If there is one thing for sure, it’s that London is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to finding new music, and its latest blessing is artist on the rise, Hamzaa. First breaking out on to the scene in 2018 with her serene hit “Breathing Pt. 2”, Hamzaa returned with her explosive new single “In Between” earlier this month and she’s making her stance known. Embracing a fresh neo-pop sound, the singer effortlessly rides the smooth production, honing in on her powerhouse vocals and silky tone. Intertwining her new sonic territory with fellow rising artist Miraa May, the two come together on the genre-bending production, combing their soul-stirring vocals and intricate lyricism.
On the new single, Hamzaa says “This record is about two powerful women coming together with a firm and unshakeable message. You can either be the peace, or the motion between the chaos and watch me grow cause we’re not stopping or changing for anyone!”
Aged just 22, Hamzaa has already been tipped by various tastemakers as a one to watch, with music being playlisted for BBC Introducing and Radio 1XTRA. Set to drop her new project in June, we caught up with Hamzaa talking everything we can expect and why she decided to change sounds.
Check out the interview below…
Heya Hamzaa! We are almost halfway through this year, how has it been for you so far?
It’s been quite random, some days are busy, some days are quiet, I am still trying to make sense of the new normal that we have got going on in London… whatever that is. Being back after so long feels like a rebirth because I have had a chance to explore myself as a person, and new sounds. I wasn’t sure how 2021 was going to start out, because it had been a rough year prior, not just music but personal, I wasn’t trying to get my hopes up but when I put out In Between things started to feel exciting again, being back in front of the camera makes me feel normal, getting back to work put a positive spin on what the pandemic made feel negative. In January I was fortunate enough to perform a cover for Netflix in association with NME- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Then a few weeks ago performing at the BRITs Pre Award show was a reminder that there’s hope for live music to make a comeback. I am so happy I am putting out music, I can’t wait to release my project, putting out music makes me happy, it gives me a sense of purpose.
With everything that has happened over the past year, do you think your creativity has been impacted?
I would say that there has been loads of ideas floating around in my head, and things I want to try, but I feel like when you have been cooped up inside for so long you almost forget how to express that, so I would say it has been impacted both positively and negatively, I am always trying to find new ways to create, even if it’s outside of music to express how I feel. Like, I have been on this crazy weight loss journey, I put on a lot of weight at the start of my relationship and when the 1st lockdown started, it was the perfect time to consistently work on that, I lost 50lbs in 7 months – I feel really good. I also love to cook, everyone that knows me will tell you how much I love to cook for others, I take pride in my cooking. I love coming up with new and whacky recipes that maybe only I would like but I have fun doing it, cooking is therapeutic. I also gained clarity on my creative vision, I became more definitive and particular with everyone I work with, I was very much involved in everything from creating mood boards treatments, selecting everyone who has worked on my new project, including; directors, MUA, styling etc.
You’re from London, which is a huge melting-pot of culture and music, doing you think growing up here influenced your sound in anyway?
This one is a hard one because I don’t think being from London impacts my music, but it definitely impacts my character more, me and music have a personal relationship, I try my best to not let my surroundings affect it.
You’ve just released your new single and video for “In Between”, what was the production process like and working with Miraa May?
I had a studio in east London where Coffee and Detonate came and I remember just starting from a conversation about what I really want to say that I haven’t shown anyone, I realised there was a lot more grit to me and my energy than I sometimes give off, and I wanted to find a tasteful way to do that, without the heavy metal type song. Working with Miraa has been insane, she is a talented writer and artist and to put those two things together you get magic.
This song sees you venture out in a new type of sonic territory, why the slight change in sound?
I think as artists we should be allowed to do what we want and express freely, and if that means changing up the sound or sentient sometimes, I think it’s healthy, it allows me to explore parts of myself without feeling like I am holding back or censoring myself. My new sound is gritty, punchy and fun, it makes you want to move and cry at the same time.
You first broke out on to the scene in 2018, since then you’ve gone on to support some incredible people and play at sold-out shows, what’s been your biggest pinch-me moment so far?
I feel like there’s been so many pinch-me moments, I am truly grateful for everything that has happened so far, Jools Holland that was crazy, I froze when I walked into the set, it felt unreal, I was a nervous wreck but as soon as I started singing I was fine, I couldn’t believe I was on live on TV performing my first live show. Selling out my headline shows was insane, all of them sold out! That was crazy. There have been so many moments honestly, even when I landed in LA for the first time, I have never been to America, and it was the first time I was going there, and it was to make music and write, it was almost like “is this real” and until this day I get excited about going to LA, the energy is different.
What do you want people to take away from your sound?
I want people to go away thinking it’s raw and in all its forms me and that this wouldn’t be the first or last new energy that you’re going to hear from me, I am looking to take everyone on a journey and be transparent about my growth
Who would you cite as your musical inspirations?
I hate this question, and not because you asked but because it’s so hard to answer, I genuinely don’t feel like I can pinpoint one specific inspiration, it’s a melting pot of me listening to sounds and music of all genres that I like, for example, folk, R&B, Rock all of that cross-genre madness and it’s me trying to create my own version of that.
You’re due to drop your next project in June, what can we expect and what are you excited for us to hear?
Expect fun but also I want people to read in between the lines, the next song that I am putting outcomes from a place of being confused about peoples quote on quote ‘ill intentions’ but still feeling like it’s my duty to care and how that can consume a person. My new project is a combination of new emotions about the same things and how they have all managed to all affect me in different ways, the songs are new perspectives of what I feel and think about. It feels so good to put out a body of work with this new sound because ultimately I have been able to do it in a way that is really authentic to me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.