CDM: I forgot who said this, but the words always really stuck with me, that they wanted to hear girls with no apologies in their music. Just expressive, honest, bold women. I thought back to that when I heard your album for the first time - the entire record is strong and sassy and powerful and makes no apologies. Is there any internal line that you shy away from when songwriting? Or is it completely from your heart to words to song, no filter?
RHODES: It's totally my heart to words to song. I feel like I can't have a filter because then it wouldn't be me, it wouldn't be honest. My songs wouldn't be anything if I only went half way. I am unapologetic with the words in my songs because I guess I feel like that's the place I can be that. I write when I'm feeling something strongly and I just grab that feeling by both hands and pull it out of me and use it to write my words on the paper. My songs are the only time I feel like I can honestly say whatever, I don't give a fuck what you think about it, this is me. It's cathartic that way. This is why I do this, because that's what I needed.
CDM: And no-one should have to eat all their misspoken words.
CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write them as poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
RHODES: It isn't really something I plan. People ask me that question all the time and I don't really have an answer for it, because it's not a process so much as it just is. I'll think of this one word and it will stick with me until it matches up with something I'm feeling and then I'll have a whole page of words and I don't know how it happens, it just does. It's just natural.
CDM: When writing a song, how or when do you know that it's complete?
RHODES: When I feel like I don't have anything else to say about it.
CDM: What do you think the difference is between a good song and a great song?
RHODES: Emotion. Maybe truth.
CDM: So you’ve been back in the studio, have you been working on a new album? What’s going on?
RHODES: Nothing yet, really. I just missed it. I missed writing. I needed it. I had this total craving for it that I just couldn't sate without going into the studio and spending some time.
CDM: You’ve tweeted: “We were gold for a minute, now we’re living on different pages.” Are those new lyrics?
RHODES: Maybe it is. It could be. It's hard to say.
CDM: In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Björk compared how no-one ever questions Kanye West’s authorship of his songs, yet male producers that Björk has worked with will be incorrectly credited as having produced her music. You’ve worked with some amazing producers on your album who will always be name-checked in discussion of the record. How do you feel about that kind of discourse? Female artists are often discredited for their own songwriting skills as soon as a collaborator is mentioned - does it make you feel like the songs are any less yours?
RHODES: No, it doesn't. Because the songs are mine and they're so mine that I think people can really tell. Those are my words, that's my beating heart on a record for you. I really love and am inspired by the people I work with and they deserve to be talked about, but the songs are mine so I do'nt ever question the validity of that.
CDM: Anyone who listens to your album, can feel it in the songs that it belongs to you.
RHODES: That's the thing, I fully believe that. You can tell when it's someone's own heart or something they're borrowing. You can always tell.
CDM: ‘Drowning’ was the most blogged about song in 2014 according to Hype Machine. What do accomplishments like that mean to you? In your mind, what is true success? |
RHODES: To me, that's just crazy. But success is being happy with yourself and with where you're at. Being comfortable and accepting, whatever that means to you. If you're happy and you're passionate about something and you're good with you, that's all you need. I'm getting there, I'm working on all that.
CDM: Grace Coddington styled you for the January issue of Vogue magazine! She’s such a legend. What was it like working with her?
RHODES: Just amazing. She's one of the most creative people, she was just a wonder to meet and collaborate with.
CDM: You’ve already modelled for Coach and Chanel, are there any other designers or fashion-houses you’d like to work with?
RHODES: All of them. There's something so beautiful about art through fashion. It takes such a special talent and an interesting eye. And for me, fashion always adds a little something extra. I can't go out and perform unless I feel it in whatever I'm wearing. It gives just that little extra kick of confidence when you feel like a badass in a new outfit.
CDM: I am very, very impressed that you are still texting fans back on your public phone number. I know you’ve got two phones now, but there are other artists in the past who have flirted with public phone numbers and abandoned them once got it too overwhelming. Is it important to you to maintain this direct line to your fans?
RHODES: It absolutely is. I can't always answer but I genuinely try to get to it as often as possible, and that's some of my favorite parts of the day. I don't see a reason to ever get rid of that, I love it. It gives so much to me to have that.
CDM: At the beginning of January, you bought pizza for some of the fans waiting outside a show! That, and things like making a special effort to personally touch the hands of fans in the audience - not every artist cares that much about their fans. Your depth of fan-love is rare.
RHODES: If you're willing to stand outside for a whole day just to see me play, then I fucking love you. And the least I can do is make sure you've had something to eat, that you know I'm thinking about you while you're out there waiting for me. And that's why I touch hands too, because if I can reach out and touch someone and we have even half a second of that moment where we just get each other in that second, that's everything.
CDM: Speaking of pizza, if Rhodes were a pizza, what flavour would you be?
CDM: A friendship-crush is someone that you have no romantic interest in whatsoever, but just really wish that you were best friends with them. Who would be your top five friendship-crushes, living or dead?
RHODES: Fiona Apple. I always want to be friends with Fiona Apple. Aaliyah. Selena Meyer from Veep. Or maybe Catherine Meyer? Ari Siego and MZRHEE, they both have such unbelievable talent.
CDM: I see you thinking like you want to add another few more...
RHODES: Could I have another few more? I could keep going. I mean, I didn't even say Beyonce...
CDM: Most important of all, when are you going to come back to New Zealand to play your own headlining show for us?
RHODES: Is this an invitation? Is tomorrow too soon? I would really love to. I can't wait to do something like that. It's going to be in the works soon, I hope. I really do.