2, 4, 6, 8…. We appreciate Snoh Aalegra!
When No I.D, (Kanye West's back-in-the-day mentor and the Godfather of Chicago Hip Hop) decides to sign someone, you know it's probably not going to be rubbish. And you'd be right. In fact, everything about 27-year-old Snoh Aaelegra screams amazing. Having lived everywhere from Stockholm to LA - via London and rural Sweden - she's worldly, savvy and massively wise beyond her years. With cheekbones for days and Beyoncésque waves of hair spilling out of an Acne leather jacket, she could have literally just stepped off a catwalk. And then of course, there's her music. Bad Things is a painful ode to self-destruction, while Stockholm Part II is a wonerfully woozy instrumental featuring Cocaine 80s. Her beautifully produced EP, There Will Be Sunshine, is a gorgeous arrangement of eloquent wordplay, Snoh's swoony vocal, impressive orchestral arrangements, and the odd killer rap verse (hiya Common!). We grilled the triple threat songstress on spag bol, supermodels and Sweden…
2 life lessons from Hip Hop hero, No I.D
1. "He taught me to have no limits, to dream big. He would say to me, 'You're amazing, I believe in you, so believe in yourself'. No I.D really showed me how to have faith. It's ok to be me, to be truthful in my music."
2. "He's a Hip Hop producer but he vocal produced me. No I.D showed me how to sing in a completely different way. It was almost like he was an acting coach; he coached me on how to sing in a new ways. I discovered this part of my voice I hadn't used before."
4 favourite 90s supermodels
1. Linda Evangelista
"She has such a special look. I love all of her shoots; she's always caught my attention. Most girls want long hair, but I see her and I just want to cut mine all off."
2. Naomi Campbell
"She's a cat, she's not human, she's so fierce and that's what I love about her. She must be so striking in real life. The way she walks that catwalk? Crazy."
3. Kate Moss
"I look up to her because she can pull off anything. She can wear whatever she wants. Kate proves that you can make the clothes: the clothes don't make you. If you have the confidence, you can pull off any look.
4. Cindy Crawford
"There's just something about her. Cindy has this innocence to her, she's beautiful in a really cute way."
6 things that inspired Snoh Aalegra
1. Growing up
When Snoh was a kid, she assumed songs had to be about love, because that's what most songs tend to be about. So she tried. "It was funny because I was writing them in English, which was my third language - I wrote this song when I was 9 - and it made absolutely no sense, in any way. I learnt that I had to be truthful and do my own thing."
She points out that on her EP, only one track is a love song You Always Knew. "I've been through [love], I can relate to it, it comes from an honest place. But that's just one thing." So what about the other tracks? "They're about my life, Bad Things is about how we're very destructive and the things we do under pressure. Paradise is about when I was back in Sweden, and where I am now: still trying to make it. There Will Be Sunshine is a very personal song for me. It represents my whole state of mind. Things have been really dark but I've always had hope, I've always been a big dreamer."
2. Michael Jackson
"My mum always played his music, he's one of the artists I grew up on, and, to me, those artists you hear as a child have this magic quality; he was magical."
3. Disney movies
"They opened this whole world to me, I was super inspired by all of the soundtracks. It was my dream as a kid to write songs for a Disney film, it's still a dream of mine."
4. The Swedish Gloom
"During this time of the year, we get maybe four or five hours of light and then the sun goes down. Sweden has the biggest number of suicides in the whole world; it can be a really depressing place. That Swedish weather has definitely put its stamp on me. I love the London rain, it's the only place I like the rain."
5. Prince's Beautiful Ones
"I discovered Prince a bit later in life and found him so sexual, really mature, and just really sonically advanced. I recently got to meet him, which was crazy. He's amazing. He heard about me online and invited me to hang out with him, and go to his shows. I watched from the side of stage so I could really study him up close. When he performed The Beautiful Ones I was blown away. We've talked about maybe doing something in the future, we'll see. He's a new friend in my life, I look up to him so much."
6. Whitney Houston
"She's another artist I grew up listening to. There's no voice like her voice, it's the most beautiful voice on the planet."
8 things you need to know about Snoh
She signed to Sony when she was 14
"It was for a few years while they were trying to develop me as a writer and a singer. I was so young, you know, trying to write my love songs, and they're like, 'What do you know about love?!' I didn't know anything! I just made stuff up. I was in another deal after that, and it was really bad. All these people were trying to control me and I didn't even get to write my own songs, it wasn't my vision at all. So I guess I've been through that slightly clichéd long journey of trying to make it.
At the moment, you'll find her listening to Mark Ronson and Daniel Merriweather's Stop Me on repeat.
"I just can't stop playing it. It's always been on repeat. It's the song I wish I wrote."
Busted: them freckles aren't real…
"I paint fake freckles on my nose every day. I love them. I take my eyebrow pencil and I do them with that. I love freckles, they make you look so fresh."
Snoh's got the art of spag bol down
"I've never been to a restaurant where it's been better than mine. It's all about the order, not what you put in. I like it to be crunchy, so meat first and then onions. My other tip would be to add a little bit of crème fraiche at the end."
She's got a type
"Assholes! I don't go for a specific kind of guy - if you look at my ex history, they all look different, they're all into different things - but yeah, if I had to have a type - definitely assholes. I like bad boys, but I don't want to actually deal with a bad guy, no one needs that."
(Tom Hanks isn't an asshole)
"Tom Hanks is my favourite actor, I love everything he's done. I love movies that make you think. Forest Gump, The Green Mile, Philadelphia; everything with Tom Hanks!"
Her shittiest times had the biggest impact…
I didn't have the easiest upbringing, but I still appreciated it. I've always been a big dreamer, and in Sweden sometimes it doesn't feel like you're really allowed to dream big. That's why I moved to the States to really pursue music. I've been doing this since I was a kid; but I lived in such a small town. There were no outlets. No record labels. It was a tough time. My parents divorced when I was a kid, a lot of things happened, I lost my dad in 2009… I think that all comes out in my music; it's very dark and emotional because it comes from real things that have happened in my life. Sometimes something can feel too dark to talk about, so I'll put it in my music and hopefully people can get to know me though that.
You'll soon be able to catch her on tour
I'm going on tour with Cocaine 80s, which is really exciting. James Fauntleroy is one of my favourite songwriters of all time, his lyrics are amazing and he's such a cool guy. I'm a huge fan. We're gonna share a set and do a few tracks together, as well as me doing the ones off my EP. It's gonna be exciting for sure."
Test Shannon Mahanty
Photography Daniella Midenge