'Everything Is Irie' with Yeza's debut single Image

by Biko Kennedy

YEZA, derived from the name Yezambique, which means ‘Strength and Resilience’ in Swahili, wants to liberate African minds through her music. The singer-songwriter is confident about her debut single, which was self- written and jointly produced with Calibud Music & Universal Reggae Sounds. We caught up with the budding artiste to learn more about her musical journey.

JAMusic: Music lovers globally will always be looking for that new, impeccable sound that can be looked upon as leaders of the new wave of vocalists. How would you define a musical genius that can eventually become a vocal leader? 

Yeza: I am of the view that once you are able to maximize/ master the elements from within; your natural emotions, inspirations and desires, you will be able to capture minds and hearts. Your talent and cause will become undeniable; people will have no choice but to notice your capabilities.  

JAMusic: Some of the most genius artistes have thrived when taking chances and innovating. How important/present is that on the soundscape today; from what you've seen and that might have help in composing your singles?
Yeza: For me I think the risk has to do with being true to you rather than following a concept of the music that was left behind. We find people coming with their unique additives to the music scene but, in many cases still sticking to a particular line of how they were taught that it should be done. This often causes one to be trapped in a group of unheard voices. It’s important to me to live out my unique experience and interpretation; it is this that will make me unforgettable. 

JAMusic: Before entering the world of music, what life events framed the path of your professional journey? 
Yeza: I have been through many things lol. When it comes to impactful milestones or events though, I would say  growing up without my parents for most of my life, this made me pay extra attention to my soul purpose, talents and skills. Also, graduating UWI then going into entrepreneurship with my hair business “Kusuka Natural”.  I realized that willpower was my advantage. I also realized I would be unhappy with myself if I never took music seriously. 

JAMusic: How do you think your single Everything Is Irie will impact\ your growing fan base as well as attracted new listeners?
Yeza:  I think it will impact people in a positive way. So far I have observed that young, old and middle aged people have all given me positive reviews on the song. It’s something anyone can connect with because it’s just a irie/ good vibes. It’s sure to pull many listeners who love roots reggae and are looking for a easy kick back song.  

JAMusic: What elements do you hold that’ll define you as an entertainer as oppose to just another artiste? 
Yeza: I would say I am more of a free spirited rebel. I am not tied to any particular creed. I am full of cultural expressions and I am rooted but at the same time I operate within my own philosophy of what is acceptable or unacceptable, think this will bring about many images and sounds that will be new and different. In terms of the content of my music, people will be getting hard lyrics as well as sweet melodies from a female reggae artiste which I believe is a rare fusion in the industry. 

JAMusic:  What's the biggest risk you've taken artistically; one that went over surprisingly well and one that might've gone over people's heads? 
Yeza: So far I don’t think I’ve taken any big risk but I have touched on some controversial topics in songs that I have performed. I have touched on topic such as politics, religion and sexuality, the reception has actually been good. 

JAMusic: What do you consider to be the greatest obstacle that you had overcome in achieving your current status?
Yeza:  The greatest obstacle so far has been a mental wrestle with myself about the path that I must choose. I had many passions and interests growing up and I battled with choosing the one that I wanted to be committed to. I ended up taking music seriously because I realized that if I didn’t pursue it, I would be unsatisfied in life. I went to college and studied for 3 years and then realized I really didn’t want to sit in an office for the rest of my life. My family frowned at the decision and it was a risky and tough choice to make. 

JAMusic:  Who's the artiste that keeps you on your toes? Pushes you to go harder? 
Yeza: Without a doubt Beyonce. I think her work ethic is through the roof, unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. Even if you’re not a fan, you have to acknowledge how hard she works to be where she is right now. That gives me a ton of inspiration.  

JAMusic: What would you consider to be the greatest contributor to your musical diversity and versatility?
Yeza:  I think it might be due to my natural passions. I love to sing and I also love chopping lyrics. I listened to a lot of heavy hitters and sweet singers growing up and I think I have found myself in the middle of both. 

JAMusic: How does your musical influences compound when you are sitting to write a song and record it? / Apart from them being timeless, what drew you to all the artistes that influence your sound?
Yeza: When I sit to write a song, I’m usually not thinking of the artists that inspire me consciously, I think their influence at that point is more subconscious. Overall they inspire me because of how much they have honed their unique abilities to the level of mastery. 

JAMusic: What's one song that you hold close to you because of a particular line or better yet what's the most philosophical quote you've heard in a song that you hold close to your heart? 
Yeza: I have many of those songs but I recently listened to one of my favorite songs from Janelle Monae called “Cold War”. She says, “this is a cold war you better know what you’re fighting for”, “I’m trying to find my peace, I was made to believe there is something wrong with me and it hurts my heart.” These lines are very dear to me because it captures elements of my cause as an artiste and my soul purpose. In this cold war I fight for the things my forefathers’ fought for. I deeply feel I have a duty to continue the legacy of Marcus Garvey or Malcolm X who just wanted to liberate Africans from the bondage that still affects us today. The bondage that makes us feel that it’s normal to not like ourselves, our skin, hair our very existence. Music is one of the tools I hope to do so with. 

JAMusic:  We live in an era where the average person's attention span is limited to what they want to see or hear. What are you doing differently that will hold their attention?
Yeza: I feel I will be able to grab people with the difference in my personality, style and approach. I aim to spend a lot of time developing an audio visual presentation of myself that is purposeful and relatable yet fresh and vibrant.

JAMusic: With success comes a lot of negative feedback, how do you react or deal with negativity? 
Yeza: I think sometimes negativity can be channeled positively; I usually use nasty comments as reasons to push myself harder and to be able to prove naysayers wrong. Negative feedback is inevitable I anticipate them and use them to fuel my path to greatness.

JAMusic: When you look to the future, what are some of the areas you’d like to change professionally and personally?
Yeza: I would like to become more fearless personally. I would like to be able to create more truth and personal expressions musically. I feel music is powerful by itself but even more so when we believe in the things we sing about and practice the things that we preach.

JAMusic:  What insight can you give on the power of music and its ability to communicate certain messages verbally and non-verbally? And what do you think your music represent?
Yeza: Music is a powerful tool, we’re talking about sounds, vibrations and frequencies, all of these possessing the quality to mold and shape anything that consumes it.  Music is also a very large component of media and the media has a very big impact on the world. When we look at trends and fads music and audio visual projects are very influential. I think my music represents the youth of the rebellious offspring. The grandchildren of the slaves they tried to kill. 

JAMusic: What's the purpose on your musical journey? What's the message you're trying to give?
The purpose of my musical journey is to use my passion and love for music to propel a mental and spiritual revolution. I hope to impact people who have lost their way due to oppressive forces that have compromised our culture, freedom and understanding of self. I hope to show the world that I am an African woman who is proud and rooted in my culture. I am a representation of the divine feminine energy that embraces femininity and sexuality.  Overall I hope that my music becomes  a symbol of the resilience of the African people and our nature to love despite the bad cards we have been dealt throughout history.
Image A music aficionado redefining possibilities while pushing the limits of success...
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