What is your name/stage name?
My given name is Christel South and my stage name is Empress Kush. I previously
released some music as Christel South.
Where are you from?
I grew up in a suburb called La Crescenta, north of Los Angeles.
What do you do?
Mainly I sing and rap, I used to produce my own music but I’ve been
working with Darren Vegas since 2018 and he took my sound to the
next level. However I do plan to start producing again at some point.
How long have you been making music?
I’ve basically been singing my entire life and rapping since the early
2000’s. I wrote my first piano piece at age 4, had a joke/parody band
called Compost at age 10 or 11 (inspired by my then-favorite band,
Garbage, and the parody king Weird Al), started writing a lot of
songs during high school, and after high school I would play
piano and sing at bars and clubs in the Los Angeles area. The
music I played back then was never released; most songs were
never even recorded, and most of my early music was lost in
a tragic hard drive crash! However, there are a few live
performance videos on Youtube.com/christelsouth.
I started producing in 2009 and put out a joke rap song & music video
called “Holla 818” on YouTube, and kept going from there! I’ve always
loved including humor in my songs and videos, and put out a couple
more funny songs/videos on my Christel South page before getting
more serious about it as I continued developing my craft. I
reintroduced myself as Empress Kush in 2014 with the release
of “We Smoke The Blunts”, a self-produced stoner anthem, and
a comedic blunt-rolling tutorial on Youtube.com/empresskushofficial.
The next few years were tumultuous to say the least, as I transitioned from
one abusive relationship into another and battled drug addiction. My self-
produced song “High and Dry” (2018) contemplates my experiences with
addiction (I am clean now, thankfully). After that, I forged ahead
with Darren Vegas as my new producer, determined to fulfill my
destiny. Although I have faced a multitude of obstacles along
the way, I promised myself that I would never give up no matter
how long it takes for me to become successful.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is for sure Elon Musk. The ripple effect of his energy
intersected with mine recently and catalyzed a remarkable transformation.
Despite my pledge to keep going no matter what, I was actually about to give up
on music towards the end of 2021. After years of frustration and disappointment,
I thought maybe I was wrong about music being my destiny or I was just too much
of a f*ckup and had squandered my potential.
However, I had also been watching videos of billionaire habits, as I was looking
to become a new, better version of myself. Naturally, Elon Musk was heavily
featured in these videos, and his energy resonated strongly with me. Even
when he would talk about concepts with which I was already familiar,
something about the way he communicates helped me see things in a
new way. My perception of myself and my past failures changed.
Not only that, my perception of future possibilities expanded.
Three Elon Musk quotes in particular have had a weighty impact
on my mindset:
“Most people will panic to find a charger before their phone dies,
but won’t panic to find a plan before their dream dies.”
“When something is important enough you do it, even
if the odds are not in your favor.”
The last quote is actually lyrics from a song that Elon Musk put out a
couple of years ago, titled “Don’t Doubt Ur Vibe”, which I discovered
as I became fascinated with his character and achievements:
“Don’t doubt your vibe, because it’s you”.
This simple message sounded cheesy to me at first, but ended up having the most profound
impact of all. It made me realize that I had been doubting the validity of my own essence,
which made me afraid to fully express myself. As I let that go and embraced my true self,
it awakened something in me and stoked a blazing fire in my spirit where before there had
been only dying embers.
Simultaneously, through watching countless hours of Elon Musk videos, I developed a bit
of a crush on him. I wrote the most ridiculous song I’ve ever written about it (listener
discretion advised — it’s called “I Just Wanna F*** Elon Musk”). Then I wrote another
song. And another one. And another one. And it turned into a whole album I’m calling
it “Celebrity Crush” which will be out in early 2023.
So when I say Elon Musk is my biggest inspiration, I mean it!
What genre of music do you create?
The music I have been releasing in the past several years is mostly rap/hip-hop, however, on my upcoming album “Celebrity Crush” there is a range from rap to funk and electronic pop vibes. I’ve been singing better lately, and I do a lot more singing on this album than I have on past releases — there are even a couple of songs with no rapping at all. So I would classify the album as pop overall. My earliest works were more bluesy and influenced by jazz, pop, and my love of Christina Aguilera’s style.
What are some features you have?
In 2018 I was featured on a song called “You And I” with a rapper called Motor Mouth, who I met through Darren.
What was it like working with Motor Mouth?
We had a lot of fun writing “You And I”. The chorus sounds like it’s a love song,
but it’s actually about when love goes bad and you end up hating each other.
We go back and forth line by line and it’s a really fun song.
What are some features you want to get?
I would love to work with Eminem, since I learned to rap by studying his flow.
Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Saweetie, and Doja Cat would all be dope to
collab with. Also my old school favorites — Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Lil Kim…
And then on the pop side there’s Lady Gaga, Britney Spears,
Miley Cyrus… I could keep going!
Who’s one person, dead or alive, that you’d want to work with?
Out of all the artists I want to work with, Eminem is for sure my #1. But if
you’re talking lifelong goals, not just restricted to music, I actually have
way bigger plans for what I want to put my music money towards:
Developing a network of solar, hemp, food and natural medicine
farms that will produce and provide all basic life necessities to
member-employees and sell the surplus for profits which will
be shared among all member-employees. There is much more
to my plan too, the farms are just stage one and this is a very
concise summary of the concept. And if there is anyone in the
world who can organize a massive initiative like what I have
in mind, it’s Elon Musk. If I had the opportunity to work
with him or be mentored by him on leaving a legacy of
improving both internal and external living conditions
for as many people as possible, it would be
the pinnacle of my life.
Are you signed to a label?
I am not currently signed to a label.
Do you want a record deal, a distribution deal, or none?
It depends entirely on the terms of the agreement.
Who are your biggest supporters?
My biggest supporters are my most loyal & enthusiastic fans, for whom I am very grateful!
And my producer Darren, who worked with some of the biggest rappers of all time when he
was at Death Row Records – to have his vote of confidence means A LOT.
Where did your name come from?
Empress Kush was originally a character I came up with for the music video of a funny rap song called “OH NO, THE 5-0’s COMIN!” that I put out on Youtube back in 2010. I decided to start using it as my stage name when I released “We Smoke The Blunts” in 2014.
What are you currently working on?
All of the time and energy I have available is going into writing and
recording my upcoming album “Celebrity Crush”, which I referenced
earlier; and everything else that happens behind the scenes
building a music career as an independent artist.
What is your latest release?
“Not Your Type” is a West Coast style rap song that touches on some of the
struggles I’ve been through & how I tried to hide parts of myself to fit a
certain image that I thought I had to portray, compared to just being my
real authentic self. I wrote it as I was simultaneously processing
heartbreak from my last attempt at romantic connection, and
fantasizing about my celebrity crush
who is so far out of my league.
This song was recorded in one take on no sleep after an all-night session
writing and practicing; just a couple of days after we had busted out
“I Just Wanna F*** Elon Musk”, the song that started it all. Darren
had just gotten home from being out of town with his family, and
was exhausted and in a bad mood. But when I sent him a video of
me performing what I had written overnight, Darren got fired up
to make music and had me come down to the studio immediately
to record the song.
When is your next release?
My next single “N.D.A.” will be out in July.