KALTBLUT caught up with Ace Tee before her Berlin performance for Bershka‘s On Stage concert series. The fashion brand has been hosting intimate concerts all across major European cities, featuring the brightest musical up-and-comers from each country. It is an event with an international and tastemaking appeal for both the fashion and music worlds. Before the Berlin showcase, Bershka held shows in London and Barcelona, with performances from Let’s Eat Grandma and Nathy Peluso.
Inside the brick walls of Musikbraueri, we had the opportunity to ask Ace Tee what she has been up to since emerging on the international scene with “Bist Du Down?“. Back in 2017, her laid-back, 90s tracks, overlayed with German rhymes, garnered praise from Highsnobiety, Vice, The Fader, and the likes. We chatted extensively – while she was getting hair and make up ready – about her musical process: from writing to recording, collaborating with others, and coming up with visual narratives for her own music videos. Read our interview about her t-shirt collab with Bershka, getting to wear vintage Chanel, her new music, and what she wants people to know about her in 2019 – all below!
KALTBLUT: I’ll start off with the Berskha collaboration. You designed a t-shirt. Can you tell me more about that collaboration and the collection in general?
Ace Tee: It’s very limited. There are just a few pieces which will be available for people who are interested. The t-shirt has little rhinestones on it and my face. And it is very sweet. Black. We just had a photoshoot in Barcelona. That was very nice.
KALTBLUT: So in the past two years, fashion has become a big part of your life. What was it like working with Chanel?
Ace Tee: Very nice. I feel like a part of the family, and they’re always nice to me and invite me. It’s also crazy to see how much stuff they have from the 90s. They have so much stuff. It’s so crazy, stuff you didn’t know they had.
KALTBLUT: Do you get to wear some of their older looks from the 90s?
Ace Tee: Yes, yes.
KALTBLUT: That’s amazing!
Ace Tee: Yeah, I love Chanel.
KALTBLUT: Over the past two years, have you been recording new music as well?
Ace Tee: Definitely, and I will perform some new songs too. My album will hopefully also come out this year. There’s a lot of new music, I’m shooting music videos at this moment.
KALTBLUT: Are you also directing these new music videos?
Ace Tee: Yes.
KALTBLUT: You directed both “Bist du Down?” and “Bounce in den Jumpa”.
Ace Tee: Yeah, but this is more concentrated, focused. You get older now, you think about other stuff, like stuff you go through. I don’t know – how to explain. When you go through something… Music is the way I express myself. It’s the spot where I can express myself. I have a new energy now. I’ve been through a lot, and I have a nice flow right now in writing scripts.
KALTBLUT: The things that you are writing about, is it your relationships?
Ace Tee: Also, yeah. How I manage to go through life. How sometimes relationships can be really sweet, and how sometimes they can be very toxic. Toxic is a very good word. I thought many people can relate to that feeling of when it’s just not good for you, but you keep on trying. That’s the actual project that I’m working on right now.
KALTBLUT: When you come to the art direction of the visuals, do you have an idea in mind when you’re singing or songwriting?
Ace Tee: Always. Always, I don’t know why. Sometimes it just comes with a skit. Maybe four bars and you listen to it over and over again. Then the whole idea comes, and then the song comes. And it didn’t come before, it was just there, it was just a skit. Then a full vision comes. I even start writing the visions I have first, then after that, I start writing the song. After that, I complete the song.
KALTBLUT: That’s amazing, it’s a cool songwriting process.
Ace Tee: Yeah, it’s just visions. Sometimes you wake up and are like “oh my god, oh my god why didn’t I think about this last time”.
KALTBLUT: And can we expect more collaborations on the new music?
Ace Tee: Definitely, yeah. Collaborations worldwide. From England to America, to Holland. I work with many artists. I have a good connection to foreign artists and also to German artists. But, I love variety.
KALTBLUT: Do people come to you with ideas or do you come to them?
Ace Tee: Mostly, I come to people with ideas. But that’s not bad, because people put their juice in it and it’s like tasty. It’s very nice, you can drink it actually. I have visions for days. Like sometimes my head, it’s Hollywood, I don’t know what is going on in my head. But, sometimes there has to be one person who makes it realistic. Who has to want to do the realistic thing which complete the whole idea.
KALTBLUT: It must be satisfying to see the whole project come to life once it’s finished.
Ace Tee: Yeah, I love it. I love it, and then I don’t know, I feel like a new energy. I cannot describe it. When you finish your stuff. When you know you had so much to do, and you’ve finished that and you’re like oh my god.
KALTBLUT: Do you have the same feeling when performing?
Ace Tee: Afterwards? It depends sometimes there are days when I wasn’t really ready to go on stage. But then I just do it, and I couldn’t. But then I do it. I even do it over the time, always 10 to 20 minutes. And then I’m like, “I did it, I did it, I did it”, yeah. It feels nice and to afterwards hang with your friends. It’s really chill.
KALTBLUT: I saw that in an interview that you were excited about Afrochella in Ghana, are you going?
Ace Tee: This year, I hope so.
KALTBLUT: Have you ever performed in Ghana?
Ace Tee: No, but that’s like the target, definitely.
KALTBLUT: Do you have fans there?
Ace Tee: I do have fans there, it’s really shocking, but I really do have fans there. And I would really look forward to just… it’s been a while even for me. I’m from Ghana. I’ve been there, the last time when I was 14. It’s really important for me to go there. But, I had to do my moves first, now I can go home.
KALTBLUT: Is there a big community in Hamburg?
Ace Tee: Ghanian community? Yeah, yeah. I think Hamburg is one of the cities in Germany with the most, and Dusseldorf.
KALTBLUT: What is the music community like Hamburg?
Ace Tee: It’s different worlds, different genres. I’m interested in all kinds of music. But, you have the mainstream which always connects everyone. And then you have little worlds. You have techno, which is really huge. But you also have hip-hop and R&B, but you also have underground. So that’s what I mean by different worlds. You’re welcome in all of them. Hamburg is very supportive, pushing. Different music tastes.
KALTBLUT: Where do you fit in?
Ace Tee: Oh my god, it’s kind of in the middle. The kind of people who listen to garage and stuff. Yeah, maybe. And also hip-hop of course.
KALTBLUT: Can we expect that your new music will follow in the lines of 90s hip-hop?
Ace Tee: It’s mixed. Because you don’t feel 90s hip hop every day. You feel like, as I said, music is the way I express myself. I have songs like wavy boom bap, lofi hip hop. But I wouldn’t say that’s all I’m doing. Like I said, two step garage, what else, a little bit techno. I like indie, too. It’s very mixed. Maybe you hear it, it’s mixed.
KALTBLUT: When you are songwriting do you hear a melody or are you freestyling over a beat?
Ace Tee: Sometimes it comes directly, sometimes it starts with gibberish, blah blah blah. It’s just a melody, catching melodies. Sometimes I just record things, something really random and you can replace it with a word. And you don’t think it could go that way and then it’s something completely different.
KALTBLUT: Do you produce as well?
Ace Tee: I produce as well, yeah. I record myself. I do everything by myself mostly.
KALTBLUT: Did you teach yourself?
Ace Tee: Yeah, but I went to university. But not for long, ‘cause I was bored. It’s honest. We were four people in the class. The other people were boring too. My teacher was ok, he was cool. But, I can look on Youtube and find all of this information, you’re giving me right now, in just a day. So, I stopped and started to focus on learning it myself because it came a target and then I’d like to check with everyone, “do you produce? let’s swap details”. If you are really at the beginning. People don’t really care. That’s really hard. Maybe that’s why I care more for people who are beginning, maybe. Because people always say, “Oh my god, I’d love to go to the studio with you and see what you do.” Then, it’s like I don’t have time, next time maybe. Then you do something and then they come to you. They’re like “come to my studio, let’s do something.” And I’m like “Mmmm I see you”.
KALTBLUT: Did that change…?
Ace Tee: Yeah that definitely changed. But I’m always a quiet person, so I just watch and keep it cool. And if it’s really negative… if it’s alright, then you’re not a bad person. I will still do it with you, why not.
KALTBLUT: What would you like people to know and expect from you in 2019?
Ace Tee: Truth. What I feel and what I think about and what my way and not to just brag and act like someone that I’m not because most people do that. And I don’t feel comfortable seeing that. The world has to know me. The world has to know my glam… [hair-flips her shoulder-length rhinestone earrings]. Can you write this down, that I flipped my earring?