Neneh Cherry has always been one step ahead of the curve - performing in legendary UK post-punk bands, finding pop stardom as an early voice in the rap game, being key to the Bristol trip hop movement arranging Massive Attack's Blue Lines and collaborating with Geoff Barrow pre-Portishead, and recording with Four Tet on Blank Project, her first solo album in 18 years. These were all natural evolutions rather than conscious reinventions, and barely sum up a dent in this empowered woman's illustrious journey. We are blessed to have Neneh play FOR Festival in Croatia with her new ensemble RocketNumberNine. Here she shares ten tracks that influenced her, while discussing family life with Don and Moki Cherry, creativity and Robyn.
You were very involved in the punk scene during your adolescence, working at Better Badges and performing with The Slits, New Age Steppers and Rip Rig + Panic. How important was this to your foundations as an artist?
Figure it was a HUGE part of everything. When you're 14-15yrs old EVERYTHING that happens to you is SO important & I was lucky that both my step dad (Don Cherry) & mum (Moki Cherry) recognised that I was to be trusted to run my own shit even at that age & even in a different country from my parents. That was HUGE for me.
Your transition from punk to rap was very natural. Is there a cultural overlap?
Of course: home made music & art made out of necessity
How have you managed to sustain such longevity? Where does your energy and inspiration come from?
What the hell else would I do? I LOVE this life & I LOVE this process we call creativity & I take my inspiration from the younguns & get my anger & drive from all the bullshit that thinks it runs this planet & those on/in it.
What's the most important thing you learnt from working with Four Tet, and he from you?
He from me: probably never to work with a batty Swedish bitch ever again & me from him: to trust myself & the process 100%.
How do you identify with Robyn who guests on your single Out Of The Black?
She's the blonde, I'm darker.
It's interesting to see Coltrane's Naima in the playlist, the name given to your first daughter. Why is this track so significant?
Coltrane was HUGER in our house when I was growing up. He changed things forever & I figured this track needed to be honoured.
How do you encourage your children's creativity?
Man they are unstoppable!
John Coltrane - Naima
Marvin Gaye - Whats Going On
A Tribe Called Quest - Bonita Applebum
John Contrane & Don Cherry - The Blessing
Nirvana - Paper Cuts
Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy
Tanya Winley - Vicious Rap
The Sugarhill Gang - Rappers Delight
Soul II Soul - Fairplay
Otis Redding - Pain in my heart
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