Nataal catches up with the Nigerian-born, London-grown artist ahead of her performance at The Great Escape

“I’ve always wanted to play The Great Escape, so I’m excited to be doing it this year,” Aadae enthuses about her show at the legendary Brighton music festival. The artist exhibits a sincere energy for someone whose gigging diary feels never-ending. “It’s an opportunity to connect with people who are actively seeking out new music and I want to share what I do with as many listeners as I possibly can.” Discovering new sounds in this seaside city is not new for Aadae - last time she was here it was on the hunt for a local mbira player. “After a couple of hours, I finally found him playing at the Pavilion Gardens and we ended up recording together in London.” It’s a small story perhaps, but one that offers a glimpse into Aadae’s dedication to her work. “My music draws from all the things that I have been exposed to growing up,” she explains. “I guess it makes sense that I set out to create something that was as sonically rich and as diverse as my upbringing.”

Born in Nigeria and raised in Peckham, south London, her father’s record collection included Fela Kuti alongside “everything from afro juju and highlife to afrobeat”. A childhood that also saw her study classical music, clarinet and jazz, and spend plenty of time in church, meant that Aadae’s influences were vast from the start. Add to that parties fuelled by 90s R&B, hip hop, UK garage and funky house, and you might arrive somewhere near her own eclectic output.

Personal musical heroes include genre-bending female artists such as Santigold and Erykah Badu: “Seeing Erykah embrace afro culture gave me so much confidence to tune into what makes me the way I am,” she reflects. “Nigerian culture is rich, it’s something I’ve grown to appreciate and am very proud of. I aim to tell my story through a mix of electronic and synthesised sounds and live traditional instrumentation - this is why afrobeat is a massive part of what I do.”

“I wanted to explore how spiritualism feeds into West African culture and narrate my experience of being part of the African diaspora”

This influence is obvious on her invigorating debut EP Agape, which dropped late last year and includes lead tracks ‘River of Tears’, ‘Die Happy’ and ‘Flatline (Make Me Lose My Mind)’. “I wanted to explore how spiritualism feeds into West African culture and narrate my experience of being part of the African diaspora,” she explains. “I put together a body of work that is as London as I am, and as in tune with Nigeria as I am. Both cultures are equally important to me and I wanted to celebrate that.” With new material scheduled for release soon, 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Aadae as she continues to cross physical and auditory boundaries.

The Great Escape is 17-19 May at venues across Brighton

Published on 17/05/2018