When Stefflon Don walks into a room, it’s hard not to notice her. With electric blue hair and her striking sense of style, she effortlessly commands your attention. Her music is no different, and her verses are currently making waves in hip-hop through the recent drop of her music video, HOTPROP. The track is not her first one to hit the industry hard: her remix of Rihanna’s Work featuring Sneakbo and her collaboration with Inch from Section Boyz on the track Lock Arff have cemented her as one to watch. Whilst fans are buzzing in anticipation for her debut album, she sat down with IDOL to give a lowdown on how she gets her edge, what kind of music influenced her growing up, and how it feeds into her distinctive and infectious fast-paced style of rapping.
What part of the process of creating HOTPROP has been your favourite?
Definitely directing the video, so like, coming up with ideas, coming up with looks, and the scenery – I definitely enjoyed that.
Who are your main musical influences?
Ah, I have so many influences, I don’t really have a main person. I feel like growing up over the years a lot of people have inspired me, who do I start with? A lot of reggae artists, hip-hop, rappers – then and now – obviously Biggie, Missy Elliot, you’ve got Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown. In the reggae world, definitely Bob Marley, and then you’ve got Lauryn Hill as well, Luciano’s another reggae person who’s really good… Ah, you know what [song] I really loved, and this is what I performed in school when I was younger, when I was like, nine or ten: it was Ladies Night and it had Missy Elliot in there, it had Da Brat, Angie [Martinez] who’s another rapper, Lil’ Kim, Left Eye – that was total female anthem, that was so sick.
How does your up bringing effect your music? (born in Birmingham, grew up in Holland and now residing in East London)
I don’t know, people say I’m more fast on the tongue, because I can speak Dutch – I don’t know whether that has anything to do with it. Also, I feel like, anyone growing up in a different country adapts to a different culture and gets different habits, and sees life differently. So I guess I’m probably influenced with a lot of stuff in my music which I wouldn’t even recognise… a lot of people say my sound is a bit different, so it could be that.
What music did you listen to growing up, and has it influenced the way you make music today?
Well, the music scene was definitely different in Holland. I mean, I came to London when I was fourteen, so the music scene out there, so to speak, at that time, was very different. They did have a lot of American acts on TV – I didn’t really see a lot of English people. The only English people I really remembered were So Solid [Crew], and Dizzee Rascal with I Luv U. Those were really the only two English people who were really poppin’. A majority of it was American artists, and then in Holland, they have their own style, there are a lot of Curaçao people, from a small island, and they speak Antillianen. The music is called ‘bubbling’, but right now, it’s kind of known as more of a reggae/reggae tongue, that’s the stuff we used to listen to, it was so different. Whereas it’s actually coming back here, and coming out now.
What do you think of women in the UK music scene, and what do you plan to add to it?
I think the female scene at the moment is really good, there’s a lot of girls putting on, a lot of girls coming out, and a lot of girls are actually working and trying to be out there. I see a lot of females on festival lineups and I see them in more shows, which is really good. What I feel like I could bring to it, is definitely more… level up [laughs]… something different, a bit more edgy, a bit more risky. I don’t play it safe, I do what I want, and do me, and not let anyone tell me how or what I should look like, what I should do, or how I should sound.
Is it hard being a woman in the hip hop industry? What advice would you give to young people/girls looking to make it big in music?
I don’t think it’s hard at all – it wasn’t hard for me, anyway. But what advice can I give to other females coming up? Just keep yourself to yourself, because you’re a female, there might be a lot of boys that you will attract. I would say to stay focused, and always remember why you started in the first place and make sure you get to your goals. Don’t let nothing mislead you.
What inspires you when you are creating music?
Life. Everything, everyday, people. Everyday you wake up and you walk outside – you have to be inspired by something, I mean, daylight, the sun, the night… people that come and go in your life, something that one of my friends have been through or went through.
What are your top three UK rap songs of all time?
Oh my gosh, this is hard! Can I say grime? I would say Dizzee’s I Luv U – I love that song – So Solid’s 21 Seconds, and one more… POW by Lethal Bizzle.
Do you have plans to work with Inch from Section Boyz again?
Yes! I’m actually trying to cook up something now.
Who would you most like to collaborate with in the future?
I’ll just stick to the UK: Skepta… who else? Maybe Giggs! Giggs is actually really cool.
How are you preparing for you Glastonbury set? Do you ever get nervous on stage?
No, I’m never nervous! I’m actually never nervous, don’t know why! [Laughs] I don’t know… But I’m preparing, going to start rehearsals this week, got the songs together and what I’m going to perform, so that’ll be pretty cool.
Photography by Vicky Grout