‘Jigsaw’ Games: Lady Soverign Dishes on Her New Album

When Lady Sovereign first made her debut stateside, she broke all kinds of molds, stereotypes and records. The petite MC shares that she doesn’t care about fashion, that too much work makes her unhappy, and how to properly ask her aboard your yacht. With her second album Jigsaw coming out next month, Lady Sov also explains that England hasn’t yet embraced her the way America did, but remains hopeful for the future.

Your new album coming out in April. It’s cool. I’m proud of it again. It’s another mixed genre, crazy Sovereign album. I don’t know how to describe it really because there’s so many elements to it. There’s something for everyone on there I guess.

The video for the first single, “I Got You Dancing,” has a different look than we’re used to. You wear your hair down and you’re not in one of the leisure suits. Is there a new look you’re going for along with the new album? Well, it’s not on purpose. It’s just a natural configuration of myself really. I just looked one day and decided the ponytail had to go. And I’m trying out different clothes instead of just wearing track suits.

Do you have any designers that you particularly like? I’m not too up on the fashion thing really. I’m a big fan of Carrie Cassette Playa. She makes some good stuff. But I’m not too big on the whole fashion thing really. I just get dressed.

Jigsaw was supposed to come out last year, but it got pushed back and it’s now coming out in April. What happened? It wasn’t even ready. I didn’t even finish it. I guess I kind of made a fake promise with that. I got excited about working on the album but then I got depressed again and stopped. That’s why it didn’t come out when I said it first was. Sorry.

You mentioned your depression and it had been in the news a bit. How are you doing now? I’m all right. I was just working so hard before and I didn’t even get a chance to be a normal person. I was always working and doing interviews. It was a bit full-on. Some people can handle that constantly. They’re like machines and they just keep going and going and going. But some people aren’t. And it got on top of me, and I just lost my patience with everything. So I just ended up getting really self-conscious for some reason.

With the media circus starting up again, what are you trying to do to keep that from happening again? Because I’m in charge now and I’ve got my own label, I’m kind of in control of everything, and I know what my limits are. So I do as much as I can do.

Why did you decide to start your own label? I just wanted to do it for myself really. A few major labels wanted to sign me again or whatever, but I wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to put myself in a comfortable position, but EMI distributed it, and everything else is basically in my hands. Sooner or later down the line, I’ll find people to sign and all that. But I’m pretty happy with the whole scenario.

When you first came to the States, Jay-Z had signed you to his label. What was it like working with him? To be honest, I don’t really like to talk about it because that whole thing was just blown out of proportion. I had my album done anyway, so it wasn’t like I worked—ugh, how can I explain it? I only met Jay-Z three times, so we were best friends or anything. He’s a cool motherfucking dude and I respect him, I respect Def Jam. But I pretty much had my album ready anyway. He gave me the opportunity to do things in America and I’m thankful for that.

So which do you like better: touring or recording? Can I say both? It’s always fucking exciting to go into the studio and do a song because I’ll listen to it over and over again. I love what I do. And then performing that, you’re performing your own creation, so that’s even better.

In San Francisco, a man showed up in a donut costume. Do you remember that? Yeah I do, I do.

Is that a regular occurrence at your show? No, that was a one-off. He just wanted to get coverage for himself. That shit even got to MTV. He just wanted to make a name for himself, so he thought it would be funny to come and boycott my show. And I had to reschedule it anyway. But that pissed me off. And there’s a whole story behind it. Some dude raised all this money to take me out on this date, and I didn’t really enjoy it. He got this big yacht and stuff. Just a waste of money, really. If you’re going to hire a yacht, at least have a party on it and let me bring people to the yacht. But he didn’t want anyone on there apart from me, and my friend, and like, one person of my choice. So it was just a bit weird. And I said bad things about it to the press. And the guy’s friend was the donut boy who thought it would be funny to attack me. Not physically, but he wanted to boycott my show.

Weirdos aside, how do you feel about your fans? They’re pretty full on, but my fans are cool people. After I do a show, I don’t hide. I will go out there and have a drink to them, whatever. I’m pretty easy. And I do cross paths with them a lot. They’re all cool people. They like me, I like them. It’s all good.

In the past you had opened for Gwen Stefani. Is this tour going to be as big as that? No, it’ll be on a much smaller scale. I have a certain budget to work with. But either way it’s going to be good. I love performing in America and I don’t care how big or small it is. It’s still my favorite place to perform so I’m very excited.

Why is that? I don’t know. Ever since I started going to the States and performing, I just loved it from the get go. I feel comfortable there.

On your last album, you confronted these absurd female stereotypes, especially in the video. Is that something that you’re still addressing in your work? Not as much. But I’m pretty spontaneous anyway. So if I’ve got something to say, I’ll say it. If I don’t say it today, I might say it in a week’s time, I might say it in a year. I’ve always got an opinion.

When you first came to the states, the video for “Love Me or Hate Me” was the first by a British female to reach No. 1 on TRL. Since then, we’ve had Leona Lewis, Adele, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, etc. making it really big here. How do you feel about breaking ground on that? I think I’m due a lot more credit for that than I’ve got. For some reason, I feel like my success that I’ve made in America has gone unnoticed over here. People don’t give a shit over here. When someone like Lily Allen goes over there and does a tour, it’s a big deal. And it upsets me a bit. Like, freakin’ take me seriously. Just because I’m not a singer doesn’t mean you can’t take me seriously, or give me the props I deserve. Because in all fairness, in that whole caliber of UK artists of the past five years, I was the first fucking chick to go out and break America. And I don’t feel like I’ve got the respect over here for that. It’s just ridiculous.

Do you think there’s a distinction between pop singers and something more hip-hop? I don’t know what it is. I’ve had a bit of a hard time over here in terms of just being taken seriously. Because I think what I do is fucking amazing. And I don’t feel like I’ve got a big head for saying that. I think I’m pretty much different to anyone else out there. And I just don’t get it. America accepts me and loves me and that’s why I love it there so much. But over here, I don’t know what’s going on.

What can we expect from your US tour? A band called Thunderheist will be supporting me. They’re pretty cool. And as for me, it will still be me, DJ and a drummer. And the same old antics from me: about half of the old album, some of the new stuff. I plan to be mad wasted, making jokes all the way.

What are some of your favorite places when you come to the US? To drink at, eat at, stay at? I’ve just been to so many places that I’m not one for favorites, really.

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