In collaboration with
- Words Notion Staff
- Creative Director Daisy Deane @ DELA.STUDIO
- Director Ayshe Zaifoglu
- Photographer Rashidi Noah assisted by Alex Wilson
- DOP Toby Leary
- Stylist Carlotta Constant assisted by Mollie French & Annie Gale
- Hair Stylist Shamara Roper assisted by Donica Campbell
- Makeup Artist Maya Man assisted by Tom Easton & Babi Compos
- Set Dresser Piper Samuel
- Producer Elly Craig
- Production Assistants Amy Yates & Olivia Wright
As part of Amazon Music Breakthrough Artists 2024, in collaboration with Notion, Strandz discusses the power of Fela Kuti, future collabs and his diaristic storytelling.
Since blowing up on TikTok with his Bonny and Clyde-Esque anthem ‘Us Against The World’, Strandz has been riding high. Revamping ‘90s hip-hop aesthetics around distinctive UK storytelling, the rapper collaborated with fellow polymathic artists tendai and Lancey Foux last year while receiving a Digga D verse on the remix of his breakout single.
Being a self-confessed hopeless romantic has undoubtedly guided him to new heights. Tapping his sensitive side, singles like ‘J’adore’, speak the language of love in his south London drawl, as he bodies twinkly boom bap production.
Following up a break-out year is never easy, but Strandz is relishing the challenge, plotting his next moves with a wise mind on young shoulders.
Where does your name come from?
Everyone on ends used to call me that. I always used to have my hair up. It‘s not a crazy reason, but it just stuck. I needed a rapper name. You know what I‘m saying?
Where were you born?
I was born in Germany. I moved from there when I was quite young to Nigeria for a little bit and then I moved to London. To be honest, right now it’s Nigeria for me because I went back there recently and it feels like home. I’ve got a lot of family there and I feel like I really connect with the culture there.
What’s your star sign?
My star sign is Cancer.
Does that mean anything to you?
It does because it means something to my girl.
How do you want your music to make people feel?
I want my stuff to be quite interpretable in different forms. So I like to talk a lot about my own experience and how I navigate through certain things. I want whoever’s listening to take that and apply it to whatever’s going on in their life, to take from it whatever bits they relate to. I think that’s what music’s about – just relating to something. That’s what makes it feel therapeutic. There’s different moods. I believe one big part of music is meant to be enjoyment and to be quite uplifting, so I make music for that purpose. But then I also make music that’s a bit more introspective and what I’m talking about is maybe a bit more educational. It really depends on the mood.
Do you have a pre-show ritual?
My girl says I get bare quiet, I’m just in my zone. I wouldn’t say I have a ritual, I just get in my zone, do a quick work out and get with it.
What’s your main source of inspiration?
When I create, generally I’m very open with where I get my inspiration from. I‘m good at taking inspiration from areas in my life that have nothing to do with music. A lot of my inspiration comes from experiences that I go through and feelings that I feel, even down to movies that I watch. I think I’m good at interpreting those feelings and then turning them into something that’s musical. One of my biggest inspirations I always talk about is Fela Kuti because he always stood for something when he was coming up. The depth there is to his music, to this day there’s still things in his music that are valid. It’s almost like reading a book when I listen to his stuff because I feel like I’m always learning. He broke a lot of boundaries doing what he did and he pioneered a whole sound, so for me, that’s something I take big inspiration from. I guess it’s just important for me to do something that actually matters rather than just blend in with the crowd. Obviously, there’s my girl: she inspires a lot of what I write about. Then there’s family, friends, stress that I go through. A lot of introspection and thinking to myself. I read a lot of books to be honest, so that kind of stuff also helps me. I’m making music it feels like I’m almost writing a book. Everything that I’ve learnt and thought about, I just put it into it.
What’s on your rider?
To be honest my rider’s been the same, I need to update it. It’s just two bottles of Henny, water and popcorn or something. I don’t even drink, so I don’t even know why I have two Hennys on my rider, but I always collect the bottles. Now I have a big collection at home that I don’t drink from.
Which artist past or present would you choose for a collaboration?
Present, I would love to collaborate with Jhené Aiko. I really respect how she writes music and I feel like I learnt a lot from her music growing up, about the female perspective on things. It helped me just avoid a lot of toxic masculinity and all of that. That’s definitely someone that I think would be a sick link-up. Past, it would be Fela Kuti. That would just be crazy.
Do you have a message for your fans? What can they expect from you?
I appreciate you guys for being locked in, I appreciate you guys for believing in something that’s different from the everyday thing. I know even when I was young listening to music, it really does feel like you have to listen to what everyone is listening to to fit in. So I always respect people who can do the same thing as me, but as a listener. To break the boundaries and listen to whatever you really like and put that first above all the other stuff. I appreciate that. I have no rules when it comes to what I listen to. I can hear something from across the room and I’ll have to go find out what it is and just listen to that. It’s always been deeper, I’m always searching for influence and inspiration.
Describe your sound right now?
It’s refreshingly nostalgic. I think that’s the best way to put it. To one generation it feels nostalgic, and to one generation it feels like something completely new.