Iggy Azalea On Her Fashion Week Odyssey, ‘Showgirls,’ and Twerking

by Jeremy Gordon

Iggy Azalea isn’t quite yet a star, but she looks like one. I’m waiting to interview the Australian-born rapper during what I assume is a loaded press day, which means I have the chance to watch from afar as she navigates through the several journalists and video crews waiting in the Mondrian Soho for a few minutes of her time. She’s immaculately composed in a striking black dress too complicated for my boyish brain to describe, and effortlessly jocular both on and off camera. When we finally start talking, she’s affable and lucid despite conditions that would normally prevent affability and lucidity—we only have fifteen minutes together, but she has a perfect feel for how to make the most of them.

Understand this is no small thing: plenty of musicians, regardless of their training, will clam up in such situations, but it’s part of her single-minded focus to become The Next Big Thing. Her hype’s been building for a few years up to the release of what will be her first album, The New Classic, even as she’s had to go through the typical label bureaucracy involving delays and more delays while finding a few moments to inject herself into the zeitgeist—an appearance at the VMAs here, a video with T.I. there. The waiting is new for her, but she’s a quick learner.

The Change Your Life EP is out in a few days. How are you feeling about it?
I’m perfectly fine.

I know The New Classic has been in development for a while. Were you approaching your EP any differently?
No, my EP is really just something the label wanted to do to sell my single 500 million times. I don’t even consider it an EP to be honest with you, although I’m sure they’ll kill me for telling you that. But I’m always honest. Yeah, it’s just my singles together so it’s hard to consider it an EP. To me, if I were going to do an EP, it would be a proper body of work that was, you know, thought out and each song had meaning. I don’t really think putting three singles and two remixes really suffices as what an EP is intended to be so I guess it’s one of those weird label things.

Are you disappointed in them for deciding to do that instead of releasing The New Classic proper?
Yeah, it’s annoying because it just feels like there’s always something else that they have to do before it comes out and as far as the music, they love the music, and it’s done and it’s finished, and I am like, can you fucking get it together, because what the fuck? It’s fine, they seem to have some kind of grand master scheme planned that is going well. They seem to be happy with it, so being that I’ve never worked in a record label before, I guess I’m at their mercy to hope that they do know what they’re doing.

You Instagrammed photos from multiple fashion weeks. What shows did you go to?
I went to Milan Fashion Week and I also went to New York, so I did three weeks of shows, but specifically in Paris I went to the Margiela show, I went to the Chloé show, I went to the, uh, Vivienne Westwood show, which was good. I went to the, uh, Yohji Yamamoto show, which was great too. Who else did I see? Acne, I went to the Acne show. I went to the Kenzo show. I went to the Viktor and Rolf show. I think that’s it. Yeah, those were about all the shows I went to off the top of my head in Paris. It was fun. It was a good week.

There’s a line on the song “Work” about “No money, no family, 16 in the middle of Miami.” That could be your introduction, basically. Why did you relocate to Miami from Australia?
Why Miami, specifically? Because I thought that I would be able to go to an audio engineering school there called SAE and the headquarters to that school are in a neighboring town of where I’m from in Australia. My mother and I used to clean the man’s home who owned that school, and so I thought if I had an opportunity to go to school in America, which is what I had hoped, that would be a way I could get into America to be a student. That was the school I thought I would have a shot at being accepted into eventually and learn audio engineering and learn to record music and be a female engineer, something you don’t see a lot as well as female artists, rappers, and um…so that was something that I had sort of, I guess, played with in my mind as a plan B and that’s what sparked my interest in Miami. I never made it to audio engineering school.

I read in an interview where you described your new album as a “sonic and visual experience.” Who are some of your favorite directors or films?
Favorite directors or films…I don’t know, I like all different kinds of things. I like things that are brilliant and things that are awful.

I saw you talking about, like Showgirls, which is like an American classic of sorts
Yeah! I can’t tell you who directed it, but I can tell you it’s fucking horrible, which makes it absolutely brilliant, so, yeah I don’t know, I like Showgirls, I like Tarantino films a lot because I like that he always has the females be kind of he heroines or tough chicks. I like that. I like all the classics like The Birds, that’s a good one, or any kind of, Kubrick is good, and yeah, a good Hitchcock film is always good in terms of anticipation, figuring out, not necessarily visual, but just how to do nothing but do something. You know what I mean?

Guys like that I think are great, and then there are films like Blade Runner that I love. I don’t necessarily care so much for the storyline, but I just like visually the way it looks. I liked, um, recently a film that came out that I liked the way it looked, was that…uh…what’s that movie? With Mark Wahlberg in it, where it’s got the body builders and The Rock is in it?

Pain and Gain, yeah.
Pain and Gain! That was kind of an awful movie, I just watched it on the plane, but I was like, “I like the way this is shot.”  It’s very ’90s.  Things like that I really like, like I like a high-pigmented film. I’m into colors a lot, like a good color palette in a movie will make me want to watch it, even if it’s awful. Now, I like Disney films because I like the musical scores in it, even though it’s for kids, like those, I don’t know. I’m not picky.

I noticed you have tattoos on the insides of your fingers… what are they?
Uh, this says The New Classic, which is the name of my album.

Was that a spur of the moment thing, or do you plan out your tattoos?
I’m definitely more impulsive. The only tattoo I have ever planned out is this one, which took me about a year to decide that’s definitely what I wanted to do with it all. But I’m a fairly impulsive person with most things in life, I think. I’m working on thinking things through a bit more now a days, but it’s tough.

How come?
I don’t know. I just kind of think, life—you just got to kind of roll with it. That’s the way it’s always been for me. For me, I like to do impulsive things. I guess I think it’s like the spice of life, but I know other people I do business with that would beg to differ.

Would you consider yourself more or less sensitive than Drake?
Less.

Less sensitive?
Yeah. I’m definitely worlds away. I’m practically heartless compared to Drake.

Do you ever use Snapchat?
No, I don’t have Snapchat.

Why not?
Because I’ve heard it’s where you get random penises sent to you, so I’ve avoided that app.

In the “Change Your Life” video, you got to play with a white tiger.
Yeah!

How much time did you get with that tiger?
Ugh! It’s such a disappointing story with that tiger! It was there all day, it was there for about 12 hours.  When I got there, um, a woman tried to, asked if she could pet it, and the handler said, “ No, you can’t touch it.” So, I assumed, overhearing that, that it meant I couldn’t play with it either, and so I avoided really like wrestling and playing with it like a puppy, and the next day I said “I wish I could have played with the tiger more,” and they said, “You could you fucking idiot, you’re the only one that was insured, that’s why no one else could touch it!” So I was like, ahh fuck! I didn’t know! I only got to be with it and really touch it when I was on the bed with it, but that, I didn’t realize I was allowed. I just thought, because I had seen everyone else be told no, then that meant me too, and I didn’t try to ask.

Maybe it will be a recurring motif in your videos with you and baby animals?
Yeah, maybe. Definitely. I liked those guys. They don’t do movie animals and that wasn’t a trained tiger where it knows tricks and it will never know tricks, so it was kind of doing its own thing. They actually own a tiger rescue sanctuary that’s outside of Vegas, and I happened to have a friend that knows them, and they happened to have a baby tiger and sometimes they will do it for videos and stuff  if they think it’s the right thing, because they use the money to help fund and save other tigers. So, I thought it was a good thing. I’m funny about, I am wary about using exotic animals in videos and their living environment, and if it’s the right thing for them, but I thought in that case, I felt like it was a good thing. But the tiger was called Donna, and I said “how did you get the name Donna” and they said “oh, it was one of our zookeeper’s names but she got eaten by another tiger last year, so we named this tiger after her,” and I was like “uh fucking hell!”

You presented an award at the VMAs with Lil’ Kim. Did you guys get a chance to talk before?
Yeah, we did. Before we were in a moon man together for all of Miley Cyrus’s performance, so we had a few minutes to talk. I love Kim, I think she gets a bad rap and it’s unfortunate, but she’s still a legend of rap music and a great influencer. She’s definitely been an influence of mine. Being a fan of rap music, you can’t ignore Lil’ Kim, so it was probably one of the more surreal moments, getting to meet her.

I read in an interview the other day in which you said that you thought Miley Cyrus got the idea for twerking from one of your videos?
Yeah, no, I think that was misconstrued a little bit. I was asked about my old twerking videos, and I was like “yeah, I can’t believe that it’s already been like two and a half years that I’ve been performing and doing this twerk competition of shows I still do now,” and the interviewer said, “Do you think Miley Cyrus saw your ‘Work’ video?” and I was like, “I don’t know, maybe she fucking watched one of my videos and decided, like, I want to try twerking too!” I don’t think Miley Cyrus saw my videos and was like, “TWERKS FOR ME!”

Okay, so…
It’s been a bit misconstrued about the whole thing.

I will make sure that’s included to amend the record.
For the record, I don’t think I invented twerking!

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