A few weeks ago we had a (virtual) catch up with up and coming London singer Namugga. Buoyed by the success of her last single City Fox, the artist is looking forward to an exciting 2021.
You might be a new name to some of our readers so can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, first of all, my name is pronounced Nah-Mu-Gah. It is a clan name that originates in Uganda. I’m not sure if it means anything, but it is quite similar to the word for river in my culture, so it might have something to do with water which is appropriate because I’m a water sign!
How did you get into the music industry?
I’m in the industry of making music but I don’t perceive myself to be in the powerhouse that is ‘the music industry’. However, to answer your question, I’ve loved music and singing for a really long time.
I suppressed that side of myself for many years to fulfil the expectations that others had for me, whether parents or friends. It left me feeling somewhat dissonant and lost, however. But God was like: ‘girl, I gave you a voice for a reason. You’d better put that to use, no distractions’ and I was like: ‘you right!!’
I’m glad you mentioned your voice. It’s amazing. When did you first discover you could sing?
Wow, thank you!! Well, I’ve been singing since primary school. Christmas plays, talent shows, the choir. My voice used to intimidate me because it was so big but I’m slowly getting comfortable with it.
How would you describe your music and what are your musical influences?
I would describe myself as an Alternative Soul artist. In terms of influences – oh man, Destiny’s Child and Beyonce were my girls!! Back in primary school, I used to listen to their albums on repeat, and me and my friends would make dance routines to their music.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten into Blood Orange, Solange’s True EP collaboration, Kindness, Florence and the Machines, Frank Ocean of course, Kadhja Bonet and James Blake. And in the last year I’ve been playing Cleo Sol’s new album ‘Rose in the Dark’ on repeat – it’s so good!! I think it’s the album I played most in this 2020.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
If I weren’t a musician, I’d be a music therapist or counsellor. Music because I’d like to think it would still be a passion of mine and psychology because healing people is a dream of mine.
We adored City Fox. What was the inspiration behind the song?
Thank you so much! That means a lot. ‘City Fox’ is a metaphor for road men and the song explores the strenuous relationship between some young people and the police.
We’re currently counting down to your EP. What are you currently counting down to?
Ayyyyy! I’m counting down to my EP release too! I’d love to do an EP release party but it might be difficult due to the lockdown.
I’m also counting down to the music venues reopening because I’d really like to exercise my performance bone and silence my performance anxiety. Live streams aren’t it, man!
How have you coped with the lockdown?
Lockdown has been emotionally taxing. I’ve enjoyed the free time to create, and learn new skills, and just do all the things I wouldn’t normally have the time to do.
However, I honestly don’t think we’ve had the mental space to process everything that we’ve endured over the course of the pandemic and I think it will take years for some of us to overcome.
On the positive side, I think my relationships with support network have deepened in a way that I don’t think they would normally have in the space of a year, and I’m incredibly grateful for all the people in my life.
As a black Londoner, what’s your take on the recent Black Lives Matter movement?
I find it strange that it took a pandemic for people outside the black community to awaken in awareness. Black Lives Matter has been around since 2013. It’s is now 2020. It has gained mainstream success now but that’s 7 years of wilful ignorance for many.
I can recall going to a lack Lives Matter protest back in 2015 and the majority of protestors were black and the next weekend there was a save the white whale protest and the majority of protestors were white.
I’m glad that there is no longer a disconnect, that there is a conversation. However, I’m hoping that it will continue long term and not just turn into a short term trend.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would have grown in confidence and character. I would have a well received album under my belt and I would be earning a comfortable living from my music.
I would love to create an annual festival in my local area to showcase local talents, businesses, and charities. It’s ambitious but I was on the prom committee back in school, so I think it’s possible.
Who would you like to collaborate with in future?
My ideal collaboration would be with Labrinth, Jordan Rakei or Nao. I love their writing and arrangements and the vocals are always amazing.
More information about Namugga can be found here.
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