Apr 9, 2013


NNEKA interview done for : THE CHEMISTRY
Il y a de cela quelques jours j’ai été à la rencontre de la chanteuse Nneka lors de son passage à Lille au festival Paradis Artificiel. Si vous ne la connaissez pas je vous recommande, non, je vous ordonne de lire cet article et d’écouter les liens qui la parsèment. C’est une artiste humble qui mérite d’être connue pour son talent et qui reste humaine malgré sa notoriété grandissante.
Je vous laisse lire notre entretien.

Hi Nneka, welcome to Lille ! You’re starting your french tour and if I’m not wrong this is your second show in France. How was you first show? Was it your first time in France?
Yes right, the first show was yesterday, it was good I have the impression that France is always very open to world music. Oh no, no it wasn’t our first time in France, our first time was seven years ago and we’ve come a couple of times.
Did you thought that you’ll know such a success in France?
No never, I would never has the impression that my music will go across my bedroom. It is a surprise, I go to used to it in curtains extend, it’s encouraging me because when I remember myself, where I have been the kind of hustle that we had, we have to go through this and it’s encouraging me to be able to play in front of big audience.
In a past interview, you said you’ve never really dream about being a singer, and that you’ve never learned how to sing or making music, so how did you start in the music industry ?
Oh well it happen, it happen I just did the music for the fun of it and i used to share my idea creating my music with a couple of friends, sometimes i was hanging around the studio. I was never taking serious to become a real artist I was always in the back, just quiet in the backgrounds. I met DJ farhot that time he was also not into music at all, and we just we put our heads together and we just evolved gradually everyday I will take my time and travel to where he lived and I spend a couple of hours doing music and creating music and gradually to just evolved, grew and progress then excelled and eventually I met somebody who was working that time at « yo mama records ». Everything just happens coincidentally, I will say miracle because I believe in god but people say it’s coincidence and it’s just grew everyday with time, passions, love. I didn’t have to change my style or please anybody to make the album. What people wanted me to be was just me.
Can you tell us how the music industry function in Nigeria and in Africa in general. We know that you’re really attached to your roots, so please tell us more about that.
Nigeria has a very special music industry. I think before the 70′s, we had big records company. At that time, somehow, someway I think we just lost maintenance and interest in music as a professions. I don’t know where we went wrong, I was not born at that time. I was born in Nigerian society where people were not really into it. Musician were not really respected as somebody who was doing something reasonable, especially people like Fela. Fela was considering mad for doing what he was doing, especially when he had those type of messages. The way he spoke was considered as non intellectual. Now, we have these waves of people who are now more concerned about musicians and music industry. You see people coming back home trying to invest and create labels, independent label… It’s very hard, we have this big massive market called Alaba market. Nigeria is a very nice country to live in. Nigeria is in Africa for those who don’t know and I think it’s the most populated country in Africa. We have a little bit of oil, oil is the major resource that we have. We have the system which is basically like the American system: we have many beautiful things in Nigeria, especially when it’s come to culture, archeological, artefact, art work and we have very diverse tribes, peoples and languages. We have more than 400 hundred languages.
I guess you met a lot of musicians there, can you think of bands or singers that you love and that you can tell your fans about ?
They are many nigerian musicians who are very good, most of them are unknown like Oranmiyan, batunde, syi awayosika.
I’ve read in several interviews that you went on a tour with artists like Nas and Damian Marley. How was it ? What was the best and the worst memory?
humm, well it was very… let’s see… a great experience to travel around the world and being around these people. I also get to know them personally and get to see how they really are as human being. Because before that you have your preconception on how people are.. and when you get to see them behind the scene, then you can see the picture that you had before fits, but in general I will say it was very educating to see how a band really works together, as a family and not just as business partner.
I’d like to go back on your album Soul is Heavy released last year. First, how do see this album now, a year later? What are your impressions on this album after having played these songs on and on in front of your public?
Oh well, we are still on the same album, we are pushing on, giving a message across the world and making show that fierce get the hear, the music and the message of the music. Soul is heavy is an album that can access different types of audience, not just hip hop audience, soul audience. It goes into different directions. The music is very diverse. We can mixed up, so it’s not like we’re playing the same set everyday and does not get boring and we can mix the track with the first album. The second album just does everything in one set we don’t only perform soul is heavy tracks. We try to make it interesting.
In hindsight, do you think you succeed in transmitting the message you wanted to deliver through the fifteen tracks of Soul is Heavy? If you could change something what would it be?
I think so, I know it’s positive message definitely. If I could change something, I would sing some tracks again. I would sing « Restless » in different keys and « Do you love me now« . It would not be an acoustic version, it would be a band version. I would have left the track “J” in the original version and not listen to the records company.

How do you see your musical evolution from the beginning of your career to Soul is Heavy or even nowadays?
I don’t look at it, « je ne regarde pas« , I don’t think about it « je ne pense pas« , I try not to see « je ne pense pas a ça« . It’s better like that « c’est mieux”.
Your lyrics can be politically committed and you try to deliver some messages concerning Africa making people aware of what’s going on. Did you feel that some people were touched or reacted ? Do you have some anecdotes about that?
Of course, especially in Nigeria, we had a lot of reactions, positive and negative like we almost arrested us a couple of times. In America, people feel very connected. I think that they are many people who don’t have the courage to speak their mind, or they are afraid . They can identify their voice in my music and for that I’m glad that what is inside me represent theses people.
What is your process when you’re writing a song? How do you work when it comes to find an instrumentation that will go with your text?
It’s different every time. Sometimes it starts with a guitar, some times I have the melody in my head, some times I just have the lyrics and then the melody comes.
We can hear some remixes of your songs like Chase & Status. Have you ever thought, while writing your songs, that some producers will work on your tracks? Have you met Chase & Status?
I heard it, I’m beginning to like it after that now. I do my music, what the world is doing with it, it’s the world business. As long the roots are always the same, everything around it’s just like leaves and branches. I was shocked when I saw some girl singing heartbeat, it made me happy! Because when people can identify in what you are doing and you know you’re reaching out, especially when it’s young children. The youth doing stuff like that, that’s great. Rito ora? Drake did a remix he actually produced a song forRihanna with my voice in it but Rihanna refused to take it. So then he has released it as a remix of one of his songs. Rita ora then asked Chase and Status to produce a song, and Chase and Statues asked me if they could use the song. I’ve meet them contrary to Rita Ora. She’s big now!
What’s your plan for the future of your career? Maybe an album soon?
I don’t have plan. I live « carpe diem », I live by the day. I’d love to release another album . I’m always making music and i play music everyday!
One last word maybe?
Yeah! Thank you very much for your support.

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