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LOSHH, Udoma Janssen
Photography Udoma Janssen

Loshh’s music reminds marginalised people of the power of joy and spirit

Inspired by Juju and Gospel sounds, Nigerian style, and London’s artistic soul, meet the multidisciplinary artist bringing his fiery vision with full-bodied EP ÍFARADÁ

Multidisciplinary artist Loshh’s long-awaited, stunning, and smoky EP ÍFARADÁ is, at its heart, about perseverance. It’s a message to the most marginalised – Black women, migrants, those hit worst by the pandemic and the inequalities it has amplified – to keep their spirit strong. Influenced by the boundary-pushing work of idols like Fela Kuti and music from Gospel to Juju, his cross-genre, cross-discipline work speaks to keeping your joy and spirit alive in a world where things are stacked up against you. “I couldn’t run from what was going on in the world nor my mind,” the Nigerian, London-via-Dublin-and-the-Netherlands artists has said. This debut release was created in its entirety in July 2020 with producer Santiago Morales, finding breaktaking beauty in darkest moments while working through lockdown on the record.

The striking visual for Loshh’s euphoric, jazz-speckled track “Faji” stars his own mother, and celebrates the innate power of Black women. “Revolution” is a fiery call-to-arms, and “Feelam” dazzles with its psychadelic sensibilities and joyful message. The 7-track EP moves through themes that address staying uncompromised in your identity, family, and railing against oppression, driven by its textured and rich instrumentation with Loshh’s six-piece band, aching Latin guitars and fluid, reggae percussion, with Loshh’s own full-bodied vocals slaloming through like the fingers of a lithe dancer piercing a smoke ring. As well as music, poetry, visual art, and sound interpolate in the artist’s artistic practices, elevating Loshh as an urgent, fascinating, and much-needed young voice for 2021.

Below, we speak to Loshh about being vulnerable in all aspects of art, his stellar EP, and keeping spirits alive.

Has your work taken on any new challenges, meaning, or themes in the pandemic? 

LOSHH: I’ve never really shied away from the issues that most people were forced to confront during this pandemic. I created my EP in July, during the first lockdown, so it was informed by things that were going on around me at the time. Overall it only amplified the sentiments I already had. If not for the pandemic, I’d be performing – I would be with my people and we’d let de spirits come down!

Growing up, who and what influenced your sound?

LOSHH: The people that really influenced me were Andre 3000, King Sunny Adé, Prince, Bawoya Gbenga Adewusi, Yinka Ayefele, Fela Kuti, Lagbaja, Pasuma, Psquare, Snoop Dogg. A variety of music was played in my house, genres ranging from afro-beat, fuji, juju, wéré gospel to R&B, jazz, soul, hip hop, and rap. I really grew up within music, not just around it. I would see my uncles perform live and go to recording studios and then make cassettes and vinyls. 

What I admire about my uncles, Andre 3000, Prince, and Fela Kuti is that I saw firsthand how they let their spirits come down. I couldn’t care less about their artwork, that came next. What mattered to me was watching them forget everything else and really fulfil their artistic purpose. Without their spirit they could never execute their talent like that. 

Do elements of your artistic practice feel distinctly rooted in Nigeria, Dublin, the Netherlands, London?

LOSHH: 100 per cent – less so the Netherlands as I was so young, but I’m definitely influenced by Nigeria, Dublin, and London. These places make up parts of me – they’ve shaped me to become who I am today. With Nigeria, it’s everything: style, hair, movement, how proud they are in what they do, the community, the spiritual elements to how they move. They move in spirits and not in flesh. Growing up in Dublin, Tallaght, I was half of a shell of myself. Boxed in, I wasn’t allowed to express myself and elements of my identity, so I was the outcast and often got into beef. There are songs I listened to back then like, ‘Horse Outside’ by The Rubberbandits that still have an impact on me now. 

I’d say my mind blew when I moved to London, diversity I was open to so much grace and colour in one city,  whereas Ireland wasn’t like that at all. I had never even seen women in hijabs casually moving around. London gave me the space to express myself like I’d never done before. I have developed greatly as an artist here. 

How does your other artistic practice – poetry, visual work – influence your musical output? As a multidisciplinary artist, do your creative processes differ and interact?

LOSHH: The first page of my notepad is a dissected version of all my poems, mixed together, and scrambled up, with small illustrations dotted about. So whenever I’m in the studio and we get to the creation of a beat and I’m stuck on the writing process, I can go back to that first page and get inspired. All I’m doing is telling my story in different ways. Obviously my creative processes differ between writing music and poetry. I have to take into account the cadence, tone of voice, melody, how I will portray myself on that beat. Often, when I’m right there in front of the microphone, I don’t know what spirit is going to come down and channel through me.

Can you explain the ‘Faji’ sound and accompanying visual concept, which stars your mother? It speaks to joy and hope – how do you use joy to rail against oppressive systems and structures?

LOSHH: Using joy to overcome oppression is one of the things that they never want to see you do because they expect you to be down, to be bitter, to be negative, to be content on a level where you’re not fulfilling your true purpose. Faji means to enjoy: fuck them, dance your pains and struggles away. The song is there only to make you realise that the spirit is in you already. I used my mother in the video because she symbolises what many Black women are doing – persevering, growing, striving in their own being with their spirit. I’m not saying that black men haven’t struggled, it’s just been different. The Faji sound is something better than euphoric, something better than greatness. I can’t explain my own thing, so I guess that’s all you’re going to get for now. 

What lyric are you most proud of?

LOSHH: Picking my proudest lyric is like picking your favourite child, there isn’t just one lyric I am most proud of! I am proud of all my lyrics, they are my babies, they come from a place deeper than inside me.

What else can we expect from your forthcoming EP?

LOSHH: Vulnerability and a groove like no other.

What ideas do you have for future work?

LOSHH: To amplify the voices, sounds, rhythms, and beat of our motherland!

LOSHH’s debut EP ’ÍFARADÁ is out now via TENNNN