Tag: Amsterdam Conservatory

New Video: Dutch JOVM Mainstay Nana Adjoa Releases a Feverish Visual for Slow-burning “National Song”

Over the past two years or so, I’ve spilled a fair share of virtual ink covering the rising Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter and multi-instrumetnalist Nana Adjoa. The Dutch-born JOVM mainstay can trace the origins of her music career to when she joined her first band as a teenager. At the time, she chose to play bass because “every other instrument had been claimed,” she recalls with a laugh. Unbeknownst to Adjoa, her mother had once played bass in a Ghanian Highlife band and still happened to have her guitar. Adjoa went on to the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she studied jazz — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, Adjoa bean to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying in school and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while jamming with friends, outside of school. She quickly realized that pursuing a solo career was the best direction for her, so she recruited local musicians and started recording her own material. Since the release of Down at the Root, Part 1 and its follow-up, Down at the Root, Part 2, Adjoa has developed a reputation for being a restless sonic explorer, who has crafted material centered around deft poeticism and an adventurous yet accessible sense of musicianship. Adjoa set out to write her full-length debut at the beginning of last year. Working in her own studio, she not only had the freedom to write and record songs nearly simultaneously, she had a wide palette of instruments at her disposal. The end result is her soon-to-be released full-length debut, the Wannes Salomé-produced Big Dreaming Ants, slated for a September 24, 2020 release.

Reportedly lush yet delicate, intimate yet expansive and moody yet hopeful, the album’s material is features a diverse array of multi-layered tonal textures — including thumb piano, vibraphone and a vintage harmonium along with guitar, bass, vocals, etc. Although Adjoa — who, typically plays guitar on stage — handled, the majority of the album’s instrumentation herself, the album features a collection of Amsterdam’s finest players collaborating with her, including the members of her live band: Mats Voshol (drums), Daniel van Loenen (trombone), Tim Schakel (guitar), Jonas Pap (strings) and Eelco Topper (vibraphone). Thematically, the album reveals a young artist poised to make a clear and concise artistic statement, in which she continues an ongoing search for identity while pondering life’s great philosophical questions. “For me,” she says, “music is a way to believe in something deeper.”

Throughout the past couple of months, I’ve written about three of Big Dreaming Ants’ singles: the shimmering, hook driven “Throw Stones,” which featured a narrator desperately trying to calm themself and their emotions in the face of internet trolls, digital clashes and the overall uncertainty of our world, trippy and expansive “No Room,” which featured elements of shoegaze, indie rock and Afro pop and “I Want to Change,” a delicate song that expressed a skittish yet hopeful view of change and evolution — both internally and externally.

Centered around a gorgeous arrangement featuring twinkling synths, brooding strings, strummed guitar, stuttering yet dramatic drumming, and Adjoa’s achingly tender vocals, “National Song,” Big Dreaming Ants’ fourth and latest single is a slow-burning, lullaby-like song with a narrator, struggling with having a sense of belonging in a cruel, morally bankrupt world that values some and not all, the dangers of tribalism and nationalism and more.

“I feel that neo-nationalism is occurring all over the world. Our ‘nations’ and borders are no longer what they once were because of so many different and rapid changes in what used to be our small worlds,” the Amsterdam-born and-based JOVM mainstay says of her latest single. “Growing pains of progress (I hope), which express themselves as a desire for conservative ideas rooted in a fear of change. Every occasion in which the old tradition of a national song is sung, it feels to me like a moment of doubt between the past and the future. It’s something I never used to think about twice and now makes me feel something different; there is something uneasy about it. The Dutch national song, ‘Het Wilhemus’, is one of the oldest national anthems. It has its own funny story to its heritage. Some countries don’t even have lyrics to the national anthem because there has already been a history of identity crises within the nation itself. Some countries do not have one, but two, national songs, and some aren’t in the native tongue. What is this feeling of belonging to one nation worth nowadays? Especially for people with mixed backgrounds like myself.”

Directed by Robbert Doelwijt, Jr. the recently released video for “National Song” features dancers dressed in traditional Ghanian school uniforms expressionistically dancing to the song while a denim-clad Adjoa is captured singing the song in gorgeous golden hour sunlight. While feeling like a fever dream, the video subtly pays homage to Adjoa’s heritage.

New Video: Spain’s Alba Careta Group Releases a Surreal Visual for Expressive “Oceans”

Although she’s just 25 years-old, the Avinyó, Spain-based trumpeter and bandleader Alba Careta has managed to be rather busy throughout her relatively young life and career: Careta has taken part in a number of different projects including Balkan Paradise Orchestra, Big Born Band, Cardona Jazz Quartet, Mamihlapinatapai, STOKA Ensemble, NSJO (Netherlands Student Jazz Orchestra), JM Jazz World Orchestra, MB Big Band, Ping-En Hung Quintet; she’s also collaborated with Santi Careta, Jofre Fité, Ferran Juamira Duo, Las Albits and she leads her own band Alba Careta Group with some of these collaborations occurring while she was earning her Masters in Jazz Trumpet at the Amsterdam Conservatory. Additionally, Careta has quickly established herself as one of the rising talents of the Catalan jazz scene.

Alades is Careta’s second album as a bandleader with a band that features Egor Doubay (tenor sax), Adrián Moncada (piano) Jort Terrwjin (double bass) and Joäo Guerra (drums) — and the album is the follow up to her critically applauded debut album Origins, which won the Enderrock Award for Best Jazz Album. Much like its predecessor, Alades’ material draws from the rising Spanish trumpeter’s experiences while studying and living in Holland. “The nostalgia of being far from home, the curiosity of knowing what life will bring and the desire to be next to the people I love are some of the feelings that you can find in my new album,” Careta says in press notes. Careta adds, “I simply gathered friends with whom I feel good playing; this is what later makes us all feel good on stage and out of it.”

“Oceans,: Alades’ latest single is centered around an expansive composition that alternates between a propulsive and breakneck swing led by Guerra’s rapid fire drumming and Moncada’s explosive blocks of twinkling chords and a brooding and atmospheric middle section. The entire composition is held together by Caretta’s and Doubay’s vibrant and expressive dueling solos, which may remind some listeners of bop era jazz. Throughout, the composition reveals a collective of musicians, who intuitively know when to lead, follow and push each other — or to just get out of the way when necessary. And while feeling remarkably oceanic, the song evokes a sense of awe, curiosity and joy.

Filmed and edited by LeCuala Films’ Aarón Barreiro, the recently released video for “Oceans” is centered around a surreal and dream-like logic in which household items — a drawer, a bed, a nightstand, two lamps are sink to the bottom of a pool, along with a trumpet. Towards, the middle, a blindfolded woman sinks to the bottom, towards the bed. We see her grab her trumpet and play underwater.

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstay Nana Adjoa Releases a Skittish and Hopeful Ode to Change

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the rising Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter  and multi-instrumetnalist  Nana Adjoa.  And with the release of her debut effort Down at the Root, Part 1, the Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter received attention across the European Union for an easy-going and warm 70s singer/songwriter soul sound and approach that brought Bill Withers and others.

The Dutch-born JOVM mainstay can trace the origins of her music career to when she joined her first band as a teenager. At the time, she chose to play bass because “every other instrument had been claimed,” she recalls with a laugh. Unbeknownst to Adjoa, her mother had once played bass in a Ghanian Highlife band and still happened to have her guitar. Adjoa went on to the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she studied jazz — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, Adjoa bean to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying in school and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while jamming with friends, outside of school.  She quickly realized that pursuing a solo career was the best direction for her, so she recruited local musicians and started recording her own material. Since the release of Down at the Root, Part 1 and its follow-up, Down at the Root, Part 2, Adjoa has developed a reputation for being a restless sonic explorer, who has crafted material centered around deft poeticism and an adventurous yet accessible sense of musicianship. Adjoa set out to write her full-length debut at the beginning of last year. Working in her own studio, she not only had the freedom to write and record songs nearly simultaneously, she had a wide palette of instruments at her disposal. The end result is her forthcoming full-length debut, the Wannes Salomé-produced Big Dreaming Ants, slated for a September 24, 2020 release.

Reportedly lush yet delicate, intimate yet expansive and moody yet hopeful, the album’s material is features a diverse array of multi-layered tonal textures — including thumb piano, vibraphone and a vintage harmonium along with guitar, bass, vocals, etc. Although Adjoa — who, typically plays guitar on stage — handled, the majority of the album’s instrumentation herself, the album features a collection of Amsterdam’s finest players collaborating with her, including the members of her live band: Mats Voshol (drums), Daniel van Loenen (trombone), Tim Schakel (guitar), Jonas Pap (strings) and Eelco Topper (vibraphone). Thematically,  the album reveals a young artist poised to make a clear and concise artistic statement, in which she continues an ongoing search for identity while pondering life’s great philosophical questions. “For me,” she says, “music is a way to believe in something deeper.”

So far I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: the shimmering, hook driven “Throw Stones,” which featured a narrator desperately trying to calm themself and their emotions in the face of internet trolls, digital clashes and the overall uncertainty of our world — and the trippy and expansive “No Room,” which featured elements of shoegaze, indie rock and Afro pop. “I Want to Change,” Big Dreaming Ants’ latest single is a delicate, track centered around plucked strings, atmospheric electronics and Adjoa’s achingly tender vocals, the track expresses a skittish yet hopeful view of change and evolution — both internally and externally. Massive changes are coming y’all — and we all know it.

“The desire to change is a weird feeling and brings with it a dichotomy of emotions. You get a sense of wanting to move forward, of getting out of a (perhaps self-imposed) rut, but you also fear leaving behind the comfort and security of what you know,” Adjoa says. “With ‘I Want To Change,’ I’m giving space to an inner voice that quietly yearns for change and amplifying it in a way, calling for change that speaks to both the global and individual scale. I wrote the song over a year ago, now placing it in the context of the current state of the world, that inner voice feels more like a call to action for myself.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Nana Adjoa Releases a Cinematic and Symbolic Visual for Shimmering “No Room”

I’ve written quite a bit about the rising Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter  and multi-instrumetnalist  Nana Adjoa over the past few years. And with the release of her debut effort Down at the Root, Part 1, the Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter received attention across the European Union for an easy-going, 70s singer/songwriter soul sound and approach that brought Bill Withers and others.

The Dutch-born JOVM mainstay can trace the origins of her music career to when she joined her first band as a teenager. At the time, she chose to play bass because “every other instrument had been claimed,” she recalls with a laugh. Unbeknownst to Adjoa, her mother had once played bass in a Ghanian Highlife band and still happened to have her guitar.

Adjoa went on to the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she studied jazz — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.” Interestingly, around the same time, Adjoa bean to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying in school and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while jamming with friends, outside of school.  She quickly realized that pursuing a solo career was the best direction for her, so she recruited local musicians and started recording her own material.

Since the release of Down at the Root, Part 1 and its follow-up, Down at the Root, Part 2, Adjoa has developed a reputation for being a restless sonic explorer, who has crafted material centered around deft poeticism and an adventurous yet accessible sense of musicianship. Adjoa set out to write her full-length debut at the beginning of last year. Working in her own studio, she not only had the freedom to write and record songs nearly simultaneously, she had a wide palette of instruments at her disposal. The end result is her forthcoming full-length debut, the Wannes Salomé-produced Big Dreaming Ants, slated for a September 24, 2020 release. 

Reportedly lush yet delicate, intimate yet expansive and moody yet hopeful, the album’s material is features a diverse array of multi-layered tonal textures — including thumb piano, vibraphone and a vintage harmonium along with guitar, bass, vocals, etc. Although Adjoa — who, typically plays guitar on stage — handled, the majority of the album’s instrumentation herself, the album features a collection of Amsterdam’s finest players collaborating with her, including the members of her live band: Mats Voshol (drums), Daniel van Loenen (trombone), Tim Schakel (guitar), Jonas Pap (strings) and Eelco Topper (vibraphone). Thematically,  the album reveals a young artist poised to make a clear and concise artistic statement, in which she continues an ongoing search for identity while pondering life’s great philosophical questions. “For me,” she says, “music is a way to believe in something deeper.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about album single, the shimmering “Throw Stones.” Centered around a radio friendly hook, fluttering flutes, fuzzy synths, and a looping guitar line, the song features a narrator, desperately trying to calm themselves and their emotions in the face of internet trolls, digital clashes and overall uncertainty. Big Dreaming Ants’ third and latest single “No Room” is a decidedly trippy affair featuring  shimmering guitars, a strutting and sinuous  bass line, atmospheric electronics, twinkling blasts of keys, an expansive song structure, and Adjoa’s gorgeous vocals, the song may be the most expansive song of her career, as it has elements of shoegaze, indie rock and Afro pop. 

Directed by Rudy Aisbey, the recently released video for “No Room” is a cinematic and highly symbolic visual that make connections between Adjoa’s Ghanian roots and her Dutch upbringing, the passion for music that she can trace back to being small, the cultural misunderstandings between child and parent — especially when the child does something unusual. 

“The vision was to bring Nana’s duality in culture and music together,” Rudy Aisbey says in press notes. “Her name stands for so much more in Ghanaian culture. Nana means king/queen and Adjoa is her day name (Monday) which stands for peacemaker. For me, Nana’s music is a journey to finding the answers to life. Nana guides us with music to help us find those answers. I wanted to bring that journey to life in the visuals. In this video we see more of her Ghanaian culture and a journey to finding self— even though people want to put you in a box or want you to become someone else. In the end, she chooses herself. As Nana’s name represents, I hope her music guides people to choose for themselves, to learn more about their heritage in order to gain learnings from heritage and grow. Especially in these times, it is important to know where you’re from, in order to know where you’re going. We could all use a peacemaker.”

Lyric Video: JOVM Mainstay Nana Adjoa Releases a Forward-Thinking Yet Accessible New Single

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the rising Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter  Nana Adjoa — and as you may recall, with the release of her debut effort Down at the Root, Part 1, the Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter began to receive attention across the European Union for an easy-going, 70s singer/songwriter soul sound reminiscent of Bill Withers and others. 

Adjoa can trace the origins of her professional career back to when she was accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she studied jazz — electric bass and double bass; however, however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, Adjoa bean to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying in school and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while jamming with friends, outside of school.  She quickly realized that pursuing a solo career was the best direction for her, so she recruited local musicians and started recording her own material. 

Since the release of Down at the Root, Part 1 and Down at the Root, Part 2, Adjoa has developed a reputation for being a restless sonic explorer, who crafts material centered around deft poeticism and an adventurous yet accessible sense of musicianship. The JOVM mainstay’s highly-anticipated full-length debut is slated for release this fall. The forthcoming album’s second and latest single “Throw Stones” features shimmering and looping guitar figure, metronomic-like drumming, brief blasts of handclaps and fluttering flute  and fuzzy synth arpeggios and a brooding string arrangement paired with Adjoa’s plaintive vocals — and it’s all held together with an infectious hook. And while the song manages to be radio friendly, the song is much murkier under its surface, as its narrator is trying to calm a rumbling anxiousness. 

“This song is about me calming myself down in difficult times. To feel, regroup, and reflect,” Adjoa says in press notes. “If you need that right now, to feel it to embrace it and slowly heal, you can listen to this song and count to 10. You don’t always have to be ‘on’, you are allowed to take time, to rest and come back feeling refreshed, better and stronger. I hope this song gives you pause, time to breathe.”

With the release of her debut Down at the Root, Part 1, the Amsterdam-born and-based Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter  Nana Adjoa began to receive attention across the European Union for an easy-going, 70s radio-like soulful sound reminiscent of Bill Withers and others. The Ghanian-Dutch singer/songwriter can trace the origins of her musical career to  being accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she would study jazz  — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience wasn’t what she imagined it to be. “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. er/“We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.”

Interestingly, around the same time, the Ghanian singer/songwriter began to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while outside of the school environment. Adjoa quickly began to realize that pursing a solo career was the direction she needed to take, and so she formed a backing band and started record her original songs (which resulted in Down at the Root, Part 1 and Down at the Root, Part 2).

Several months have passed since I’ve last written about Adjoa — and as it turns out, she’s been busy working on new material that is slated for a release some time over the course of 2020. But in the meantime, Adjoa’s latest single finds her tackling the legendary Ghanian-born and-based singer/songwriter, composer, bandleader, arranger and guitarist Ebo Taylor’s “Love and Death.”

Adjoa’s take on Taylor’s “Love and Death” retains the original’s melody while being centered around an atmospheric and shimmering production and arrangement featuring a sinuous bass line, stuttering beats, twinkling keys, African polyrhythms, shimmering, angular burst of guitar — and most important, Adjoa’s easy-going yet expressive vocals.  Subtly recalling, Omega La La-era Rubblebucket, Adjoa’s take on Taylor’s “Love and Death” is imbued with the ache of inconsolable loss, while revealing an artist, who is adventurously pushing her sound in new directions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Nana Adjoa Returns with the Mesmerizing and Intimate Sounds and Visuals for “Three”

Over the past few months I’ve written quite a bit about  Nana Adjoa, an up-and-coming Dutch-Ghanian singer/songwriter, who began to receive attention across the European Union and elsewhere with the release of her debut Down at the Root, Part 1, and as you may recall Adjoa was accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she would study jazz  — electric bass and double bass; however, she found the experience to not be what she had always imagined it would.  “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.” Interestingly, around the same time, the Amsterdam-born and-based singer/songwriter began to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while outside of the school environment. Adjoa quickly began to realize that pursing a solo career was the direction she needed to take, and so she formed a band and record her original songs, which has resulted in the attention grabbing Down At The Root Part 1 and the soon-to-be released Down At The Root Part 2.

“Honestly,” Down at the Root Part 2‘s first single was an effortless and breezy affair that seemed indebted to Simply Bill-era Bill Withers, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others, driven by an infectious hook and a lush melody. The EP’s second single, “Part Of It,” much like its predecessor was centered around a lush and plaintive melody, a sinuous and propulsive bass line, and arguably the most straightforward and honest lyrics of the entire EP, with the song focusing on the desire to fit in when you’re an outsider. “Three,” the EP’s aptly titled third single is a stripped down and intimate song in which Adjoa’s lovely and tender vocals are accompanied by simply strummed guitar and some fluttering electronics, which will further the Dutch-Ghaniaan singer/songwriter’s reputation for writing mesmerizing and effortlessly soulful, and thoughtful pop. 

New Audio: Nana Adjoa Returns with an Atmospheric, Soulful, and Straightforward New Single from Forthcoming EP

Last month, I wrote about Nana Adjoa, an up-and-coming Dutch-Ghanian singer/songwriter, who began to receive attention across the European Union and elsewhere with the release of her debut Down at the Root, Part 1. Now, as you may recall Adjoa’s was accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, where she would study jazz (electric bass and double bass); however, she found the experience to not be what she had always imagined it would.  “It was very much like school,” she says in press notes. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.” Around the same time, the Amsterdam-born and-based singer/songwriter began to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while outside. Adjoa began to realize that pursing a solo was the direction she needed to take, and so she formed a band and record her original songs, which has resulted in the attention grabbing Down At The Root Part 1 and the forthcoming Down At The Root Part 2.

“Honestly,” Down at the Root Part 2‘s first single was an effortless and breezy affair that seemed indebted to Simply Bill-era Bill Withers, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others, as the song reveled a self-assured artist beyond her years, who can craft a song that’s driven by an infectious hook and a lush melody — and as Adjoa explained in press notes, the song is what she considers an “outsider track” that grew from a simple piano backing into its current, vibey, jazz-soul arrangement. “I didn’t even think it was going to make the record because it felt so different from the rest,” the Dutch-Ghanian singer/songwriter says. “I guess it’s about how people are scared of the possibility of something bad happening. And that fear is really strange because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Down At The Root, Part 2’s second and latest single is the slow-burning and atmospheric “Part Of It,” a track centered around a lush and plaintive melody, a sinuous and propulsive bass line and arguably the most honest and straightforward lyrics of the EP I’ve heard, as the song focuses on the desire and need to fit in when you’re a complete outsider.

 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Dutch Singer/Songwriter Nana Adjoa Releases Symbolic Visuals for Soulful Single “Honestly”

If you follow me through the various social media platforms, you’d know that I’ve had an absolutely epic time during my first two days in the Windy City — and everyone I’ve met has been a wonderful and kind ambassador to their hometown. Man, right now, I feel as though Chicago can’t do me wrong. But on to the business end of things  . . . 

Nana Adjoa is an up-and-coming Dutch-Ghanaian singer/songwriter, whose father emigrated to Amsterdam in the 1980s and eventually married the Amsterdam-born and-based singer/songwriter’s “very Dutch” mother. Growing up, Adjoa spent a portion of her childhood in the rough and tumble, working class Biljmer neighborhood, a section once described by a local police chief a “national disaster area.” In press notes, Adjoa describes her upbringing as being fairly liberal until her parents’ divorce and their subsequent embrace of Christianity. “The second part off my growing up was with some Christian values, but by this point, I was getting to the age of making up my own mind,” the Dutch-Ghanaian singer/songwriter recalls in press notes. “It was a bit too late for me.” Eventually, there was a rift within her family with the Christians (Nan’s father, mother and brother) on one side and the non-Christians (Nana, her sister and the rest of the extended family) on the other. Understandably religion, as well as questions about her own gender identity and of being a black person in an extremely white environment have been regularly occurring themes and concerns in her work. “In fact, I think I still unconsciously use a lot of Christian ideas and metaphors in my music,” she adds.

Adjoa was accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory to study jazz (electric bass and double bass); however, she found the the experience to not be what she had always imagined it would. “It was very much like school,” she says. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.” Around the same time, the Amsterdam-born and-based singer/songwriter began to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while outside. Adjoa began to realize that pursing a solo was the direction she needed to take, and so she formed a band and record her original songs, which has resulted in the attention grabbing Down at the Root Part 1 and the forthcoming Down at the Root Part 2.

“Honestly,” Down at the Root Part 2‘s first single is an effortless, neo soul affair that nods at Simply Bill-era Bill Withers, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others, as the song reveals a quietly self-assured singer/songwriter beyond her relative youth, who can craft a song that’s driven by an infectious hook and a lush melody; but as Adjoa explains, the song is an “outsider track” that grew from a simple piano backing into its vibey, jazz-like arrangement. “I didn’t even think it was going to make the record because it felt so different from the rest,” Nana says. “I guess it’s about how people are scared of the possibility of something bad happening. And that fear is really strange because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Directed by Bear Damen, the recently released video for “Honestly” features Adjoa and her backing band, as the backing musical act for a surrealistic play; but underneath that are much deeper interpretations — including, the vulnerability of having someone capture your heart, and knowing that with a cruel or thoughtless act, that they can crush it. 

 

Nana Adjoa is an up-and-coming Dutch-Ghanaian singer/songwriter, whose father emigrated to Amsterdam in the 1980s and eventually married the Amsterdam-born and-based singer/songwriter’s “very Dutch” mother. Growing up, Adjoa spent a portion of her childhood in the rough and tumble, working class Biljmer neighborhood, a section once described by a local police chief a “national disaster area.” In press notes, Adjoa describes her upbringing as being fairly liberal until her parents’ divorce and their subsequent embrace of Christianity. “The second part off my growing up was with some Christian values, but by this point, I was getting to the age of making up my own mind,” the Dutch-Ghanaian singer/songwriter recalls in press notes. “It was a bit too late for me.” Eventually, there was a rift within her family with the Christians (Nan’s father, mother and brother) on one side and the non-Christians (Nana, her sister and the rest of the extended family) on the other. Understandably religion, as well as questions about her own gender identity and of being a black person in an extremely white environment have been regularly occurring themes and concerns in her work. “In fact, I think I still unconsciously use a lot of Christian ideas and metaphors in my music,” she adds.

Adjoa was accepted at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory to study jazz (electric bass and double bass); however, she found the the experience to not be what she had always imagined it would. “It was very much like school,” she says. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.” Around the same time, the Amsterdam-born and-based singer/songwriter began to experience a growing divide between the restrictive and theoretical compositions she was studying and the melodic, free-flowing music she’d play while outside. Adjoa began to realize that pursing a solo was the direction she needed to take, and so she formed a band and record her original songs, which has resulted in the attention grabbing Down at the Root Part 1 and the forthcoming Down at the Root Part 2.

“Honestly,” Down at the Root Part 2‘s first single is an effortless, neo soul affair that nods at Simply Bill-era Bill Withers, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others, as the song reveals a quietly self-assured singer/songwriter beyond her relative youth, who can craft a song that’s driven by an infectious hook and a lush melody; but as Adjoa explains, the song is an “outsider track” that grew from a simple piano backing into its vibey, jazz-like arrangement. “I didn’t even think it was going to make the record because it felt so different from the rest,” Nana says. “I guess it’s about how people are scared of the possibility of something bad happening. And that fear is really strange because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You never know what’s going to happen.”