A cross-genre polymath with a grounding in what she calls “urban jazz”, Manchester’s IAMDDB is one of the UK’s most ferociously creative new artists, with a back catalogue of five mixtapes behind her before even releasing a debut album proper. Through those releases, she’s immortalised the quotable but relatable lyric “Uber, Uber everywhere” and rebranded her home city as The 0161. We caught up with her before her forthcoming set at Budapest’s Sziget festival this weekend.
Hi IAMDDB! Whereabouts are you right now? You sound like you’re in a car…
“I am – I’m gonna go and fix my broken nails.”
Is it an Uber?!
“It is! I Uber everywhere!”
Famously! You should get some sort of sponsorship deal with them…
“I really should! I’ve spoken to my team about it. All I do is get in Ubers.”
What’s your Uber rating?
“Erm, I think it’s a 4-point-something, which is quite good, I think?!”
So you’re playing Sziget festival in Budapest – what do you know about it?
“Do you know what, I don’t check my festival run because I like it to be a surprise! But I’m very excited, it’ll be our first time performing in Hungary so I’m interested in how people respond to the music.”
Well, surprise! You’re going to Hungary. What do you know about the place?
“To be honest, I’m not even gonna chat shit to you because I don’t know anything about the place. I just hope the weather is good, the people are friendly and the food is good. As long as those three things are in place, I’m happy!”
Sziget prides itself on having a very pan-European crowd. You can sing and rap in Portuguese…
“Yeah, of course! I can speak Portuguese fluently.”
That must go down well when playing Portugal.
“Trust me, I feel so at home in Portugal and Brazil. When we played in Brazil, that was such a vibe because you can really connect when you speak the same language.”
Did you grow up in Portugal?
“Yeah, I lived there for the first five years of my life before moving to the UK. “
You definitely picked up the Manchester accent…
“Trust me man, I can’t get rid of it!”
You refer to Manchester as The 0161, after its dialling code. Are you hoping to do what Drake did for Toronto, rebranding it as The 6?
“Who knows, it could happen – we’ll see.”
People don’t do enough to glamorise UK cities with nicknames like that.
“Yeah, and I don’t know why! I love Manchester, it’ll be always be in my heart no matter how much I travel and sometimes it’s important to remind people where you’re from.“
So you’re playing Sziget – do you like doing festivals?
“You know what, festival crowds are interesting because you never get the same crowd twice, so my thing is just: raise the vibrations and catch a vibe. They give you a good indication of what people gravitate towards. So after doing a festival I always go, cool, when I get back to the studio I need more of this vibe, you know what I mean? It helps me understand what the audience needs.”
That must help at the moment – you released your fifth mixtape, ‘Swervvvvv.5’ in February and you’re now working on your album, right?
“Yeah man, the album’s next but I’m dropping that in 2020. I’ve got some interesting collaborations and I’m really staying focused on making the best quality disc I can at the moment.”
Any hints about what it’ll sound like?
“No! No hints. I’m not one to speak about things before they happen.”
Does it feel different making an album as opposed to a mixtape?
“It really doesn’t you know. I feel like I’ve already put out five albums as it is. It’s the same fucking thing! I guess this time it’s been a bit more organised and structured, a bit more of a solid idea behind it.”
And you might actually get paid this time…
“Ha! They’ve all recouped very well, so I’ve got no complaints.”
You call what you do ‘urban jazz’. Jazz used to be a bit of a dirty word, but it feels there’s an exciting new generation of jazz acts breathing new life into it.
“Yeah, I am so proud to be from a jazz background, hence why I push urban jazz so much. When I came through to the industry no one was really talking about jazz – people would just think, OK, you smoke weed, you’re a bit lazy… but I feel like this whole urban jazz scene has opened barriers and helped people understand that you can really mix genres. It’s exciting to see people express themselves in all these different ways that all come back to jazz.”
Sziget festival takes place from August 7 to 13 in Budapest, Hungary. Get tickets here