The First Ladi
Cityscape jams with legendary local soul and hip hop heroine Ladi Tamati from Ladi6 ahead of her A&P Show performance on Show Day.
Congrats on your Vodaphone New Zealand Music Award nominations for Best Soul/RnB Artist and Single of the Year for ‘Royal Blue’ – how did it go down?
I was told via email from the VNZMA admin. I was quietly stoked; it’s not something that I purposefully go out of my way to make music for, but I do feel a small sense of achievement, like a little pat on the back for the effort that we put into making the record. I think in this day and age with physical albums almost being worthless financially, and digital streams being relatively new to me in terms of how to generate income, being nominated for an award can be one of the few ways artists like me and my producers get some sort of acknowledgement or recognition in lieu of that – for the work we do in actually spending the hours of focus it takes to physically literally make a record. So we’re pretty chuffed, but in a calm way. We have absolutely no expectation, but I do hope to take the whole crew on the night and just have a fun-as night off!
‘Diamonds’ is such a dope track. What was it like hearing in the awesome Kiwi movie Waru?
I actually haven’t seen the film yet, so I am so super excited to go and see it alongside everyone else! I do have to admit it’s a buzz to hear your music outside of the usual places you expect to hear it, and I’m sure on the big screen it’ll be a real thrill for me and my family.
We love ‘Guru’, too; what was your inspiration behind it?
‘Guru’ is a song about courage and bravery. ‘Guru’ was made from the idea of freeing yourself from old limiting ideas and pressures you might put on yourself. Trusting instead in your own simple existence to bring to you everything that you are supposed to do and be naturally and in its own time, worrying less about the future and the past and focusing only on the day you are in. ‘Guru’ is a cathartic reminder for me to be aware of what’s happening around me now, which grounds me in the present, helps me simplify, which then helps to minimise things like depression and anxiety. It’s my call to courage! It helped me through a very difficult couple of years.
The Alpha Sessions are becoming a musical force of nature – how did they come about?
The Alpha Sessions were my idea of trying to escape old routine ways of making music, of trying to help our process along by incorporating ways to bring out the best in each of us musically, while also having an opportunity to literally write songs on the go and for everyone in the band to be able to participate equally without the need to talk about it – just to literally be about it. Historically, in my mind, I felt that I honed a lot of my musical prowess through simply freestyling ideas with DJs in clubs, and my hip-hop rap background definitely lends itself to that, but I wasn’t presented with those opportunities naturally as much anymore, and I wanted to recreate that environment, because that is where my joy is also. For the boys I think the opportunity to do something like this and for me to be pushing for it was so exciting, with a base of anything goes and an opportunity to let their ability and ideas shine, it was scary but so tempting ... so the Alphas always have such a real sense of excitement around them because it emanates from us first – we are the ones excited and anxious to see what we make and what might come out. From the Alpha Sessions we’ve made music that we did not hear or see coming. I mean, a decade into making and performing music – how exciting is that?
How did making the documentary Ladi6 Return to Africa impact on your music? Making the doco itself was such an out-of-body experience for me. I was hardly present for the majority of the filming, it really did take a long while for me to process that trip and what it means to me. The idea of filming – while this may sound strange because I’ve done a lot of it over the years – is a very difficult thing for me. Being followed and filmed daily for two weeks was so out of my comfort zone, that I almost spent the whole trip just agonising over that aspect of it alone! But upon reflection and watching the edited version of our trip numerous times, it just gives me so much nostalgia and joy to look back and see where it all came from, where I come from. It cemented a lot of loose ends for me personally and musically. I just feel a lot more whole; reflecting and processing on my younger self and the urge I had even then to reflect and share my experiences, thoughts and stories just brings me a clearer and stronger understanding of who I am. I have always been this way, and I’m just very proud that I’ve continued to do this. For creating and performing music, really understanding and having confidence in yourself is essential.
You’re performing at the A&P Show – what’s your favourite Show memory growing up (and will you be trying any of the rides)?
I would love to try all the rides, I love rides so much! I never used to when I was younger, but I am a fiend now! I just remember being hauled through the A&P Show with my primary school; all my memories are of animals. I don’t even remember there being rides, or food or anything else. I just remember all the animals, a donkey and some geese … the smell of horse manure. It’ll be quite an eye-opener to go back now.
Can you let us in on any tracks from your set?
Oh absolutely, we’ll be playing ‘Guru’, ‘Beffy’, ‘Ikarus’ and our very own remix version of ‘Like Water’ too! Mostly new jams and old ones remixed to suit our current taste … very dance-able. In fact everyone must prepare for dancing with me!
What’s at the top of your to do list when you’re back in Christchurch?
Always family chill time first.
How is next year shaping up for Ladi6?
Next year is next year ... who cares! Show Day, Canterbury Agricultural Park, Nov 17, theshow.co.nz