Ängie has fan clubs in Brazil and Russia, even though her music isn’t given airtime there. British newspapers, from The Sun to The Guardian, have carried reports on the 21-year-old Swede, even though she has only released two songs. So how does that work? Simple: Ängie does all the things a young, up-and-coming pop star isn’t meant to do; she confounds expectations and doesn’t take the business all that seriously.
The Stockholm-based rapper began making music professionally two years ago after she sent a local producer a video she shot of herself in the bath, spitting nonsensical rhymes. Soon, she was recording her debut single, Smoke Weed Eat Pussy, in the studio of chart-topping producer and DJ Avicii, and signing a record deal with industry giant Universal Music. The salacious, expletive-laced track was just too hot for some radio stations to handle, but it was still a hit thanks to YouTube and the British press, who declared it the most risqué song of 2016.
It was an unusual start to a career, and yet that suited Ängie down to the ground. Because, as she reveals, if you want to be successful, you have to make demands of your audience.
THE RED BULLETIN: How does one become the most controversial pop star of the year?
ÄNGIE: In my case, it was very simple. I just sing about the things I most enjoy.
So is your recording debut, Smoke Weed Eat Pussy, something of an autobiographical statement?
It was at the time I wrote that song. My girlfriend had just left me, and I had a lot of time on my hands; I was very active sexually at that point.
There have always been lyrics about sex and drugs in the music business. Why do you think your song in particular proved so inflammatory?
Because I’m a girl who’s into flowers and pink clothes, and girls who are into flowers and pink clothes don’t normally sing about weed and oral sex.
Your music videos are full of that kind of contradiction. In one scene, you’re a princess in pastel-coloured dresses, and in the next you’re showing off your tattoos and smoking. Do you like playing around with stereotypes?
Totally. Because there’s nothing more boring in life than perfection. Imperfections are perfect! You’ve got to surprise people to be successful in life. You have to create contrasts.
Don’t such erratic antics unsettle your audience?
On the contrary; I think that’s how you arouse people’s curiosity. Take Rihanna: she only really got cool when she started letting her inner thug shine through. She stopped being this typical girl. And I’m not gonna be a Barbie doll, either. People should see me as I am – with all the stripes I have on my ass.
I recently posted a picture of my stretch marks on Instagram. This girl saw it and wrote to me, saying, “I’m so happy that you show that on Instagram, because I feel so bad about mine.” And I was like, “Girl! Every other girl has them – just wear them with pride!” I want to give young women self-confidence like that. I want to show the world you can be beautiful with your imperfections.
Where does a 21-year-old get the confidence to stick her middle finger up at show business and reject its perception of beauty?
I learned that from this guy [she points to a tattoo on her right arm: the name ‘Lou Reed’ encircled by a heart]. He was an ingenious songwriter and the coolest guy ever. Lou Reed didn’t give a damn about anything. And he just loved giving journalists hell in interviews. I hope he would be proud of me.
How proud are your parents of their daughter’s career?
My father doesn’t like me singing about drugs. But my mother is my biggest fan. Recently, and without my knowledge, she had a T-shirt printed with my pink hemp-leaf logo on the front.
While we’re on the subject of weed, why has it featured in both your songs to date [Smoke Weed Eat Pussy and the follow-up, Housewife Spliffin’]?
I suffered from a severe attention deficit disorder when I was a teenager. Doctors prescribed tablets, but I don’t trust chemical stuff. Smoking helped me out of my depression. It also helps me creatively. If it weren’t for weed, I would probably never have started writing songs.
Why is that?
It sends my brain into a spin.
Most people would probably take that as a reason not to indulge…
Let me put it another way: it opens up the parts of my brain I can’t open myself. It’s like you’re exposed to things you don’t want to feel, but that you need to feel in order to find yourself. It’s weird.
And what about the other main topic of your songs?
Do you mean oral sex? It’s an important subject. It’s totally undervalued.
How do you mean?
Men pay too little attention to a woman’s pleasure during sex.
What’s the reason for that? Is it because men are insecure?
Oh, please! We’re all insecure. And the only thing that helps you get over your insecurity is gaining experience.
So, would it be appropriate to ask you for some tips?
It’s very simple. Speak to your girlfriend. Switch off macho mode. Ask her what it is she likes. And, just as importantly, don’t think that your technique will work on every woman.
Most young musicians are very cautious as they go about establishing their career, because they don’t want to blow their chances with radio stations. But then you go and release singles with lyrics that are too racy, even for the night-time slot…
There’s nothing I could possibly care less about than radio.
But isn’t radio airplay the cornerstone of every music career?
That used to be the case. But now people are discovering new music on YouTube. That’s why the most important part of my artistic work is making super-cool videos and playing with visual ideas as much as I possibly can.
But there are comments on your own YouTube channel from people who think you take things too far. What do you say to them?
I’m with Lou Reed on that one, too. He once said, “Maybe listening to my music is not the best idea if you live a very constricted life.”