in the Category: music
Like all millennials who watched Hannah Montana or Shake It Up on Disney Channel, as a little girl Ikraaan wanted to reach stardom. Now the 21-year-old is getting somewhere near, having been picked up by Brihang and nominated for the Red Bull Elektropedia Awards. Along the way, the Mechelen-born, Brussels-based artist realised fame isn’t important, but talking about issues in music is– whether it’s mental health, sexuality or religion. She’s received a lot of DMs from people telling her how much her music has helped them, yet sometimes she wishes she could hide behind the curtains and be an introvert again.
Interview by Milena Maenhaut
Photos by Nina Lingadjaja shot in Brussels
Are you ready for the interview?
What? Oh, sure! I get distracted sometimes. (Laughs)
Were you already making music as a kid?
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. Music has always been in my life - it has helped me overcome difficult situations. I started writing poems when I was six and they transformed into songs by the time I was fifteen. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
You released your first EP this autumn, played support acts for Brihang, and you were nominated for the Red Bull Elektropedia Awards. Is it going fast?
Both fast and slow. I’ve been making music for a long time. At first I just wanted to pursue fame, now I see things differently. When I dropped Reflectie in February, everything started to turn. I was always wondering why it wasn’t happening. Now it does and … maybe I expected more. I love playing shows, though. Especially when people are coming to see me. I’d rather play for ten enthusiastic people than for a thousand that aren’t listening.
I’d rather play for ten enthusiastic people than for a thousand that aren’t listening
So your attitude has changed?
My intentions used to be rather shady. (Laughs) As it goes for a lot of young artists, I guess. Everyone looks for validation, and making art can be a way to pursue that. I spent a lot of time on social media - Instagram in particular - which fed my insecurities. I always had to wear make up, for instance. I don’t believe you can make art for the sake of validation only. You have to know yourself. And you have to be confident.
It seems quite hard to be confident when you’re an aspiring musician.
It is. But at the end of the day, you need a certain presence if you want people to listen to you. I used to perform without looking anyone in the eye and without even introducing myself. The moment I started gaining confidence, everything changed.
How did you start gaining confidence?
I went through a traumatic experience this summer, which changed me as a person and on stage. It transformed me into the clown I am now, which became an on-stage alter ego.
So your alter ego isn’t glitterprincess, the name of your Instagram account?
Glitterprincess is who I am :).
You grew up in Mechelen. How’s the local music scene? Is there one?
There is! There are a lot of emerging artists out there, like Rico Da Tuga, Edsonn and Benz Pharaoh. Since they make something different than what bookers want to book, they don’t get many opportunities, even though they have a lot of potential.
You moved to Brussels to study, right? Do you like it here?
I do! I really love it.
Is the Belgian music scene collaborative or rather competitive in your experience?
I’m not sure. The industry does require me to be social and connect to people. Sometimes I wish I could be an introvert again.
Your music tackles themes like depression. Do you want to crush taboos?
Yes. But not only taboos on mental health. We should also talk more about sexuality, religion and its impact on art. A lot of people can’t be who they are because of others. There are safe spaces but not everybody is part of one. Everyone has the right to be who they are, without shame or judgement. That’s what my music wants to address.
Are you in a community where you express yourself freely?
I am! I have a small group of friends whom I trust 100%.
You’re never the only one doing something
Are you sometimes afraid to open up so much in your music?
I learnt to talk about issues by making music. I used to have panic attacks whenever I would talk about my feelings or about things that happened in the past. Now I can talk about things as if it’s nothing, which I don’t like either. So yeah, by making honest music I opened up more than I’d like. My upcoming album will be sneakier, less direct than 'Reflectie' was for instance. There’s a good side to being open as well: people tell me what my work means to them and how it helps them to get through a rough period.
You dress remarkably. What inspires you?
I go to thrift shops and buy what I like. That’s it really. My style got a name after I watched a short documentary on YouTube about kids in Japan dressing in ‘yami kawaii’ or ‘cute sick’. Turned out I was doing the same: combining goth with cuteness. You’re never the only one doing something.
The Sound Of The Belgian Underground with Ikraaan
26 Jan - Ancienne Belgique, Brussels
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