Own­ing Birds

GQ (Australia) - - GQ INC. -

Be­ware, the fol­low­ing con­tains traces of nuts. GQ is sat cross­legged on the foot­path, our eyes drawn to the sig­nage across the road. ‘Ad­vanced Cool Rooms for Hire’ it reads, neatly printed on the side of a trailer. It’s in good nick, parked par­al­lel to an empty mar­quee. In front stands a re­dun­dant traf­fic cone, the re­flec­tor peeled from around its waist. Fur­ther afield but within earshot, three men are throw­ing around an Amer­i­can foot­ball. Golf bug­gies and taxis oc­ca­sion­ally drive by, abid­ing by the 10km/h speed limit. Then, more im­pres­sive, a red Ford F-160 stops. Likely a 1960 model, all souped up and shiny. By our feet are three cig­a­rette butts. We pick up one. ‘VP 115’ is printed a mil­lime­tre above the fil­ter. As we place it down, a man walks past with a film cam­era in his hand. Sud­denly, “Hi, how you go­ing?” We look up. An X Fac­tor fi­nal­ist has emerged from the stu­dio build­ing we’re leant against, to greet her fa­ther (we pre­sume) in a wait­ing car. These are the things we no­ticed when wait­ing to talk to Iggy Aza­lea. It’s a pleas­ant spring af­ter­noon in Syd­ney. Two birds – masked lap­wings to be pre­cise – oc­cupy Aza­lea’s va­cant car space. We as­sume, naively, the birds aren’t hers. The pur­pose of our visit is to speak to GQ’S Woman of the Year 2016. But there’s been some mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion and the woman we’re wait­ing for has left for the day. “Can you come back to­mor­row?” This is yet an­other en­try in a se­quence of scrawl­ings about find­ing time to con­grat­u­late the Aussie rap­per on her ti­tle. First, there was grand talk of rid­ing horse­back to­gether some­where in the Cal­i­for­nian desert. Jodh­purs would be pro­vided; Aza­lea would drive us in her Jeep. Change of plan, meet

at a theme park as it’s in­dica­tive of a ‘Team Aza­lea’ day off. A sky dive or “any­thing adren­a­line-fu­elled” are also pro­posed. Next, how about eight hours in LA, fly­ing in and out? Back to the draw­ing board. Din­ner at Syd­ney’s best pie shop, Harry’s Cafe de Wheels? “Some­where more pri­vate?” One of the restau­rants on Syd­ney’s Wool­loomooloo Wharf? “Sorry, the stu­dio is best, does that suit?” And so it is the stu­dio – well, the sec­ond time we turn up. It was in June that we first met with Aza­lea. Same show, dif­fer­ent stu­dio – for what is her long­est stint back in her ‘home’ coun­try. She left, aged 16, to fol­low Tu­pac and Outkast-in­spired dreams that were some­what un­suited to her sleepy up­bring­ing in Mul­lumbimby, north­ern NSW. Down a quiet cor­ri­dor lead­ing to the La-based rap­per’s dress­ing room, Aza­lea was 20 min­utes from mak­ing her de­but on The X Fac­tor panel, along­side singer-cum-car­i­ca­ture Adam Lam­bert and Guy Se­bas­tian, re­al­ity TV’S ev­ery­man. Back then, the 26-year-old ap­peared ready, eat­ing zuc­chini strips from a bowl, cleav­age per­fect (a match for any ’90s lads mags). The con­ver­sa­tion was all ca­sual “heys” and smiles, Aza­lea’s per­sona not the frosty one that me­dia out­lets love to flood the in­ter­net with. She of­fered zuc­chini, we nib­bled, and then she laid the first ut­ter­ance that made us un­der­stand why those same me­dia out­lets se­cured traf­fic. “I’d like my award to be ‘Vagina of the Year’. I can pic­ture it sat on my pi­ano at home.” To­day, sec­ond (well, third, re­ally) time round and Aza­lea is sat op­po­site, sur­prised at just how bad she is at word as­so­ci­a­tion. Fame? “Me? I don’t know.” Be­neath an em­broi­dered bomber that could be from Gucci or ebay, her cropped white T-shirt has some­thing like ‘Be with the Team’ writ­ten on it. We can’t stare long enough to con­firm, pri­mar­ily be­cause her line of sight sits be­hind large, white tor­toise­shell sun­glasses. There’s a lot of junk food in her dress­ing room – cups full of Curly Wurlys, pack­ets of Dori­tos and jars of rasp­berry-shaped lol­lies. Through the blind, we can see her car space is de­void of any rest­ing birds. “I think it’s been a pretty good year,” she says with an easy smile. On the same day that we speak, ex-fi­ance, NBA hot­shot Nick Young, wel­comed his sec­ond child into the world. It’s late Oc­to­ber. Aza­lea and Young split mid June. Do the maths. This year, as well as “part­ing ways with the per­son I planned my en­tire fu­ture with”, Aza­lea’s dog, Jelli, had knee surgery and Mack­le­more fur­ther em­broiled her in rap’s race wars (af­ter the whole Azealia Banks feud), ref­er­enc­ing her in ‘White Priv­i­lege II’. She was also on the re­ceiv­ing end of abuse from Bey­oncé fans af­ter tweet­ing, ‘You would not be down if I started call­ing all black men ‘de­shawns’ ... do you know how many times ppl have called me BECKY? It didn’t have any kind of pos­i­tive in­ten­tion be­hind it.’ Re­gard­less of Bey­oncé’s choice of lyrics (and Aza­lea’s right to call her out), surely Solange was clear enough in that 2014 lift – no one messes with Queen Bey. Away from the head­lines and the haters, Aza­lea has had a good year. In March, she set up Aza­lea Street Pro­duc­tions and by July she was sign­ing a deal with NBC Uni­ver­sal to de­velop and pro­duce shows. “I felt re­ally happy, it was an­other thing to tick off, to feel like I’m mov­ing for­ward,” she says. “I have like 11 shows in pro­duc­tion. I EP them, and de­velop them – some things I make up the ideas to, but there’s a fuck load of peo­ple in­volved.” More pos­i­tives. We dis­cover Aza­lea’s birth­day wish of get­ting a di­nosaur fos­sil came true, but more on that later, be­cause 2016 also saw her fin­ish sopho­more al­bum, Dig­i­tal Dis­tor­tion, due out early 2017. “I re­ally en­joyed do­ing it but I had so many other things go­ing on while I was record­ing that I felt like I had big­ger fish to fry. Peo­ple can of­ten fix­ate on their sopho­more al­bum. I was fix­at­ing on other shit.” While she won’t dis­close any col­lab­o­ra­tions, and re­fuses to ac­cept any praise for its com­ple­tion, Aza­lea is in good spir­its about the al­bum that fol­lows 2014’s The New Clas­sic – the multi-plat­inum ef­fort that sky­rock­eted her to fame. And af­ter a shy, mono­syl­labic start, now we can’t stop her talk­ing. “The thing I like about pro­duc­ing my [TV] shows, maybe a lit­tle more than mu­sic, is with mu­sic, I know it’s go­ing to get shit­ted on and I might take it per­son­ally, be­cause the prod­uct is me. Whereas the shows, even though it’s still my cre­ative ideas, the prod­uct isn’t me. So when peo­ple crit­i­cise it, there is a dis­con­nec­tion. I can have a lit­tle bit more fun, say or do things that I might not nec­es­sar­ily do in mu­sic, be­cause I don’t have to be solely re­spon­si­ble. Do you know what I mean?” Ac­tu­ally, we do. Call her what you like, (“Ev­ery­one thinks I’m a c*nt”), but there’s a vul­ner­a­bil­ity and an hon­esty to Aza­lea that she’s rarely cred­ited for. In a world where free­dom of speech is ever-im­por­tant, is it not the free­dom to speak hon­estly that we should be cham­pi­oning? Whether it’s what peo­ple do or don’t want to hear, Aza­lea says it how it is. She speaks her mind. And so here – on our sec­ond ex­cur­sion to this cen­tral Syd­ney stu­dio (“I was at the US Con­sulate yes­ter­day to up­date my visa”), we im­plore her to be no dif­fer­ent. In all its unabridged, un­cen­sored glory, this is the Iggy Aza­lea we stand to cel­e­brate.

Aus­tralia

“Of course I like Aus­tralia, but I don’t know why peo­ple get so of­fended as it’s not my home. I don’t miss Aus­tralia, not be­cause there aren’t great things about it. Emi­grat­ing when you’re a kid is a defin­ing mo­ment of your life, where you’re about to be­come an adult. That shapes you, I doubt you re­ally un­der­stand the feel­ing.”

Hon­esty

“It’s the best pol­icy, un­less you’re a per­former and the prod­uct that you’re sell­ing is your­self, and then it’s fuck­ing not. I don’t abide by that, be­cause I say what I want and I think it’s more im­por­tant to be hu­man than a good prod­uct. A good prod­uct doesn’t have opin­ions. That’s why so many peo­ple want to buy head­phones, be­cause head­phones don’t talk.”

Space and Di­nosaurs

“Some­one said the other day, ‘Ba­si­cally you’re like a nine-year-old boy, only in­ter­ested in space and di­nosaurs.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, thanks for list­ing all my in­ter­ests.’ Re­cently, I bought some di­nosaur teeth off a pa­le­on­tol­o­gist, not ebay – a T-rex tooth and a half di­nosaur’s skin. They cost $20,000 and they’re def­i­nitely di­nosaur teeth. It’s cool to think that some­thing that’s been here for so long, and was in some­one’s mouth chomp­ing up di­nosaurs, is now in my hand­bag.”

Nor­mal­ity

“It’s weird to be nor­mal now, right? There are vary­ing de­grees of nor­mal­ity de­pend­ing on your level of in­san­ity and en­vi­ron­ment. I’d be clas­si­fied as nor­mal for the en­vi­ron­ment I’m in but if you threw me into reg­u­lar life, I may seem in­sane.”

So­cial Me­dia

“I’ve found it’s good not to have it be­cause I have more con­ver­sa­tions and feel like I’m present and en­joy stuff more.”

Sal­vador Dali

“It would be cool to be Sal­vador Dali, be­cause he was pretty ridicu­lous and he didn’t give very many fucks. And to have that mous­tache. Dali is a pretty good name too. He was al­ways mak­ing pe­nis jokes, I feel.”

“I woke up two days ago and de­cided I needed a kook­aburra. You’re not al­lowed to own them here, but it’s to­tally le­gal in Amer­ica. It would be fun to have some­thing that sounds like it’s hav­ing a seizure ev­ery morn­ing. I guess it has some­thing to do with the fact that they’re Aus­tralian – the sound does take me back a lit­tle.”

Cot­ton boxer shorts, ap­prox. $65, by Hanro at Mr Porter.

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