Interview: Kelis

We chatted to Kelis about her line of sauces, the Kelis food truck at SXSW, what she loves most about fashion and of course her fruitful career in the music industry.

Once upon a time it was her milkshake that brought all the boys to the yard, fast forward fifteen years and Kelis is offering a bit more than flavoured milk.

Juggling life as a mum, a TV presenter, businesswoman, Kelis can now even add the title of chef to her list after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in 2010. Her new album, aptly named Food is a clear homage to her love of cooking.

You’re coming out to Australia for Splendour in the Grass and two sideshows in Melbourne and Sydney – what do you love about playing to a live audience?
Well it kind of takes you to a whole other level, it becomes a different thing. It’s always interesting, there’s certain things that you think are going to work and certain things that you didn’t think would work, but it’s really cool just do it all live.

You’ve worked with an incredible list of people over your career (Pharell, will.i.am, Skream, Dave Sitek etc.), how important has it been to collaborate with other creatives?
I don’t know, I don’t really think about it that much. It’s nice when you are able to wok with someone who has a like mind who you can sort of bounce things off so your good becomes great. It’s a nice thing; I don’t sit around and think about the importance of it, it’s just something that you do.

You’ve trained as a chef and the new album is called Food and there are plenty of other food references in the songs, I’m guessing that’s no coincidence?
I think they go hand in hand, you know, it wasn’t really a plan. When someone asked me the name of my album and I didn’t have one, and I kind of just blurted out ‘food’, just sort of jokingly and yeah I was like, not bad. To me its sort of about lifestyle, how we nourish ourselves on way or the other.

‘Jerk Ribs’ is definitely the catchiest song on Food. What’s your secret to writing songs that make people want to move?
I think if it makes me want to move, then generally it makes people want to move. It’s about what makes your feel good and kind of running with it and nothing thinking about it too much, but just sort of doing it.

Being a food lover; do you think you will get any time off while you’re out here to maybe try out some of our local food?
I’ve been to Australia before, so it’s not like it’s a new thing but I always try to make it a point to go and eat something good, I have to eat so yeah, absolutely I will.

Another of your ventures was the Kelis food truck at SXSW. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I just decided it would be a cool thing to do, you know, and that was it. SXSW was the perfect place to do it so I decided to launch it there. It’s so fun.

Now that you’re a trained chef and can make just about anything, what’s your favourite thing to cook?
Well I’m a saucier, so that’s my main thing, but what I like to cook in general is a bit of everything, but it’s usually what I am in the mood for. But sauces are definitely where my heart is.

These sauces, can you bring a big heap of them out here when you come to visit or tell us where we can get them?
I’d love to get them to you; I’m working on doing some international licensing now. But you’ll be able to get them online probably at the end of our summer.

You seem to have a lot on your plate with music, your sauces, motherhood, the food truck, a TV show, a new album, touring and all the rest of it, you’re a superwoman! How do you find the time to fit it all in?
Well my manager has added hours onto the day, didn’t you know? (laughs) So many more hours in my day! Yeah, you just do what you can and you have to put your priorities in line and go from there you know.

You’ve been in the game for 15 years now; can you explain how you personal style has flown over the years?
My style hasn’t changed at all. The way that I dress is the way that I feel. The way that I feel goes through its regular rollercoaster of kind of emotions. I dress really the way my fashion sense and style is the same as it’s has always been. I wear what I like and there is not much more rhyme or reason to it than that. The way that I see they world is that everything that I do kind of personifies itself, whether it’s in fashion or music, food or whatever it is that I am doing and you know I can’t really help that.

Your spread in Schon Magazine earlier this year was stunning; is that something that you like doing, being in front of the camera?
It depends. It can be fun. I obviously love clothes and I love dressing. I don’t know if photo shoots are my favourite things to do but it can be cool if it’s the right photographer and if it’s the right sort of vibe. Video shoots are fun and album cover shoots because those are very clear and distinct on the theme or idea in mind, so they are always good.

So saying that you love dressing and clothes, you must have some favourite stand-out style icons and designers you admire?
I mean, it’s like asking, what’s your favourite food. I like food so; I don’t really have a favourite. It’s the same thing with fashion, you know it just depends a few things; I can love a designer but not be in the mood that I am in for that moment in my life. There are a lot of designers that I love and I wear a lot of different stuff too. I just like clothes overall.

You can catch Kelis if you’re lucky enough to have Splendour in the Grass tickets or at the Prince Bandroom, Melbourne – 22nd of July and the HIFI, Sydney – 23rd July.

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