- Words Notion Staff
We connect with south London vocalist B-ahwe, delving into her new single, "Ride 2 Nowhere", what it's like to work with your biggest influences and more.
South London based musician and vocalist B-ahwe is back with a Tambala produced new single. Titled “Ride 2 Nowhere”, the track was created while both were on a trip to Vietnam, where they channelled the feelings of liberation and escapism many experience in the beauty of South East Asia. It’s cinematic in nature, capturing the essence of their musical relationship and the intricate storytelling the rising artist is quickly becoming known for.
Before B-ahwe began making a name for herself in the big smoke, she honed her craft in Hyde Park, Leeds. Lighting up those famously interwoven streets with an alternative blend of jazz and soul, it wasn’t long before fellow alumni Nix Northwest and Lausse The Cat caught wind of her angelic voice. Their collaborative allegiance has lasted ever since, regularly releasing singles, supporting each other’s gigs and revelling in their undeniable artistry.
Influenced by the likes of Erykah Badu, Mansur Brown and Ojerime, it won’t be long until B-ahwe is seeing her own name in lights. To celebrate the single’s release, we spoke with the songstress about everything from finding your community to getting lost in the world you’ve created. Tap in below.
You’re about to release “Ride 2 Nowhere”, a dreamy track you collaborated with Tambala on. Could you talk us through what the single stands for, and where the original inspiration came from?
It was written when my musical compadre and I, Tambala, travelled together just before Covid hit. It captures that freedom you find when you manage to get away. Space allows us to regain some perspective on things we’ve been dealing with at home. Escapism helps us tap back into ourselves. Everyone feels their best selves with a bit of time away.
It’s accompanied by a bold video directed by Seb Luke Virgo, spanning a multitude of visual disciplines from painting and animation to cinematography. How important is this visual side of creating to you, and how much direction do you have over this aspect of the artistry?
The video has been a huge labour of love, produced and co-directed by me, working with a team of angels who have poured their creativity into this. The visual side of my music has always been very important. I’ve worked closely with artists across each release, to create a unique world which reflects the music’s journey. I’ve always been one for fantastical escape, so this video’s concept was to bridge the two worlds and reflect the freedom of the song.
The artwork is painted by a friend and genius, Ralph Berryman. I approached him about bringing the painted world into the music video and he suggested making the sets miniature so we could create more of a journey. Seb’s direction helped piece together how the miniature and real-life shots would all work, crafting the best ideas and navigating around having so many mediums to balance. Bringing this Mary Poppins painting scene to life has been a real learning curve for us all, I’m amazed and incredibly thankful to everyone involved.
Your music so far spans a plethora of genres and sounds, but what would you say are the classic key features of a B-ahwe track? What defines your sound?
No matter what genre, I feel there’s a definite style and warmth to my creations that make them me—leaning towards the warmth of textured vocals and harmony and a sprinkle of my soul and jazz roots that continuously trickle through. My voice is definitely the key thread throughout my songs, even as it meanders through singing, spoken word and rap; I guess it’s the anchor. Over the last couple of years, raw honesty in my lyricism has started to be a core piece of the music too, sometimes bittersweet but always true.
Over the years, you’ve worked with underground musicians Nix Northwest and Lausse the Cat. What did you take away from working with these guys?
It’s crazy how long we’ve known each other now, I don’t know where the time went. They’re definitely some of my biggest influences, it’s incredible to be around such creative humans; you help each other see the world differently. In a content-focused world that puts pressure on us to rush the process and not value art, I’m happy my closest influences have been two people who always prioritise art over everything, it’s probably why we gravitate to each other.
And, in a dream scenario, is there anyone you’d love to work with in the future?
There are so many people. Since moving to London I’ve been opened up to a world of insanely talented individuals and I can’t wait to see what collaborations come out of the next few years. I would love to work with Ego Ella May, Yazmin Lacey, Melo Zed, JD Reid… could you imagine what a day with Inflo would be like?
You’re originally from Nottingham but lived in Leeds while studying and excitingly, have just moved to London. What do you think these cities individually bring or have brought to your sound? Was any more influential than the others?
It’s the same way you grow as a person in a new location. Nottingham sounds like home, with all the records I grew up with. Leeds was a huge experience, leaving home for university, and being surrounded by new people and new music, and that’s when I started to write and perform. London has been exciting in new ways; it’s a huge city with so much going on. Being in the eye of a storm in such a big place as I took on a new chapter, has helped ground my sound and allow me opportunities to push it in new directions.
When you’re writing music, you tend to delve into some deeper topics including mental health and social ideals. How does songwriting allow you to express your thoughts, or give you a release?
Often I don’t know I’m feeling something until it comes out while writing. It used to be a tool to unearth things, now it’s becoming a way of processing. Turning something uncontrollable into something I’ve created, and probably making it pretty.
This year, you’re touring with soul artist Curtis Harding on his European stretch, as well as frequenting a few festivals. Could you talk us through what performing live means to you? Does it scare you, or is it something you’ve become more comfortable with?
I love performing. It was my first experience with music and it feels like something I’ve been doing for forever. There’s nothing like performing live with other musicians, being able to improvise and experience the music you’ve created. And to actually share it with people in real life, it’s one of the few things you don’t do alone. Music is meant to be shared together.
In the past, you’ve cited musical inspirations like Joy Crookes and Biig Piig. But, looking further back, which artists would you say were instrumental to your first interest in music? Who first ignited the spark, would you say?
Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Minnie Riperton, Melody Gardot, Nai Palm, Noname and D’Angelo.
We’d love to know who you’re listening to right now. Could you name three artists at the top of your rotation?
Nia Archives, Thee Sacred Souls and Cortex.
What drives you to keep creating music?
It would feel wrong doing anything else.
Outside of music, is there anything else inspiring your sound at the moment? Whether that be people, hobbies, styles?
Humans are always inspiring, and the life experiences I’m going through. Books and films are a huge part of it, getting lost in a world someone has created.
Finally, let’s round up with what’s on the cards for this year. Is there anything in the works you can tell fans to listen out for?
There’s a whole new world coming and I can’t wait to share it with you!