30 August 2016

Stefflon Don on bubbling, family and why her house is the place to be

One of UK music's brightest talents tells us what makes her tick.

[B]orn in Stephanie Allen in Birmingham, then moving with her family to Rotterdam in the Netherlands aged four, then back to the UK to live in London at 14 where she’s been ever since, Stefflon Don has made her name thus far on the back of some the best remix and collaboration work you’ll hear, with the likes of American R&B star Jeremih, hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd and London’s Section Boys, as well as tracks of her own that showcase an ability to switch between rap, grime and the Dutch dancehall variation, bubbling – a subgenre made famous in the city of her childhood when a Dutch DJ mistakenly played a dancehall record at the wrong speed.

All this is fast making her into one of the most interesting and versatile talents to watch in the UK at the moment and we caught up with her to talk about the influence of the various cultures that have fed into her life and music, what inspires her and where the party’s at on a Friday night.

dress Jayne Pierson | leather cuff Moschino 

What was it like moving back to London at the age you did? You must’ve felt like Rotterdam was home by that time.

Yeah, when I moved back here I wasn’t happy at all, it was really different. I really had to adjust. Wearing a school uniform was different, so was the other girls’ lingo. And I really was a baby 14 – the girls over here my age were more like adults!

But it only took me a year or two to feel at home here. I thought I’d want to live back in Holland but every time I went back on holiday I just wanted to be back in London. Especially when I figured I wanted to do music, this is definitely the place to be. There are more opportunities over here.

leather jacket Yuki Haze

How have the different cultures you’ve experienced fed into the music you make? I’ve heard you slip into Dutch, then a bit of Jamaican patois and your sound is also very London.

Both my parents speak patois so that’s where that comes from. I don’t know if you heard my song with Cho, he’s a Dutch artist, and that beat is bubbling. That’s really the original sound of bubbling with that dancehall influence. So when I was at home I’d be listening to dancehall but then the music I heard with my friends was influenced by that too.

You know how English has taken on a lot of Jamaican? So in the Netherlands they have a lot of different cultures [have influenced the language] in the same way – like Suriname and the Dutch Antilles – so I’ve definitely taken influence from them and how they speak. They would go really first over certain beats and switch their flows. That’s been a big influence on me.

biker jacket Yuki Haze | knickers and fishnet bodysuit Borderline Apparel | leather cuff Moschino

So it's Friday night in London - where we going?

Anywhere in London? First of all Tape, Tape is live. We could stay at my house because my house is really where it’s at. I got a massive family and I still live with them so we just stay home and bust it open. Everyone says we should have our own reality show.

Where are we eating?

Well, normally I’d go VQ after a rave because it’s 24 hours. You can get everything in there.

Who’s poster did you have on your wall as a kid?

I don’t think I did, as far as I can remember. Maybe Destiny’s Child…

What’s the one rule you adhere to as an artist?

Be yourself.

fur coat David Ferreira | glasses Steff's own

Who’s the person you go to for advice about a track?

My cousin.

Who do you most look up to in your life?

Me, I look up to myself.

What inspires you to do what you do.

Life, every day, waking up.

fur coat and shoes David Ferreira

Do you have a style icon?

I used to love Any Winehouse. So much.

What’s your go-to pair of shoes?

My Yeezy’s!

What makes you happy?


What make you angry?

When people lie. I hate liars.

What’s you drink of choice?

Well, I don’t drink but if I’m out apple juice.

dress Jayne Pierson

What would you do if I gave you a hundred quid right now?

Give away to my family.

Who are the best rappers out there right now?

Me, someone else called me, and someone else called me! Only joking… Sickest rappers right now – obviously you need Kendrick on that list. Drake. Chipmunk is good too.


Follow Steff on Instagram and Twitter @stefflondon.