Create for yourself before anybody else

Q – Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?

I started creating music in the womb, with my mother – a clarinetist and pianist, my father – trombonist, and my brother a clarinetist. I was birthed into music, into a family of musicians and dancers.

My grandparents on both sides were singers at church and all my aunts and uncles were either members of the church choir or orchestra. I started singing and dance classes at the age of four at The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London, and started playing the guitar at the age of eight. By the age of ten, I had written my first single – a very simple chord progression with innocent vocals – and it was then that I knew that I wanted to express myself through music for the rest of my life.

I give thanks everyday for being born into a family who nurtured me through music in this way. It is one of the biggest blessings. Over the years, I focused my creative energy more towards my practice of dance, specifically ballet and contemporary dance. My exponentially promising 14-year dance career came to an abrupt end with two knee injuries and surgery, at the age of 18. I was heartbroken; little did I know there was this upcoming musical journey, now forming a massive part of my creative rebirth.

My writing is my form of journaling. At the very moment that an emotion, experience or wave of energy passes through me — I write, immediately, whether I’m at home, in my car or out with people. I whip out my notepad and I write, because I know that whatever triggered that emotion was raw and that rawness will fuel the truth within my music. Eventually, with writing, I craft a whole concept and by translating this concept into beats and lyrics, I make peace with it — whether it be something troubling or uplifting. I allow the feeling to pass through me.

Nothing is more powerful than listening to song that truly resonates with you

A song which makes you reminisce and accompanies your memories perfectly. I’m inspired by authenticity, by my experiences, observing the experiences of those around me, and the emotional analysis thereafter.

The most piercingly honest works of art often make for the most soothing healing experiences – not only for the listeners, but for the artists, themselves. I find that my music is empowering to both me and my listeners.

My music serves as a reminder to feel and feel fully, to allow your emotions to consume you, engage with them, be gentle with them and then, lay them to rest and flow on.

 

Q – How does your work incorporate your queerness and how important do you feel queerness in arts & culture is?

One of my hit singles, Kitty, is one of the most uplifting pieces I’ve written.

Womxn don’t get to speak about sex in the way that I wrote about it in Kitty. We’re taught to be modest, quiet, and ashamed of our bodies and sexuality, which is strange considering that we live in a world that is driven by the hypersexualisation of the womxn’s body.

It doesn’t make sense.

Kitty is about reclaiming our sexuality as womxn, taking back that autonomy that the media holds over our bodies. And also, completely removing men, their misogyny and their predatory energy out of the whole equation. Kitty is about a girl who’s trying to pursue a girl, who has never been with a girl.

I write relatable content. From my own experiences and the stories I’ve heard, womxn are often curious. I wanted to create a setting that was sensual and yet safe, where two womxn empower each other through the act of making love to each other.

Lastly, there is not enough hip-hop and RnB LGBTQ+ music. I can only assume that this is because of how much homophobia still exists in traditional communities of colour, globally. My music is for the queer folk of colour who could never fully relate to that old school Hip-hop and RnB.

There is this universal social narrative that expects womxn to act a certain type of way and to respond to men in a certain type of way. We’re expected to be reserved. God forbid a womxn speaks out about her sex life. God forbid a womxn shows her skin. God forbid a womxn has a one-night stand.

Human life is literally a product of the vagina, so I can’t understand why we don’t give it the respect it deserves

I use the term ‘vagina’ in its hypothetical sense, not physical – because all womxn, including trans womxn and femmes, are subjected to this.

It’s nonsensical.

Womxn can express and liberate themselves sexually in whichever way suits them, and it has nothing to do with anybody else.

We exist in a shame-based environment fuelled by the double standard of men being praised for sexual encounters, and womxn being exiled for them. The whole thing is ridiculous. A big part of what I want to do through my platform is to shift this mindset and dismantle the ideas around nudity vs nakedness.

Nudity is not equivalent to sex, it can be purity, liberation, or appreciation of what is natural and earthly. With Buddhism as my practice, I acknowledge my body as the vessel of my spirit.

It is to be respected, not by a standard of Western culture (i.e. the culture around sex that we exist in), but respected and taken care of naturally – never shamed.

Q – What do you want people to take away from your work?

Creating music has empowered me in a way that allows me to not only express my truth but to let my listeners know that their truth is being heard.

My music tells stories.

From my own experiences, to experiences as an observer, I tell stories so that I can engage with people authentically. Art is such a powerful tool and when kept organic, it can be used to build a soulful connectivity between people.

It’s a blessing to be able to express myself, to be vulnerable, and for this vulnerability to be received so beautifully by the public. My music has stirred up conversations about the meaning of love, sexuality, heartbreak, and other relatable themes that people are sometimes afraid to discuss. In essence,

my music empowers me and the people who exist around me through rawness and honesty,

iIt reflects who I am, and how I’d like to converse with others.

Q – The theme of our first issue is ‘Myth’ can you tell us how you interpreted that?

As womxn, we’ve been raised by mythical guidelines all our lives. Dress like this, act like this, don’t speak like that, never dance like this – we’ve been fed these myths to live by a system that, in most cases, oppresses us. Our power lies in us recognising the insignificance of these myths, and liberating ourselves to live freely – by our own standard and truth.

May the shackles of societal myths continue to be dismantled as we rise up everyday to empower ourselves and reclaim autonomy over our existence.

Q – How important is it to be able to have a space that you can express yourself as a Bi artist / creator?

This space in which I may share my work is not only that, but a space in which I am not erased or invalidated. I have the freedom to write music which expresses love and desire for all genders as this is representative of my lived experiences.

Sharing my art, as explicitly bisexual as it is, makes me feel recognised and celebrated. My listeners often resonate with this too. Many people have reached to give thanks for the work I have done, saying that I’ve put words to an indescribable experience of self.

My art often describes my sexuality as it fluctuates over time and it notions that this is okay. Through reflecting and sharing my work within this safe space I’ve created for myself, I no longer feel the need to prove or validate my sexuality to anybody who feels entitled enough to question it. I know who I am, I know my heart, and expressing that through music is a beautiful thing.

Q – If you had one piece of advice for your younger self (looking back now) what would it be and why?

Continue to create for yourself before anybody else.

Your art is your superpower but it is also your nest of vulnerability

Q – If you had one piece of advice for your younger self (looking back now) what would it be and why?

Continue to create for yourself before anybody else. Your art is your superpower but it is also your nest of vulnerability.

Nurture it. Protect it. Don’t force it.

Take your time to breathe in between the hours of creating and remember that your unique process is divine. Remain intentional with your word, your writing and your expression. And, remember to have fun! I believe that channeling my inner child during creative sessions is sometimes the purest way of creating something meaningful.

Accessing memories of those unapologetic emotions I expressed as a child and applying those to deeper narratives, which are relevant to my life today, has served me immensely.

Q – If you had to sum up the wonder that is the bi community on one sentence, what would it be?

Bisexual culture is having a crush on the girl in your class and her boyfriend!


Nalu aka LUVDUST

She/Her | Cape Town | Musician/Producer

Instagram | Spotify

Nalu was interviewed by Lucy Everett


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