ABOVE: NEON HITCH. PHOTO COURTESY OF SHERYL NIELDS
British singer-songwriter Neon Hitch’s life has been about as normal as her name would suggest. “The day I was born, my house burnt down; the day I left home, the Twin Towers burnt down; and I lived in a jungle in India at 15,” she says. “I have done my fair share of traveling, that’s for sure.” No kidding—she spent the majority of her younger years as a gypsy, circling the globe (and living in a bus) with her mom and sister as a street performer and trapeze artist, while her lighting-artist dad toured with the likes of David Bowie, Duran Duran, and Annie Lennox. “I was always a bit of a showgirl; it was in my blood (and my name),” she confesses. “I never thought I would have a career as a singer, though.”
In December, Hitch took the stage at Madison Square Garden with Gym Class Heroes—quite a coup for any musician—but the road to that sacred stage was not an easy one. After the label she was signed with, The Beats Recordings, shut down in 2007, things started to fall apart for the songstress. Hitch found herself homeless, until her “long-lost sister” Amy Winehouse took her in. In a moment of luck, Benny Blanco’s manager James Johnson messaged her on MySpace when he liked what he heard. Cut to today, and her future is looking neon bright. She’s signed a recording deal and her catchy debut album (Beg, Borrow, and Steal), produced by Blanco (who has also worked with pop princesses Britney Spears, Ke$ha, and Katy Perry), is due out late this summer. She co-wrote “Blah Blah Blah” with Ke$ha for her No. 1 album Animal and has also worked with Miike Snow, Sky Ferreira, and Mike Posner. Currently, she’s touring with Gym Class Heroes, singing their iTunes chart-topping single, “Ass Back Home.” Today, her single “Fuck U Betta” [below] hits the pop radio airwaves. We caught up with the sassy Brit over the phone to hear about living with Winehouse (Hitch now has an “Amy” tattoo on her finger as a tribute), opening for 50 Cent, and whom she would like to collaborate with next.
NAME: Neon Hitch
HOMETOWN: New York City (currently)
THAT NAME!: Yes, it’s my real name. I had to pull out my passport twice today to prove it. My parents are very into psychedelia. My dad is a lighting technician, so I think that’s a big part of it. He was driving through Piccadilly Circus – it’s like a shit version of Times Square – and he saw that lights and he decided that was it, Neon should be my name. I spent my whole childhood hating my parents for giving me such a weird name but at last, it works.
EARLY MUSICAL MEMORIES: You know Ken (of Ken and Barbie)? Well, he came out with a cassette, and I remember listening to it and crying cause I had such a big crush on Ken. I had to have been about 3 years old – this is so embarrassing.
ON HER SOUND: I would describe it as tribal pop. It kind of has that warrior element, with emotion and strength. It tells everything I have been through to get here, but turns me into a fighter.
STARTING OUT: I was touring with my friend at the time, and our first major gig was opening for 50 Cent at the Nottingham Arena in England. That was fantastic – I had so many amazing opportunities before I got signed. It should have been scary, but it wasn’t. I actually am a lot more comfortable in front of big crowds. I just did Madison Square Garden with Gym Class Heroes, and I thought I would be terrified, but I feel very normal on a big stage. It’s like my second home. We just did the Super Bowl and we are doing the All-Star NBA show. I don’t know anything about out sports. It’s kind of embarrassing… I should probably brush up. I do know that the players are pretty hot, so that’s cool.
WORKING WITH KE$HA: When we first met, she had feathers in her hair and all this crazy jingle-jangle stuff, and I had on like the same thing. We just looked at each other and we just clicked. The first time I really realized my music career was working was right after I wrote “Blah Blah Blah” with her and heard it on the radio. See that go worldwide, it was crazy.
ON LIVING WITH WINEHOUSE: She was like a big sister to me. One night I ran into her at a party, and I was homeless at the time. I told her I was doing shitty, and she said, “What do you mean, you’re homeless? Get in the car, you are staying with me.” She took me in and put a roof over my head. She helped me get my shit together before coming to New York. I owe her a lot for that. I am absolutely devastated about what happened. Her spirit will live on forever.
ON HER NEW ALBUM: Yeah, it’s out late summer. Right now I am promoting the Gym Class Heroes song and doing radio promos for next week; I have lots of shows coming up next and my goal this year is just getting out there and performing.
DREAM COLLABORATION: I would love to collaborate with Nicki Minaj, I think we would do something really amazing together. There are lots of people I would like to work with but I can’t anymore, like John Lennon. Sadly, I missed that opportunity.
WHAT WOULD PEOPLE BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT YOU? There is a lot you don’t know about me-a lot. I have definitely lived, that’s for sure. I will just leave it at that.
FOR MORE ON NEON HITCH, VISIT HER WEBSITE.