of people thought that was weird, especially my aunties, so they indoctrinated me into classic hip-hop music: KRS-One, Beastie Boys… so when I started making my own music, I combined that 60s psychedelic-ness with hip-hop.

You call your style ‘hippie hop’ – how would you describe that genre to an alien?

IG: Someone asked me the other day how I’d describe it to my grandma – I’d say that’s Betty Davis meets Katy Perry. But to an alien, I’d say 60’s/70’s psychedelic loop, fused with hip-hop, then I write a pop melody on top.

There’s lots of negativity in the world, but you don’t let it invade your happy bubble. How do you keep it positive?

IG: Growing up where I did, I think people think it was really fun, all the time. But really, you have the grown-ups acting like kids, so it makes you grow up really fast. On one hand, you have all these creative, interesting people around you, but it’s also like ‘sh*t, okay, I need to take care of myself’. I remember there not being very many other kids around, and being alone a lot. So I think I created this world of flowers and loveliness to escape to. When I started writing with a guy in Denmark, he told me ‘the flower power thing is really lovely, but it’s really annoying – because why are you so happy all the time?’ It’s only when you get to know me that you can tell that I’ve been through some sh*t. This happiness comes from some struggle – and I’ve been told to let people in on the journey. I think this new single is the most honest song I’ve done so far. It really explains going through trials and tribulations, but still coming out on top. I like to invite others into my world, because it’s lovely there!

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

IG: I used to write poems from the age of four – and I had a lot of imaginary friends, and I used to make up stories about the things we could get up to, and told that to people in the community. And I still use these in my music now! I think I’ve always known, but started properly pursuing it in 2014.

You’re based in both Copenhagen and London – where is home to you?

IG: That’s really difficult – I love Copenhagen because it’s safe, quaint and there’s a higher standard of living, accommodation-wise. But I do miss the hustle of London. All my friends here are very creative and working hard, and I’ve been inspired by their work. I wish I could move the people I know to Denmark with me – but they wouldn’t be the people they are.

What’s next for you, in 2018?

IG: Lots of festivals! I’ve got lots on that I can’t quite say yet – but just wait and see.

Iris Gold’s latest single, ‘All I Really Know’ is available now on Soundcloud and streaming platforms. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @irisgoldmusic

 Interview by Nicole Vassell

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