ABINA draws loads of inspiration from artists out of the African scenes. Nija music is most of the time making the headlines, but here’s an artist of which we think is worth sharing with you. Cameroon born and Dutch based soul/jazz/afro artist, Ntjam Rosie just launched her third album: At The Back Of Beyond on the 15th of March. Next to being an artist, the Edison Jazzism Public Award 2012 nominee is also the CEO of her own record label and executive producer of her album. Next to music, Ntjam Rosie is making her mark with a distinctive fashion sense, we just had to cover. When good music and fashion meet, you know ABINA is around. I had a lovely chitchat with the singer/songwriter. In spite of the indescribable cold weather, we met up at a cozy location with cups of hot chocolate and tea. From being a Cameroonian living in the Netherlands to her inspiration for this album, here’s what we found out about dear Ntjam Rosie.
Elle versus At the Back of Beyond
“At the Back of Beyond is my third album. I wanted to write my music more with guitars, which allowed me to write different kind of songs. I didn’t understand the guitar as much, so that gave me the push to search more in that specific sound and I also wanted to be more open in my lyrics than in my former album Elle.”
“It’s about craft”
I have always loved various music genres from singer/songwriter to Afro, Soul and Pop music. The singer songwriter arena is about the lyrics and depth of the story. That basis is beautiful to me. I have a lot within me: Africa, Europe, America, Jazz, Pop/Soul, and I combine them all. This is a musical journey I want to keep making.
“I call the shots”
“I am independent artist who is not focused on the commercial side of music. You hope that your music will be played on commercial radio, but my first basis is God’s love and that counts most for me. I am a new born Christian for 3 years now. This was after Elle was released. That inspired me to be more open with God’s love. He is the basis of what I do. As long as what I do is okay with God, then the rest adds up. If standing in your bathing suit makes you happy, that’s okay. But that doesn’t work for me. I try to stay close to myself as possible and find out what God’s intentions are for my life. Of course I regard the sales of my album, but that’s not my focus. I remain close to myself and my talent. And I believe that if you deliver something good, there is a market for you somewhere. After all, the world is so big. There is always an area where you will be successful. So if you have approval from the One above, I believe all things will work well together.
Fashion & Hair
“Sometimes I wear a wig and sometimes I cut it all off.”
“With my fashion, I don’t stick to one look. For example, I don’t understand how Naomi Campbell can rock one look all the time. My hairstyle during Elle fitted me then, but it was time for something new. I’ve done plenty of hair styles. Sometimes I wear a wig and sometimes I cut it all off. I don’t have a stylist. I’m also my own executive when it comes to my styling. There are specific addresses I go to when I have gigs for TV and such. I do work together with stylists and stores here in Rotterdam. I am always looking for new clothing and I keep them all, because I might need it for something, someday. My attic is like a clothing store. I receive a lot of invites from fashion artists, like Poema Jones, for example. Among the stores I visit are: Deer Hunter Vintage, Margreet Olsthoorn, Flowers and Pearls and Van Dijk.”
The black hair movement
“Why not? I think it’s beautiful, if you feel good wearing that. Do what fits you. The song: I Am Not My Hair from India Irie, describes it best. I love where fashion and hair stands for. What hair means in black communities is different than what hair means to Dutch women. For me it’s more interesting when you make fashion and hair your art. The natural hair movement is a trend now. But this may change in the future. If you like to rock blue hair, cause it’s nice, then I love it. That’s true beauty to me. I chose the natural look, because that fits me. I love my curled hair. I used to want to be like someone else, but that’s not the same. As an artist, you have to add extra hair, for example Erykah Badu, Angie Stone all add artificial hair to their ‘natural’ hair. I love the movement, but don’t be fooled. At a certain point as an artist, you will have to add artificial hair. A lot of people who aren’t’ in the industry don’t understand this.”
´I was quiet an odd bird”
“Holland was new for me. I had to get used to it. The weather was different. The people were different. I always had my cousins around me In Cameroon. I was 9 years old when I moved to Holland. That’s the age you adapt easily to your environment. As a child I was very strong. I always made sure I looked a little more different. I was quiet an odd bird, because I was already an artist. That’s something that’s inside of you. The first couple of years weren’t easy, but it made me tough. I knew what I was here for. I had to work hard and make sure I would stand out. I would always do my best and make sure my mother was proud of me.”
“My favorite Cameroonian food is Poisson braisé. You eat it with mashed cassava or with cooked plantain.”
ABINA: “Thank You”
If I had to describe Ntjam Rosie’s sound, I would call it Smoot Cinnamon rush. The reason why, is because her sound is so relaxing and has a good vibe to it. It doesn’t matter how serious the subject might be, Rosie delivers that message with calmness. It’s sweet and tender. When it comes to music, my imagination can hit sky high.
Her album At The Back of Beyond is available on Itunes. Watch her first single Love Is Calling.