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
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.