In this Rob Walker-directed video for Ikonika’s “Mr Cake,” a woman jumps into a lipstick-red convertible, drives through a city filled with palm trees and luxury hotels, does an erotic dance at a strip club and pickpockets the keys to some dude’s private jet. It feels sort of like an episode out of some Miami Vice-style crime drama, but there’s also a subtle message of female empowerment, and the whole thing occurs through the guise of a video-game simulacrum of life, replete with 10-up icons and vintage, pre-Second Life aesthetics. It feels like a natural extension of the London DJ and producer’s dual fascination with airports and gaming, but it’s also an appropriately summery accompaniment to the track, with its euphoric arcade synths and snappy funk bass. Ahead of her new LP, Aerotropolis, which is out July 30th via Hyperdub, Ikonika took some time out of her busy touring schedule to answer a few questions about the the album and the video.
“Mr Cake” is a funny title for a song. Where did it come from? I saw it in a shop one day, but I didn’t buy it. It was a small cake at the counter in a shop in Nunhead. It looked shit.
And how would you describe an Aerotropolis? It’s basically an airport city. It not only exists as an airport. It extends to its surrounding areas, consisting of commuter links, businesses and residential areas. This is the main video from my album Aerotropolis. It represents escapism from a holidaymaker’s perspective and ties in with the video game theme from my last album [2010's Contact, Love, Want, Have, on Hyperdub]. It’s connecting the dots, while it progresses into themes of aviation.
What is it about flying that attracts you? Does it have something to do with your work as a DJ? Yes I fly out to DJ. Airports have always been in my life. My first job was in Heathrow and all my family members have worked there at one point—my mum still does. I just can’t escape them.
I definitely hear an old school game music influence coming through on the track. What’s interesting to you about incorporating those sorts of sounds into your music? I think it’s slowly moving away from that now, although the video makes it explicit because it pays homage to GTA and Outrun. The dialogues are also in emoji so it’s brought up to date with new technology and newer forms of games, particularly games for mobile devices. Games where you make in-app purchases. Think Sims Freeplay or Line Play. [I play a lot of games on my phone], particularly while flying. I can’t work on planes, I can’t catch up on emails or work on music. I prefer to be entertained, so I’ll play things like Street Fighter, GTA and Bejewelled.
What’s the story behind the video? What makes it a good accompaniment to the track? The track is on a summer vibe so the video had to be in that vein. It’s about feeling good, whether you’re a cyborg or human. We all want to be happy and independent and make cool choices, particularly spontaneous ones.