Feral aka MC Kinky

Feral aka MC Kinky

Though few understood what she was saying, everyone loved how she said it. In the late ‘80s, MC Kinky spoke to thousands; at al fresco raves, warehouse parties and loved up clubs all over the world. ‘Everything Starts with an E’ was the anthem for a generation that was scaring the government and riling the tabloids.

Her versatility and creative output led to her working with Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold, Pete Tong, Norman Cook, Boy George, Erasure, Boy George, Towa Tei, George Clinton, Rebel MC and Natasha Atlas.  As a visual artist, Caron’s exhibited at the Jerwood Space (London) and Centro Cultural Montehermosa (Vitorio-Gasteiz). She was nominated by Xabier Arakistain to participate in ‘Pilot 3’ at the 52nd (2007) Venice Biennale.

There was a period of time where you distanced yourself from ‘MC Kinky’- what was that about?
Well, going back quite some time to the era that shall now be referred to as Kinkygate; I decided to leave More Protein, the label I was signed to. I wasn’t happy there for several reasons. It was time to take a bit of a break. I got inspired and decided to start afresh and play under a covert identity, hence the birth of my band Cantankerous and my new moniker Feral. Now I’m recording under the name FERAL aka MC KINKY and really enjoying what I’m doing.

Do you think that as a white MC/toaster you had more to prove in order to be taken seriously?
That wasn’t my experience, no. At that age I wasn’t bothered about the implications surrounding being white or a girl, I was doing my thing in the way I wanted to, I wasn’t trying to be black; I used that style of singing and made it my style. I knew I was good and my lyrics were solid from the response I got from the dub plate guys and black audience that saw and heard me, including Sly and Robbie. I was the 1st white girl to do what I did and I got nothing negative from black audiences.

After I’d performed live on TV for the Smile Jamaica Hurricane Gilbert benefit, two black women rushed up to me at Heathrow and said how good they thought I was and could believe a white girl could chat so well. I never had any trouble or felt the need to give it extra to compensate for being white. It was only artists that came after me that wanted to cause aggro. Leila K was another one…it was tiresome.

Feral aka MC Kinky

You just got back from performing and DJing for the 4th consecutive year at Glastonbury- how was it?
I had a great time, despite the few days of mud and rain, because the new tracks went down really well at the NYC Downlow and in Slumbarave. It’s always fab to have a few thousand people going mad to your tracks. The Downlow was really strong this year- the performances and DJs were great and a crew of around 50 of us from London killed it for 5 days and four nights in the Block 9 field.

Aside from your set, what was the highlight of your time at the festival?
I hadn’t seen Neneh Cherry perform her new material until she rocked the Wow stage, I loved it, she reworked her older tracks too, then came to see me later at Slumbarave. I’d have seen more bands and DJs if it had been less of a disco mud bath.

You came to prominence in the rave era, when artists recorded on dub plates and vinyl, how do you feel about file sharing, piracy and Wild West nature of the Internet today?
It’s obvious the music business has changed. You can’t expect technology to change and the commercial side of it to remain the same. Immediacy and the relatively low cost of producing music means it’s more accessible. We sell it differently, the money’s in touring and spin offs, unless you’re a mega-selling artist.

There’s no point sounding like a granny, going on about how things were better before the war. It’s different and the key is to adapt and find a market for what you do. If people use my vocals to create their track, of course I’ll want to be sorted out for that, but everyone one shares files and gives away freebies. It’s now the nature of the game. In some cases, there’s less money than there was before, so people trade remixes, or ask for accapellas so they can get productions going. I’ve got some great remixes done in America on that basis, it’s the ‘hard times kru!’

Feral aka MC Kinky

The ‘chat’ that’s in your MCing- is it based on street slang or do you create your own rhythms and language?
I create the rhythms and melodies, but the language is based on Jamaican patois, the language of reggae and the dancehall, not the UK street slang that rappers use in England. Usually it’s confined to bashment or ragga. I was the 1st person to use that flavour over dance music, back in 1987

Do you think shows like X-Factor are good for music?
I can’t stand any kind of show like that, least of all when it involves music. Its like a holiday camp talent show with endorsements, it’s not my world. I’m not interested in people that are fundamentally quite mediocre, desperate for the chance to get their faces on TV and become known by queuing round the block with a zillion other fame hungry munters. They become stars and celebrities over the course of a few weeks.

Everything’s in place for them to become successful. They’re not making music or writing because they want to. They’re doing it for fame. The producers and management are doing it to make a quick buck, there’s no passion in the art form itself or a desire to create; it’s a churn ‘em out fast food form of putrid shit that I have no affiliation with. The so-called success stories are bland and average, they haven’t paid their dues. They’re shaped and moulded into trite lumps of mainstream gloop and uneducated kids think that’s where it’s at.

You’re working with the Rebel MC- how did that come about?
He got in touch to say he had an idea and wanted to work with me again. I think he felt we didn’t really get to where we should, considering we were such pioneers. Since we started, artists like Ms Dynamite, MIA and Lady Sovereign have come through. I agree with him, we were ahead of our time. He’s been playing a lot of festivals and his Congo Natty label’s successful. He’s not making cheeky pop, but tough drum n bass with a serious Rasta vibe. It’ll be interesting to see what the collaboration throws up.

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Should cannabis be legalised?
Mmmmmm…I’m not sure. I think it should definitely be decriminalised for medical use in connection with illnesses like MS, but I’ve known lots of people, usually guys that really go insane, literally after smoking too much. Several of them have been sectioned. It created a real psychosis in them and off they went to the mental hospital. I think dope smoking has a lot of downsides. I don’t smoke anything, so I’m not the best person to ask. If it got bought in assigned shops and not from dealers, if it was decriminalised in some cases, I think would be better.

Are you happy to call yourself a feminist?
Feminism isn’t a man-hating/women-rule stance. It was a necessary social and political move to illustrate that women should be treated as men’s equals. I would be happy to say I was, but I’m more drawn towards achieving equality based upon race, colour, class and sexuality, as opposed to just gender. We’ve had only one female prime minister and America hasn’t had a female president yet. Women still aren’t equal to men, whether that’s in Islamic countries or here in the UK or in terms of getting paid to DJ. The music business is still a male dominated arena and women don’t run the world.

You seem to have embraced the avant garde and experimentalism with greater gusto over time.
I don’t really see what I do and what I want to do as being age specific. That’s an outdated concept used to keep people down. Our generation will be the first one to have pensioners that still go out, create and do what they want to be doing as long as they can do it for. Why shouldn’t we? The generation below us will be the first tattooed and pierced set of pensioners. People outside the mainstream don’t hit thirty and suddenly conform, unless they were just playing at it all along.

We’re conditioned to think: school, job, marriage, babies, grow old gracefully, retire, die…most people I associate with don’t live under those guidelines, its irrelevant. As you get older, hopefully your confidence increases without losing that youthful desire to experiment. I try to do what I want, when I want. Financial restrictions are the only ones that get in the way. Too much emphasis is placed on being young in music, but that’s because the older people running things, usually men, want to make money by selling the young to the young and society needs rules to try and keep things running smoothly. It will take decades to change.

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shot by LIZ LTD

Is it immoral to buy a £10,000 handbag?
Shopping and morality the thesis: it’s more immoral to buy children and traffik them. It’s immoral for developed countries to buy weapons and sell them on to undeveloped countries, knowing how they’re going to be used and it’s immoral to buy slaves. I think if you have the money and want something, it’s your choice. Who can say whether the person that buys a bag for 10k doesn’t give 20k to charity?

What album will you keep listening to and never get bored of?
A combination of tracks from the first two Kate Bush albums, sorry I have trouble doing the either or situation, I have to have both, I’m not sure whether its being Libra with Libra rising, being undisciplined, wanting my cake and eating it, or just being greedy.

You did a season at Manumission in Ibiza- what did that entail?
That was really good fun. It was the first time since Kinky Gerlinky that I started using different masks, theatrical make up and costumes. I called myself The Infidel one week, had my name emblazoned across my back in Swarovski crystals on and rocked the show in a head to toe burqua. All you could see were my eyes through a 3cm slit.

A rich Muslim guy took offence and the Manumission crew said I couldn’t wear it again. Next time I wore a Yasser Arafat military outfit, with a George Bush mask and underneath I wore make up that covered my face, which progressed into masks once I got back to London. Next year I’m planning to tour Brazil for January and February, as well as Chile and Argentina, with holiday breaks in between. I’m recording Baile funk tracks at the moment, so I’ll get some Brazilian remixes

When was the last time you performed Everything Starts with an E?

This morning at 1am in Wolverhampton at the Quadrant Park old school reunion…aciiiiiiiiiiiid

nge from house to moombahton to reggae. The album’s going to be finished by this autumn.

Is there an art form you can’t relate to, despite trying?
Keeping my mouth shut is an art, I can relate to it, but I haven’t yet mastered it

You seem to be very fond of a mask- do you wear one for protection, for fashion or to keep impurities from your skin pores?
Hahahaha, the Clearasil effect. When I decided to start making music again, I wanted to present them separately from the MC Kinky tracks that’d gone before. The sound   was a lot darker, quite raw and live. That’s when I came up with the mask idea. It was a complete disguise, the mystery band excited people. My own sister didn’t know it was I the first time we played at Egg. It gave me a distance from what I’d done before, without a connection to it.  I’m still working with Dean Bright who makes all of my headpieces; we’ve been using less covered pieces, while still retaining an element of disguise.

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Pic: Paula Harrowing

Have you had a low point and what did you learn from it?
That it won’t last forever. Sit tight and get on with things until it passes. No one ever said it was going to be easy. When low points pass and you’re working in the way you want to and people are into what you’ve produced, you forget the hideous bits in between.

I’m really pleased with two of the new tracks, they summarise this interview, in a way one is  called ‘Remedy’, that’s been going down well live and ‘Tweet/Retweet’, a moombahton track that I’m finishing in the studio tonight, in time for Love Box.

I’m really excited about the rest of the year, the live and DJ gigs I’ve got coming up and I’ve got different labels battling to sign my tracks. I’m negotiating with new publishers for my past material, as well as the new album and I’ve got three hit tracks ready to go. It feels like I’m definitely moving into high point territory. It’s going to be a good year.

 First Published: TheHospitalClub.com July 2011

 

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