It’s hard to talk about Eva Simons without mentioning her hair. That towering mohawk is as big as her voice, which guests on will.i.am’s single “This Is Love” and comes to the Identity Festival on July 20 in Pontiac. With Simons’ debut due this fall, the Dutch up-and-comer chatted about her recent Pride gig, how gay people influence her … and the hair, of course.
How much hairspray do you go through?
A lot! You know how they say you can’t bring flammable things on the plane? I think those things are flammable but I have to bring them, otherwise I can’t do my hair. I sometimes feel like – is that legal? I don’t know! But I need it. I need my European hairspray. It’s very important.
How tall is your hair?
Eight inches. My brother was measuring it the other day. He wanted to know.
That’s bigger than the average penis.
(Laughs) Oh my god, is it really? Well, good to know. I’m huge!
How aware are you of your gay fan base?
I wasn’t aware until I performed at gay Pride in New York recently. That was when I was aware; they gave me so much love.
Is that the first time you received that kind of reception from a gay audience?
I mean, I always have! Ever since my first record, “Silly Boy,” they really believed in me. It’s always nice when people get you, especially in the gay community where they are so much about people being misunderstood. I totally understand that.
You used to go to gay clubs when your mom, who’s also a singer, used to perform at them. What do you remember?
I was just mesmerized by them. They were always so original and ahead of the game with the creativity. That always inspired me to always think ahead. I don’t want to be old news with my music; I want to be current and fresh so people can relate. And the freedom! Sometimes life can feel like a closet.
Have you ever come out of the closet, so to speak?
Yeah, especially before I did my hair. When I did my hair I was like, “Yes! I’m free.” And everybody’s gonna have an opinion about it, and I don’t care.
One of your biggest influences is Madonna. What kind of influence has she had on your music?
Madonna is Madonna. It’s just there. It’s Madonna. I think everybody has been influenced by her. She’s just amazing. She’s so professional, beautiful and I really like her voice. People can say whatever they want to say but I really enjoy listening to her. She is a go-getter and that’s inspiring.
Is there a song of hers that changed your life?
“Secret.” She showed a different side of her when she did that song. I like that she can do anything but she’s still her.
What kind of effect do you hope to have on pop music?
I don’t know if I want to have an effect on it. I just know that I want to have a good time, I want to be happy and I want to share that. I want to share happiness and I want to make something people can relate to.
What’s the word on your debut album?
I’m finalizing it now and I really hope that we can release it in September. It’s unfiltered, on real subjects. It’s gonna be me and you really have to be into my sound to like it, of course. If you’re into “I Don’t Like You” and “Renegade,” you’re going to really like this album.
How would you describe yourself?
I have a big mouth, I am very energetic and I’m very positive. To me, that’s just what everybody should be like – be free, be positive. And just fucking enjoy yourself. Stop complaining!
What’re some of your vices?
I like chocolate, but who doesn’t? So that’s boring. I like to keep my shoes neat. I brush them. Is that weird? I like everything neat. On tour, it’s horrible: Sometimes you have to have a shirt and you can’t wash it till next week – but I want to wash it! I will find a washing machine to wash my stuff. I love things to be clean and neat. It keeps me still inside. It’s like meditation.
I eat all the flesh next to my nails. Not till they bleed, but it’s still really horrible. And I can’t shut up. When other people talk, I’ll talk through them. I’m very about my music so some people call that selfish; I just call that dedication.
Finish this sentence: If it weren’t for music, I’d be…
I would be dead. I’d probably be dead. It speaks to the soul, man. There would be nothing without music – no birds singing, nothing. It would be really weird. The world would be very cold.
If you were gay, who would you be gay for?
(Laughs) I would be gay for… oh, man. Let’s see. I think that everybody picks Angelina Jolie. Boring, boring. But she’s a very pretty woman!
Craziest thing you can do with your body?
I can move my back like a snake. I can pull it all the way up. Apparently when we were all babies my grandma stretched us immensely and now we’re all super stretchy and bendy. Putting my feet in the back of my neck is easy for me.
If you could have written any song in pop music history, which would you choose?
All the songs from Queen, all the songs of Michael Jackson, all the songs of Chaka Khan. (Laughs)
You’d be, like, 80.
Yeah, I know. And I would have a lot of publishing rights!
Featuring Eva Simons
2 p.m. July 20
Elektricity Festival Grounds
10 Water St., Pontiac