South London has birthed some the UK’s most prolific rappers and singers over the years, with the likes of Stormzy and Krept and Konan flying the flag. But with the new generation of musicians on the rise, burgeoning newcomer VALNTNA is quickly becoming one to watch with her new hard-hitting single “Black Kingz”. Taking us through a plethora of soulful R&B rhythms and subtle guitar melodies, VALNTNA delivers an emotive lullaby laced with honeyed vocals and unforgettable soothing hooks. Dissecting the obstacles and pain of black men in today’s society, the singer creates an anthem filled with unity, strength and power.
Speaking on the single, the artist said, “I deliver a powerful message to shine a light on these issues, empowering all Black Kingz to come together, uplift themselves and each other and embrace the change that is distinctly upon us. Projecting love, healing and unity.”
With her passion for music stemming from her love of 90’s R&B icons, VALNTNA has been steadily building up her music catalogue with hits “Foolish Ways” and “CCW (Confidently Constantly Wrong)” sending waves though the UK scene. With more music on the way, we caught up with the singer talking the new single, inspirations and what we can expect next.
Check out the interview below…
Hi VALNTNA – how have you been during this uncertain time? How has it impacted your music and creativity?
In all honesty, I’ve been okay, just been taking each day as it comes. Even though it’s been very uncertain times I’ve used it to step outside of my comfort zone and learn more about myself, it’s such a beautiful thing when you can turn a negative situation into a positive one. Creatively I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to spend my lockdown in The Pink Room Studios with my creative guru PINK MAYNE. We worked on so many amazing tracks, “Black Kingz” being one of them. It definitely impacted my music as I didn’t get to perform as I used to but I had to think outside of the box which actually worked in my favour; as I’ve connected with so many amazing people and creatives around the world whilst still growing my fanbase!
How did growing up in the melting pot of south London influence you sonically? Who were your musical heroes? And how would you describe your genre?
South London is very raw, authentic with a lot of cultural depth and that’s played a huge influence on me sonically. I feel my music is very narrative. I love to take the listener on a journey whatever the emotion. “Wings to the Mind” and “Flight to the Imagination”, I would describe my genre as cinematic RnB and soul. My musical heroes ranged from Tina Turner, Lauryn Hil, Whitney Huston, Mary J Blidge, Micheal Jackson, Nina Simone to name a few.
You released your single recently “Black Kingz” – which explores the societal struggles of black men – why was it important for you to champion this message of empowerment, especially at a time like this?
As Nina Simone said, “It’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live” and I truly believe that! During lockdown, we all witnessed the horrific brutality that sent shockwaves and woke up the world to the reality of the struggles black men continue to face within a society filled with racial inequality and injustice. It was important for me to shine a light on these issues, empowering all black males to come together, uplift themselves and each other by spreading love, healing and unity for united as one we rise!
The track premiered on BBC Radio 1Xtra – how did this come about, and how did you feel when you heard it on the radio?
DJ Ace has been so supportive with my music so far so it was an honour to have him being a “Black King” to premiere the song. I didn’t see it any other way to be honest. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to hearing my music on the radio but for this particular song it was a very special moment for me just because of everything the song stands for and represents!
In the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, why is music with purpose more important than ever? And do you believe artists have a responsibility?
I grew up listening to music with a purpose, so for me personally, it’s always been important to me. It’s just unfortunate how much music has shifted that we don’t really hear too much of it anymore. But in times like this, it’s more important than ever to hear music with purpose because music is powerful, it elevates the spirit, it inspires the mind and puts our soul in tune and as an artist, it’s our responsibility to provide that.
What’s been the best piece of feedback you’ve had from anyone about the track and how it made them feel?
I’ve had a lot of amazing feedback from fans, family, friends, blogs, DJ’s etc. But if I had to pick, the best piece it would have to be when someone said it made them feel empowered, seen and more importantly like a king.
And the music video is so powerful – who is the gorgeous kid at the beginning?
Thank you so much, the cutest thing ever right! He’s one of the amazing creatives I met during lockdown son. Chiyanti is from Houston and we met doing Instagram lives. So when I started the “Black Kingz” campaign she sent me his video and we knew straight away that we were going to add it to the beginning of the video.
And love the Black Panther spoken word element with you throughout, even stylistically with you in a beret – what did you want to convey with it?
I’m glad you liked it, I wanted to convey a figure of strength, authority and leadership nostalgic of the era of Malcolm X!
(LEFT) Earrings KITTY JOYAS, Top SS21 HUGO BOSS, Dress, Jacket and Shoes MM6 AVANT PREMIERE SS2. (RIGHT) Earrings MI MANERA, Jacket JAKKE, Dress HILDUR YEOMAN, Shoes GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI.
Earrings KITTY JOYAS, Top SS21 HUGO BOSS, Dress, Jacket and Shoes MM6 AVANT PREMIERE SS2. Earrings MI MANERA, Jacket JAKKE, Dress HILDUR YEOMAN, Shoes GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI.
And the footage from the protests, as well as news snippets and even historical moments with Martin Luther King – it’s impactful – what do you hope fans will take from it?
Knowledge. I hope fans will take it as a reminder of all those who fought before us and paved a way. It’s our responsibility to carry on that fight until we reach our goal for justice.
The reference to kneeling on necks… Is there one particular lyric that you hope will resonate with listeners?
Honestly, I hope the whole song resonates with the listeners as I feel each line holds beauty and is beautiful in its own way. However, I do feel particular lyrics will naturally stand out more because of what they represent in connection to current situations..
What’s your relationship with social media and how do you feel it has directly impacted how we receive news, art and music?
Me and social media have what I like to call a situationship. I’ve learnt to use it more to my benefit and not get too attached as it can be very consuming… It definitely has its major positives as news gets spread faster and you can literally connect with anyone around the world which is brilliant for me in regards to building my fanbase, sharing my music and connecting with other creatives but on the downside it can be very challenging mentally when there’s a lot of negative news and energy being shared.
What’s been your biggest pinch-me moment so far?
I’ve had some amazing moments from doing a UK area tour to being part of Stormzy’s epic performance at the Brits 2020 but nothing beats the feeling you get when someone tells you how your music has touched them and physically brought them to tears or helped them through a rough situation. That for me is definitely my pitch me moment being part of changing someone’s life‘.
What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to next year?
I’m currently putting together my first project/EP which I’m really excited about. I work alongside an amazing team of creatives made up of songwriter/producer Pink Mayne and producer 80svn. We’ve got some amazing tracks up our sleeves. It’s going to be epic! I’m also really looking forward to getting back on stage, I really miss it. Being on stage is magical and sharing my music with strangers, making that connection… There’s nothing like it!