The Essex-born, London-based musician speaks on her latest single 'Falling', being selected for Native Management's, T3 initiative and the importance of getting more women into production.
How has the response been to your latest single ‘Falling’ and what were the initial inspirations for the single?
The response to Falling has been CRAZY! In less than a week, it’s been spun on Radio 1 on Jack Saunders’ show so I’m really proud of myself and my team. It’s a win for all of my people. The inspiration behind the track was me meeting a new love interest over lockdown. I felt very sexually frustrated so I wrote a song about it. It’s basically a tongue-in-cheek song about long-distance love and self-pleasure….
How was working with Dom Porter on the production and how was the process of creating the track together?
Me and Dom are best friends and we normally produce all of our stuff together and we used to live together. The pandemic meant we had to adapt and make the song remotely. He sent me the beat and I wrote the hook for another artist. They passed up on it and we decided to release it anyway. I was doing my bit remotely, writing and recording. Meanwhile, Dom got Rosetta who is a bassist in the band, Franc Moody to record that groovy bass. He also got my longtime collaborator, JSTRNGs to record some guitar. So it was a remote team effort.
What have you been up to in the eleven months since the release of ‘Sleep’?
I’ve been doing a lot of writing and staring at walls… Its actually been very peak not being able to sessions with other people but I’ve been trying to develop my skills as a producer and songwriter. All you can do is try to self-improve to cope with these crazy times. Me and my team have been scheming to try to prepare for 2021.
"I feel like all womxn artists should try and get into production as its such a male-dominated realm."
How was it to be selected for Native Management’s ‘3T’ initiative and what did you take away from the experience?
Being selected for the 3T was transformative! I almost didn’t apply because I thought I wouldn’t get it so to be in the final 10 out of over 500 applications was soul-affirming. I loved connecting with the team at Native. Nao, Mura Masa and Cosha were so helpful and gave me a lot of time to talk about anything I wanted. I feel a lot more solid in my knowledge of tour technology, I’ve made friends with the dopest, most talented group of black women. I feel like everyone in the group will be making moves in the industry and I can’t wait to apply what I’ve learned onmy own shows and tours in the future. Watch this space! We actually set up an Instagram so you can check what we’re doing @3tcrew!
How did you first come together with Dom Porter and how has the process been of developing your sound together?
I posted my Soundcloud demos to a university group as I was looking for producers. Dom was only 18 but the stuff he sent me stuck out from all the tracks I received. We started making music together and the rest is history. He’s so great at listening to what I want and making it come to life. Growing with Dom has been a pleasure and it’s been so great to see him come into his own as a producer. He’s doing bits right now and he’s even producing [ K S R ]’s debut album. He’s the next up for sure and he’s a great songwriter as well. I’m sure we’ll keep coming up with sounds that will keep evolving as we develop as artists in our own right. I’m very lucky.
How did you first get into production and do you feel that it can aid you as a writer?
I got into producing and engineering my own vocals when my friend, JSTRNGs, sent me some demos and we began releasing tracks on Soundcloud. I feel like all womxn artists should try and get into production as its such a male-dominated realm. Right now I’m working on stepping up my skills and hopefully soon, I can release a track that I’ve completed produced by myself. I think having an understanding of production helps me write melodies and lyrics that really compliment the music and vice versa.
"I was ashamed of my natural tone but I’m realising the beauty in it, and it’s great because it’s mine. All I can do is be me."
How do you go about fusing a range of different sounds into making something distinctively your own?
I think it happens naturally because I have so many different influences. I grew up playing double bass and that gave me a solid foundation in composition. Singing in groups and in church has cemented my writing style that utilises a lot of backing vocals. I feel like I don’t have a specific sound but all my influences come together so that my songs sound unique to me. I think my love of hip-hop also influences the syncopation of my melodies as well. I think it's good practice to make music that is translatable to wide audiences but still sounds eclectic.
How do you feel that your sound has evolved since your earlier SoundCloud releases?
Wow, I feel like my songs have always been good in terms of the structure or the basic bones of a song. But I feel like I’m understanding how to adapt my writing for wider audiences so it can get played on radio. I feel like my sound is getting a lot more mature. I used to write a lot about my dark emotions but I realised that I don’t want to make people feel even MORE sad once they listen to my music. So my lyrics are more coded and witty and my vocal delivery has more punch to it. Also, I used to try and make my voice sound less dark and deep as I was ashamed of my natural tone but I’m realising the beauty in it, and it’s great because it’s mine. All I can do is be me. I like to have a good time, I’m a bit moody, I have a lot of deep thoughts and I like sex… I feel like my sound is beginning to capture all the different sides of me.
How was the process of creating your debut EP ‘Vibes Cartel’ and what were the main themes that you wanted to cover in that project?
I had just come out of the hospital when I wrote the songs for 'Vibes Cartel'. The themes covered my mental health and how I felt unsatisfied with life because I was forcing a corporate life on myself. It was making me unhappy. Me and Dom teamed up together to produced and record it. And we had to mix our music ourselves for the first couple of years so I’m not really happy with how it SOUNDS but when we performed it live, it was a movie. I miss that project, I may recreate Vibe Cartel in the future. Who knows?
"I went to a Chance The Rapper concert in 2016 and I was so gassed that I dropped out of uni! I was so inspired by his push for independent artists. "
How did the process of creating that project differ from your latest EP?
For my next EP, the entire project will have a cohesive overall sound. We’ve learned so much since then and you can hear that in the music. I’m also pulling in my peers to help with the production and recording. I love layering vocals and using multiple musicians to create something that sounds distinctive. This process will be different because we’re taking our time.
How did studying in such a creative city such as Bristol influence your music?
It was really great. Truthfully, there wasn’t a lot of diversity when I was in the city so I became the token black girl. There’s pros and cons to it. It was that Big Fish Small Pond theory. I felt like my band got a lot of attention and that was really great but it was a bit lonely. I think you could hear how unhappy I was in my music to be honest. I do love Bristol so much and I’m excited to give back to the city that gave me so many opportunities like performing at Glastonbury or The Downs.
Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?
Mate! I went to a Chance The Rapper concert in 2016 and I was so gassed that I dropped out of uni! I was so inspired by his push for independent artists. I was a bit naive but being independent and self-managing taught me so much. I was also loving RAY BLK and Nao back. Nowadays I’m inspired by people who are my peers and who are doing bits. People like [ K S R ], Harvey Causon, Ojerime and Enny are all carving out their own lanes and they’re doing so well. I think they show that you can create your own lane and if the music bangs, people will follow.
If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would they be?
What’s coming up for 2021?
I’m very lucky to be working with the next talent in management. My entire team is around my age and we have such an open dialogue about what we want to achieve. A win for me is a win for them. I think we just want to let people know about The Cartel and what we stand for. In 2021, I want people to get to know me and give people more music. I really miss performing live with my band so I want to get back to it when the industry allows. Look out for more music, collaborations, and a general level up from The Cartel and my team.