It’s the hottest day of the year so far when Mz Bratt bounces into the air-conditioned photostudio for her Flavour cover shoot. While I just want to sit back and relax with a cold drink and a fan, her contagious youthful energy immediately infects the team and the usual buzz of a Flavour cover shoot ensues.
With 10 GCSEs under her belt, at 17, Mz Bratt may look like a typical teenager, but she exudes the contagious confidence and wisdom of someone far older. ‘I feel like I’m quite a mature person,’ she says, ‘there’s quite a lot of pressure on me at the moment, but I try not to think about it.’ Her music is described as electro-fused hip-hop and with her debut single Who Do You Think You Are? causing a storm at gigs and radio shows all over the country, Mz Bratt’s summer will be a far cry from that of a typical teenager’s, but what’s new? Her life hasn’t been normal since May 2007 when she was seen by millions of viewers on T4’s weekly show Music-Cool, where she reduced singer Jamelia to tears with her outstanding vocal ability when starring as the lead female.
Following this, the up-and-coming east Londoner toured the US and Europe with Shoreditch cool guys The Count & Sinden and has even recorded with Wiley, Tinchy Stryder and Grammy-nominated US starlet Jazmin Sullivan. With chart-toppers N-Dubz as her labelmates, it’s only a matter of time before she emulates their success. Now it’s time to find out how…
So when did it all begin?
I got into the music industry early; I started off writing lyrics when I was about thirteen. It was more poetry-kind-of-based lyrics and then it gradually adapted into lyrics throughout high school and then I entered an MC battle for which I was really unconfident, but all the lads put me forward for it and I won. When I was leaving school I sat down with a careers advisor and she made it clear that I could actually make a career out of music, so I took it seriously from there. I entered a MySpace competition which was for a new youth-orientated TV show called Music-Cool and that was my big break. I’ve signed a deal with Universal and All Around the World and have just released a single with them. So I’ve taken some big steps.
Yes, you have. Tell me about your single Who Do You Think You Are?
It has a funky electro 4×4 sound. It’s produced by Terror Danjah who’s a well-known underground producer. It’s a fun track taking the Mickey out of the way guys approach females and stuff. But on a serious note, it’s kind of approaching the fact that guys do need to have respect for females or otherwise they’ll get dismissed.
(Laughing) Sounds like the guy’s better watch out. Do you have a boyfriend at the moment?
I wish! No. I don’t think I need a boyfriend right now. I need to focus and if I had a boyfriend, you know that’s a commitment in itself, and I’d rather just fully commit to music. There’s always time later!
What’s your real name?
That’s an interesting name…
I don’t know what my Dad was thinking. I used to get bullied about my name when I was younger.
Do you like using it now – have you fully embraced it?!
Yeah I have, but I’m kind of used to Mz Bratt. It’s more catchy.
So does it mean Bratt by surname, Bratt by nature?
(Laughs) As a young child I was quite mischievous and cheeky and I used to cause a lot of trouble with my big sister. She used to bully me and I know it sounds bad, but she used to beat me up and stuff and as I got older I just started to get her into trouble like pretending that she was hitting me so that she would get into trouble. She was like: ‘Oh you’re a brat!’ so then she just gave me the name Bratt. It seems to have stuck.
What do your parents think about all your new-found attention?
My Mum, she’s just like a groupie! It’s mad! She’ll know about everything before I know it. She’s: ‘Oh yeah you were on MTV Base today; oh you was on 1xtra!’ I’m like ‘Oh thanks mum!’. My dad? He’s just so proud, he used to be a musician himself. He’s just like, you know, you’ve got to take the chance, and you only get the opportunity once. So they’re both really supportive and helpful.
Tell me about your dad…
His name was MC Scallywag and he used to be part of an underground movement called Spiral Tribe. They did acid house kind of music. And they used to play in the streets and did loads of walks and festivals and stuff. They had a huge following in the Eighties and he was the MC for them and they released quite a few tracks. They were originally signed to Kicking It Records. They did alright for themselves, but I think I’m going to do better than my Dad.
So in a perfect world what’s the future like for you?
I’d just like to be a successful artist with a great album out that my fans could appreciate. I’d love to be in the position where I could open doors for other artists, especially female ones as the scene is so male-dominated. I’d just like to inspire young people too cos’ you know, there’s a lot of mad stuff going on in the streets like knife crime. I’m just an ordinary person and if I can do it, I should be able to inspire others to pursue their dreams and aspirations as well. You have to motivate yourself not other people, so you just have to think about the dream you want and work hard for it and that keeps you focused and off the streets.
Mz Bratt’s single Who Do You Think You Are? Is out now on Universal/All Around the World
Words by Annika Allen, Photography by Azza Styling by Gemma Swan, Make up by Sophia Danielle, Hair by Sabrina Murrell
To see the full gallery from the flavour shoot click here