Izabelle Fender aka Lioness is the British grime artist hailing from South London. Her skills as a lyricist match up to many male MC’s in the UK, which gives her the title as one of the top MC’s, not just one of the best female’s in the game. Spitting from the age of 14, Lioness soon joined her family members in Mastermind Trooperz. From Loch Ness Monster to Roarness, Lioness is ready to show she is King Of The Jungle.
Can you remember the first tune you ever MC’d to?
Yes I can, it was with these boys and it was called ‘Storm’ I think, it was on Channel U. Embarrassing times (laughs), I was young and at the time I thought the bar was good. When I look back now it was like oh my God, what were you saying (laughs).
You took time out of your music to focus on education for a while; did it feel weird not doing music for that period of time?
It did, I would always do music, but I would always be sidetracked and not doing it fully. For me music’s a hobby and me getting my thoughts and feelings off of me and onto paper. So I’d do that when I was stressed or whatever, but in terms of taking music seriously I couldn’t because of school, A Levels and uni. Now I’m doing it full time. I went to uni and in lectures I just wasn’t paying attention, and I was writing bars. I just thought do you know what if I’m going to be here and paying for this, let me take it seriously or let me just go.
Did you feel that by having an education it would make you a better MC?
No not necessarily not at all. I know some people that haven’t been to uni, or got kicked out of school, but they still do music. If you can read that’s it, you don’t have to go uni to be able to read. To be honest I don’t read, I do feel a little bit thick now (laughs) considering I don’t go to uni anymore and I don’t read that much. No you don’t need education to be able to do music.
When you started out you were quite young, did you feel ever that people weren’t taking you seriously being a female?
Yes I did. They would just be like what is she doing here, or why is this girl here, then I’d go to the mic and they would be like alright cool, but still why is she here. They would never be like ahh she’s actually good. One time when I went pirate radio, and a lot of the girls back in the day just used to go with the boys, and they would be like hoes or whatever. That’s probably what they thought about me, she’s probably one of them type of girls. Then when I went up to the mic they were probably thinking, why this girl so inna, like whys she near us taking the mic? They didn’t want to just be like ah she’s good.
What’s the best advice you would give to a young female MC?
I feel like we’ve paved the way. So for any up and coming female it’s alright, you’ll be able to do your thing. No one is going to tell you to get back in the kitchen because it’s accepted now. Just keep going and don’t listen to people, just ignore it.
There are many female artists that do well in the US, but often sexualise themselves and their lyrics. How do you feel about this?
Maybe that’s what they feel they have to do in order to get recognised. It is true sex does sell, but for me the reason why I do music is because I just want to get stuff off my chest. If you happen to like what I’m saying whoop de doo for me init. If you don’t there are other girls you can go listen to, that fine. I don’t think anyone needs to do it, but if you want to and you think that’s going to get you further then that’s your prerogative. I’m feminine and wear heels and stuff, people say it’s nice that I wear heels and be a girl but really you’re an MC. In the UK a lot of us are tomboys.
Yourself Lady Leshurr and A.Dot make up 367. Are there plans for an EP?
All we need to do is sit down for a day and the EP will get done, because it’s so fun the environment being around them. It’s like ‘listen to this instrumental,’ or we could do this or this, its just fun, so we just literally need a day. It definitely will happen. We all got our tops ready for the launch. We just need to find time in all our schedules to just make it work. When we do it will be big.
Are there any plans to go more mainstream with your music, and how do you think you would make the transition?
There are plans; obviously that’s what I want to do. I’m not prepared to alter the way that I am at all, so I’m just waiting for a sound that’s still me, but I can pass over. I don’t know what that sound is yet, so I just need to find myself in that respect. Once I do that, I think I’ll start doing full on singles etc., but I don’t want to put out a single that I’m not 100% happy with.
What do you think about the current state of the grime scene at the moment? Do you think it’s in a healthy position?
I think it’s very healthy. I think everyone is still doing grime, but they’ve done there on spin on it. I think I still do grime, but it’s my take on it. I think a lot of people do that. Everyone says grimes dead grimes dead, but it’s not its just really evolved. What grime used to be is pirate radio vibe and anger, clashes, because that’s all it was about, but now we can see it can go much further. People just want to stick to how things used to be that’s why they said its dead, but its not dead, its healthy.
Do you think anything needs to be done?
No I don’t think anything needs to be done. I know a lot of people are trying to bring clashing back, because obviously LOTM3 has come out. I don’t see the point in clashing for fun; I don’t think that’s fun. I remember when I was young and I used to clash, it wasn’t fun, it was a real problem. For the person that I am if someone’s done something to me, I’m not going to want to write a song about it, I’m going to want to say ‘why did you do that for are you mad?’ Everyone still needs to be making tunes, and working together and bringing the UK back up there. The US can keep their tunes now to be honest, the UK were doing our thing at the moment.
Apart from London, where do you feel is the strongest city for grime right now?
Birmingham most defiantly. I rate everyone. I fully rate Trilla because I feel like he brought Birmingham completely on the map. I think Leshurr came and cemented it, and I think them two really paved the way for Birmingham. C4 I love him, all the Stayfresh love Stayfresh. There are a lot of producers up there like TRC, TC4, and Bassboy. Big up the Midlands gang!
In terms of the future, what do you think the next step is for you?
EP, iTunes, I haven’t had a CD on iTunes. I’ve been doing music for 8 years, I’ve only had 2 CD’s, and so my third CD is going to be the EP King Of The Jungle, April 18th on iTunes. Hopefully there will be some singles from there. Everyone says you should call your CD Queen Of The Jungle, and I think that’s so obvious for 1, 2 why Queen? So I’ve decided to be King Of The Jungle. All lions do is eat, sleep and beat, those three things that’s all they do, and the lioness does everything else. I feel like lioness might as well take the title, and I feel like in music you don’t need to say female MC’s, were all MC’s I’m on the level as a lot of the men out there.
There are collaborations with Ghetts, Mercston, AL, I really want to get Ms. Dynamite, probably Leshurr and A.Dot too. I want to try and put some people I haven’t worked with on there, there’s a singer called Baby Sol, I really like her.