Iggy: Fac­tor fric­tion

Meet­ing new XFac­tor judge Iggy Azalea re­veals a whole dif­fer­ent side of the pop star – and it is not overly flat­ter­ing, writes SHAN­NON MOL­LOY

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - FRONT PAGE -

IN rap­per Iggy Azalea’s ex­pe­ri­ence, peo­ple ei­ther love her or hate her.

On the set of Seven’s long-run­ning sing­ing com­pe­ti­tion The X Fac­tor, on which she’s a new judge this sea­son, opin­ion seems di­vided.

When we meet, it’s in be­tween a photo shoot and film­ing pro­mos for the show, which kicks off to­mor­row. Azalea is run­ning be­hind.

“She’ll be five more min­utes,” one of the crew says.

“Five reg­u­lar min­utes, or five Iggy min­utes?,” some­one else quips.

Sti­fled laugh­ter fills the room, hint­ing that the per­former has set the ex­pec­ta­tion about whose timetable she op­er­ates on.

Later, I watch her record a web video with fel­low judges Adam Lam­bert and Guy Se­bas­tian (right, with Azalea). It’s meant to be light and fun, but she’s not on that page.

Azalea tries a joke about pros­ti­tu­tion that falls de­cid­edly flat for this, a fam­ily show. She sulks about some of the ques­tions and then seems to lose in­ter­est.

“Well, none of that’s us­able,” some­one says, un­der their breath.

As I soon dis­cover, the lyricist is a world away from her bol­shie on-stage per­sona when not in char­ac­ter.

She’s awk­ward, un­com­fort­able and does things firmly on her terms.

Born in Syd­ney in 1990, Azalea – real name Amethyst Amelia Kelly – moved to the US at 16 to pur­sue her mu­si­cal dreams.

My first mis­take is open­ing the in­ter­view by wel­com­ing her home.

“I never re­ally consider this my home,” she says. “I’ve lived over­seas for a decade … LA is home.”

Azalea has been pro­moted as a suc­cess­ful Aus­tralian ex­port who has come back to im­part her wis­dom on a young gen­er­a­tion of mu­si­cal hope­fuls. Given that, her cold re­sponse – ef­fec­tively de­nounc­ing the place where she was born and raised – throws me. Lost for words, I re­mark that the cli­mate be­tween LA and Syd­ney is fairly sim­i­lar.

“It doesn’t need to be sim­i­lar,” Azalea snaps. “It’s just where I live.”

As a net­work rep­re­sen­ta­tive later com­ments, it seems Azalea de­cided in that mo­ment she wasn’t fond of me. The rest of our chat is frosty, with mostly one-line re­sponses.

Per­haps she’s de­fen­sive be­cause of her rocky re­la­tion­ship with the press.

Af­ter her sin­gle Fancy rock­eted to No.1 on the US Bill­board chart in 2014, the girl from Mul­lumbimby be­came a global house­hold name. But the ini­tial praise was re­placed with seem­ingly end­less con­tro­versy.

She copped flak for her rap­ping style, which some say is cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion. She’s been in­volved in pub­lic feuds with fel­low per­form­ers, no­tably Azealia Banks and Nicki Mi­naj. And this year, the re­lease of a video in which her bas­ket­ball star fi­ance Nick Young ad­mits to cheat­ing on her ig­nited a tabloid storm.

“It’s never fun,” she says of see­ing her per­sonal life in the me­dia. “I guess I do [have a thick skin] some­times. I’m proud of my per­se­ver­ance. I’ve al­ways been po­lar­is­ing – I get a lot of love and there are a lot of peo­ple who don’t like me, too.”

Azalea says the end prod­uct of her work – hit songs, fame, money, fans scream­ing her lyrics at con­certs – isn’t what drives her.

“It’s the cre­ative process I hon­estly love so much,” she says. “I love sit­ting in a studio, writ­ing and rewrit­ing a song 10 mil­lion times … think­ing of what the mu­sic video is go­ing to be, mak­ing it, mak­ing cos­tumes and de­sign­ing the look.”

De­spite per­cep­tions – which prob­a­bly aren’t helped by in­ter­views like these – she in­sists she has a soft side. “I think I can be very nur­tur­ing at times, which peo­ple would be sur­prised to hear. I think peo­ple think I have a tough per­sona all of the time, but I’m not that tough,” she says.

When it comes to The X Fac­tor, she’s look­ing for­ward to of­fer­ing in­sight to the ex­tra­or­di­nary path from small town to global suc­cess.

“I can of­fer them some great ad­vice,” Azalea says.

And what pearls of wis­dom can we ex­pect? “You’ll have to wait and see,” she says.

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