Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Mar 19th 2010 2:45AM by Rob Smy
Describe your style in your own words.
I would say it's eclectic, conversational and semi-intellectual.
How did you get started as an MC?
Actually, I started out as a DJ, playing at rec centers in my immediate community, and house and basement parties, doing cassette tapes and stuff like that. Then I kind of morphed into an MC from writing, because I had been writing poetry since I was 27 or 29 years old and studied percussion as an adolescent.
What are your musical influences?
My immediate influences are my mom, the church choir, my grandma and the people I had been exposed to as a child, growing up in my household, like Minnie Riperton and Sarah Vaughan.
Do you have a favorite or special place where you write?
No, because any time inspiration strikes me I try to jot down ideas and concepts. It could be from a conversation on my travels, or while running day-to-day errands.
Do you get more satisfaction from writing alone or with co-writers?
It depends on the energy, because for me there's a spiritual process in lyrical production. There has to be a synergy with the person that I'm collaborating with. If there's no spark or chemistry there, I probably wouldn't work with them.
How do you determine if that spark is there? How quickly can you identify that when meeting a new person?
It's just a knowing. You can tell from your spirit, one person to another. Sometimes it's in the music, too -- certain people I may follow I can tell by the way they word and phrase their lyrics or a song or if I've heard an interview with them, it strikes me and I just know. It's by design, basically.
What led you to want to work with Roni Size on 'New Forms' back in 1997?
I wanted to push the envelope and do something different because it was there to explore. I hadn't heard of Roni prior to the collaboration, but it was through King Britt that I became aware of the whole Broken Beat scene at that time. Roni reached out to me after hearing a snippet cassette and he heard my vocal tones and he wanted to work with me. It was a really cool piece of music and a challenge and just really different at the time.
Did you ever tour with Roni when he went on the road here or in the UK?
I did a few spots with him in the States, but I had my radio show during that time so I was obligated to be here when he did festivals and shows in the UK.
How did you come up with the name Bahamadia?
It's the phonetic spelling of two Arabic words -- badia means "original creation" and hamd'allah means "thankful to God." I know that I am a unique person and just myself. I'm happy to be here, expressing myself and finding out what my life's work entails as a musician and writer.
Is this your first SXSW and what's in your festival survival kit?
Yes, it is. In my kit is the Holy Bible because I have to stay spiritually grounded, and for me the Christian doctrine works superbly. I'll make sure I get adequate rest, vitamins and Gummy Bears, sometimes Swedish Fish.
Who was your first inspiration as a musician?
In terms of production, writing and wanting to play a part in social change in an effective way, I would have to say Stevie Wonder.
What's your musical guilty pleasure?
That would be keyboards. I love keyboards. Currently, I'm being cost-effective, and I'm in the habit of collecting drum machines -- Street Boxes are my favorite.
Would you say you're into gadgets?
Well I've just become a techie, I just got a BlackBerry. I've been out of the loop and I've just begun tweeting -- we're in the information age now and I'm still kind of old-school, still down with analog and vinyl. Making the transition has been painful, but it was necessary. I'm learning the text jargon.
What's the craziest thing you've experienced while on the road?
One time I had a show in Dusseldorf and there were these three Asian kids there and they thought I still had my Afro from when I first came out in '96. They didn't speak any English and they came to the show and they had gigantic Afros and tans -- like my complexion. I thought it was weird but an almost cool and humbling thing, and kind of spooky. To have an impact on someone's life that the three of them would want to transform -- that was kind of crazy. They knew every word to every song, but they couldn't speak any English afterward.
So what's next for Bahamadia, any other collaborations coming up?
I'm currently working on a pre-release, it's the first installment and it's called 'Here.' It's featuring Foreign Exchange, Invisible and a few others guests, but I don't want to let the cat out of the bag yet. I'm finalizing my label, B-Girl/Freedom Records. I'm also studying Urban Youth Development because I do creative workshops for at-risk youths when I'm not on the road. I'm working on a book -- like a handbook with some of the dos and don'ts from things that I've experienced on the road. It's a self-help book for artists that tour. A how-to guide -- how to deal with booking agents, the coolest spot to go for kicks and that sort of thing.