If you’re familiar with the UK’s bubbling music scene, there’s a chance you’ve come across Yiigaa. The Brixton-raised singer and songwriter has been rapidly ascending into stardom, forging a sound of her own that weaves different elements of R&B and pop while occasionally stepping into other genres.
She made waves a couple of years ago upon the release of 2020’s Inner Dawn, her five-song EP which contained standout cuts like “Passion” and “Closer,” which was remixed by award-winning DJ and producer Conducta. Through these songs, Yiigaa pulls together harmonious soul, R&B, and electronic pop themes to make something that hasn’t been heard before. Undoubtedly, they lay the groundwork for succeeding records that marks a significant chapter in the artist’s career.
For 2022, Yiigaa sets her eyes on bigger and better as her fanbase and discography continue to expand. Following commercially successful tracks like “Good Enough” and “Up” featuring KiLLOWEN—the latter of which received a remix from Eliza Legzdina and Lucy Tun—the songstress prepares for her busiest year thus far. Her new song, “Edge,” is a declaration of self-love and acceptance as she draws inspiration from Afrobeats. Often championed as the “Southside Songstress,” Yiigaa’s songs tell tales of the blurred lines of love and sometimes loss that anyone can relate to as well as self-growth and awareness.
We spoke with Yiigaa in regards to navigating the Brixton music scene, bringing change through music, and her plans for the year. Read on for our conversation.
From singing and songwriting to creative directing, when and how did you discover your musical talents?
I think I discovered I could sing because I literally wouldn’t shut up in class. Aged four my mum was brought in to discuss how I wouldn’t stop singing the Shrek theme tune. I sang all the time in class and would always get in trouble. It would annoy people in my class but they would always say how I should sing on YouTube after telling me to shut up and would always support the video haha!
For anyone that’s unfamiliar, what is the music scene like in Brixton?
Brixton music scene is so varied in terms of culture and genre. It is truly so so rich of almost any kind of music you could imagine. Growing up there at our local festival we have an entire Reggae day. So definitely Jamaican & Caribbean culture is a huge part of my music experience in Brixton from the people playing steel pans outside the station, the preachers singing on the corner, to the reggae and dancehall booming from inside the little shops. It’s just music, every day all day, you can’t avoid it!
Your aesthetics and visual presentation are incredibly striking. Growing up, was artistic expression always important to you?
Thank you! Definitely, I’ve always loved photography and that’s definitely a reason why my visuals and aesthetic are really important to me. From a very early stage, I’ve had to work with no or low budget so I work with my friends who are also creative to build visuals that even if they aren’t always flashy, are well thought out in concept. We make wherever and whenever we can. I’ve been pulled up to Hackney marshes, made backdrops in the street, and lay in rivers in October, all in the name of art haha.
Congratulations on the recent release of “Edge,” what does that single mean to you and how does it set the tone for this new chapter in your career?
“Edge” is a statement of self-love and power. It’s about reclaiming strength lost in situations outside of our control and coming through for ourselves. Being our own best friend. The next chapter is all about empowerment and reflecting on negative times and turning it into a positive.
2021 was also an undeniably incredible year for your career. How do you think records like “Up” and “Good Enough” reflect you as a musician, and what do you hope to show your fans and listeners?
I see every song as a moment or a thought. They pass us and come round again like loops sometimes. There are still times I don’t feel good enough, but I know making that song has helped me overcome that so much. “Up” is a moment in time that is just blissful vibes, a limbo state of calm. Each song has a moment and I’m so excited to share more with people.
As a multifaceted artist, what does music mean to you, and what changes—whether it be big or small—do you hope to bring to the world with your work?
Music is something that above everything brings people together. That’s why I ultimately love making music that makes people move and dance. I love bringing people together for a second regardless of background and what happened that day, coming together and joining in dance and forgetting their worries. I really want to also be a voice for change and want to use my art and spaces to highlight causes I care about.
I want to be part of making things fairer and more equal. I want the entertainment industry to be a safe space for women and young people and I believe by always speaking out about injustice in and outside the industry I hope to be part of making the world a better place.
Aside from yourself, which artists do you currently have on your playlist?
I am loving Afrobeats at the moment, and how many different sounds are being incorporated in the genre, I’m listening to a lot of Niniola, Tayc, Lojay, Tems, and Amaarae.
What’s next for you following the release of “Edge”? Are you working on anything exciting at the moment that you can share?
So much more music! More visual experiences, more shows, I’m just so excited to explore new sounds and work with new people! I’m ready for more inspiration and many more moments!