Interview with a Jewish Princess
by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2002-02-06
Another smash hit from the princess
Since getting into the music biz a decade ago, Princess Superstar has carved a niche for herself as the most credible white female rapper around.
With a strong image that sees her promoting the positive aspects of being a woman in control, the Princess has put much effort into making sure her music is as cutting edge as her lyrical dialogue. Not afraid to say that she's Jewish, Princess has worked with such leading collaborators as Beth Orton and counts Pulp's Jarvis as one of her biggest fans. Once you see her, it's hard not to see why she's rated so highly. Her flamboyant attitude and cool persona deliver a unique and compelling musical experience. Jewish.co.uk recently caught up with her.
How did your musical career come about?
My father was a huge fan of music - my parents were hippies, and they used to have music blasting out all the time when I was growing up - and my dad used to take me to concerts with him when I was young. Originally I wanted to be an actress, and I was studying at NYU (New York University), but while I was there I got into playing guitar and realised I preferred music to acting, so it kind of happened from there.
You've been writing and performing music for nearly 10 years. Are you pleased that you're finally starting to get noticed?
Oh absolutely! And I'm glad it took this long to start happening for me - I wouldn't have wanted to be an 18-year-old pop star. I took a risk by not signing with a major label but it's all worked out for the best.
With the success of such modern Jewish artists as Remedy Ross, Paul Berman and yourself, do you think there is a revival of artists wanting to put a Jewish flavour into their music, and how important is that to you?
There's definitely a revival, which is great. And you know, I'm so proud to be Jewish. I know this will make it sound like a big cliché, but being Jewish is a wonderful thing. I'm not religious or anything, and I didn't have a religious upbringing - I didn't have a Batmitzvah, for example - but I am very proud to be Jewish. I consider myself to be more of a spiritual Jew than anything else.
What do your parents think of your lyrics? Are they ever shocked?
My parents are really supportive and open, and they are huge fans of my music, although my mom will occasionally say something like "Why did you say that?!"
How important is cultural identity to you?
Very much so - it's so important to have a sense of where you came from, and it's just as important to be open to other cultures as well, and respect them.
Are both your parents Jewish?
My father is Jewish, my mother wasn't, but she converted to Judaism when she married him. I'm of Jewish-Sicilian descent. But as I said, I didn't have a particularly religious upbringing.
Your current single is entitled Bad Babysitter. Were you a bad babysitter when you were younger?
(laughs) I was pretty bad, but I wasn't as bad as the song makes out!
Which is your favourite Jewish holiday?
Um.that would have to be Chanukah, because of all the presents for eight days. And the food of course!
Being a Jewish girl based out in New York, perhaps you could tell us where the best place is to buy bagels?
Oh, well that would have to be Bagels On The Square down on the lower West Side, which is fantastic! And I love the hot, fresh bagels at H&H Bagels (on the Upper East Side of Manhattan) - when it's really freezing in New York you can stick the bagels on your face to warm up!
Finally, do you prefer nice Jewish boys or gentiles?
Ah, well.it's not really about what you are, but who you are - and I'm more interested in what's in men's brains. But, let's face it, Jews are much funnier and smarter!
Princess Superstar's latest album Princess Superstar Is.. is out now, and the single Bad Babysitter is released on February 18