Wave Lengths w/ PRINCI (an Interview)
We spoke to Australia’s PRINCI about identity, imagery, her dream music festival and whats she’s vibing.
Princi (@shesthatprinci) is an Australian rapper on the rise. A poet, rapper, DJ, and style icon she represents everything current generations hold dear; she is bold, multifaceted, with a strong aesthetic sense, while still being vulnerable, honest and intimate with her audience. We spoke to her about identity, imagery, her dream music festival and whats shes vibing.
1. You have a great, early 2000s nostalgic strong-femme style. What is your current favourite clothing item and accessory? And most importantly, why?
PRINCI: Well, femme/queer assassin films run my life so it’s no surprise their style finds its way into my wardrobe….anything that makes me feel like this hits my frequency hard. My current favourite clothing item is this black MARIEYAT crop top I just got from Slow Waves in Naarm/Melbourne (the only place I could try on MARIEYAT in Australia). Alias vibes.
My favourite accessory is a pendant made by my sister and jeweller Danielle Karlikoff (also pictured here). It was a special gift. I did the sounds and snacks for her store last year, Hydromania (where I made a theme song). I wear it every single moment of the day and it offers me protection, power and purpose. Sisterhood hanging from the neck.
2. What is your favourite place in Korea and favourite place in Australia?
In Korea, I’d say the jjimjilbang (bath house) in my mum’s town of Waegwan. It’s an oasis for when the family trips get a bit intense (lol) Nothing beats dipping your body into different temperature waters and saunas for a few hours. Other than that, anywhere where my friends are!
In Australia, my favourite place right now would have to be my friend Rhojze’s uncle’s house in Canberra. I stayed there for the first time a few weeks ago. The time seems to move a little slower and wider there. He has this great sound system and, similar to my favourite place in Korea, I had a bath in front of it (except, a sound bath). I guess I really like bathing (laughs). On top of that, his house is very intricate and ordered and somehow that moved me.
This is me and Rhojzé having our sound bath:
3. What have you been listening to recently? Why have you been vibing this music in particular?
The new Dis Fig album, “PURGE”. I am heavily into this. Along with how it sounds, the structure of the album feels really good to me which doesn’t happen so often. Right now my favourite track is “Why”, but it changes day to day, week to week!
4. Tell us your dream festival line-up?
CHRIStine and the Queens, Wednesday Campanella, Rosalia, Dis Fig, Junglepussy (live + tarot readings), Sevdaliza, CORIN, Arca, Yung Lean, Toni Braxton.
5. Recently in Korea there has been a real resurgence of music from the late 90s and early 2000s particularly singers like Lee Jeong Hyun and Seotaiji and the Boys. There are definite references in your style and your music to this time period. Was there anything you heard growing up that informed your music writing (particularly anything from your parents)?
Most of the melodies stuck in my head are probably from this period as I was just dancing around to anything I heard. It wasn’t so much from my parents because they listened to classical stations… but my references have their roots in Aqua, Britney, Ciara, Nelly Furtado, J-Lo, Destiny’s Child, Amerie, Scooter, t.A.T.u, Stacie Orrico and of course still today, Björk. I am usually an early riser (6am or so) and I put that down to the fact that the music video station here called Rage would play these video clips from 6am. My body clock is still programmed to it.
I also love some South Korean tracks from this period like Park Ji Yoon’s “Coming of Age Ceremony” and “Dreams Come True” by S.E.S. I’ve had my Lee Hyori obsession too…
6. We’ve recently seen a rise in popularity for artists from the Asian diaspora, notably 88Rising and the adjacent artists. Do you feel boxed in by this identity driven approach or rather does it just reflect the world we live in?
It depends on who’s doing the boxing. It’s nice to embrace a shared set of experiences, especially when connecting with people around the world. And these are new identities that offer alternatives to the mainstream narratives, so I think it could be helping to (finally) reflect the world we live in.
However, whether artists from the Asian diaspora make this experience central to their public identity or not, it’s their visibility that inspires me.
7. Last year you played at Dirty Rose Club and in 2017 you played at Cakeshop both in Itaewon, Seoul. How was that for you? Does playing in Asia, specifically Korea differ from playing in Australia?
Yes, it does. The obvious thing is the distance involved — you’re far away from where you made the music yet there you are connecting with people who feel what you do and you feel what they do. This kind of connection is special to me. Also, it’s nice to see and meet the other artists and DJs in new cities. In Seoul it’s crews like Bazookapo, No Music, Free Collision…it’s so great to see what they’re doing and how they take things to new places ~
8. The show you played at Dirty Rose was called Friend Crush and you have a much talked about single titled Celibate. Run us through your dream friend date.
My dream friend date would start with making something. Either a cake, a feast or music. Then there would be some sort of Aquarium trip, or a yacht picnic, because why not. Then there would be a sound bath (again with the baths!). Just lying down in front of some nice speakers and falling in and out of sleep. In the dream date, it’s a perfect temperature outside and the sky is really clear and you can see the Milky Way as the sun fades out. To be honest, I might as well take myself on this date.
9. Does being Australian feed into your music? How has your music been received at home? And how has it been for you performing in different cities given the cultural difference between somewhere like Brisbane and Melbourne?
I think where you grow up and live will always play into what you make - whether you resist or embrace it. I never felt comfortable with the title of “being Australian” because it was never something I thought I was. When you grow up it is this type of white Australian that you think of as “Australian”. So if you’re not part of that it can feel like you’re just not from here (maybe because everyone asks you where you’re from). This experience is in my track “Diaspora Doll” produced by CORIN (who is Filipino-Australian and has shared a lot of those feelings too).
And then being Australian and living here also is complicit in a colonial ideology that has a violent oppression of indigenous peoples at its core. So regardless of whether I feel Australian or not I am living and am able to benefit in a place that has and continues this history. And this feeds into my life on a day to day, personal level. So it is impossible to separate this thinking from music. It leads to questioning all types of encounters, the way structures, industries institutions are formed, and who they are formed for.
I would say my music has been received on a personal level by people here. I have been told before that it is “too this or that.” It is probably these very organisations that will turn around soon as say “Hey! We want you.” However, the Sydney community radio station FBi radio has been hugely supportive and I’m so thankful for that.
So yeh, it’s really the people here who get me and they are the blood to my veins. When I get to play in cities like Naarm/ Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, even with the cities’ slight cultural differences the people are there for the show so I feel like no matter what we’re seeing eye to eye — otherwise they wouldn’t be there. If I hear a story about how someone’s interacted with my music or it’s meant this or that to them, that it is very fulfilling. So I keep going!
10. Water features in a lot of your videos and your imagery what is your connection to water?
It’s actually been unintentional how much water features but then if you do look, it is never far away. I like how gracious it is. Bodies floating, diving, rising. It’s all there. I also keep an aquarium so water and aquascaping is often on my mind...
11. Lastly, we noticed a fish fillet on your instagram, run us through your favourite McDonalds order and where is the best place to enjoy it
(laughs) This must have been a looooong time ago because I can’t even remember the last time I ate McDonalds. I used to be pretty obsessed with it.... the tastebuds have changed. If we’re going back in time, the order would be:
Drive Thru only:
1 x Medium Fillet o’ Fish meal. Sparkling water
1 x 6 chicken nuggets with sweet n sour sauce
1 x Chocolate sundae
1 x Apple Pie
Eaten at a car park by the beach before sunrise. Then finish the meal once the sun is up and jump in the water... again, with the water! (laughs)