Swaray, who has lately been working a closely shorn do, keeps things breezy on her as-yet-untitled follow-up album, which will hit shelves before the end of the year. While 2008’s “Shine” was about “a bunch of pent-up anger at boys,” her upcoming release was inspired by “the experience of moving from London to New York….Crazy girls, crazy guys, crazy living situations — just having to adjust.” Pop and dance music, genres Swaray had not thought about dabbling in before, also influenced her sound. “That’s a whole new world that opened up to me,” she says of club-thumping anthems. “I’ve got four dance records on the new album — like, good dance records, not dance as in the Jennifer Lopez phenomenon.”
It’s a group effort, to say the least. Swaray has been clocking long hours in the studio, collaborating on tracks with diverse types — French DJ David Guetta, Guns N’ Roses’ guitarist Slash, up-and-comer Kid Sister — and working with hit-makers such as Swizz Beatz, Will.i.am and Wyclef Jean. (Given as she is to odd-couple pairings, Swaray describes the vibe as “if Marvin Gaye and Coldplay were to be born in the rave scene.”) However, she’s not itching for a Kanye West rematch. “I’ve always been an artist on my own, but since I’ve been [in America], people kind of associate me with him,” Swaray says. “So I’m thinking the smart thing to do would be to not do something with him. Maybe I’ll get him on a remix.”
Swaray is much less hesitant when it comes to corporate and fashion matchmaking. In the last year, she worked with British shoe designer Jonathan Kelsey on the design of a handbag called the Belvie for Belvedere Vodka; she created a T-shirt and posed for H&M’s Fashion Against AIDS campaign, and hawked — exclusive song and all — Kraft Food’s Crystal Light drink powder. And just last month, Rachel Roy revealed via Twitter that she and the singer are collaborating on a jewelry line for Rachel Rachel Roy, set to debut for spring.
As much as Swaray loves her Stateside life (which includes a boyfriend of about a year — an American boy, natch) she does have one gripe concerning a fellow U.K. export: Topshop. “It’s really, really, really packed,” she says of the store’s New York outpost. “It’s just like, you know your heart is in one place and, for me, I walked into [the SoHo store] and I was like, no, this isn’t my home. I don’t like it. I’m gonna go.” Fast-fashion issues aside, Swaray is looking forward to her future in America. “Even though I still have something to say,” she says, pausing, “I don’t have to push as hard or force myself through anymore. I’ve still got some work to do, but now it’s on my terms, you know?”
STYLED BY MAYTE ALLENDE; HAIR BY DICKEY/HAIR RULES; MAKEUP BY AJ CRIMSON FOR KISSABLE COUTURE; FASHION ASSISTANT: JENNIFER BLITZER