She's duetted with Timbaland, written for Britney and even has her own fashion range. I gave Keri Hilson a bell to talk about her recent single Pretty Girl Rock, working with Kanye West and her views on The X Factor.
Pretty Girl Rock is definitely one of those songs that has got people talking. What’s it all about?
It was Ne-Yo’s idea. As the song kept playing, I was like,
oh my god, that’s so beautiful. And I hope that’s what women take from the
record. I’m giving you an example of how I think every woman should feel about
herself. No matter what anyone tells you – you’re too tall, you’re too short,
you’re too big, you’re too skinny... there’s so many ‘rules’ to society’s view
of beauty. I wanted to dispel that and get rid of that. We’re all beautiful in
our own unique ways, you just have to find that happy place within yourself.
And that’s what the record’s all about.
The video’s great too. Who came up with the idea of paying tribute to those classic videos?
(Director) Joseph Khan came up with the initial idea of
paying homage and we just kind of ping ponged ideas back and forth with who I
loved... who I grew up inspired by... and that’s everyone that I portrayed. I
had the most fun I’ve ever had on a video shoot.
I love the Janet Jackson bit the best. Is she a particular favourite artist of yours?
Absolutely. She was so strong and so confident. Y’know that’s what attracted me to her and actually everyone I chose (for the video), that was the underlying thing... they went against the grain and they weren’t afraid to be who they were.
You also did a remix
with Kanye West. What did he bring to the song?
He represents a male point of view but also he’s known for being very confident, almost arrogant. I wanted someone who with super confidence. And that was none other than Kanye West. It lends to the feeling of the record... the point of how men should feel about themselves.
You also worked with Chipmunk recently. Are there any other UK acts that have caught your eye?
I’ve always loved Natasha Bedingfield. I’ve always admired her work. Adele is great. Estelle as well. Amy Winehouse – I’m a huge fan of hers too.
You’re very active on Twitter. Do you enjoy interacting with your fans in that way?
I do. It’s pretty instant feedback, whether you ask for it or not. That’s a cool thing, it’s like some of the quickest fan mail ever. When I grew up, there was no way that I would believe if I sent a letter, that someone would actually read it. These days, it’s very different. It’s really cool.
I wanted to ask you about The X Factor - one of the contestants last year performed your version of Turn My Swag On. Did you see it?
Cher Lloyd! I sure did! I was flattered... it wasn’t like it
was a hit song or something that the judges even knew. It was great... she’s
worked pretty hard, she’s got a record deal now and I wanna meet her actually.
The X Factor is launching in the US this year. Do you think it’s going to be a big show out there?
I think so. There’s a lot of these type of shows. But I think everyone’s interested in what it takes to make it in this industry. I think that’s so intriguing. I think X Factor has a huge shot of being amongst these other shows.
Would you have considered going on one of these shows to make it in the music industry?
Absolutely, absolutely. If you have a dream and you have a passion that’s real, you’ll try anything to get there. Almost anything... you’ll try anything respectable! (Laughs) That show has helped so many people achieve their dreams and given people a chance where some folks don’t want to take a chance. You have to come with a full package when it comes to labels these days, but American Idol and X Factor... they allow you to be yourself and they help you to find your own niche and your fanbase.
There’s loads of different sounds on your latest album No Boys Allowed. What was the idea behind the album and who inspired you when you were making it?
You recently put together a fashion range for H&M. What’s your style secret?
I think that you just can’t wear anything that you don’t feel comfortable in. That’s number one. Because that’s when you lose confidence. True glamour comes from within. I think it’s that more than anything. I don’t try to be glamorous.
Who are your favourite designers? Are there any stores that you particularly enjoy shopping in?
I love, love, love my Dolce & Gabbana dresses. Also Versace. I also enjoy low end shopping. I love H&M, Topshop. I love Primark, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel...
And finally, you wrote a lot of Britney’s last album. What was she like to work with and what do you think of her new stuff?
I think the new stuff is amazing. I think she’s back to the Britney that we knew and love. I love her videos. Hold It Against Me and Till The World Ends... I’m happy with where she is now. She was such a pleasure to work with. She’s a very hard worker.
Keri Hilson's single Pretty Girl Rock and album No Boys Allowed are both out now.