Tuneage Tuesday: Getting Personal with Hesta Prynn

The fiery songstress talks dubstep influence, her new video and what's next.

Tuneage // Marley Lynch // 10/02/12
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Hesta Prynn

Hesta Prynn, former Northern State MC and recent LA transplant known to her friends as Julie Potash, has been making waves on both coasts with her genre-bending releases. Her latest is We Could Fall In Love, an ‘80s-tastic EP with bodacious beats and infectious lyrics—a product of her extensive musical background as a DJ, pop ghostwriter, rapper, performer and more. Check out the sassy redhead’s neon-crazy new video for the disc’s title track, and enjoy our chat with Hesta, where we caught up with her about dance music, hunting down new tracks, and her future plans.

How would you describe your solo music as compared to your old band, Northern State?
Northern State was a real hip-hop group in the old-school sense: three personalities on the mike, making snaps, cracking jokes, bringing the party with our lyrics. Hesta Prynn as a solo artist is more of an all-encompassing songwriter—dancefloor tracks that you can enjoy without necessarily following every line. If Northern State was a book, Hesta Prynn is a soundtrack.

Can you tell us how you chose your moniker Hesta Prynn?
Drunken party circa 2002*.
Northern State girls: We want to start a hip-hop group and we want you to be in it!
Hesta Prynn: Don't call it something over-the-top feminist like HESTA PRYNN.
Northern State girls: OMG that's your new MC name!
*Based on a true story

Your work now is much more dancey and, dare I say, dubsteppy since your beginnings with Northern State, especially on your new EP, We Could Fall In Love. To what do you attribute that shift?
I've been working primarily as a DJ for the past year and a half and it's really changed the way I approach a song; I come from more of a visceral place than an intellectual place these days. As a DJ, seeing which tracks move people—myself included—has made me want to simplify. I think simplicity on the music side is what works best in dance records, and minimalism is pervading commercial hip-hop right now as well. You can make the story as complex as you want in the lyrics, but if you keep the record simple and streamlined, it will move people.

Tell us about your experience as a DJ. How do you go about choosing songs for your sets? Got any tips for the average music lover on how to discover great tunes?
I toured with Questlove for a year and he showed me his vinyl library and taught me a lot about how to collect. That was the most influential experience I ever had as a DJ. I think the best thing to do is listen to as much as you can and make notes about what you like. If you hear a song, Shazaam it or write the lyrics down in your phone and Google it later. Pandora and Spotify are great resource for the “average music lover.” Most importantly, never judge your own taste, listen to what moves you, not what's “cool.” Be yourself: Music should celebrate who you are.

Your video for “We Could Fall in Love” is so wacky, creative and awesome. Can you tell us about your concept and how you went about translating it into a music video?
Thank you! Randy Scott Slavin makes all of my videos. We are a great collaborative team because he is a creative genius and I'm up for anything. The song is about parallel universes and how the choices you make can change your destiny. He talked about VHS static a lot, like what would happen if you slowed down a second of VHS static and stretched it out into three minutes. We bought some VCRs on Craigslist, he used some magnets and this is what we're presenting. I think it showcases the spirit of the song: full and simple, yet unusual and cool.

What can you tell us about your upcoming full-length record?
I feel like the days of putting out a full-length might be over—it's kind of a dated concept in the Internet age, no? I'd rather put out EPs quarterly or something like that, keep people constantly updated with new music to hear, almost like a subscription service. (My management is having a heart attack reading this I'm sure!) Regardless of how I do it, I'm going to push the next release farther. I'm going to make songs that make you dance and I'm definitely going to rap again—this is a decision I just made. I think Northern State is becoming retro or something because people have started asking me to rap on their records, so I'm going to do it! Writing for other artists has been an amazing direction my career has taken and constantly inspires me. I'm definitely excited to write the next few for myself.

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