SOME musicians do what they need to do…
to get by and survive – without much extra effort and innovation. Kadija Kamara goes out of her way to make the music world better and shine a light on those deserving. I speak to her about her project, LADY, and details of her new E.P., Nothing Left to Lose; what themes/stories go into the music; whether there are any tour dates coming up – and whether the variegated moods of the E.P. come from an eclectic musical upbringing.
Kamara discusses her upbringing and whether (being unsigned) she is looking for a deal; whether she has fond memories from her time in music; some new artists we should get out ears around; three albums that mean a lot to her – she provides some advice to upcoming artists.
Hi, Kadija. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m great, thanks. Just recovering from a cold - but as right as rain again (smiles).
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hi there, new readers and listeners...
My name is Kadija Kamara; that girl-next-door who love music, singing, writing songs and performing them. I’m quite funny at times (so my friends say) and, overall, quite easy-going to be around.
I have a love, in particular, for old Soul music but love modern music, too. I work to reflect these sounds through my music, which I call ‘Alternative-Soul’.
Nothing Left to Lose is your new E.P. What themes and ideas inspired the songs on the E.P.?
Each song follows a different mood and emotion. They were all written at different times and for different reasons.
Nothing Left to Lose is about the struggles of life and finding the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not based on anyone in particular - but based on two different scenarios.
Running in the Name of the Game is about keeping up with the rat-race.
Eyes on You is about spotting someone you fancy when out and the thoughts that pulsate through your head. This was written with the bass line and the mood just felt sexy at the time. L.o.L.
Like You is more delicate and intimate. It’s about trusting to love again when you meet someone worthy: putting all bad experiences behind and having that conversation with that someone about how you feel. I just felt like I needed to express this emotion in a song.
There is a range of sounds and moods on Nothing Left to Lose. Does that reflect your upbringing and musical tastes?
Oh, yes, certainly. I’m very big on grand music arrangements and instruments; I feel it brings a great deal of energy, which I generally have a lot of. I love guitar riffs and have a love for Soul-Rock. I wrote this song whilst listening to a lot of Jimi Hendrix (who I adore). You just feel the emotion in his songs through his guitars; the dynamics are great.
Is there a track for you that stands out? To me, Eyes on You stands out and it seems the most instant song...
I like all of the songs, for different reasons, as they show different emotions. Eyes on You is very playful and, I guess, I haven’t shown that side of my music before. It would be hard to pick one of the four.
I know you are unsigned at the moment. Do you think label/management backing would bring your music to a wider audience? Is that a goal for this year?
Support and backing from other areas always help, but this really depends on the type of team you have around you. If they understand your music and creative journey, I think it’s very important.
I welcome all opportunities with open arms.
You recently curated a music showcase, LADY. What was the reason for setting that up? What was the reaction like from the audience?
I woke up one morning and thought I’d love to put on a show of my own…start something fresh and original. I thought about the amount of work I do to push my music career forward and a lot of it people don’t really see. I then thought about other female musicians I know who go through the same struggle - and thought I’d love to showcase our talents under one roof; to invite our own audiences/fans to the event and introduce new music to each other.
I didn’t realise the amount of interest in female-led events and groups already out there: the response has been great. Just over a year later, LADY has had some amazing artists perform at my events - including the first LADY Festival in Oct 2017. That was very special.
Do you think it is harder to shine in the music industry as a woman? Do you think it is harder as a black woman, too?! Does the music industry need to take a closer look at inequality – make changes and help improve things?
Most definitely as a woman and a black woman of a darker hue. We see the same type of women championed in most creative industries - and not just the music industry. If you look at the type of females who pass a certain level of success, you’ll notice some correlation. I believe colourism is a major topic at the moment. It’s something that has been happening for a long time - and I don’t see it fading fast in our lifetime. I do think it’s important to talk about it make each other aware, so we can work on creating a greater balance.
From the perspective of a woman, it is definitely extremely difficult to reach certain levels in business and any Industry. Take a look at most business hierarchies and tell me if there is an equal balance. We, as humans, still have a lot of work to do (smiles).
Your music has gained applause and respect from radio and online sources. How does it feel gaining that sort of coverage? Does it give you fresh energy and ambition?
I am always very appreciative of any support received. It’s great, even if a small group of people acknowledged my work. It is liberating just releasing it to the world. You never know who will like it and what they will like.
I am an ambitious individual in general so I’ll always create, try new things and push myself to do more – and, yes, the positive response is always encouraging; adding fuel to the fire.
IN THIS PHOTO: Joan Thiele
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
So. There’s a very talented lady who has become a great friend called Joan Thiele (from Milan). I did some writing with her last year and a track we wrote called Polite was recently featured in Fendi’s online Valentine’s campaign. She has a lot of great things coming. You should keep an eye open. The single is out now - you can listen to it here.
IN THIS PHOTO: Vivienne Chi
If you had to choose the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Ummmmmmm (pauses for a long while).
Just three; really? Ok…I might change my mind tomorrow but here goes:
Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On (still relevant to this day...Inner City Blues and the title-track, especially).
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
Because it has songs like Crosstown Traffic, All Along the Watchtower and Voodoo Chile. He (just) really made me want to play the guitar.
Aretha Franklin - Lady Soul
Because it has so many wonderful songs like Groovin’, Chain of Fools; Natural Woman and Good to Me As I Am to You. Some of these songs made me want to sing so much when I was younger; testing my vocal range…
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
I just had an E.P. launch event at the end of February but will be back at my residency at The Finsbury on 27th March: LADY vs. Lost in the Manor. Other dates currently being confirmed but there will be a mini-tour in the coming months. Details to follow.
What do you hope to achieve, personally, in 2018?
Release more music, continue reaching a wider audience and kick down doors and barriers (smiles).
Have you all got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
I guess I would be the first time I released some music into the world. It’s really difficult letting go but, once I did that for the first time, I became less and less afraid.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Be you, create the music you believe in that you feel really represents you as a person and your creative direction. Don’t be afraid to be different, even when people say: “That’s not the way it’s should be done”…
Always trust your gut.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I would say any of the artists I mentioned above (smiles). Ok…I would say Vivienne Chi – Junk
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