New Noise: Purple Ferdinand

Catching up with the soul songstress.

London based Vanessa “Purple” Ferdinand has been delighting us with incredible EPs for years. Her glistening, soulful vocals and soothing R&B melodies have established her as one of the most captivating artists around.

Back with her new EP “Rain or Shine”, Purple has emerged triumphant after parting ways with Columbia Records. The 7 song EP is absolutely stunning, showing off Purple’s sexy and sophisticated sound. Feeling “free”, this year is destined to give Purple the power to show us the artist that she truly is.

We caught up with her to find out more about her.

Where did the name Purple Ferdinand come from?

It came about when I was truly beginning to share my art and writing around late 2011, I felt like Purple as a colour, a mood was deep, dark but bold and sensual, rich and soulful but still mysterious and I really resonated with that thought. My great grandmother’s name was Violet also! Ferdinand is my surname; family is the root of everything for me.

Who are your main musical influences?

I wouldn’t say I had main influences as there are so very many I appreciated growing up; I was exposed to a lot of different music – Patsy Cline, John Holt, Eva Cassidy, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash, Shirley Bassey. All the Reggae and Soca you can imagine! A lot of rare groove and lovers rock was played at home so a lot of Janet Kay, Jean Adebambo, Carol Thompson (I never really realised how much lovers rock had influenced my style until a little while back and it was kind of surprising, as as a child I’d roll my eyes when these records came on) – there was also lots of R&B classics, Garage tunes. I fell in love with Neo- Soul when I was in college: Dwele, Music Soulchild, India Aire, Raheem DeVaughn, Kill Scott. I remember I loved Sum 41’s “All Killer No Filler” also!!! And from there really started exploring different genres more confidently – the list goes on an on and is still really evolving.

You’ve just released your amazing new EP “Rain or Shine”. Can you tell us a bit about it?

“Rain or Shine” EP is in my heart like a letter to a friend. I really wanted a live feel, a band to play and then go with the emotion. I voice my concerns with the world as well as my thoughts and feelings in love. I have songs like “Stay” that I wrote inspired by all the people I know battling inner issues and not feeling like enough; I wanted to be a voice of reassurance that we can make it to the other side of depression and we can be bright and wonderful together. Then I have “Have A Heart” which is about heartache and questioning the humility in someone that broke your heart. I wanted “Rain or Shine” to explore the duality of emotion and life, as that is something I personally think of on a daily basis. I think it has a little something for everyone with a little reminder that rain or shine I’m here, I care, I feel it too and we can all go on.

“I think it has a little something for everyone with a little reminder that rain or shine I’m here, I care, I feel it too and we can all go on.”

It’s your first EP since parting ways with Columbia Records, how has the creative process differed?

This project is in my own hands this time and it was incredibly refreshing, calm and rewarding to have everything I’d hoped to do seen through by myself. Creatively I have a very strong point of view for myself but I’m not great at explaining what it is or how I want it to work. I’d rather show you! I’ve just always known what my way is. Working with a label there are so many people involved, it often caused things to take longer because they need to be run past so many people and communication then takes more time and the more people, the more opinions – and it was great support but not always progressive for me. It was organic jamming with the band and letting the songs form themselves, no pressure. It feels like making art again!

People went crazy over your Afropunk festival performance in London last year! What was that like?

Very inspiring! I was beyond excited, as the first festival I ever played was Afropunk Brooklyn in 2012 and since then I’d dreamt of being able to do it in my hometown. I’d not known how many people would get to see my performance or how the new music would be received as I played songs from this new EP at the festival and I knew nobody had heard them. The smiles, the energy and the DANCING though! I’ve never had songs people could dance to before and be it a full-on move or sweet two-step it was a very fulfilling moment to know I’d shared something new and it was being accepted and truly enjoyed. Felt like it went by very fast!

Where would be your dream place to perform?

Oooh Brazil, I’ve received an abundant amount of love and messages from people enjoying my music out there and that really warms my soul, inspires me to do more and wanna see more. To sing with a view of Ipanema! Though generally I’d perform in the most obscure places if I could, as another dream location of mine is in a cave system somewhere with natural acoustics and power.

Who are your favourite artists you’re listening to at the moment?

At the moment Syd, D.R.A.M, Sampha, DVSN, Little Dragon, SZA.

What else do you have planned for 2017?

Make music, share music, the more the better! I’m really ready to share the truest me now I’m free!

Like this? Buy the Spring ’17 Issue here.

New Noise: Purple Ferdinand

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