“Let me introduce my name…” sings Loah on her stunning new song This Heart (below). The blend of Ireland and Sierra Leone is remarkable as she takes on a suit of East-meets-West soul, delivering a song that sits in the a timeless and classy ‘citizen of the world’ realm. We caught Loah for a quick Q&A to find out more…
First musical memory?
Dancing to Lionel Richie at my sister’s christening.
First album you ever bought?
With my own shekels I think it was The Writing’s On The Wall by Destiny’s Child – wore the CD out so badly, scratched it to bits.
Describe your vibe in three words (but then tell us a bit more about how This Heart came along).
Art, Heart, Soul! This Heart is inspired by the tune Coronus the Terminator by Flying Lotus. I literally wanted to recreate the way that song made me feel when I first heard it. Conceptually it’s a conversation between three voices – vulnerable human in pain, calmer ‘higher self’ character and then the lineage of relatives who all lived and died before us. Musically speaking, I sing a sample of Allegri’s Miserere and there’s a part in krio.
It’s an incredible track that melds different influences and languages. In a climate that can often be closed off to world music, was that ever a worry?
I can’t say it was a worry but I get what you mean! I think people are closed off by the genre itself because it’s such an umbrella term. When it’s applied it takes away the individual story of the artists. I suppose that goes for most genres really. As soon as people get to know more about the individual’s story then it becomes just a relationship between a listener and the music. I reckon Fela Kuti is a good example of someone who transcended that mammoth world music label. Him and Tony Allen then created a new ‘genre’ Afrobeat – it’s just a way of describing the sound more specifically and gives it personality. People then already have a different relationship with the tunes.
But even that’s interesting because now Afrobeat means something else. I don’t feel like I’m making ‘world music’ because that’s so vague but I understand that people might perceive it that way because there’s bits that aren’t in English and I reference a wide range of musical idioms – that’s about as close a definition as one can give to world music I think! I hope people can look past the associations they might have and give it a chance to see if they connect with the tune, I suppose that’s what it comes down to right?
Which brings us on to your own mixed heritage. What do you think you have taken from either side, both musically and in your personal life?
Musically the mixed heritage has meant I’ve had really wide exposure to a lot of stuff that I didn’t have to go looking for. It’s been handed to me somewhat because my mum is a legend who brought me to every type of musical learning experience, then also because of living both in Ireland and West Africa I just got to hear so much that has internalised to varying degrees. Personally it does give this slightly wider view of the world I think but when people get to know me the truth is that I’m very Irish in a lot of humorously stereotypical ways.
Back to the trivia! An album you would never listen to again?
Cannot think of a single one! Probably something I have certain emotional associations with that I don’t want to dredge up, but I can’t even think of any – presumably my mind has fully deleted even the memory itself.
Your inspirations, musical and otherwise?
At the moment I am loving afrobeats (the new meaning I mentioned!) – Tekno, Mr Eazi, Maleek Berry, that crowd of legends based in Nigeria dishing out some serious tunes and all collaborating with each other, it’s amazing. Non-musically some friends have introduced me to Rick and Morty which I somehow hadn’t watched and it’s taking me on some major philosophical inner quests, while being absurdly funny. Some humorous musings on the cosmos might make it into the next few tunes…
What are your current jams?
Ah – as above! Check out Pana by Tekno, Leg Over by Mr Eazi, Kontrol by Maleek Berry for a few examples! Amazing production and just perfect hooks.
Any guilty pleasures, musical or non?
I’m in an effort to do away with guilt these days and keep the pleasure part (!) but I do have an over-the-top love of crisps to the amusement of many. Tunes-wise I certainly don’t feel guilty about it but people are sometimes surprised to hear I’m a major Deftones fan.
Your dream collaborations?
Where to begin. I think a tune with Frank Ocean would be sweet. Tinariwen, Bjork. Who wouldn’t want to work with Bjork?!
And finally: Favourite Beyonce song?
Can I pick a Destiny’s Child one instead?!! My sister reminded me to listen to The Writing’s on the Wall again recently which I hadn’t done in years and listening back now I cannot believe how perfect So Good is.