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Hallway Interview with Empire Isis

EMPIRE ISIS.JPGEmpire Isis stopped by the Homerun studio today to talk about her forthcoming album and her new iPhone application.

She is half British, half Moroccan, and was raised by a Ugandan stepfather.

The self-described "gangstress" now splits her time between Montreal and New York.

Homerun's Web journalist Tanya Birkbeck sat down with her for a "Hallway Interview."

You were talking with Sue about your recent trip to Senegal. How did this change you?
I have a long love affair with Senegalese culture and spirituality. I get along really with the culture. I'm hyperactive, and they are really relaxed.

I've been going back to Africa for the past four years and I believe in the "new" Africa. Like what we saw during the World Cup. I'm going to be playing in Dakar with artists like Akon, Youssou n'Dour [and many others]. I'm just making sure that Africa knows, "I'm yours!" Africa is a culture more related to Europe, but more affected by America. And there are not that many artist that  bridge that gap.

Speaking of that, Shakira's "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) is an example of an artist bridging the two continents. The song did cause some controversy. What do you think of it?
It's not her song. She didn't write it. But she dances well. It's still playing in Africa. I hope to see more songs like it. But there are singers, and there are singer/songwriter/producer/activists. I prefer the latter. It's early to look cute but writing for me is very, very, very important.  Shakira, you don't see her in Dakar, Cairo, Cassablanca. She doesn't know what kids are listening to there.

You've traveled all over the world. What advice would you have for bridging cultures? A travel tip, so to speak?
Try to learn languages. Make an effort. Even the most basic phrases. What impresses people more than money, more than fancy cars, is desire. If people see you have that, they will be open to you. The second piece of advice is be aware of your surroundings. Don't wear a mini skirt in Pakistan.

Today we are talking about the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Sometimes it's hard for people here to imagine what they can do to help. What would you say to people here about how they can do something about the situation in Haiti?
We live in a materialistic, individualistic society. Just because Montreal is like a little Haiti, we have a moral obligation to take this more seriously, because Haitians are one of our biggest immigrant groups. But right now, our political system has gone to shit. It's corrupt. We have a major lack of leadership. Normally Quebec is socialist, but because the leadership is so poor, we are turned off. It has created an anti-sympathetic vibe. Social responsibility has to be the top of our priority list. We have seriously lost our place.

On a much lighter note, we are talking about cupcakes today on the show because there is a big fundraiser selling decorated cupcakes this weekend. If you were to make any kind of cupcake, what kind would it be?
Chocolate with Dulce de leche icing and a fudge centre. It would have to be at least 7000 calories!!

We are also talking about the new Harry Potter movie. Are you a fan?
I am a fan. Not a super-fan. But I really look up to J.K. Rowlings. She's someone who didn't have enough money to feed her kids. When I see J.K. Rowlings, she reminds me of what is a real boss lady. Her, and Oprah, and Ellen DeGeneres, Queen Latifah...

The Montreal Alouettes are playing the Toronto Argonauts this weekend. Do you follow football?
I don't have time to watch TV or watch sports. I'm constantly running, New York, Montreal, in studio band practices. I own myself and I am the boss, so I don't have much time. But to be honest, I am a basketball fan. And for football, I'm not much of a fan of American football. For football [ed note: soccer] I like watching my sexy African teams, with their ripped muscles!

Listen to her interview with Sue.

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