analogue portrait by @rayscorruptedmind

Everything happened on a Friday evening,

when Def Jam sent me an SMS telling me that our interview with new hip-hop sensation 070 Shake was cancelled. But a couple of hours later, they came back to me, announcing that I’ll be the only one meeting her the following day before her Parisian sold-out show. It was weird to be the only one with her since I’ve read so many things about her by all the indie and cool press going on about how hype this new emo-hip-hop and avant-garde artist is.

Daniella Balbuena had many lives before becoming 070 Shake. This American girl who grew up in New Jersey started in a musical collective 070, coming from NJ’s 070 zip code. Her career became official when social media personality YesJulz discovered her on Soundcloud and decided to become her manager at that time. She had Daniella sign a record deal with Kayne West’s Good Music label with a first release which was the Glitter EP in 2018. 

This signature opens so many doors and it’s her collaboration with her mentor, Kayne West on his album “Ye” and her following features with Nas and Pusha T which made 070 Shake become one of the most exciting hip-hop artists of this time. Her debut full-length album was announced in June 2019 but it got released only this January featuring production from Mike Dean and indie rock musician Dave Hamelin. Promoting this album, she’s currently traveling the world and it’s in Paris where we caught up for a little chat backstage, few hours before her Parisian fans saw her on stage.  

“Modus Vivendi” is finally out and it was, I guess, an up and down process before releasing it, how do you feel now?

It was teamwork. I was focused on doing that shit and the people around me made it happen naturally. And now I’m excited to get it out in the world. This record is a kind of new image of me. So I’m happy you all listen to Modus Vivendi which is clearly a part of my life as I took a long process to get this music on the next level.

Your Parisian show is sold-out, were you expecting people all around the world to listen and to come to your gig when you started? 

I feel blessed! To be in a different country and having all these dudes coming and making all this sold-out is fantastic.

Does Paris have something special for you?

Yes, I really want to see an Opera here but I won’t have time. I will just chill with my friends and enjoy the architecture.

I listen a lot to some old French songs by Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour…I have something connected with this city for sure!

You worked with a brunch of your favourites artists including Kayne West, Kid Cudi as well as Nas. Do you feel that you have accomplished something major in your career? 

Yes, that was insane, it all happened so quickly but you know I just keep going on my own. I don’t think I’ve accomplished all that I want but I’m just working on my music without letting anything distract me. I got an A-List supportive team so I’m grateful for this. These collaborations make me be more confident and get me some positive vibes and feelings.

Due to your private life, I guess that fans are asking more than music, there’s a demand on social platforms, how do you deal with that? 

It’s kinda hard you know. It’s difficult to deal with social media for me but I need to do it. I’m’ using it as part of the job. I know many of my fans appreciate my opinions and how I deal with my sexual orientation but I’m trying my best to get privacy. I felt more conformable for example about my content on Instagram so I want my fans to connect with me in a positive way. Digital stuff makes me feel more disciplined and smarter. I’m using this as a tool and I need to be careful the way I’m using it.

You remind me a lot of Frank Ocean as your music has no genre and no boundaries. Is that the future of hip-hop?

I love Frank and I feel that yes, my music is open and there is anything and everything in my music. I’m free with the idea where there are no boundaries and I don’t want to be put in a box. Music is important so we don’t need to loose time trying to identify it.

And is anything else you like in parallel to music?

Yes, drinking Tequila (laughs)…

Interview by Ivica Mamedy and 35mm by @rayscorruptedmind