Quilla Constance tells us about this Art Pop she's got goin on

We recently bumped into artist/pop singer Quilla Constance at an art show in an old girls school in the gruesomely trendy Hoxton Square. We were most amused to see her video installation plonked in an old shower in which she seductively taunts a topless and tied-up David C West of Decima Gallery in ‘Quilla’ red PVC heels. On chatting we learn she has just launched a controversial, incest-themed new single, ‘Snow Daddy’ and will also be working alongside none other than Rich Kid, Rusty Egan, who we met only the week before at Islington Academy.. We decide to have a chat with Quilla about her journey from the strip clubs to the art galleries and onto the stage!

Photos by Simon Richardson, Fashion Designers - Debbie Waygood & Holly Lloyd.

LB: So you seem to have many strings to your bow; Oxford graduate, lap dancer and artist turned pop singer… Tell us a bit about your string of occupations?

QC: I currently describe myself as a fine artist working through the medium of pop music and video, so for me it's always about the art.  I worked as a lap dancer to pay the rent whilst studying art at Ruskin (Oxford University) and then Goldsmiths where I did my Masters- but wasn't making anywhere near the sort of money that girls can make in that profession. I was a rubbish lap dancer in the commercial sense because I was preoccupied with observing other dancers and their clients so I could shoot secret footage and make art about them.

At art school I made a series of sordid striptease videos to cheesy pop tracks featuring men I advertised for on Gumtree. These videos adopted a light/fun pop aesthetic which got people from the music industry interested in the paradoxical image I was projecting. Music producer Dave Greenfield came to see an art show I curated at 176 where he first encountered my work. Afterwards he took my hand and said he wanted to make me a star! A few months later 80's 'Electro-Guru' Rusty Egan got to hear my first ever recording - a Christmas single called SNOW DADDY and he also became interested to work with me on an electronic club remix. I like 80's electronic music and i'm a fan of VISAGE - so naturally I was excited. At this point I decided to utilize mainstream pop music and video as a medium for my art as I've always been interested in the relationship between the music video and the art video... This means I show concurrently in a mainstream music and fine art context.

LB: Tell us a bit about how you found the crossover from striptease to art?

QC: I got into the Royal College of Art when I was 21 to do a Masters in fine art (sculpture) but got kicked out for making porno videos and constructing striptease sets which they didn't view as serious art.
 The work I've done as a stripper has informed my practice and inspired me to make work that teeters on the edge of video art. In doing so, this questions the medium of video as an art form which is problematic for some people.
However, I view any friction I encounter as a sign I must be doing a good job!

And the crossover from art to music?

 

 

This has only just begun which means I don't have the answer's! But for me it's more a question of HOW I can exist as a fine artist in the context of the mainstream pop industry...I think that's the ultimate challenge because they'll either try to dilute what I do, or they'll try to appropriate my particular 'brand' of 'edgy' pop music and video into the commercial vacuum. If I allow either of these things to happen- my work will become less interesting as a result.rn


LB: Love the track "Snow Daddy" but what inspired you to write your dark new single, about a Trustafarian girl who asks her dad to get her cocaine on Christmas day in exchange for sexual favours?

QC: I wanted to situate a piece of video art in a mainstream music context so I decided to work in collaboration with music video director, Riffy Powerz & her crew to re-make one of my earlier art videos called 'Happy Christmas Mom & Dad' (as a pop video). 'Happy Christmas Mom & Dad' presents a scenario where I perform a striptease as a gift for my parents on Christmas day...
and this is how the SNOW DADDY track came about. The pop video for SNOW DADDY also features my real parents and i'm curious to see how a transgressive concept exploring incest will work in a pop context or whether it will lose any edge/discomfort. The video will soon be available to view on iTunes, YouTube, LAST FM and MySpace.

LB: Did you think it was a bit risky to launch such a disturbing track as your very first single?

QC: I have no interest in conforming to what's already present in the mainstream as
it usually sounds like the swill from a vacuous sausage factory- BUT this doesn't mean my music and art cannot exist in the mainstream. I believe the sterile environment of mainstream pop provides the perfect backdrop for what I do.
  

Also- SNOW DADDY is as much about being anti Cocaine and incest as it is about being for it. I never reveal my true thoughts about any of these issues because I find moral preaching intolerable and simplistic (especially in art or music).
  

The SNOW DADDY video offers a fairly nonchalant presentation of an incestuous scenario
but it doesn't tell you whether it's right or wrong. It just leaves you to make
up your own mind...AND THIS TAKES SOME PEOPLE TO VERY DARK PLACES ...which is why people get enraged by what I do.
   I've gone for a particularly sardonic vocal delivery with SNOW DADDY...Sometimes it makes me wanna get really fucked up on Coke and then other times it makes me wanna go to bed early with a mug of Horlicks.

LB: What else is in the pipeline for Quilla Constance?

QC: There will be a series of electronic tracks coming out in 2010, plus i'm working with Rusty Egan on a club remix of SNOW DADDY. I'm currently training up for a disco dancing/pop video i'll be directing. It will accompany a track called CHAMPION from my forthcoming album....
....i'll keep you posted LB!

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