somadina

Meet Somadina, Nigeria’s Musical Finest

Nigerian-based artist Somadina bleeds talent. The young artist has been taking the industry by storm for some time now. Starting with her 2018 single “Ihy”, which set the tone for the singer. Shortly after, her popular single “Lay Low” ft Nigerian artist Orinayo, was released in 2019. A duet-themed R&B ballad consisting of heart-felt lyrics wrapped in boundless emotion. Following the fast-moving artistic progression of Somadina came a 5 track EP titled, Five Stages, which was released in 2020. She was brave enough to share her painful journey with the world, a journey that was an offspring of heartbreak.

The project takes the listener through the same lows and highs that the singer experienced in her young adulthood. She emphasized the fact that pain is not forever and that “acceptance is the most blissful part of grief.” Acceptance is an important component of growth, which Somadina indeed continued to do. Later that year, she also showcased a different, more wild side of herself and released her popular single “Kno Me” featuring the well-known Nigerian-based artist SGaWD.

The single would lay the groundwork for her building enough confidence to release her latest single “SUPERSOMA,” showcasing a more provocative and raunchy nature of the artist. Now, Somadina is looking to break through sonic barriers. The alternative rock-themed song hints at some influences from the brit-pop and 70’s Afro-rock era. The dexterous artist does a great job mixing the rock/punk-based production with a dominant Nigerian top line. A unique combination that has all the formulas for success. “SUPERSOMA” is not a regional record by any means.

The record has been spotted on stations all around the world, including my city Washington, DC. Nigeria is proving to be a breeding ground for top talent in the music industry, and she’s proof that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Furthermore, we got a chance to sit down with Somadina and talk about her upbringing, creative process, beliefs, and more. Check out the full interview below.

Tell us a bit about where you are from?

I’m from Nigeria. I was born in Nigeria then I moved to the Netherlands when I was about one or two. I lived there for nine years. So, I grew up in the Netherlands then I moved back to Nigeria. When I was back in Nigeria, I was about 10 years old, continued living in Nigeria for a couple more years. I went to secondary school here then I went to school in London for six years. Yeah, I’m from everywhere. I currently live in Lagos, Nigeria – a fun city.

Your music displays different facets of your personality. It ranges from sweet and gentle to raunchy and provocative, is your music a direct reflection of who you are as a person?

My music is a reflection of the stages I have experienced in life. More than just me. I think I always have periods where I’m making a certain type of music or discovering a certain type of sound. It just reflects the period in time in my life. I believe I’m capable of making anything and everything. I’m inspired by so much music.

It also has to do with the way I grew up. I’ve heard so many things. I’ve listened to music in so many different languages. So I just feel like it’s periodic. I’m making a lot of rock music right now, but I started as an R&B girl.  I had a whole phase last year where I was just rapping and it’s just always very periodic.

How involved are you with the production process?

My new project will have songs that are mostly executive produced by me. I’ll ask producers to play certain sounds I’ve thought about. I also like giving people a lot of space to create with me because I don’t want to start ‘over-creating’ with just myself in my mind. So, like when I was in LA working with producers and writers, I would have an idea of a melody but then be like, “okay do what you want with that” and they will just take it to another dimension. It’ll be something new. Overall, I’m very, very intentional with everything I make but  I like exploring with people and trying new things, having new ideas and input. I’m very particular about that too.

As an artist should be?

I don’t even know what to say,  I don’t see myself past anything. I don’t think that one thing ever changes. I want to always be so connected to the music and I want it to be so intentional, like, it doesn’t have to be fake deep. Do you know what I mean? At the end of the day, a lot of my lyrics are just very passive and you know, you make what you can make what you want from it. Everything has to have an intention and has to have some type of perspective.

Even when I was making this new song “SUPERSOMA” I suppose, I was just listening to a lot of afro-rock from the 70s, a lot of psychedelic rock music. I wanted a lot of Nigerian culture to be inspired by that new song but I wanted it to sound very evolved, where you could listen to it globally.

Your current aesthetic is very punk and has a hint of Nollywood-type style tied to it. No one has ever been able to combine such unique styles before, You do a great job at making it your own. Where do you get the inspiration for your unique style, which you incorporate into your art?

It’s literally what you just said! I enjoy Nollywood. Especially the fashion, I think is just so timeless and it’s so beyond like, I don’t know. I’ve just never seen anyone dress the way that people in Nollywood movies dressed. I also take a lot from the  British pop period, there was a way that everyone used to dress in Britpop and I loved that aesthetic so much. I love that period, the music, I listen to so much music from that era, like the ladykillers and all that stuff.

So the way they used to dress I just took that and started buying lots of stuff from Depop. I also love doing braids and I love a lot of prints, which is a very Nollywood classic. I don’t know, it just came together. It wasn’t even planned, like super planned. I just started wearing things and people pointed out, like, “oh my god it’s such Nollywood punk!”

You have a couple of songs released and it’s as if each song embodies its own genre. I’d like to call you genre-fluid, would you agree? And if so what’s the motivation behind being genre-fluid?

Yeah, I say the same thing. I call myself genre-fluid because just like everything, everything is so secular. It’s just about the moment, so I just create what I’m feeling in that moment. If I feel like rapping, if I feel like being sad and doing some r&b stuff, that’s what I choose to do. I just associate it with my emotion and the way I feel at the time and I try to make it as authentic as possible, like all my music.

What I’m listening to is what I’m feeling and I guess that’s how the genre-fluid was born. Also, literally when I started music, and even so now, I’m always like, what the fuck am I doing? I never actually know what the fuck I was doing for a long time, It scared me because I thought not having a sound was bad. I thought it would make people lose interest in me because I didn’t have a sound and I was just kind of everywhere but the more I came to terms with it, the more I just started to realize that’ the talent. The fact that I can explore and experiment in that way is what makes the music beautiful and not being confined to some certain stereotype.

What kind of music inspired you growing up?

So my dad was a music head growing up, he played a lot of music on Sunday mornings. I heard a lot of gospel growing up. I think that’s where a lot of the actual singing styles came from. My dad used to play John Legend. My dad’s in love with John Legend. I like Fela Kuti! My dad never played him for us, I found him on my own when I went to boarding school. I started listening to Fela Kuti, a lot of afro-rock and psychedelic rock. So like William Onyeabor, Lijadu Sisters. Just a lot of these older artists and those guys were phenomenal.

Like nobody was doing that, they were some other shit. I don’t know if it was all drugs but they were so good.  And you know, that was Nigeria in the 70s. So, I got a lot of inspiration from that type of music, but I had to search for the type of music. I listened to a lot of rock, like just normal rock music. I listen to a lot of Avril Lavigne. I guess everybody can tell and  I listened to a lot of old bands. One of my favorite bands is called Shampoo,  They’re amazing. I love their visuals as well. Yeah, just so many bands. I listen to a lot of band music. Maybe I should be in a band.

Your latest release SuperSoma caught my attention. It was a unique alternative sound that blended punk with Nigerian culture, which is something no one is doing at the moment. Can you tell us a bit about how that track came to light?

So that was the first one I made. After I got back from LA, I worked with GMK, obviously one of the best producers in the world to me. I felt very, very confident. It just felt like a very different new me honestly. I felt like when I went to LA and came back, I was a brand new person. Just with the experience, and being by myself properly for the first time. So I was in the studio with GMK. I played him a few things I had made in LA. He kind of just started this loop, which I loved. It was very melancholic but I wanted the song to have a lot of energy. So I just remember throughout the session, I didn’t sit. I didn’t sit for the entire session. I was just standing with the mic in my hand pacing around. I just knew I wanted it to be full of energy because I was mad confident when I got back, Super confident and it really just started with me just playing. I don’t know, it just happened.

I think also I was very inspired by BKTheRula because there’s a thing that she does. She’s a trap-musician, she does this thing where she sings offbeat, but it’s actually on the beat. She sings in-between the beat. I’ve never been able to do that. Honestly, I think she’s a genius, the way she does that thing. So, with “SUPERSOMA,” I tried it and that’s kind of why the beginning sounds the way it does. It sounds like it’s on beat but it sounds like I just missed a beat at the same time, if that makes sense. I was just thinking about BK the whole time. I tried it and it sounded cool, so we just kept it. We recorded it in two days, I just wanted a song about myself. A theme song about myself that I would wake up every day and listen to then feel good no matter how bad the day was.

Do you like working with other artists, producers, and or writers?

I love collaborating with people. I think I’m very, very particular about who I work with, or who I want to feature in my songs. Just because I spend a lot of my time making music alone. So, I don’t really look for features, but if I hear something I’ve done, I’m like, I can hear someone on the song, I’ll try and pitch out to them.

My new project is going to have a lot more features but I think most of the features consist of songwriting, production, and overall input in places that are not necessarily direct. People have different ears and can put their spin on the songs and make them better. Like bass guitars, electric guitars, keys, sax. Those are like the assists I get the most, rather than direct features. 

Writing camps have been popping up around the world, giving artists the ability to network and expand their skills. Have you been part of any writing camps or plan on being part of any?

Amaarae had a writing camp when I was in LA. Then I went to one by another artist in Lagos. Those are the only two I can say off the top of my head. The one with Amaarae in LA was amazing. I met so many dope artists. Syd, all these guys were there. It was really fun. I feel like I learned a lot. Found a lot of cool underground and bigger artists there. 

Your online image and the music you are releasing tie together. Everything has been very coherent lately, can we expect a project soon?

Yeah, I hope to release a project early next year, first quarter, hopefully. Everything is very speculative. But I hope to release it early next year. I’ve been working on a lot of music.

Do you currently have a team and if so how important are they in your career?

I have people that are on a team with me. Every day we’re still kind of like working with new people trying to solidify the team. But I have a team I do work with. I have a manager, I also have someone that helps me out. I have a creative director who helps me with my videos, but he’s really just my friend honestly. I call him my creative director. He helps me with my videos and helps me shoot things at shows and stuff like that. I have a graphic designer her name is Nyahan and she’s amazing. So yeah, not a huge team. It’s really just a four-man team right now but we’re building. I feel like they think very long term. We’re all trying to make this a very long-term thing. I want to build a family. 

If you enjoyed our chat with Somadina, check out our latest interview with Nashville-bred singer Lou Ridley!

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