Meet QM’s newest signee, a travel-enthusiast turned R’n’B storyteller on the rise...
Nava Adé began her forays into the song-writing world at the tender age of six. Last week, when I caught up with QM Records’ enigmatic new signee, we began our conversation with a short trip down memory lane, with Adé light-heartedly detailing how her first song was a “pretty silly” ditty about the 80’s sitcom-drama Baywatch. Admittedly, Adé didn’t know back then that she’d end up fostering a deeper passion for creating music than she did sitcoms, but it’s immediately striking as our chat ensues, that the woman across the phone-line from me has cultivated a love for the art form that knows no bounds.
Having grown up on the smooth, velvety sounds of a plethora of iconic 90’s songstresses, Adé cites Erykah Badu, India Arie and Aaliyah as the standout vocalists that have helped shape her effectual musical discernment. “It’s those artists who can induce a state of chill that I think really shaped my early understanding of music”, she tells me. “I tend to gravitate towards music that makes me feel at ease, I love a smooth finish on a track, which is why I think I eventually gravitated towards making R’n’B”. Fast forward to now, and Adé has entered the scene with an evident mastery of those same musical attributes which once inspired her.
Showcasing a proficiency for creating dreamy sonic atmospheres that calm the listener with the release of her debut single’s “Body” and “Brand New” late last year, Adé is just getting started when it comes to contributing new perspectives to the landscape of contemporary R’n’B. This year, she’s set to leave her mark on the music world in a big way with the forthcoming release of her debut EP. In excited anticipation for Adé new music, here at QM we thought we’d get better acquainted with the alluring singer ahead of time. Turns out, there was much to discover, as we spoke about her artistic process, her profound love for travel, and her hopes and visions for a bright future in story-driven music-making.
Hold up though! If you haven’t already – there's no better way to get acquainted with Nava Adé than by watching the music video for her summertime-inspired, sultry debut single “Body” below.
1. Adé doesn’t believe there’s any concrete method for making art.
“I almost always write outside of the studio for that reason. I can’t create by force, and when I think about the process of making music, it’s always apparent to me that I don’t have one [laughs]. After all, you could argue that there’s never going to be any singular, correct method for creating art. It has to come naturally. So, I try to remain open-minded when it comes to drawing inspiration from everything around me; from my thought patterns to the things I see, hear and feel respectively. Recently, I've felt most comfortable writing from my bedroom; especially during the lockdowns. I've set it up to be an environment that breeds creativity - I’ve got my mood lighting, my plants and loads of paintings hung up for inspiration. It’s all relative though, and always an ambiguous process. Sometimes I'll be walking down the street and be struck by an idea, other times, I’ll write as a form of release from the day's events. One thing for sure, my process is quite sporadic, oftentimes it’s whimsical, and it’s different every time.”
2. She loves the romanticism of R’n’B, particularly the poetic lyricism of Frank Ocean.
“I mean, I love the idea of love – which I guess is why R’n’B organically stands out as a music genre for me. There’s something about people putting their personal stories and vulnerability on a track that just gets me. The way someone like Frank Ocean writes his songs is a great reference for my own work. He’s so adept at setting the scene and creating romantic imagery in the listener's mind, especially on his earlier releases like Nostalgia Ultra, I love how he transported the listener into his world so vividly on that EP.”
3. For Adé, music has always been a visceral form of transportation.
“I know it sounds cliché, but I didn't fully commit to pursuing my music until I went backpacking throughout East and West Africa, as well as South America. I went alone, as a woman, and I think the independence I had to cultivate on that trip contributed massively to a huge perspective shift for me. In a way, the experiences I gained allowed me to see that music was my first form of transportation before I was ever able to catch a flight and explore the world beyond what I already knew. I’m a very visual person, but I'm equally as stimulated by sound. So, if I hear something beautiful my brain automatically conjures up visualizations to match what I'm hearing and, in that way, I feel as though I was always able to travel, long before I ever left South London for the first time.”
4. Her favourite place to travel is Bahia Salvador in Brazil; it’s sort of her second home.
“I’m half Ugandan and half Nigerian, so when I was travelling in South America, I was pleased to find that –outside of Africa – Brazil has the largest population of black people; which was pretty enlightening. In Bahia Salvador, it’s so evident that there’s a profound influence coming from Nigerian culture; I was even taken aback by how much of the Yoruba dialect is present in their own idiolect. It's so fascinating to me and because of this, amongst other things, Salvador feels like a home away from home. I can’t quite describe it in words, but the place just has this magnetic pull that's truly magical.”
5. Adé wants her music to inspire people to follow their own passions fearlessly.
“In terms of where I want to take my music in the future, I'll admit, I haven't thought that far ahead. What I do know for certain is that I started this journey as a way to prove to myself that I'm capable of committing to my passions, to challenge myself to be open in alignment with those who inspire me, and to just put myself out there and see what the universe sends back. So, when it comes to my love for music, and R’n’B in particular, I'm operating from a place of wanting to contribute to the art form in any way that I can. I want my music to evoke feelings in people, but equally at the core of what I do is a desire to inspire other people to go after what they want with fearlessness. Outside of that, I just want to be a great storyteller, to make people feel at ease whilst being stimulated by sound. I’m not in control of that though and for now, I'm content knowing that I'm able to do what I love; the art is the ultimate reward.”
Stay up to date on Nava Adé's newest releases via Spotify here.
Keep up with Nava Adé on Instagram here.