Ladieslovehiphop co-founder and artist Nápoles discusses her new 'Cloud 9' EP, DJing, diversifying the Stockholm clubbing scene, and much more.
Stockholm’s creative space is breeding a generation of unconventional, community-driven female artists and DJs who are diversifying the city’s club scene. At the centre of it all is Cuban-Russian artist Nápoles who, alongside childhood friends Nataša and Rebecca, founded the Ladieslovehiphop collective in 2014. Since then her cosmic blend of ambient beats and sultry lyricism has taken the music scene by storm and she’s risen to be an important tastemaker through her platform, highlighting talent from around the globe.
Nápoles first graced our soundwaves in 2020 with the track “Slowzy”; guided by it’s shimmering electric piano chords and a sleepy bassline maintaining the groove, this was our first introduction to her distinct blend of R&B, neo-soul and hip hop. Shortly after, her debut EP ‘Slowin It’ arrived, consisting of six sensual, dream-inducing tracks. This project is more than just 16 minutes of mellow goodness but solidifies the fact that Nápoles makes music for those who choose to look within themselves for solutions, take the track “Sun Passion” featuring Chapee where she spills the line: “To find peace of mind you have to look inside”. Through her emotive songwriting abilities, Nápoles is defining her niche while providing blissful moments of escapism for her listeners.
Following the ‘Slowin It’ EP, Nápoles delivered a light handful of singles that seamlessly led to her most recent project ‘Cloud 9’. Categorised by her buttery vocals that often glides into a delicate falsetto over distant lo-fi crackles and subtle electronic layers, Cloud 9 is a perfectly titled project where it’s intentions are made clear even before your first listen.
Speaking to Notion, Nápoles touches on diversifying the Stockholm club scene, the production elements of ‘Cloud 9’ and writing from a place of vulnerability.
There are heavy R&B and neo-soul influences in your music, what was your first introduction to those genres?
You have been a DJ for some time but when did you make the transition to becoming an artist?
I’ve been Djing since 2013 and I actually still do it. It’s an art form of its own and I will always love doing it. To me, it’s all about making people happy and introducing them to new music that they will never forget.
Where would you DJ and what kind of track were you spinning?
I do all different types of gigs and my absolute favourite place to play is whenever Ladieslovehiphop throws a party. LLHH is a creative collective that I was a part of creating, we’ve been active since 2014. I always look for new music to share.
How would you describe the club scene in Stockholm?
What was needed in the Stockholm music scene (or the wider music industry) that inspired you guys to form the Ladieslovehiphop collective?
Ladieslovehiphop was born in 2014 and at the time the Swedish scene was lacking both female representation and progressiveness. We wanted to hear more new music, feel safe and creative in the club. We also wanted to get inspired like every time we traveled to New York, London and Paris.
What do you think could be done to diversify the club space in Stockholm?
What we need is more people with different backgrounds and abilities working within the scene. We need more project leaders, bookers, promoters etc. We need the venues to trust us and our culture. The word hip-hop is still charged and many venues choose to not invest in those types of parties and that has to be changed.
How has being a part of a (female-led) collective helped you to navigate the industry with your career as an artist?
It gave me the opportunity and the courage to pursue my dream without compromising. I feel so blessed to be working with my childhood friends and it gives me so much strength and energy. We’re all doing this for ourselves but also for each other because we value and respect one another so much. Also, I just love working with women! It’s so smooth and easy. We just get each other.
What kind of thoughts, ideas and emotions influenced your latest EP Cloud 9?
I wanted to create a cohesive work of art, almost like a mini album. Different moods that go well together and become one piece. I wanted the listeners to be able to listen from start to finish and feel like they really went to ‘Cloud 9’.
Your songwriting seems to come from a vulnerable place so when you’re facing those emotions are you able to create straightaway or do you have to take some time to reflect before expressing it in the music?
I think I let those emotions rest before I can process them and turn them into a song. Sometimes it’s when I start to create that I get in contact with them. It’s like meditation. I love when me and Wahib have been in the studio and created something from scratch that just flourishes into something. Other times it’s when I’m physically active that I get inspired. Like when I take a dance class by the Swedish dancer Nikki Tsappos. She has a way of making me tap into my creativity just by being around her!
I read that you wanted the track “4 In The Morning” to feel like a warm hug, so production-wise, what kind of things did you focus on in order to translate that feeling?
What’s the best way for listeners to get the most from this project? Is there a preferred space we need to be in order to properly take this in?
Preferably while driving alone or in a cozy environment with your loved ones.
Who are some other Stockholm based artists we should be paying attention to right now?
Sam Ezeh, Venus, Shenie Fogo, Bavé.
You’re also heavily into fashion, what does your style say about you?
I always try and wear something in a way that I haven’t seen that many people and I love being comfortable. For example, I love that I decided to loc my hair 3 years ago because I think it’s so beautiful and it’s still pretty unusual for women here in Sweden. I also love dressing up and feeling sensual. Fashion is just a really meaningful way of expressing yourself.
When it’s all said and done, what does Nápoles want to be known for?
Somebody who made soulful music that touched people.