Wonderland.

CLASS OF 2018

Four of London’s favourite talents school us on what it means to be original.

While the capital has always churned out musical mavens, it feels like our current class of creatives are A-grade. Grime’s on its second wave, south London has powered a jazz revival, Afrobeat inflected tracks are climbing the charts just in time for summer, and our unshakeable 90s nostalgia has softened R&B for a silkier, sleepier, 21st century iteration. With four London musicians, we take a snapshot of the city-wide soundtrack right now. Our finest talents have always remixed and reworked genres of the past, but it’s only masters who can tap into them and make something that feels entirely new. Jamie Isaac, Sasha Keable, Jelani Blackman and Aadae lay down a lesson in what it means to be original.

Aadae

Shoes CLARKS and trousers, T-shirt and jacket TOPSHOP

Nigerian-born Aadae makes Afrobeat decorated songs for pop lovers. Her voice is so strong, so unfaltering, you feel nourished after just once listen, almost revived from a haze you didn’t even know you were in. Arriving with her debut track “River Of Tears” just last year, her audible energy and emotion — whether that’s uplifting or overwhelming — has won her spots on festival lineups this summer. With latest track “Just Found Out” released 8 June, Aadae’s only just getting started but has already grabbed attention.

What’s your name?
Do you want my real name or my stage name?

We’ll have them all. 
Oh you’ll have them all, ok. Alright. My stage name is Aadae, my real name is Aadaenikae. 

How old are you?
I’m 35. 

No!
This is what 35 looks like!

Where are you from?
I’m from south east London. Peckham to be precise. 

How did you become a singer-songwriter? 
Boredom, just being young and growing up in a really rough area and I got into singing. I guess my mum really encouraged us because it probably kept us out of trouble. 

What do you want to be remembered for?
The way I made people feel. 

How do you want to make them feel?
Peaceful and happy. 

What era of creativity has influenced you most?
Probably the late 80s, but specifically, late 80s African, west African pop. 

What is the most important word to you in the English language?
Please. 

If you could remove one word from the English language, which would it be?
Ugly. 

What one word would describe your creative process?
In-depth. 

What does it mean to you to be original?
Standing your truth, whatever that means to you. 

Who is the most original person in your world and why?
This is a really hard one. I think my sister actually. She’s always been really true to who she is and unafraid to say how she feels and express herself. I think that is one of the hardest things you can do, to be honest with yourself, she is always honest with herself.

Jamie Isaac

Shoes CLARKS and trousers, T-shirt and jacket TOPSHOP

We’ve had a great big sonic crush on Jamie Isaac since he first floated onto the radar in 2011. The singer and producer’s syrup smooth vocals and minimalist jazz tracks will have you fantasising about nostalgic eras you’ve never known. With his second album (4:30) Idler having landed last minth, 11 tracks of quietly confident hip hop with electronic and soul notes are set to cement the south Londoner further as the gem at the forefront of the area’s scene.

What’s your name?
My name’s Jamie Isaac.

How old are you?
I’m 23.

Where are you from?
I’m from south London.

How did you become a musician?
I guess I started becoming a musician when I was… Well I’ve always been in love with music. My nan used to have a piano in her house and I always went to play with it. Through hard work, I’m here now.

What do you want to be remembered for?
I don’t know. I don’t want to do this question, that’s ridiculous!

What era of creativity has influenced you the most, then?
The era that influences me the most would be late 50s west coast America. The jazz scene there, which they call the ‘cool’ era of jazz, which is Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, real romantic music, that style has influenced me a lot.

What one word would describe your creative process?
The one word that would describe my creative process would be relentless because I don’t stop working that much… Well, I do…

Well, what’s the most important word to you in the English language?
The most important word in the English language to me is ‘no’, because I say it a lot.

What does it mean to you to be original?
I think it’s quite difficult to be original. Ok, so I shouldn’t say that, that’s definitely not what you’re looking for, is it?

No, that’s alright!
Ok. Yeah, I think it’s difficult to call yourself original nowadays. I think without drawing influence from a lot of other things, well, you have to know what your influences are really. And, I think to be original is to keep true to yourself. Do what you want to do, but don’t hide the fact that that’s where your ideas came from.

Who is the most original person in your world and why?
The most original person, or people, to me are probably my parents. They are very strong minded. They don’t come from a lot but they are very loving and they know exactly what they want. So I’d like to draw influence from that as well.

Sasha Keable

Shoes CLARKS and trousers, T-shirt and jacket TOPSHOP

After bursting into the public consciousness with her feature on Disclosure’s “Voices” in 2013, the then teenage Sasha Keable was snapped up for collaborations with everyone who was anyone. Appearing on Katy B’s Honey in 2016 — a record that served as a who’s who of the talents about to break — and Snakehips’ “Overtime”, her expert restraint and the subdued power in her voice won over the ears of the capital’s biggest producers; she’s got a bold but sensitive style that is London through-and-through. Quietly working on new music since her stream of collabs, her single “That’s The Sh*t” is out soon.

What’s your name?
My name is Sasha Keable.

How old are you?
I’m 24.

Where are you from?
I’m from south London.

How did you become a musician?
I started writing when I was really young. We didn’t really have much money so [me and my dad] just played the guitar then printed off tabs and that’s how I realised that I love it. It just went on from there.

What do you want to be remembered for?
I think I want to be remembered for being a nice person and making some fucking sick music.

What era of creativity has influenced you the most?
Probably the 70s, like, I loved Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder and I feel like I was definitely born in the wrong era.

What one word would describe your creative process?
Emotional. Very emotional. That’s two.

What’s the most important word for you in the English language?
Oh god. Probably ‘fuck’ or something like that, or ‘fuck off’. That’s two words again, sorry. Or ‘thank you’, politeness doesn’t cost you a thing so yeah, ‘thank you’.

If you could remove one word from the English language, what would it be?
Something like ‘moist’. Just don’t say it!

What does it mean to you to be original?
It means not to care about what other peopler think and just to always be true to — well for me anyways — my own vision of things, and not give in.

Who’s the most original person in your world and why?
My mum probably because, she just is.

Jelani Blackman

Shoes CLARKS and trousers, T-shirt and jacket TOPSHOP

Raised in Ladbroke Grove, singer and rapper Jelani Blackman takes notes from his heritage. Born into a Sierra Leonean/Irish and Barbadian family, he grew up playing steel pans at Notting Hill Carnival and now he mixes Afrobeat intonations with rave, jungle and influence from his grime idols like Dizzee. After immediate success with his debut release “Twenty//Three” in 2014, he had to hole up in the studio to build up enough material to support his hype. Since, he’s excelled himself, having released two EPs and a mixtape, and garnered comparisons to Frank Ocean and King Krule. With his new, twisted dance track “Go Low” out now, it’s onto the next chapter for Blackman.

What’s you name?
My name is Jelani Blackman.

How old are you?
I’m 26.

Where are you from?
London.

What do you do?
I rap and I sing and I produce and I play sax.

How did you become a musician?
Slowly. I got to it through a long process of fun and also hard work, through rap and sax.

What do you want to be remembered for?
Enjoying life.

What era of creativity has influenced you most?
I’d by lying if I didn’t say 90s.

What one word would describe your creative process?
Eclectic. You know what I was thinking? 90s, because it’s so big at the moment, but it definitely is 90s for me.

What is the most important word to you in the English language?
Pedantic.

If you could remove on word from the English language, which would it be?
None, we need them all! We need all of the words.

What does it mean to you to be original?
I feel like if you’re trying to find a way to be original, you’re not being that original.

Who is the most original person in your world and why?
Probably one of the young people I know, because they don’t know what it meant yet to be a person.

Taken from the Summer 2018 Issue; out now and available to buy here.

Photography
Bartek Szmigulski
Fashion
Jessica Gardener
Words
Lily Walker
Hair
Yuuki Yanase using Davines
Makeup
Grace Ellington using MAC Cosmetics
CLASS OF 2018