In Talks With London’s Rising Songstress: Yiigaa
9 Dec 2020
Posing as one of Southeast London’s most promising acts, Yiigaa, over the years has built a small but hungry fan-base that has seen her garner global attention for her up-beat and charismatic sound that defies genre boundaries. Born and raised in Brixton, Yiigaa was introduced to music through her family and began exploring her unquestionable talent from a youthful age. Having since delivered a slew of impressive singles including ‘Bamboo’ alongside Finn Foxell and p-rallel, as well ‘Wounds’ with Louis Culture to her more recent project ‘Inner Dawn’, Yiigaa’s signature honey-like vocal has seen her become an artist to watch for 2021.
Following the release of her latest EP titled, ‘Inner Dawn’, we caught up with the rising songstress and asked her a few questions!
How have you been? How have you been finding this pandemic period?
It’s been a mixed bag! I’ve found it really hard at points, just in terms of not being able to connect with people. But in other ways it’s been needed as its taught me a lot about myself and I’ve done a lot of reflection. It’s definitely been hard, but I’ve fallen in love with my own company again which has been lovely!
For those who aren’t aware of who you are, could you talk us through a bit about your upbringing in Brixton and how you were originally introduced to music?
I grew up in Brixton and have been lucky to grow up around so many different types of people. Even in my household we always had two lodgers and they were always from all over the world. It always made me see the world as such a big and small place. My dad is an Ivorian musician, so I’ve always been in a musical household. My mum is a massive world music fan too. In terms of my own creation I’ve always sung and written music, I think my first band was aged 7! I released my first song at 16 on YouTube, it was very poorly recorded!
Were there any artists or albums in particular that inspired you to start a career within music?
I have always loved Rihanna; she was like my idol growing up. But truly I think the person that really inspired me on a personal level was a singer called Daniella Wizard. She was in Age Of Luna at the time and I saw her in a video and thought OMG, girls that look like us are making alternative music! And from then my mind was blown and I just went for it. After that, my peers constantly inspire me, the alternative UK scene is blossoming! At the moment I’m loving Miraa May I feel like she embodies the genre blend of London sound.
I find it hard to box you into one specific genre because your music draws from a variety of sounds! How would you go about describing your sound?
Ah I find this question really hard! I think it’s a mixture of house, Neo soul, afro pop, and pop! It is hard to describe but that’s what I love. I love being able to create something different that might be hard to pin down. As much as it may be hard to box me, for me as an artist it makes me work harder to blend and perfect them working together to make something magical. The feeling when it all comes together is just euphoric!
You’ve previously mentioned that the ‘Inner Dawn’ EP was inspired by your trip to Zimbabwe and South Africa. What was it about these places and experiences that heavily influenced this project?
I was just blown away by the South African house scene, and genres like Ampiano and Gqom. I had heard them before, but it opened a pandoras box of all these beautiful sub genres and hearing it from the people who live there, it just made the music hit so different. I think it’s so important to travel as an artist especially to the continent you are from because it opens your mind to so much more and makes you realise how big the world you’re catering for is.
Did you start writing when you were out there, or was it more of a reflection of your trip and you writing when you had come home?
Definitely more of a reflection. I felt I had been woken up. Before that I didn’t really know what I was making anymore. I wasn’t making music that made sense to the stage I was in. I’ve always loved dancing and dance music, so hearing music that was electronic but also so filled with African culture just made me feel so alive and gave me the direction I needed moving forward to create this EP.
I know you’ve said that this EP was based around your personal growth, and sonically it shows as well! How has your journey been regarding exploring self-love and knowing your worth?
Whew it’s been a long one! As it is for everyone. I’m definitely not there yet, but I’m learning. This lockdown really helped – I became so much more aware of my emotions and how to understand them. I’ve also become so much more confident in myself and my ability to create. I think most importantly I’ve learnt that our biggest strength is the uniqueness that we and only us can bring to something and not comparing to others but seeing your growth as your indicator of success is very important. This industry can be hard when you are constantly put up against others but you have to believe in what you bring and most of all love others and see them as opening the way for you and putting UK on the map!
Touching on these topics, you have to be very vulnerable within yourself in order to keep it authentic to you. Do you find it easy staying vulnerable, and allowing listeners to endure on this to?
Actually I think that is something I find easier, being open with people is something I’ve always found very necessary to my journey and I always wanted to connect with people on how they feel so it was important for me to be open with them too. It can be hard to balance as I don’t want to show weakness but it is important to come across as a real person because all , my favourite artists are unapologetically themselves and at the end of the day it’s just people who love music and are lucky enough to do it every day, they have pain, insecurities and anxieties as everyone else does.
In the short film you released alongside the tape, you talked about how you had reached a point in which you were no longer making music that you didn’t feel represented you. Talk to me a bit more about this, would it be fair to say you had slightly fallen out of love with music at all?
It’s hard, I haven’t and would never fall out of love with music, its more I didn’t know what I was doing. I knew I wanted to make it but I felt lost in terms of the type of music I wanted to make. It was almost like becoming a new artist all over again, I had to take time to meet new producers and become completely open. I had a direction after coming home from Zimbabwe but I couldn’t translate it, it wasn’t til I made ‘Closer’ that I was like OMG this is it!
Are there any tracks you resonate with more now that you have put it out in comparison to the recording process?
‘For Me’ definitely, I didn’t realise how much I related to that track but now it’s out and I see how many people relate I’m like OMG yes! It’s weird, sometimes you need to hear other peoples’ thoughts to understand something. It also helps me with direction in terms of moving forward.
What are your plans so for 2021? Anything we can expect to hear?
Just more EVERYTHING! I know what I’m doing now. I know what’s required of me and I have an amazing team behind me so I just can’t wait to go go go! Back in studio and working with more people. I’m really excited for it all, maybe could even do some performances too!
Listen to the ‘Inner Dawn’ EP below and keep up to date with Yiigaa via her Instagram here.