PHOTO CREDIT: Garry Carbon
I am excited about the song Eyes on You…
and its creator, Kadija Kamara. The London-based songwriter explains her Alternative-Soul music and why she has a love of the 1960s and 1970s. Kamara talks about her influences and a residency at The Finsbury (London). She has won the MTV Iggy Artist of the Week poll and awarded PRS for Music Individual funding for her Artistic Development Programme. In addition; she curates a new showcase, LADY – highlighting great female artists within the underground and commercial scene.
I find out more about her upbringing and the new artists we should keep our eyes out on – and what future gigs there are.
Hi, Kadija. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m great, thank you! Busy days - but great stuff happening A.T.M.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
Well, hello there, new readers! My name is Kadjia Kamara and I love to sing.
On a more serious note: I am a singer/songwriter/composer/curator; working independently on my craft I call music - and other projects, like curating events and platforms for leading female musicians.
Born and bred in South London - but I love to travel and meet creatives across the globe. I would say my sound is Alternative-Soul - which is Soul fused with other sounds. A lot of my tracks are (mainly) guitar-based - but I love merging live instruments with electronic sounds.
I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with some amazing producers and hope to continue down this route.
Overall…huge lover of music.
Eyes on You is your latest track. Can you reveal what the story behind the song is?
The song is about love at first sight and (just) feeling that instant connection with someone. It isn’t about anyone in particular but just a familiar feeling we may have all felt at some point.
I started writing it with a simple guitar riff, then mumbled a few words with the melody. I felt the vibe was quite sexy - so I wanted to play with my tone and flow.
It seems like an uplifting, charged stormer. How did you feel hearing it back for the first time? What are your feelings about the finished product?
Ha! This track took a while to complete.
Although I had written the lyrics quite quickly - and the basic skeleton was easy to work out - we revisited the track a couple of times; adding additional elements like synth and drum layers.
Overall, it was a relief to finally have it completed but I was very happy with the finished product - even more so to release the track.
The video is colourful and fun! What was it like shooting it?
We had a lot of fun shooting the video...
I worked with a bunch of creative friends, so I felt very relaxed and could be myself. I enjoyed putting the storyboard together with Bunny Bread, and then, the styling with Geraldine (and makeup with Stacey).
It didn’t feel like work and time seemed to fly by so quickly. I love shoots when you don’t have to be too serious. I feel at this point I can be my most comfortable at which point we capture the best pics/footage.
Is there going to be more material before the end of the year? What plans do you have regarding an E.P., for instance?
Yes. Most certainly so.
It’s been a long time coming but there is an E.P. ready … I will be out before the end of this year (all will be revealed soon). The process can be quite slow as an independent artist - but I am happy I to have such a patient and supportive fanbase, friends and family.
PHOTO CREDIT: Garry Carbon
You describe your sound as ‘Alternative-Soul’. Which artists did you listening to as a youngster? Was Soul music a big part of your childhood?
Soul was a massive part of my life and childhood.
My parents collected vinyl; so I was always interested in Motown, Funk and Soul. I have a love for collecting vinyl myself now, too. Also, the way music was recorded back then…I love to record live with my band and capture the vibe in the studio with the musicians.
My parents played a lot of Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin; The O’Jays, Sister Sledge and, of course, M.J. (and much more).
In your career; you have won MTV Iggy Artist of the Week poll and been awarded PRS for Music Individual funding for your Artist Development Programme. How important and pivotal have these moments been?
I was very humbled by both: as a creative, you create music you feel represents you. You don’t know if people will understand you or even like what you do. But, then, you put it out into the world hoping for the best...
When you receive positive feedback and gain great acknowledgement - or are even rewarded for it - it motivates you even more. I feel they helped build my confidence and release some of the doubts I may have had about continuing with music.
I’m not going anyway just yet.
You recently curated a music night called LADY – showcasing female musicians within the underground and commercial scenes. Was this something you have been planning to do a long time? Do you feel female artists are afforded less attention than men?
The idea actually popped out of nowhere...
Other than music, I love to get involved with business plans and projects. At that particular time, I felt I wanted to create something of my own - other than just focusing on creating music as a singer-songwriter. I knew there were so many things I was great at - but hadn’t invested any time in making them work...mainly because my main focus was on me as a singer-songwriter.
I also wanted a regular gig for myself and band; to perform and grow; work on our live set and just do our thing. I don’t like the idea of chasing promoters asking for gigs: I have something of my own; in a place I was comfortable with.
I thought about the other things I do behind the scenes like managing; P.R. video editing; events management (plus more). Sometimes, these things are overlooked … I wanted to provide a platform for others like me.
So, I spoke to Chris (the promoter for Lost in the Manor) about my idea - and he was amazing enough to give me the platform on which to run the first night. We did the second night after that and I was offered a residency. Now, almost a year later, I’m having a festival for my event, LADY, at Pop Brixton. This includes a larger line-up consisting a nine-piece band and D.J.s. I can’t believe how quickly the brand has grown - I’m excited about what’s to come next! I’m so grateful for the opportunities...
London is your base. You have played The Finsbury many times. What does London mean to you - and is The Finsbury an important venue for you?
London is my hometown and ‘the hug’.
I have so many connections here in the music world (and personal life). I would find it difficult to live anywhere else.
I've played The Finsbury in the past and loved the vibe in there. It’s even better now since the refurbishment - the staff and promoters are all great. They are becoming part of my family.
IN THIS PHOTO: Joan Thiele
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
Artists I recommend you check out …oh gosh; are you ready for my Longlist?! L.o.L.
Ok. So, some of them are new bands - and others are quite established:
(...to name a few).
IN THIS PHOTO: Obenewa
What tour dates do you have approaching? Where can we see you play?
So. The festival I mentioned earlier is coming up this month…but here are all of my dates so far:
Tues 3rd Oct. - PopRevue Women in Music @ Freedom Bar Soho
Sun 15th Oct. - LADY Presents: LADY Festival @ Pop Brixton
20th Oct. - Loose Lips @ The Haunt
27th Nov. - LADY (residency) @ The Finsbury
It is coming up to Christmas (sort of!). Do you have any plans at the moment?
I usually spend the time with friends and family.
I love to have some downtime in Dec. - as most months in the year are quite hectic. Many Christmas dinners and drinks coming soon.
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Ah; that’s a difficult one…
Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On
Feel like we’re living this at the moment.
Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls
Just feeling every song on here.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced
I just love Hendrix. This album has many great tracks I rock out to.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Don’t give up!
It’s a difficult industry but try not to focus on the politics. Remember why you started in the first place and just enjoy the journey. Learn as you go along and, most importantly, be comfortable with the music you put out.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Ha, that was my first thought: my new single.
Ok. So, I recommend the following: Anderson .Paak - The Bird
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