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connie constance on girl power, race, and keeping it real

In collaboration with Clarks Originals, i-D shines the spotlight on the young London singer with the velvet voice — a future classic pulling at our heartstrings and making us swoon.

by Francesca Dunn
|
Aug 8 2016, 12:10pm

"People expect a lot from you if your name is Constance Power," laughs Connie Constance, the talented 21-year-old singer whose new release, Lose My Mind, will make you lose yours. Born in 1995 with a name fit for a superhero, Constance goes by Connie these days and for all the musical magic her voice holds, she's as real as they come. Connie speaks openly and honestly with a distinct London accent that adds a wonderful raspy quality to her songs of love, self-reflection, and escape.

The Nigerian-British beauty grew up in Watford with her mom, the most important woman in her life, who taught her independence, to dream big, and to always go for what you want. Having taken dance classes as a child, she went on to follow her first big dream and earned a place at the prestigious Urdang Academy. Connie attended for a year before dropping out to focus on music, realizing that it was singing she truly loved. She showcased her dance skills in the video for her Blue Daisy-produced debut, "Stars." It was her dancing, too, that caught the attention of Clarks Originals. Moving and shaking in the street with her friends, Connie posted a video to Instagram in which she happened to be wearing the brand. Cue a collaboration with Clarks Originals on a dance video that she has choreographed and created the music for, as well as spoken word for its new campaign. Connie wanted the project to capture her creative process, so she made the music out of notebooks, "scribbling down ideas, ripping pages, and dropping them to make a beat. It's cool because [Clarks Originals'] ethics match mine," she says.

Connie keeps a diary, harnessing the thoughts that run madly through her head and using song writing as a way of escaping the busy, politically charged, polluted city streets. She thumbs through the pages, exposing sketches, lists, hurried scrawls and an occasional burn mark that she can't quite remember why she made. "If I'm honest, my music is selfish," she muses. "I write when I'm stressed out or if something's not right. I write a lot about love too -- that's why it's quite difficult for my relationships, because if you stress me out you're getting written about!" Connie's style is very conversational, her lyrics often lifted directly from her diary entries. She admires the work of King Krule, Gil Scott-Heron, and Mike Skinner for managing to seize their thoughts the way they do. "I'm not too great on stories, I'm much more blatant about what I'm saying. This is the only way I know how to write."

"I had this Spice Girls feeling whilst recording Lose My Mind. I thought, 'yeah, this is girl power day today! We're all bosses at what we're doing and we're going to kill this shoot.'"

Connie's new single, "Lose My Mind," is a deep, soulful, a capella beauty full of harmonies and emotion that nods to the jazz greats but is still very much a product of today. The stripped-back song reflects on how loving and supportive men can be -- a point she feels is often lost in modern music which tends to focus on bad guys, cheats, and misogyny. Submerged in a copper bathtub as her partner tenderly washes her hair, the accompanying video was Connie's own concept and was shot by an all-female team. "I had this little Spice Girls feeling when I looked around the room," she says. "I thought, 'yeah, this is girl power day today! We're all out here and we're all bosses at what we're doing and we're going to kill this shoot.'"

For Connie, the fab five were about more than just music. "When you're a mixed raced kid growing up in a family where everyone's white it's tough," she says. "I didn't see many celebrities who had my hair, so when I saw Scary Spice for the first time I loved the fact that there was a Spice Girl I could be," she says, flashing a smile. "All my pictures are of me with groovy sunglasses on and my afro all out... I think I take for granted how good she made me feel as a little kid." These days Connie looks up to Beyoncé, Solange, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and "all the jazz females, because that was the genre where women as vocalists really smashed it. We bossed that genre!" She has a lot of respect for her contemporaries Jorja Smith and Little Simz too, and above all values "girls that support themselves financially, take hold of their lives, and literally do what they want. That's so cool."

Credits


Text Francesca Dunn
Photography Olivia Rose
Hair Jose Quijano at The Wall Group using Revlon Professional
Make-up Kaz Fernando
Photography assistance Alia Wilhelm
Styling assistance Ryan Peterson
Connie wears top vintage from Rokit. Dress Zimmerman. Shoes Clarks.