Finding strength in vulnerability has allowed genre-traversing musician, Rebecca Garton, to find her unique voice.
Born in Ghana and later exposed to the multi-culturalism of London, Rebecca Garton’s music is an enticing concoction of R&B, Afrobeats and pop, infused with life stories and experiences.
Still in the early stages of her musical journey, Garton has already been through peaks and troughs that don’t define her but have strengthened her resolve to succeed in her passion for music-making. With the will to chase her dreams while still remaining grounded in realism, Garton defines the age-old creative struggle of doing what you love for a living versus making a living from your dream job. Nevertheless, she encourages the world of creatives with a simple message of hope and self-confidence.
It’s this innate belief and hope in which her forthcoming EP is rooted. Empowering women to express themselves freely and realise their own worth, the EP only scratches the surface of Garton’s power as an artist and person. She stands poised for a longer journey motivated by joy, loss and genuine love for music.
In conversation with Notion, Rebecca Garton reveals why she chose to delve into the theme of empowerment in the EP, how she found the courage to stand up for herself, the struggles of being vulnerable through art, how time away from music helped her grow as a person and much more.
Your forthcoming EP is largely about female empowerment. What made you want to explore this theme and what have you learned about yourself during the process of writing about these themes?
I think heartbreak has been a big part of every woman’s life. But this EP is about giving power back to women; just being able to be sexually liberated and free in the lyrics, saying that liberation and sexuality are not only for the man it’s for women as well. I think that was very important to me to say. I wanted to write songs about love from a female perspective as well. As for the second half of that question, I’d say I learn a lot about myself with each project and for me, it’s been very important that I can actually put these feelings down on paper and express myself. I also think it helped me realise realizing how strong I actually am because you start to look back at the things you’re going through and think “oh I went through that! I actually forgot that I went through and that I’m actually really strong”.
On the topic of the EP, you’ve spoken about how you found your voice last year. You realized you didn’t want to be that girl who was being put down by people and wanted to lift other women up in the same way. What brought on this change and courage to stand for yourself and others?
Honestly, a breakup and I was just that place in my life where I’d taken it all and felt like rubbish. I just decided it was time to stand up for myself and time to see what I deserve. So that breakup definitely started my journey of finding myself, being strong again and loving myself enough. When I reached that point of knowing what I stand for, I wanted to portray that through my music as well.
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I’ve read a quote from you that said you had to pick between making money and going after your dream at one point in your career. Having been through this and come out the other side, what kind of advice or encouragement would you give someone in the same situation – particularly given what most creatives have been going through during the pandemic?
Yeah, I will be honest. I’m starting my career and I still look at myself as a beginner. So I think I’m still going through those days of picking your dreams and picking money. I think for me I think to do any creative job or to be a creative, you have to love it more than money because sometimes the creative field doesn’t always pay. So you genuinely have to love what you’re doing and then the money will come eventually. It may take years but you have to believe in yourself and your dreams. It’s obviously a really hard time for all of us artists during the pandemic. So I think it’s mainly about hope; keep creating and believe that you’re good enough that the money will come at some point.
Moving to your sound, how have you brought together your upbringing in Nigeria with exposure to the multi-cultural setting of London together in your music? What was the most challenging part of combining the early cultural influence of Nigeria with that of London?
I think I was lucky because when I moved to the UK a lot of my friends in Nigeria were actually moving there for secondary school as well. So I didn’t lose that part of home. I was still around my friendship circle. Going to school in London exposed me to so many different cultures and people because in Nigeria there are only a few other cultures so it was an opportunity for me to understand and try new things. At the same time, I was also still around my own culture. For example. always being around my cousins and always doing Ghanaian things meant that I never lost that part of myself either.
Whether it’s a tribute to your father or delving into the bad relationships you’ve been in, your music is very personal and vulnerable. As an artist, do you struggle to express such vulnerability through your craft or do you see it as more of a cathartic process?
For me, I think I definitely struggle with it, it’s very hard to just open your experiences up to the world and be like “hey this is who I am, take it or leave it”, because you do care what other people think. So I think being vulnerable, it can be quite difficult, especially when putting it out strangers because you don’t know how they’re going to feel about it. But I think it’s something that I’m really learning to do more and more of recently.
If listeners could take away one message from your music what would you want that to be and why?
That my music is timeless. I just want people to take away that my music is something you can listen to whenever you want; there’s something for everyone on there. I think it’s also important that people see that vulnerability and see that this is literally just a girl’s story and she’s just being open about love and life.
I know that you left music on the back burner for a while, but do you remember that first moment when the hunger to create was reawakened in you? And how did the pause in creating help you when you finally came back?
I think I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who were constantly creating because I was pulled back into the music they were making and that has definitely helped me a lot throughout the years. I think that time away was so necessary because I had to grow as a person.
You’ve spoken about how when your father was ill, he pushed you to keep going for your career but then you wouldn’t have gotten back the time you spent with him. How do you feel the time you’d spent with him has helped shape you both as a person and as an artist?
Nobody wants to lose their father, but I think for me that time I got to spend with him was so important and motivating. Knowing that he believed in my music was the I needed to keep going and pushing for this career.
What’s on your bucket list as an artist?
I want to release two EPs this year. I would love to have my own headline show and definitely want to meet or work with Doja Cat. I’m putting all of my wishes out there. Speak it into existence.
Finally, if you had to describe your career or musical journey so far in three words, what would that what would they be and why?
Amazing, fulfilling and heartbreaking. The reason I say amazing and fulfilling is because I get to live my dream and do what I love every day. There’s nothing more amazing and more fulfilling than that. Why is it heartbreaking? Because like every good thing that comes the bad; with music that can be a lot of disappointment or even being vulnerable and showing and sharing your feelings it can take a lot from you mentally and emotionally.