We chat­ted to the ‘Milk­shake’ singer ahead of her Aus­tralian tour, where she joins other 2000s R’N’B greats.

Time Out (Melbourne) - - MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE - By Claire Fin­neran RNB Fridays Live 2017, Hisense Arena, Olympic Blvd, Mel­bourne 3001. www.rnbfri­ 5pm. $99.90-$249.90. Oct 19-20.

“I love that I’m part of an era when mu­sic was great”

IN 2003 THE world was spec­u­lat­ing wildly over what ex­actly was in Kelis’s milk­shake that in­tox­i­cated men and com­pelled them into her ‘yard’. Over a decade later the dairy-based eu­phemism is still a tan­ta­lis­ing mys­tery, and the 38-year-old me­gas­tar is as pop­u­lar as ever. Her other huge hits, ‘Trick Me’, ‘Bossy’ and ‘Mil­lion­aire’, still swill around the air­waves and she’s been busy since that golden mu­si­cal time cap­sule fill­ing in her hours with feats like train­ing to be a pro­fes­sional chef, host­ing UK choral tal­ent show Pitch Bat­tle and rais­ing sons Shep­herd and Knight. Speak­ing over the phone from her liv­ing room, Kelis re­flects on the stay­ing power of her out­put and that of her tour mates, Craig David, Ne-yo, Kelly Row­land, En Vogue, Sean Paul, Mario, Christina Mil­ian, Moni­fah and Fat­man Scoop. “I love the fact that I am part of an era where mu­sic was great, when it was re­ally fun, and we still have fun,” she says. “Ev­ery­one on tour, for the most part, is still re­ally rel­e­vant and still re­ally busy and still re­ally cool.”

Kelis her­self will be pretty chuffed to be hanging out with some of her idols. “Grow­ing up, En Vogue, for ex­am­ple, was a huge one. I just thought they were so glam­orous and beau­ti­ful and that they re­ally rep­re­sented some­thing dif­fer­ent than what we had seen be­fore.” She ad­mires the ‘Free Your Mind’ girl group as much as she does Whitney Hous­ton, but when asked about any con­tem­po­rary women of R’N’B she might align with, she is quick to re­mind us of a) how deeply un-fem­i­nist that ques­tion is and b) how her taste in artists needn’t be in­formed by gen­der or moder­nity at all. “I don’t ever sit around and think, ‘Oh I’m go­ing to lis­ten to this artist be­cause it’s a woman.’ I’m just like, ‘Oh I love this song.’ Ev­ery­thing else is kind of sec­ondary.”

Kelis has an­other rea­son to be ex­cited about the Aus­tralian tour: re­vis­it­ing her favourite lo­cal restau­rants. It’s widely known that dur­ing a breather between al­bums she trained at Le Cor­don Bleu, the fa­mous culi­nary in­sti­tute in France. She has re­leased both a cook­book, My Life on a Plate, and a line of bar­be­cue and jerk sauces. The ti­tle of her most re­cent al­bum, Food, from 2014, of­fers an­other hint about where her pre­oc­cu­pa­tion lies. “I al­ways do a quick lit­tle bit of re­search to see what’s new and ex­cit­ing and a must­see in the lo­cal food scene. I’m down to try the high-end and then the not-high-end. I don’t care. I like find­ing the good lit­tle holes in the wall all over the world.” Does she get a chance, as a recog­nis­able me­gas­tar, to wan­der the streets and find said holes in the wall? “Yeah, I do ac­tu­ally. I re­mem­ber hav­ing some re­ally good In­dian food last time I was out there. I went with a few of my band and we just sort of hung out. I re­mem­ber the food be­ing re­ally good. But, yeah, it was Valen­tine’s Day, so ev­ery­thing was all beefed out and over­whelm­ingly non-ro­man­tic.”

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