London´s Burning is one of those brilliant songs that has captured me right away and that I just have to listen to over and over. I wanted to know more about the person behind this wonderful music and so I had a chat with the talented Poppy Ajudha about art challenging our way of thinking and making us consider different perspectives, about falling into the music scene and her strength of breaking down the walls people put up.
I absolutely love your song “London’s Burning” – the first single you release out of your upcoming debut album “The Power In Us”. Why did you chose this one as your first release?
I chose London’s Burning because it really reflects the ethos of the whole album and I wanted to start with a bang. So much about this album is social commentary and stepping into big powerful vocals, I think London’s Burning straddles these perfectly and it’s one of my favourite songs on the album.
To me the song trasmits a lot of power, but also melancholy, anger, a cry for help – but ultimately I feel your power is stronger and wins. It´s inspired by the Brexit and failures of politics in the past years. Do you think that art can change society and how things develop?
I think that it’s arts job to challenge the way we think and allow us to consider different perspectives. How else do we progress in society without different ideas clashing with each other and giving rise to new ones? Art should be daring and outspoken, otherwise what’s the point.
“There is so much turmoil everywhere, we can’t keep going like this we have to find new ways to exist together.”
How did the collaboration with Stone and Spear for the video come about? And what has been the most fascincating thing for you in the working process with them?
Stone & Spear was introduced to me by Olivia Rose who I had asked to shoot the album cover. I have always been so in awe of her and her work, I couldn’t think of anyone better to shoot it. They are already friends and as soon as we started collaborating together it was an instant connect. I’m so glad I’ve been able to work with them both on the creative direction of this album and the video for London’s Burning, they are both such special people.
How is your song writing process – do you prefer to be creative when you are on your own – or you need to be in a vibrant place for inspiration?
I usually write on my own but when I work with Joel (the producer) we’re often super inspired when we’re in a room together so this one came to mind almost as soon as he started playing the opening piano chords. I think we vibe off each other’s energy and so songs seem to come effortlessly, pretty sure we finished this in a few hours.
You grew up in the London Jazz scene – did your parents bring you into this scene?
My dad was into very into live music but moved back to St.Lucia when I was 13 and my mum worked a lot to support me and my sisters, so I kind of just fell into the scene on my own. Growing up I didn’t really know any musicians or have traditional instrument lessons so I didn’t even know there were so many people experimenting with jazz or performing until I got booked on an open mic night slot at 16, and met a lot of the musicians who have ended up being central to the “South East London Jazz Scene” that people always talk about. We were just kids trying stuff out, and I was so happy to find people finally who I could learn from and grow with.
“I love honest open conversation, I love talking about the shit that’s hard. Let’s learn and grow together, everyone has a new perspective to offer if we’re open to listening.”
What best life lesson did you take away from your your anthropology studies?
Studying anthropology gave me so many tools to be a critical thinker and write lyrics that touch on difficult or controversial subjects. I think anthropology taught me that there is no right or wrong, that histories, cultures and people are messy and never black and white so we should always be compassionate when we are met with something or someone we don’t understand.
What is your biggest power/ strength?
I’ve always been good at finding ways to reach people. I’m a talker, I’m always curious and so I don’t find it hard to breakdown the walls people put up. I love honest open conversation, I love talking about the shit that’s hard. Let’s learn and grow together, everyone has a new perspective to offer if we’re open to listening.
What are your wishes for 2022 – for yourself and for the world?
In 2022 I want my album to reach millions of people. I want it to start conversation & I want to tour it around the world.
Wishes for the world.. there are so many but I hope it finds a way to heal, I hope people wake up to the part they play in its destruction both environmentally and socially. There is so much turmoil everywhere, we can’t keep going like this we have to find new ways to exist together.