While her earlier image and sound were more pointed toward the retro, with new album Lollipops and Politics, V V Brown is hopping towards the future. No longer sporting the vintage pin-up bang roll, she seems comfortable in herself, rocking a more laid-back look in the video for "Children" (released last week) off the new record, which comes out February 2012.
The song has a nursery rhyme hook (“Do Your Ears Hang Low?”), layered with Brown's deep pop vocals and Chiddy Bang's flow. “It was very DIY,” she says of the video, which includes, amongst other images, an ice cream truck matching the tune, Brown petting cute pups and riding her bicycle through the sunny streets of LA, and a variety of people showing off their tattoos, dancing, or mugging for the camera. “We wanted to get in contact with real people, [we] literally stopped people in the street.” There also are mirrors interlaced through the scenes, which signified outer contemplation. Brown explains, “we wanted to touch on the idea of reflection about what's going on in the world – children, hope, the economy.”
When I speak to her on the day of the video's release, she already sounds exhausted. In a car on the way to her first gig of the tour in New York, she's sleepy and says she is in fact getting a cold, something I saw mentioned earlier in the day on her Twitter. I feel bad forcing her to answer questions in such a state, but it's the only time we have to chat. She's embarking on a world tour that stops in San Francisco on Tuesday, Nov. 8 (tonight) at the Rickshaw Stop. Her last tour to San Francisco had her opening for Little Dragon, but don't assume that means she sounds like the popular Swedish electro act, this Brit's own music varies greatly, including elements of R&B, pop, rock, hip-hop, and soul, which makes sense – she grew up listening to “the Clash, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, De La Soul, Blur, Ella Fitzgerald, and Smashing Pumpkins.”
She perks up when we get to the new album. It's a departure from 2009's Travelling Like the Light, which was the product of a doomed relationship. Lollipops and Politics, like “Children,” lyrically goes outside of Brown's own inner struggle, to look at the rest of humanity: “the whole album is centered around this idea of questioning what's going in the world.” Beginning with the slow pinging beat of high drum machine, on "Famous" she sings "everybody's locked on the TV screens/they keep watching and watching and watching" later, voice almost cracking with the question, "Smash the bubble down/what's it all about?" In "Climbing High" her voice deepens a bit, the beat turns more to traditional hop-hop, the chorus seems a call to arms. "We're screaming loud from the top of our lungs and we're getting louder."
When it's time to hang up, I ask one last question just because she seems in the mood for honesty. "What question do you most hate from interviewers?" Her answer surprises me (I figured it'd be something about how hard it is to make it as a solo female artist, or about her modeling/acting career) -- "what's your favorite color?" she laughs in a prim British accent, "It's kind of irrelevant."
V V Brown
With Cambo & the Life
Tues/8, 7 p.m., $15
155 Fell, SF