International Women’s Month Spotlight: Poppy Ajudha
Throughout the month of March ASBO will be celebrating female talent across the UK and internationally in terms of music as part of International Women’s Month. Kicking this off we caught with up and coming Jazzy, Soul singer Poppy Ajudha we first came across last year when we caught her performing at the Omera in London Bridge. Now as she embarks on her current tour to talk about all things about putting her shows together, working with her band the importance of visuals and production and where she wants to take her shows next.
In terms of your musical style and influences, what sort of music did you listen to growing up?
I was listening to a lot of reggae and soul and then as I grew up it was more Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. More female led vocalists. Amy Whinehouse, and I think I kind of developed my sound in music making and singing as a combination and mixture of all of them.
What was your first live music experience?
I was around a lot of live music when I grew up, as my dad owned a nightclub and so there was always a lot of live music happening when I was young. The one performance that I saw which really stuck out to me was I saw Estelle performing at The Jazz Café in Camden. She was someone that my mum and I had listened to a lot and she performed and was talking about her journey and spoke about struggling to get to where she wanted to get to with music and I felt that I could relate because I was dealing with the same thing.
When you are making music in the studio do you think about how it is going to transfer to your live performances?
When I’m recording there are definitely some creative decisions I definitely want in the song and they’ll definitely happen live because they are a signature part of the song, but then I also want there to be an element of transformation of the song so that they feel different and you feel like you are being creative. So we have always tried to change the songs and incorporate more solos or more things that gives you a unique experience at that time.
How do you build your setlist?
We always think about other dynamics of the songs, and think about sonically where they sit and where they’d be good to have. I try and make a list of the songs and think about what beats are in each song, and whether it would be good to strip it back or do it acoustically. We want to make sure there is a dynamic aspect to take people on a journey, we don’t really want to throw different bits together so it’s something that we want to think about which songs go together sound similar and all those aspects that are important.
How did you meet your band?
The first band that I worked with were a bit older than me and I was quite younger. They went on to Uni and this was when I was still playing acoustically a lot. Then I just found musicians that I worked really well with, we did a show together and I asked them to be my band and we developed songs together from that point. The process happened quite organically.
When it comes to the production and building the show how has that happened for you since you started performing?
When I first started performing live it was all about interpreting the songs, where I feel as my style has become more solidified as I’ve been performing more it’s become more about building the electronic elements and signature sounds in the live show. And that’s things like programming sounds so that it carries across in the same way, and I think to the signature sound I don’t wan my shows to be completely different to the songs I want the, to be resonate of the songs but also include different live elements?
Visuals are an important aspect as well, so how to use those to represent your music on stage?
In terms of lighting I see certain songs as certain colours quite naturally and then I tend to go with that intuition feeling. So certain songs might feel blue or red depending on the mood of the song and what they are about. Then in terms of the backdrops for this upcoming European tour specifically we are working with an artist to make signature backdrops and really curate the show so that it feels holistic but also very personal and reflective of my work and the lyrics. So for me it’s about carrying through the message of the songs because lyrics are so important to me also in terms of the visuals
When you are playing different show for different audiences how do you create vibe and feel for each place that you go to?
For me it depends on how I’m feeling. I think that’s the case for most artists you divide up the shows depend on how you feel in that city and that place. but you have a show that you have worked on, you might switch the songs around and you might see how people respond to certain songs. Your kind of learning as you go what’s working what’s not working.
Where do you see your shows going as you progress as an artist?
For I feel a bigger setup. I think more musicians on stage. Bigger lighting, backdrops . Visually aesthetic ideas. Just generally pulling the show together more and making it more together and more perfect. I feel like as I grow as an artist it will become more perfect.
Poppy is currently embarking on her European Tour and will be playing the Village Underground in London on April 3rd.
Words: Seneo Mwamba