“I used to write in my diary and just have music playing in the background”: An interview with Ada B
Interview by Charles Odugbesan
I first spoke to Ada through a close mutual friend of ours. I didn’t quite manage to get her down to perform at a 14HQ event earlier this year, but our audience were at least given a sample of her musical talents. Back in October 2017, Ada gave us her song ‘Lovers and Friends‘ to post on our Share Page and I had been keeping tabs on her progress ever since. And now the time to finally meet her had come. Following the announcement of her first EP; A Dreamers Addiction set to drop on June 25th, I recently caught up with the East London R&B singer in Shoreditch and after a quick shoot, we sat down for a meal and evaluated the last year and a half.
Indeed just over 18 months ago is where the story truly started for her. “I bought my home studio around the end of October 2016 and I released my first song ‘What You Saying’ in February. I just kinda sat there listening to the song everyday after I made it not being sure whether I should send it to get it mixed or not. In the end I just decided I was gonna send the email and that was that.”
14HQ: Are you signed?
Ada: Yes I am. But not to a music label! I’m with a creative agency called LVL. They deal with everything in terms of my visual arts, fashion, photography… just my image in general you know. There are a few things we have coming up so I won’t say too much right now. But people will definitely be seeing more!
So what is music to you? What does it represent?
Music is very therapeutic to me – It gives me the opportunity to self reflect and meditate. It means more to me than just being successful or being able to make a hit. When I was young I just couldn’t wait to get back to my space and listen to music. I used to write in my diary and just have music playing in the background.
I found it interesting that she kept a diary from a young age. The girl who back then documented her every move, thought and feeling, whilst the likes of “Marsha Ambrosius, Whitney Houston and Adele” played on in the back, was now a woman whose taste for music and love of writing had manifested into the singer/songwriter that she is today. “I used to imagine that I could make a song which described how I was feeling at the time. For me it’s so important that my music is relatable.”
One thing I recognise and admire about creatives is the constant ability to overcome self doubt and express themselves no matter how vulnerable they allow themselves to become. Ada proves she has that ability in abundance. I asked her how she deals with criticism and judgement.
I always used to feel personally attacked if someone wasn’t really feeling my music or didn’t like it at all because, for the most part, my music is so genuine – whether it’s my actual singing ability or my lyrics. But people are entitled to their opinions of me and over time I had to learn not to take things so personally.
We’ll revisit that concept of overcoming self doubt. But not right now. Now was the time to talk about the new project. Tell me about your project ‘A Dreamers Addiction‘ then.
So A Dreamers Addiction is a four track EP which details my journey up until now. It represents my dream of pursuing music and experiencing real love. I loved the freedom I was given with my style and my lyrics in this project. My producer Xavier Black really allowed me to experiment with my singing in this project and was able to just cater the instrumentals to my sound.
Why is it named A Dreamers Addiction?
My name is an acronym for the title!
What will it sound like?
Well R&B is such a broad genre these days and I really tried to venture into different sides of it. I didn’t want my music to sound too cliche. But it’s still very real and very honest music.
And the date of release wasn’t just plucked out of the sky. Musicians are nothing if not entirely thoughtful and particular. “25th June is a week before my birthday and is also the same day I released Lovers and Friends (which will feature in the EP) a year ago.”
After just a year and half of truly taking herself seriously as a musician and following just a handful of song releases, with this EP, Ada will take another big step towards really establishing herself. And elsewhere she may soon be recognised for other aspects of her personality and creativity.
FUN FACT: Ada is not just a musician. The Tanzanian native also holds the title of Miss Face of East Africa UK 2018/2019, a pageant that was designed to celebrate the beauty, strength and knowledge of East African representatives in the U.K. Me mentioning this was met with sheepish laughter. “Last year an events company called TIAMU contacted me and asked me to be a part of the pageant… but I didn’t think that actually meant competing! It was a shock but also a nice surprise when I was announced the winner. Being recognised and supported on their platform gave me a great deal of confidence. I never imagined myself doing something like this but I’ve never back down from a challenge.” Once again… overcoming self doubt!
FUN FACT 2: Ada is the founder of the I AM A WOMAN campaign. “It’s a project i’m launching at the end of the year which not only focuses on the problems that black women living in London face; you know like Colourism and Appropriation etc, but also it celebrates black women in all forms of expression be it art or music or fashion!”
Part of the issues you want to tackle must come from experience no?
Yes definitely! And it’s about teaching the younger generation of girls that shouldn’t have to grow up in a society that tells them ‘This is how you have to be or feel’ and forces them to ‘fit in’ to a stereotype. IAAW is about pushing self love and knowing your worth.
Mark June 25th in your diaries as Ada B serenades us with A Dreamers Addiction. If you haven’t already, visit the 14HQ Share Page and listen to Lovers and Friends and finally, check out her her music video for her newest release About Us.
Photos taken by: David Jeffery-Hughes