Any artist who hails from the Christiania area of Copenhagen is likely to be worth paying attention to. It's the city's bohemian district, with a liberal outlook on marijuana and a consistently lively punk scene.

Mercedes is the area's latest export, and arrives with a fascinatingly diverse musical upbringing. Her mother's friends introduced her to the likes of Beastie Boys and Public Enemy at a young age, and she went on to idolise the decidedly odd couple of Lauryn Hill and Ol' Dirty Bastard during her formative years, although Wyclef Jean himself was convinced she had more in common with Nina Simone.

Currently working with a host of chart-friendly producers, Mercedes' debut single, 'Live in the Speaker', dropped last month. We caught up with her to talk early influences, her move to London and her debut record...

What are your earliest memories of listening to music?

I think my earliest memory was dancing around, as a mini hippie in my bedroom, to the sounds of some old sixties acts - The Mamas and the Papas and Jefferson Airplane both spring to mind.

When did you realise you wanted to pursue music professionally?

It was actually in my first ever studio session, which was with Alex James, from Blur. It was the first time I had ever actually tried writing a song and I remember how I was just gripped with this feeling of, "this is it! This is what I'm gonna do!"

Who do you consider your greatest influences?

A big one is Roxanne Shanté; she's one of the great pioneers of hip-hop and one of the first women to really blaze a trail in that genre. I love Salt 'n' Pepa, Beastie Boys and Neneh Cherry too.

How did growing up in Copenhagen influence your sound?

The Music scene is very eclectic, and the live scene is fantastic. There were loads of really cool acts that came to perform right in the thick of where I grew up, so as a kid I got to see the likes of The Fugees, Massive Attack, Beastie Boys, Metallica, Ol' Dirty Bastard and so many more. All of those shows rubbed off on me in one way or another.

How did you end up in London? How has the city shaped you musically?

Copenhagen is quite small, so I needed to go somewhere bigger to expand my sound. London was the obvious place, the nearest major musical city. It's shaped me in that it just has so many amazingly talented producers. I've been lucky enough to work with some of the very best so far.

Could you tell us a little bit about your songwriting process?

It varies a lot, but I'm constantly coming up with new ideas, and new lines here and there. I also put down melodies on my phone whenever something pops into my head. Then, when I'm in the studio I will try and piece it all together. Other times I'll hear a cool beat and I'll just riff off of that and write the song there and then, before taking it to a producer who can do their thing around what I've laid down.

What would be your dream collaboration?

It'd have to be Slick Rick, the master of all things smooth.

Which one song do you wish you'd written?

'Super Freak' by Rick James.

Do you prefer the studio or live performance?

Definitely prefer live performance. There's no substitute for the interaction with the crowd.

What are your plans for the immediate future? Is there an album in the pipeline?

Yep, I'm working on my album right now. It's currently just a case of sorting out which tracks are going to be the lead singles. There's some really exciting collaborations on there.


Mercedes' debut single, 'Live in the Speaker', is out now. You can find out more about her by heading here.