video premiere: zebra katz x leila - nina simone

Watch the new video from the gender challenging US rapper here.

by i-D Staff
09 June 2015, 12:40am

Photography Matthew Stone

He's an American rapper known for twisting the expectations of convention and challenging the confines of sexuality within Hip Hop. She's the Warp signed Iranian DJ, artist and producer who's worked with Bjork and Martina Topley-Bird. Together, Zebra Katz x Leila Arab have created the Nu Renegade EP, which, as you might expect, is a trip into the light fantastic. Today, we premiere the video for Nina Simone, directed by Patrick Stemelen; press play and fall into a world of beautiful, glorious noise...

How and when did you begin working together - and more importantly, why.
Leila: Ihave always love hip hop and rap so it was just a waiting game until someone interesting enough came along.
Zebra: I met Leila after a gig I played in London. She mentioned that she would be into making some noise together and a few months later we got on with it.

How does it work in terms of who produces certain tracks, who vocals which tracks etc.
Leila: All the vocals are Zebra and all the production is me, but I listen to Zebra's opinion a lot because I think he has great production ears (Ima Read, ICU, Sex Sellz…..hello?!).
Zebra: I love Leila's sound and her process for creating music so I simply gave her all my trust and together we crafted the Nu Renegade EP.

How does working with Ojay compare to, for instance, Bjork. How do you approach each collaborative experience?
Leila: It's allthe same to me …NOISE … it just has to be good.

How was the experience of making Nu Renegade? What did you set out to create?
Leila: It's been quite lush. I can be rather "no" and Zebra reminded me how to be a little more "yes" without losing integrity. This EP is also my first foray into the world of self release/no labels, which has been fun. It was also good for me because it pushed me to make it all a little less sloppy because it was a joint project and not just a "Leila" album. I will always have issues with rubbish music that is well produced/presented with shit content. Leila music is kind of based on the principle of intricate detailed paintings on napkins in a world of Rembrandt sized sonic canvases of musical nonsense
Zebra: Everything about making the Nu Renegade EP has been a fucking blast for me. I've learned so much about my craft and how I want to present it to my audience. Leila has taught me things about music only a few people actually get and understand; how impactful it can be. Leila is like my sister from another mother so I'm glad we're only just beginning with his EP - I look forward to what we do next.

What does Nu Renegade offer to the current musical narrative?
Leila: Noise
Zebra: Rebirth
Leila: Zebra is an amazing rapper/artist with real vision and courage and I just hope this EP reaffirms that. The world loves to put things in their box and I think we got to flip it.
Zebra: With this EP I wanted to simply invite people into our world. The Nu Renegade is here and we're here to stay .. make an impact and a lot of noise. Catch Leila on tour this fall.

Talk us through the video for Nina Simone, which we're premiering on i-D today.
Leila: The video was directed by a French artist called Patrick Stemelen who has been contacting me for about five years to do something for my music. It felt right to call him in on this one.


Zebra Katz
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Nina Simone