Photo Credit: Latoya van der Meeren
Nana Adjoa is the Dutch-Ghanaian singer-songwriter brimming with quiet confidence. Her new EP, Down at The Root (Part 2) combines the warm, musical simplicity of great song-craft, with the bold, multi-layered palette of artists such as Beck or Little Dragon.
Released today is the first track from the new EP “Honestly“, the follow up to the gorgeous Down at The Root (Part 1). The song is a self-described “outsider track” that grew from its simple piano backing into an altogether more vibey affair. “I didn’t even think it was going to make the record because it felt so different from the rest,” Nana says. “I guess it’s about how people are scared of the possibility of something bad happening. And that fear is really strange because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You never know what’s going to happen.” As Nana herself is proving – eventually you just have to let go.
Who Is Nana Adjoa…
Born in Amsterdam, Nana spent a portion of her childhood in the concrete environs of working class neighborhood the Bijlmer. “It’s not the nicest part,”she says with trademark modesty of an area described by the local chief of police as a ‘national disaster area’. Her father was a Ghanaian who’d came to Amsterdam in the 1980s, her mother Dutch (“very Dutch”). She describes her upbringing as fairly liberal until her parent’s divorce and their subsequent embrace of Christianity. ” The second part of my growing up was with some Christian values, but by this point I was getting to the age of making up my own mind,” she says. ” It was a bit ‘too late’ for me.” She speaks of a rift it cased in her family, with the Christians (Nana’s father, mother and brother) on one side and the non-Christians (Nana, her sister and the rest of the family) on the other.
Religion, along with questions about her own gender identity as well as growing up a half black person in a pretty white environment were all benchmarks that really shaped who Adjoa is and in turn her songwriting. “In fact, I think I still unconsciously use a lot of Christian ideas and metaphors in my music,” she adds.
Nana was accepted to study jazz (electric bass and double bass) at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, however the reality wasn’t quite what she’d imagined.”It was very much like school,” she says, today. “We thought we wanted to go to the most difficult department, that we wanted to be the best, but it wasn’t a very fun experience.” A divide began to grow between the restrictive, theoretical compositions she was studying and the more melodic, free-flowing music she was playing outside.
Soon after she realized pursuing her own solo career and not academia was the direction for her she she formed a band and for the first time started recording her songs. The results are Down at The Root (Part 1) and Down at The Root (Part 2)
with Part 2.
“It’s a really nice feeling when people actually listen to the music you created somewhere,” she says of an ever-growing fan base. “It’s still crazy.“
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