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Vibing out with Ghanian singer JoJo Abot

Watch a stylish new video from the artist making ‘sincere, explorative, meditative, invasive, provocative, sensual’ music

JoJo Abot’s music sets out to challenge and provoke listeners, swinging vicariously through hip hop, afrobeat, reggae, soul and more. Through her eclectic sound, as well as the merging of her hometown Bushwick, New York City and her native Ghana, Abot’s music aims to tackle the love and loss experienced by everyone in everyday life. Her upcoming EP Fyfa Woto follows this notion, exploring themes of freedom, community, and strength. “It’s a story of a woman’s sacrifice of personal freedom in pursuit of a great cause,” as she explains.

Set in the streets of Brooklyn, Abot’s newest music video, “To Li”, combines urban edge with an afrobeat jostle. A fully immersed JoJo dances eyes closed against a graffitied wall, her disembodied dancing like that of a tripped-out shaman, oozing fierceness and cool. Sensual and captivating, no one can tell her what to do. “The song is about calling something, or someone out, on what you suspect to be untrue,” says Abot.

How would you describe your music?

JoJo Abot: In describing the essence rather than the style of my music, I would say: sincere, explorative, meditative, invasive, provocative, sensual, vibes...

How does being between Ghana and North America impact on your music?

JoJo Abot: Finding the balance subconsciously between the two uniquely diverse cultural soundscapes is a trip in and of itself. I think both spaces have made impressions over the years that have become part of who I am in ways that even I can't control. From hip hop to hiplife, reggae to afrobeat, jazz to kinka (an Anlo style of music), the energy feels familiar and natural. I’ve almost always opened myself up to being impacted and scarred in the most beautiful ways by the culture and music of places in which I find myself. I’m grateful to have had such exposure continue to shape my art. 

Who are your biggest influences?

JoJo Abot: The everyday human. We all have accumulated endless life experiences that when shared could keep an artist occupied for years. Conversations with people matters a lot to me because I appreciate our will to win. We design our course through life daily trying to survive and thrive. We live, we love, we lose and gain... That is a the driving force of my art. The honest-to-god everyday hustle.

What sort of things did you talk about with Robert Kolodny when shooting your new video?

JoJo Abot: Robert and I met at a show I had with Rooftop films in NYC. He approached me offering to shoot something if I came up with a concept. I've always loved the brick and graffiti texture of Brooklyn in contrast to my spirit. I wanted to create something that is obviously surreal yet real. Rob is an incredible cinematographer, so he made magic happen on that end, and voila! We had Fyfa Woto existing in present day Bushwick. 

What can you tell us about your upcoming debut EP?

JoJo Abot: It’s exciting new music. It’s music that tells the story of a woman boldly defending and pursing a love forbidden in a time of slavery and racial conflict. It’s a story of a woman’s sacrifice of personal freedoms in pursuit of a greater cause. It's an open confession to being human. It reflects our weaknesses and strengths in how we interact with our communities in an effort to belong yet instigate change. Fyfa Woto reveals the limitations of inherited ideas and ideals. Judgements and hatred that we pass on to future generations at dinner tables so casually. There are so many layers to this project and ‘To Li’, which I co-produced with a Danish producer, Jonas Rendbo, is just the beginning of the narrative.

What future projects do you have lined up?

JoJo Abot: I have a second EP lined up to come out after this that I am particularly excited about, as well as creative work through my art collective and residency project AFRI-NA-LADI. I'm currently travelling and collaborating with artists in NYC, LA, Stockholm and London as part of my Fyfa Woto tour in collaboration with Track Music which has honestly been an incredible experience so far. Beyond that, I'm mostly excitedly anticipating what life hits me with next.