Pursuing your dreams takes a lot of energy, commitment, and, let’s face it, guts. Trying to grasp what others tell you is outside of reach can be an intimidating, exhausting, but also an empowering process. Work hard to play even harder. It’s a tale as old as time, and one that Hamburg-born Eunique is very familiar with. With her debut full length still in the works, the 22-year old star-on-the-rise has had no trouble making a name for herself in a crowded space of aspiring young artists. Her ever-expanding catalogue of top notch single-releases and her YouTube reality show “Becoming Eunique” have helped the rapper establish a style that is successful in- and outside of her native Germany.
But don’t be mistaken. Despite her dauntless attitude, bubbly personality and fierce spits, Eunique, too, takes breaks from time to time to unwind from the hassle that comes with conquering the music industry. What do these breaks look like, you ask? She runs. In celebration of NIKE’s newly introduced EPIC REACT FLYKNIT—available at nike.com—we sat down to talk to the exciting newcomer about making it into the business, finding inner peace through athletics, and why taking risks always pays off.
How did you get into music? And why has rap, in particular, become your method of artistic expression?
From a very young age, music has always accompanied me. Initially, I think it was due to my mom and her very eclectic taste in music that she’d share with me on a daily basis. When I was seven, I was gifted my very first keyboard and started taking piano lessons for a total of 8 years, and I was a member of our school choir. But I never considered myself to be a musician in the typical sense of the word. I’m a performer. I had this urge to do my own thing, something that hadn’t been done before, something I didn’t have to cover but, instead, created myself. So, that’s when I started freestyling. I’d record myself in the mirror and practice regularly. I never wanted to be one of those people to just hop on stage in a bomber jacket and a pair of jeans, shouting at my audience. I want to express myself on every level. I want to entertain people and feel good about myself while doing so.
What gets you going? Who and/or what inspires you creatively?
I’ve never really had an idol or person in music whom I’ve looked up to. Nor have I had a specific genre that I felt overly attached to or inspired by. I try not to reduce myself in terms of what I contribute to my sound. I find inspiration in all art forms, artists and situations, regardless of their stylistic or emotional origin. Anything that touches or moves me has a chance at somehow being translated into my music. In general, I’d say that I feel more comfortable communicating through music than through speech. It feels more natural, easier even. Melodies best convey my emotions and help me work through whatever it is I’m feeling at that moment.
What kind of emotions? Is there a particular mood you feel most comfortable or at ease in while writing?
I’d definitely consider pain to be one of the most effective fuels for inspiring creative output. Not just for me, but probably for most singer-songwriters. Pain is something we learn from. It teaches us to be more cautious in the future. To suffer from emotional pain is to learn a lesson. My father died when I was quite young, so I had a relatively advanced understanding of the fine line that separates life from death. This helped me cope with, well, reality and, in a way, put me ahead of others my age. At the same time, though, it’s what fed my interest in escapism and, thus, nurtured my imagination and sense of phantasy.
You’re obviously very athletic. And, to many, being physically active is also a form of escapism, a method of stripping away negative energy. In your opinion, how do music and sports correspond with each other?
As I see it, the two go hand in hand. Always have, always will. In school, too, those were my favorite courses. I always felt most at peace with myself while taking part in music or sports. A friend of mine once challenged me to imitate Twista during my runs. It was supposed to help me practice the speed of my bars, but also improve my sensibilities for rhythm and regulate my breathing. By now, I do my own verses. To me, going out for a run is not just a measure of fitness, but it has since become part of my rehearsals. I basically prepare for shows whilst jogging through a park.
In that case, what do you do to really free your mind?
Well, even though the two constantly intertwine in my private and professional life, I still indulge in physical activity to recover from the stress that comes with working in the music industry. I used to have trouble sleeping, with my head constantly spinning over what was to happen next, obsessing over what tomorrow had in store. But eventually, you learn to separate these things. Sports—dance, in particular—have become vital to my creative process. But that doesn’t mean I can’t also enjoy the cathartic effects of sports that help me liberate myself from everyday-struggles. There’s nothing quite like running towards the horizon, simply letting your mind and body take flight without having to worry about what’s next. Even if it’s just for a few minutes.
What other scenarios have required you to “simply take flight”? To risk it all, regardless of consequences?
One of those key-moments would have to be when I first came to Berlin for what I thought would only be a weekend trip. I had just finished school, fulfilled my duties, and headed straight to the recording studio. In my mind, I was never going to succeed at anything if I kept playing it safe. It was one of those all-or-nothing-situations. How was I supposed to commit 100% to achieving my goals if I kept holding on to backup plans? I had to go all-in. I feel as though that’s the only way to really get what you want.
They say the first step is always the hardest. Similar to the US and UK, the German Hip Hop scene is rather male dominated and, in part, underlies problematic hierarchies. Have you come across any difficulties? Did people initially underestimate or label you in any way?
In all honesty, I just try and ignore all of that. I try to not let that kind of negativity get the best of me. All I want to do is be an artist, I want to write and perform my music to people who enjoy it. Being an artist is being an artist. Whether you’re male or female shouldn’t have anything to do with your craft. Obviously, I’ve been confronted with haters who tried to use my gender, sexuality and appearance against me, badmouthing what I did because of who I am. But from the get-go I refused to make space for this type of discrimination. Who knows? If I was not the person I am, if I’d always been more sensitive and had given in to the bad things people had to say, maybe I’d perceive it all differently. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome constructive criticism. But anything else is not worth my time. I don’t let it bother me. But even if it did, I’d use those feelings to channel them into my music.
Amongst many other things, I’d assume your attitude concerning things like this is what your fans love about you. Young women, in particular, admire you and your art. Do you have a piece of advice, anything you’d like to share with them?
One of the biggest challenges for me—and pretty much every other human being—is the act of selflove. To love, respect, and appreciate yourself is not an easy task to complete. It’s an ongoing process and something I think about every single day. I don’t want to be anyone’s role model, though. As a matter of fact, I want to encourage others to not have any role models at all. We don’t need to chase after ideals. I want to inspire people to the point where they feel like they’re their own role models.
Last but not least, I’d like to know how you want to leave your mark? What is something you’d like to accomplish that, looking back, you’d be proud of?
I have a lot to prove to people, or better, a lot of people I want to prove something to. Not because I feel insecure or in search of validation. I want to prove to people that chasing after your dreams is nothing to be ashamed of. I want us to collectively reembrace our confidence, reignite our passion for whatever we feel passionate about. I want us to reach for the stars again. I’ve had so many people laugh at me for stating “I want to be a star!”. But there’s nothing to be ashamed of. How is there anything wrong with wanting something and working hard to get it? No matter how far away it may seem. The only thing standing in our way is us ourselves. Also, I want people to understand that the journey is just as important as the destination. So, if I could get people motivated and somehow change their perspective for the better, that’d be great.
Photography JAN KAPITÄN
Styling CLAUDIA ENGLMANN, JOSHUA SENGESPEICK
Eunique wears NIKE and KAVIAR GAUCHE