The singer-songwriter is taking us to the islands for her latest single.
Imagine it now: the sun-beaming down from above, the hot sand burning your soles and beads of sweat forming from the sweltering heat. What we would give right now to be soaking up some rays from the island sun. Luckily, Canadian-Nigerian singer-songwriter Falana is giving us a taste with her latest single “Joy”. Inspired by the feel-good nature of island life, the singer’s latest single is a vibrant fusion of afrobeats and elegant R&B, laced with Falana’s hypnotic vocals.
“It’s crazy that the song was written two weeks before the world went into lockdown,” says Falana. “Over the last ten months, the song’s sentiment surfaces all the time, whether it’s in everyday conversation, on the news or at social media. It feels like the song was birthed right at the time that the world needed it.”
Falling in-between a range of different genres, the young singer-songwriter has been influenced by her journeys to London, Denmark and Cuba over the years. With lockdown putting her inspirational trips on hold, Falana caught up with us talking finding creativity in these difficult times, filming the video in Jamaica and how she’s ready to release her debut album.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Falana! How are you? How’s lockdown been?
Lockdown was productive at the best of times, and an existential mess at the worst of times haha. I think it has been a rollercoaster of emotions that I am sure everyone can relate to. I have been fortunate to be able to still create, perform and even release music, so I’m grateful and taking out the positives.
What is your earliest memory of music?
My earliest memory is singing a song from the Sound of Music on stage when I was 4, in a little quartet choir. However, my favourite memory is discovering and becoming obsessed with the Fugees’ version of “Killing Me Softly”. I remember singing it while drawing a crayon picture of myself singing the song on a stage! It was like me visualizing myself as a singer, I guess lol. I wish my parents were the sentimental type and kept my childhood drawings lol.
What is it like releasing music in a difficult time?
Well, normally the best part about releasing music is getting to perform it on stage! I literally live for stage, and built a lot of my career just by performing live. So, not being able to tour is really difficult, and there is truly no replacement for performing in front of a live audience.
You travel quite a lot for your creativity, how has being able to travel affected it?
Well, it definitely sucks. But innovation is the name of the game in these times. I have been able to connect with other songwriters and producers virtually. I have also returned to the basics, songwriting on my own with piano and guitar like I did when I first started making music. Of course, there is nothing to replace travelling to new places and environments and meeting new people as inspiration for music, but I now find myself looking for inspiration in films, and tv shows. So we keep it moving.
Congratulations on your new single “Joy”, what was the inspiration behind the single and what was the production process like?
The song feels almost prophetic in a way, because I wrote the song literally one week before the entire world went into a lockdown. I remember sitting at GeeJam studios in Jamaica reflecting on how far I had come as an artist and as a person, and just feeling so grateful for life. I was sitting eating porridge before my session, and I just remember listening to this Jamaican playlist thinking, “Llife is too short to not to be grateful for every single damn day”. So I just felt like I needed to channel that energy into a song. I went into a session with a good friend and songwriter Omolara Ayodele, and we penned the lyrics to the song. Flash forward and now I feel like the song has hit this mood that everyone is trying to hold onto because of the crazy times we are in.
The single shows new layers to your songwriting, what was the process of developing it like?
The writing process was fun and I think because both Omolara and I had recently overcome some personal challenges, it was really easy to lean into those experiences and birth the lyrics. I think I am learning as a songwriter how to translate an emotion or a feeling in a way that is simple and cuts through and leaves the listeners humming the song after one listen! A lot of my favourite songwriters approach songwriting this same way, and it ends up making the song even more powerful. So it’s a very different approach from how I used to write, but it’s great because I feel like I am becoming more versatile as a songwriter.
The video for the single is stunning, what was it like filming in Jamaica?
It was an amazing vibe on set. We actually almost got rained out, because the forecast predicted thunderstorms all day. So the whole team was a bit nervous but we pushed on, tried to be optimistic and for the most part the rain held up! I think that the overcast sky ended up adding the most amazing aesthetic to the visuals. I was in Canada before we shot the video, and Savannah Baker who I was super excited to work with on a creative level was in LA, so the one place that ended up making sense to execute the creative vision (because of covid restrictions) was Jamaica. I worked with the amazing Jamaican director Mykal Cushnie and a great production team led by Tamo Ennis who was working production miracles on set. So it all kinda felt full circle because the song and a lot of my album was also recorded in Jamaica at Geejam.
Who are your main inspirations?
Growing up, I was exposed to the music my parents played to keep their connection to Nigeria, so it definitely influenced how I hear and interpret rhythm and melody. Fela Kuti, King Sunny Ade, and Yoruba Gospel music was always on rotation. But at the same time, my discovery of pop, soul and R&B – Lauryn Hill, Sia, Sade, Erykah and even Florence and the Machine has really helped shape my songwriting and a sound that I think is very much my own.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
Kate Bush! She is a brilliant songwriter and she was so brilliant at creating characters that she would embody on stage and in her songwriting. Or I would love to work with filmmaker Sir Steven McQueen, whether I am songwriting for one of his films, or turning a song or album into a short film. I love his work!
With the single now out, what else can we expect from you in coming months, is there an EP or album in the works?
I am definitely looking forward to releasing my debut album. But before that an EP and a single. It’s been such a journey making this project and I am looking forward to finally releasing it into the world. I miss being on stage, so definitely going to be performing, virtual or otherwise, as often as possible, anywhere in the world!