Interview: Ladi6 To Drop Their Best Record To Date

Feature, Interview, Music

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After introducing the soulfully seductive ‘Ikarus’ on iTunes and YouTube last month, Ladi6 is to tour soon with @Peace to promote their third studio album which was recorded in Detroit with the super-producer, Waajeed. In an interview with whendidyoufallinlovewithhiphop, Ladi says the album is a ‘giant step forward production-wise; it’s certainly a more self-assured sound’. Having seen them perform in Perth at the New Zealand Music Festival late last year, a performance anymore self-assured or sharp is certainly one to be at.  The month-long tour kicks off in Christchurch at the end of June and we’ll see Ladi, Parks, Julien Dyne and newcomer, Brandon Haru, rock the country with new offerings from the upcoming album; songs they haven’t played live from The Liberation Of… and Time Is Not Much will also be re-worked. Event venues and dates can be found at Eventfinder and tickets are available now from Ticketmaster and usual outlets. Ladi6 and @Peace will be in Wellington on Friday, July 5 at Bodega.

HH: You are about to tour New Zealand with @Peace. What can fans expect from you that’s different this tour, live-performance wise? 

L: We have a new keyboard player, B.Haru. That’s still relatively new; but anyone who joined us this summer would have had the pleasure of meeting/hearing him already. We will be playing loads of our new album, a lot of the songs have never been played out before, and adding new tracks from both the Liberation and Time Is Not Much that we perhaps haven’t played in the past. This is very exciting for us!

HH: How has Ladi6’s sound changed or evolved since The Liberation Of… considering you’ve toured heavily around Europe and recorded your album in Detroit with Wajeed?

L: It’s taken a giant step forward production wise, it’s certainly a more self-assured sound, and I think a lot more unique than any of our previous albums. I feel like the sound has a lot more soul and an authentic feel to it than previous albums of ours. It is certainly our best record to date.

HH: What was it that took you to Detroit? 

L: Waajeed.

HH: What made you chose Wajeed to record with? 

L: Parks primarily introduced me to his music through Slum Village and Platinum Pied Pipers, being fans of his, we initiated contact on that basis and got busy.

HH: Will fans get to hear any of the new material during the tour at all? 

L: Oh hell yes!! We’re gonna work out the kinks on this tour and perhaps re-work some of our favourites from our previous records.

“My life has been this one crazy dream that when I do take time to look back and appreciate everything we’ve done, I feel overwhelmed by the things I have had the privilege of experiencing. “

HH: What does Ikarus mean as a song?  First I thought you were talking about your partner but then I listened more and thought, it doesn’t seem as straight forward as that.  

L: It’s the idea of being afraid of not having the ability to show the amount of gratitude to a lover that has taken you in and accepted every aspect of you, about being able to give that back through some sort of grand gesture. It’s internal questioning of oneself.

HH: What was the inspiration or theme behind the video? Because it features your family members as well as symbols that look like your paying homage to Samoa or Samoan culture.

L: It was about showcasing and highlighting Pacific faces, and the things that had special meaning to the individuals who were holding them.

HH: How would you describe Ladi6’s sound or what sort of things influence you guys to produce a track?

L: We are influenced by so many things, music, lifestyles, ideas and creative solutions to everyday problems. The list is never ending. We, as a band, are made up of four very unique individuals, who are connected by a love and passion for music and music production, but Ladi6 is certainly not only us four, and there are many more influences outside of being a band, or even being musical that can influence, ‘producing a track’.

HH: What music did you grow up listening to and what was happening in your world the day you decided you wanted to be a rapper and singer?

L: I grew up listening to all types of shit, I’m the fifth child out of six, so I heard it all! Mum loved soulful women. Aretha was one of hers, a love I share to this day. Natalie Cole, The Supremes were daily cleaning music. My sisters loved Whitney, Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue, then later SWV. My second eldest sister was a proper hip hop head in her teens; listening to Pharcyde, Lost Boys, Wu-Tang before anyone knew who they were in our house. My second eldest brother loved Young MC, MC Hammer; all the 90’s shit, Heavy Dee, Riff, Boys II Men, etc.  He’s the true music collector; he’d trap you in his room just so he could play you his songs, he loved everything. Above is just what I listened to in my primary school years with them. We had everything! Dad loved funk and rock but his taste evolved too. We listened to a lot of Santana, Chicago, Osibisa, Tower Of Power, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Motown. My oldest brother is a huge music lover too but back in primary he was listening to the popular music of the time. Things change — that was when I was like eight, we were into other shit by 12. New house, new sound, it was forever changing. Music was always being played in our house! I was heavy into the hip hop culture, I had just turned 18 and learnt all about it— everybody was on it. Hip hop was at church even! There was a local youth centre we all hung out at, we’d all bring black books and write, cypher, break, paint; it was the life I was living at the time. Everybody did something – repped one element or another. I lived with graff writers and bgirls, was dating a wanna be ITF/DMC champ. It was the way it was, everybody I knew stole Poscas and tagged. We were all poor, but it was the most influential period of my life.

HH: What’s an element of yourself that you put into your music which you hope people take from it?

L: I try to be real, speak from the heart and tell the truth. I hope that people hear something familiar, something that connects them to me. I hope to always encourage hope and heart.

HH : What are the dynamics of juggling motherhood and a demanding career? 

L: Man, it’s not easy – and as they grow, so my life has to become more stable and less nomadic. It’s a juggle that is constantly balanced by the fact that family remains the priority over everything else — and the rest must be scheduled to fit around those priorities.

HH: Back when you were Sheelahroc did you ever think you would eventually tour the world as you have with Ladi6?

L: No, never!! My life has been this one crazy dream that when I do take time to look back and appreciate everything we’ve done, I feel overwhelmed by the things I have had the privilege of experiencing. I am truly, tearfully, whole-heartedly grateful for it all.

HH: Where are you at on your artist timeline? 

L: I’m still at the beginning, I freak out on the things I’m learning and the ways in which I’m evolving artistically, and humanly – this fact I am also so grateful to the universe for.

HH: When did you fall in love with hip hop?

L: Sometime in 1997 or 98, at Sarah Tamaira’s flat on Cashel Street in Christchurch.

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