It is James Indigo’s world and we are just living in it. From performing at Birmingham Pride this September to rediscovering his love of dressing up, he takes a minute to reflect on 2021.
James Indigo has a busy schedule. When I meet him on the day of the shoot for Artefact, he had just come back from the recording studio. Trying to cross the Elephant & Castle roundabout with an enormous suitcase and a cup of coffee in his hands, he ends up almost getting hit by a double-decker bus.
When we enter the studio, calmer, but still buzzing with adrenaline, the first thing that James asks for is to put some music on: “I just don’t understand people who do things in silence. Give me something, it’s like a morgue in here!”
We get a chance to discuss James’ tastes and where they came from. Birmingham-born and raised, he grew up surrounded by various influences in both fashion and music.
“I remember when I was little and every day I would wake up to either my mum listening to Reggae or my brother listening to Drum and Bass. Of course, pop girls played a big part in my upbringing as well so I would definitely say that musically I’m, like, this blend of different genres.”
But his biggest influences? Madonna and Nicki Minaj: “Ever since I heard Nicki I’ve been obsessed, you know, all the weird, dramatic sounds she makes. I love how she’s just not afraid to be weird, how she doesn’t give a fuck. Same with Madonna, she was so ahead of her time, it wasn’t just about the music, it was her performances, her music videos, the clothes, the wittiness of her interviews, everything.”
Like his idols, James pays significant attention to keep everything he creates as extraordinary as possible and of course a part of that is reflected in his wardrobe.
Fashion has always been a significant part of every musician’s professional journey. Madonna had her Jean Paul Gaultier Cone Bra, Run-DMC had their Adidas Superstars, while Kylie Minogue – a 50p pair of golden shorts she wore in the music video to Spinning Around, shorts so special that they even earned their space at the exhibition at The Arts Centre in Melbourne.
When it comes to James, what seems to be apparent straight away is his love for latex: “I’m a sexual person, I’m just obsessed with how the texture of latex feels and how it makes you feel whilst wearing it. I never knew it was a thing but I started using it in my music videos and people were, like, ‘ooh’. I even have a track called Latex”
James’ style is all about combining masculinity and femininity, mixing and matching pieces. In a music video for Daddy’s Coming Home, he is having a beer and wearing a grey tracksuit, while in Van Gogh – he can be seen posing in a wedding dress covered in spray paint and graffiti, a piece created by Oli Hull.
“[The] pandemic really made me forget how fun dressing up was. As soon as I put the clothes on, it’s showtime, I become James Indigo. When I start rapping, sometimes it’s so funny, people think that just because I’m gay I don’t have that in me.
“Recently I was recording in a studio and, you know, I would say I’m quite loud and camp in person but once I started rapping, I could see the producer’s surprised face, like he must have not been expecting this gay boy to deliver the lines like that.”
One of James’ biggest gigs this year was undoubtedly Birmingham Pride. Every time I mention it, he talks about it with excitement. “It was just great to be able to perform there, I was home and I was surrounded by friends who were supporting me.”
Lately, James has also been collaborating with a lot of fashion brands on social media, creating short promotional clips. That enabled him to invest more into his art, for example, being able to get more studio time.
“It’s also great for queer kids to see that a black gay rapper like me can make noise in the scene, collab with big brands and be taken seriously as an artist. I definitely think that the representation is important and it’s something that I wish I would have had as a kid.”
So what can we expect from James Indigo in 2022?
Channeling Courtney Love he says: “Nice clothes, good money.” He laughs: “No, but seriously, in 2022 I really want to push myself as an artist, I want to make amazing visuals and collaborate with even more amazing people.”
In the pictures, James is wearing: Oversized jewellery corset and gold bangle: Selina Yang; Silver and crystal bracelets, rings, leather chokers, leather trousers and latex gloves: Vintage; Upcycled fireman jacket and trousers: Gundog Studios by Hunter McFarlane; Upcycled bags: Bibi Bazz; Boots: New Rock.
Photographed by Abhinav Bhandari, styling and creative direction by Wiktor Karkocha.
Edited by Trinity Francis and Sylphia Basak.