I don’t know why Jesse Jagz went back to Chocolate City; he already left the home and formed a new one, one crafting incredible art through Jagz Nation. He created something thoroughly brilliant, an anomaly on a realm of its own. Still, he gave it up to be normal once again. That’s my train of thought as I transcribe my interview with Atta.
The scene is different now, and we’re not going to let the gems in our society down this time. This is a new age; we are evolving to recognize talent and skill when we see it, and there is never going to be a moment we ignore brilliance in the art. We appreciate the heroes who came before, ventured into different sounds and experimented with the Nigerian sound.
It’s a new age for celebrating the unique, to unbundle our drive for what is different; one can say our curiosity is glaring now. The world is aware of us and we’re connected to it through our phones, the information being created by Africans entirely from our own understanding of what’s happening around us.
We bring a different perspective to the existing plane.
The culture is connected, we’re all one. The music has no barriers; it’s free to ride on our impulse. That’s what I feel while conversing with Atta, the atmosphere that allows her mind breath an air of greatness, a mind filled with conscious thoughts about her craft, her sound, her vision, and brand as an artist in this new Africa.
Jazzz Atta, a neo-soul/jazz singer, and songwriter, decided to push forward with the music in 2014. A time she was with a bunch of other musicians inspired by their vibes to make music her thing, and she’s not looked back since. ‘Somebody’ in 2014 was her first single followed by another titled ‘Aboki’ in 2015 and her third single ‘Body and soul’ in 2016 before releasing her first EP ‘Practice’ in 2017, about a week ago.
A regular performer at Bogobiri & the 90s baby sound off, she’s an indie artist. An indie artist, she explains, means “Well, to independently work & publish your projects without any influence from a major label, or any label. This was the process I went through whilst working on the Practice EP. So you are basically running the whole show by yourself. Thank goodness the internet and social media has made things a bit easier. As an indie artist in the Nigeria scene, my first true fans got to know about me through the Internet, Soundcloud, Twitter, etc. So yeah, I depend heavily on the internet to push my projects. Through the internet & social media, I have been able to get information on shows I’d like to be part of and watch the culture grow. We don’t have the resources of a major label but I am constantly working, practicing, you know, just basically staying ready. I’m also trying to collaborate more, working harder on content, really good content to push on social media.”
This had me intrigued and curious to find out more about her, we had a little back and forth:
The PGM Club: The culture, it’s exciting. Everything feels possible now, right here in Africa. How does that affect the music you create, being in such a creative and vibrant African culture that is pushing boundaries?
Jazzz Atta: This affects me & my music positively. When I started pushing forward with my music, a lot of people tried to exert the negative influence. They went on about Nigerians not having the ability to appreciate good music. I’m happy I stuck with the dream of the culture changing. And now, that I’m seeing and even gaining so much from just the possibility. I am so humbled and inspired to do even more.
The PGM Club: Tell us about your music. Why do you create? What do you create?
Jazzz Atta: I am a really awkward and shy person, which makes it a tangible challenge to speak what I feel. Singing, songwriting, and music are power tools that I use to express myself, to reflect and heal. I am very aware that there are a lot of people who feel the same way I do, who go through pain or pleasure but don’t how to express it all. So I constantly do this for them, and I do this for me too.
The PGM Club: Jazz? Afro-Jazz? Let’s talk about that and your new EP ‘Practice’?
Jazzz Atta: Okay so Jazz… I fell in love with jazz as a child, I had listened to Ella Fitzgerald’s Someone to Watch Over Me… I just couldn’t get her voice outta my head; it was the most beautiful thing I had heard. In any kind of music, I am most interested in the style of the vocalist, then the sound. So Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and Nancy Wilson became my go-to source for jazz music. I also listened to Luis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.
The jazz vocal form is heavily infused with my singing. When I decided to push my music I began researching on jazz and discovered that it had influenced a lot of music all over the world. It was one the reasons I chose the name, or rather, the name chose me because with jazz you are always improvising and creating beautiful music. My music is all about emotions and feelings, it is real; it comes from a very vulnerable part, so I really don’t follow rules like ‘this is how this should be or a bridge or a chorus should be this way’. I improvise and allow it become what it can, especially when the sound is good.
So, I don’t think music has to fit in a box. If it sounds good and it feels good, then so what? To me, that’s how I understood jazz. It had so many parts that came together to make it beautiful. Afro-jazz I feel is basically afrobeat. And I really think that the exemplification of Fela and how great he is. We still do not fully appreciate what he did. He gave us jazz in a form that anyone from anywhere would enjoy and appreciate. To simplify something so vast is pure genius, and that is so amazing. The EP ‘Practice’ has been the project I had always dreamed about, but whenever I got close to success it all fell apart. Now I think that, yeah, this time was actually the right time. Why? Because I have grown into my sound and will only evolve from here. So yeah, practice, I have been practicing, still practicing and I’m enjoying the journey. There’s so much freedom in discovering yourself and loving what you discover.
The PGM Club:: What did you discover about yourself and your art while making Practice?
Jazzz Atta: Strength and a will to keep pushing. I also discovered an ability to accept the bad times with the good times, without resentment.
The PGM Club: You’ve been creating more with your performance at the 90’s baby Soundoff, a song with Idris and Boogey off your ‘Practice’ EP, a photography series with TSE… what do you think of the new creative scene and how it’s helping reshape Africa?
Jazzz Atta: I think it’s really amazing and exciting. It’s like being a part of history in the making and I am really hoping we keep pushing the culture. I believe in all these visionaries… TSE, Boogey, Idris etc. and I believe that this is a process that will create a new age in Africa. We need this; we really need this to survive. Our people and land are abundantly blessed with natural and human resources. There is so much raw talent here that deserves to be discovered and to shine. Africa is on a path of discovery and everyone is needed to make this discovery successful, most especially our youth.
The PGM Club: The new age really is amazing.
I want to talk about the two features on your album as they’re both minds we love here at the PGM Club, Boogey, and Idris. How did they land on your tape? What’s the vibe like working on music with them?
Jazzz Atta: Yeah, so I got through to Boogey through my manager, they had worked together previously. So I had heard some of his music and I really loved his style and penmanship. I love that he’s really intelligent and has so much soul in his artistry. So when I had finished writing and voicing ‘Pill’, that’s the name of the song Boogey and I did together, I knew I just had to have him on that song because he would get it and put in the extra bit the song needed. When he came into the studio and recorded his part, I just knew that yeah, finally ‘Pill’ was done.
I got to know Idris King through 90’s baby, and yeah, we had invited TSE to listen to the songs on the EP, so he suggested Idris King for ‘Ice.’ And it clicked. Idris King really came through and gave the song “Ice” that very classy and polished feel. I really learned a lot from Boogey and Idris king, hoping we do more music together because it’s just simply amazing what they do.
The PGM Club: Your music is very personal to you and you’ve also created a visual element to it, what’s the approach you have for your video. I’m curious.
Jazzz Atta: The approach we are working with, is to be as real and as creative with that reality as mind and machinery would allow. Like I said, I am very awkward till maybe, I get comfortable and safe. Though even with that awkwardness, I’m still a very sensual person who isn’t ashamed of that but just needs her own space and way to express that. So, we are really trying to make something out of that… It wouldn’t be like in your face sexy or whatever, just subtle enough to express what it needs to.
This was a unique conversation; I felt something emanate from her mind; a purity of some sort as I listen to her EP ‘Practice’, it’s something I can’t judge alone.
This is what we drive at the PGM Club, the minds creating good music. Sounds created genuinely for the love of music, deserving of that center-stage and how it transcends to both listener and creator alike.
Interviewed by Adedayo Laketu for THE PGM Club
Edited by Jeffery Kalu / Douglas Jekan