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Y​iigaa’s I​nner Dawn​ Is A Transcendent Reflection On Growth

Yiigaa​ is a multi-faceted creative spirit with music in her roots. Born and raised in the vibrant neighbourhood of Brixton, the ‘Southeast Songstress’ - also an actress and creative director of Trackout UK apparel and creative hub for young people - was brought up on all the South East London music scene had to offer. From Funky House and Garage to Reggae and Electronic, she cites her influences as being the world music she grew up on. As part of the early, very male-dominated underground music scene in 2015, the young starlet felt almost siloed into the lo-fi and neo-soul genres, an expectation for most young female musicians of colour at the time - “after a while, I started feeling as if I wasn’t connecting to the music I was making anymore. I guess that was lo-fi, neo-soul-y vibes, which I loved but it wasn’t necessarily what I was brought up listening to.”

With various projects under her belt, namely her debut EP ‘​ Mist’​, collaborations with the likes of Conducta, p-rallel and Finn Foxell, her range and ability to dip in and out of the genres she’s grown up with is impressive. The change in her musical style from when she was a freshman starting out is in part inspired by her travels in 2018 to Zimbabwe and South Africa. “I’d already listened to, obviously, a lot of Afro House, but [in South Africa and Zimbabwe] I listened to really really good Afro House from those that lived there. It was Gqom, Ampiano, and all these different blends that made so much sense to me in terms of mixing electronic and African culture - it’s like a dream to me.”

Once she was back in London, it would take Yiigaa a year of meeting with producers, where she was able to trial and error in order to pinpoint her sound, “You learn so much from every single person that you touch creatively. Each person makes up part of your journey and is able to show you something else. I was working with a guy called Nige, and he makes really sick lo-fi, electronic stuff and we were working really well together. It helped me progress further but I was kind of missing the afro section. It’s hard to articulate to a producer what you want when you don’t quite know yourself. You have to hear it, and once you hear it it’s almost like everything becomes easier.”

Which is why after a year long search her link-up with producer Jarj was exactly the remedy she was seeking. “I met Jarj - who is amazing - and I thought I had finished my tape in April 2020 but we did a session in like June or May and we made ‘Closer’ and from then I was just like we need to switch the whole thing around. So everything that I made up until April got completely scrapped, and we just started the whole tape again in lockdown.” No easy feat to just start a tape from scratch, but it was the collaborative nature of the two that allowed them the freedom to just create, no matter how eclectic it started out sounding. “When we first make tracks, I can’t even lie, they sound weird as fuck. They sound like six different songs in one song because we’re doing so much. It takes time to blend it down and refine it until it sounds like a cohesive track. It’s so much fun, it just takes a long time.”

Yiigaa’s latest offering I​ nner Dawn​ is an ode to her growth and her awakening to who she is as a musician and a woman. “Euphoric, escapist and reflective” is how she defines it in her own words. A letter of sorts to her younger self, ​Inner Dawn​ is a reflection of growth - and giving yourself the credit that it’s due. “If we remove ourselves from our story and we then told our younger selves that story without the connection, I’d be like ‘Oh my God, you have overcome so much shit’, whereas when we’re in our own mind we just go day by day and think that we’re not progressing. Lockdown, corona and this whole situation has been a forced reflection. I think that’s why the tape didn’t make sense anymore - my mindset had changed.”

“It's about reflecting on yourself, becoming a better version of you, understanding where you've come from, where you're going. And I guess, essentially, as well, just making a piece of work that makes people feel happy as well.”

Yiigaa strikes the right balance between being in your feels and getting up to dance, being free and embracing all the little things in life - something we all need right now. It’s a tape that is organic and tells a massive part of her journey as an artist. As we embark on a new year, I for one am truly excited to see what she has to show the world next.

Words by Elisheba Akalawu

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