Vocalist Nãnci Correia has risen to prominence over the past few years through her work with various artists including Congo Natty, Tenor Fly and Iron Dread. We caught up with her to discuss her musical origins as well as her recent collaboration with Unit 137's Hylu and Jago on 'Anansi Riddim'.
For those that don't know, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Nãnci Correia (with the accent on the a). I was born in Lisbon but sadly my mother took me away from the sun at a tender age of one, to the rainy and cold (but life fulfilling) London. I'm me and I do many things, but I live music.
You feature on Hylu and Jago's Anansi Riddim. How did this track come to be?
The track came about maybe a year ago now. It was a bit of an emotional stage - everyone around me was over analysing life and the problems in it until they ended up killing the fun in simply being. So I went up to Hylu & Jago's studio and wrote the song with Jago to a track they'd made and the outcome happened to be that "love is all around" which I reckon helped us both that day to take a step back, stop worrying and appreciate how good life is and how moany we all really are.
Taking it back, when did you start making music? Were there any artists in particular that inspired you?
I officially knew that I could sing at the age of four, doing my first solo at my school of thousands in Bolivia. For me, there hasn't been a start to my music - music has been a part of my everyday since the day I was born. It's more that I learnt I could use and abuse it to survive this life without having to sell my soul at around 15, when I joined London Music School. It was probably the best decision I ever made. From then on I knew everything would be my choice from this blessing I had been given and I was going to have to work for it, while of course still having a lot of fun - that was when I took the idea of doing music seriously for the first time. I hated singing lessons at school so never took them, as being told what and how to sing was not something I was prepared to listen to.
For obvious reasons, Lauryn Hill is my biggest inspiration - I have a lot of respect for singers who can still portray attitude whilst singing. I feel most female singers get caught up in this pretty pixie vibe, which isn't for me. I like it when female singers have a bit of bite; they tend to tell stories better as they've got a little bit more attitude and expression in themselves, a bit more rhythm and blues. Lauryn is the perfect example of a feisty woman with an important message to tell, who does it in the most honest voice I've ever heard.
Tell us a bit more about Unit 137...
Unit 137 is a collective of artists, a studio, a label, a sound system and a whole heap of laughter and drive, which is ready to take over the world!
You play out a lot alongside Phoebe/Iron Dread and Congo Natty. Where has been your favourite place to perform outside of the UK and why?
I think my favourite might have been performing in Bulgaria - it ended up like a mini holiday as we missed our flight and ended up in Bulgaria for 4 nights. The show was also a special one; it was hard work but it felt like the crowd reciprocated our energy and that is always the best way. You don't want people to scream and shout unless you've worked for it, but then at the same time you don't really want to work your arse off and not get people excited. The country also has so much interesting history - for example, they shake their heads to say yes and nod to say no, which caused some difficulties with the sound guy during the set as you can imagine!
What other projects are you currently working on/involved in?
I'm always working on my solo stuff but that project started the moment I was born and will end when I take my last breathe. Other than that, I'll continue to work with Congo Natty and Unit 137. Mr Benn has an album coming out where I've featured on a track with Lady Chann - I'm excited about that one, I feel it's a fun song. I'm not very good at doing happy and fun music, so when we do and it goes well it feels real good. Then, if life allows it, there will be an album with Phoebe and our band, which we plan to tour. My focus really is to go bigger than the dance scene which everyone seems to be caught up in and aim worldwide... why not?
Have you ever dabbled in production? If not, is that something you'd like to pursue at some point?
I started at London Music School doing sound engineering, so I learnt the basics of studio recording mainly using ProTools, Cubase and Reason back in those days. But that was a long time ago now, so it would take a while to get back into it. So yes, I'd love to pursue this more but at the moment it's a very expensive skill to take up. It will definitely be something in the future I will aim to be good at, because it really is the best way - you don't have to rely on anyone for beats and you've 100% written the song. That's 100% publishing!
What music are you currently listening to? Any recommendations for our readers?
Anything from Kahn, Camille, The Weekend, CKTRL, Monsters Playground, Visionist, Bamalam, Potent Whisper, Daedelus, Evian Christ, N.E.R.D, Disclosure, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Gold Panda, OnlyJoe, Galactic, Sleepy Time Ghost, Lionpulse, Burial, Deadboy, Ifan Dafydd, Buggsy, Phaelah, Fat Freddy's Drop, Planas, Kryptic Minds, Dark Sky, The Pharcyde - oh the list could go on and on…
If you could collaborate on a track with any artist in the history of music, who would that be and why?
I'd love to say Lauryn Hill, but how could you ever put yourself in the same category - that would be disrespectful and just plain rude! Same story with Erykah Badu. It's hard to just say one - I'd love to get something off Mala [Digital Mystikz] purely so I can smoke and gaze therapeutically. Kahn is someone who I've recently fallen in love with, so I'm over the moon to have a remix by him. In the history of music, I reckon it would be Bob Marley because we could share a zoot, he'd whip out the guitar and I reckon a beautiful tune that would light my world would just fly out. And Snoop simply because he reps Ganja and that is the works of a don.
Finally, any shout-outs?
This is fun - The Tobin household (Spanner in particular), my one and only Bill, Chica Chee, Fyfe, Polly, my beautiful Marge & Parge, Uncle Fly, Dubz, Rebel, Trinity, Lydia, Yoseif, Maria, Juice Gee, Arsch, Bamalam, Potent, Simple, Sambrahams, Hectorius, G, Batty Snypa, Geca, Bear, Milo, Caca, Be Ready family, Germy, Tima, Broadbent, Dave, Shabba, Julsey, Jack Vag Yah, the raving crew and, of course, Scum Deep (you know who you are!).
Words: Aaron Jackson
Anansi Riddim by Hylu & Jago ft Nãnci Correia is out on July 30th and can be pre-ordered here.
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