Photography: Jacob Davenport @jacobdavs Design: Elliott Harosh @leftyvisuals

Embodying an historical Chinese empress and recontextualising the Silk Road, Queen Yue is here to turn heads on the UK drill scene.

QUEEN YUE has a clear goal: to make her mark on the UK drill scene, and be the first scouse female to do so.

Yue’s inspirations lean heavily on Chinese history and philosophy, referencing an age and dynasty where equality was at the forefront of culture. “Through my music I’m going back in time to explore the characters on the Silk Roads during the reign of the Wu Zetian, China’s first female ruler and empress in 700AD,” she explains. “Wu Zetian [presided over] a time in China where females were equal to men,” she adds. Drawing on this inspiration, Yue is attempting to embody this historical context in her own journey into drill, challenging the societal norms of the male-dominated genre.

Extending these themes further in her music, an upcoming EP centres on the Silk Road initiative from China and Europe, and how the historical circumstances remain relevant today. Her debut single, Silky Robes, explores how it would feel to be a merchant on the Silk Road “and how this is alludes to the selling of drugs and tales of violence that we experience through drill personas in today’s music”. Silky Robes zeros in on those working as contemporary ‘merchants’, while still remaining focused on her fight for gender equality. The single mixes drill sensibilities with Sino instrumentation, topped with a defining Scouse vocal delivery.

“I’m challenging gender equality in today’s music industry by entering into a male-dominated genre of drill”

While the influences of Chinese history and culture play a pivotal role in her music, Queen Yue’s influences don’t stop there. She cites Sean Paul and Talk Talk as early influences, being some of the first singles and albums she ever owned. However, Gwen Stefani is marked out as the significant driving force in her early years. While Stefani remained a musical influence, she also influenced Yue in terms of visual identity. Gwen Stefani’s Love. Angel. Music. Baby. was named after her Japanese back-up dancers, chosen due to her own love of Harajuku and fashion. Yue recognises the influence this had on her own identity, now reflected in her chosen stage persona – an ode to her love of Chinese culture and fashion. It’s an alluring combination, both in the historical context that props up the persona and how Yue executes it as an artist.

Her love of music was apparent from an early age, and her determination to succeed in the industry remains paramount. She acknowledges how creating music enables her to further explore identity. “It allows you to access experiences to act out your desired identity and it’s a great cathartic release when you’re actively creating music,” she notes. Yue’s admiration for music looks past the usual reasonings, however, explaining how it enables her to practice self-love, while enhancing confidence and self-esteem, allowing us to see how music isn’t just a getaway to success and attention. Yet, just like every other artist she has her individual dreams for her career. She notes desires to eventually support local hip-hop artists such as Lee Scott or Tony Broke, but “on a worldwide scale I’d just love to support Slime Dollaz, Yung Nudy or Young Thug”, she adds.

As she continues to make waves in the drill scene, unfazed by any mainstream expectations, Queen Yue has her eyes set on making it big, all the while knocking down any gender barriers that stand in her way. With her unique identity, determined attitude and signature sound – “a slimey mix of UK drill, trap, trillwave and cloud rap” – it appears Queen Yue’s found her forte.

@queenyue_

Silky Robes and Dojo are available now.

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