We caught up with London-based songwriter & multi-instrumentalist Kianja folllowing the release of her latest new EP ‘In A Different Light’. A collection of deeply personal tracks, influenced by elements of soul, jazz, gospel and pop – that explores the young artists personal development, her challenges and vulnerabilities through the vehicle of incredibly powerful songwriting. “I’ve been singing, playing and writing from early on, around aged 8/9 and gigging from 14?, the artist explains. Having originally found her way into the music industry through uploading self-produced songs to Soundcloud. Making a point of noting how in following this path; as challenging as it is, Kianja hopes to touch as many souls as possible and inspire young people to aspire to be the best they can be.
In a Different Light
On a personal level, writing this EP was her therapy, she explains. Having helped her shift her mind set and learn from her mistakes. Kianja was keen to write a stripped-down project to hone in on her song writing craft. “If a song stands alone, with no bells and whistles, it will stand the test of time”, the young artist points out. Taking inspiration from artists including Etta James, Sade, Joan Armatrading, & Bill Withers to direct her towards the type of music she wants to create. For her fans, Kianja wants her music to be whatever they feel it needs to be for them at that moment. She explains how she understands the motions people go through in life of placing key emotional points in their lives in boxes. Offering a sense of ease on your subconscious. “I don’t like to get chained to any one genre. I enjoy creating relatable music and fusing styles”, she explains. Noting how her music will always be a representation of where she is at musically, mentally, emotionally and the different genres that she takes inspiration from in that moment.
The London artist points to some very old and deep friendships that have kept her grounded consistently. Whilst acknowledging she still has a long journey ahead of her, she takes the stance that its more important to try to achieve her dreams, then be left wondering what if. The artist opens up about her time at school when she experienced her fair share of bullying antics. However, Kianja for her part is pleased she lived through the experience, as in doing so, enable her to find her music, which in itself became a safe haven. “I know myself better, I can stand on my own and I don’t give a shit about what people think”. She points to experiencing bouts of depression quite frequently. Although counts herself lucky as she is able to pour those feelings of loneliness into her music. Kianja does open up about the challenges that come with depression, having openly seeked therapy through university in 2020. Something she feels has been absolutely life changing. “Life is rough and it’s about to get even harder for young people. So we need to invest time into ourselves and stick together”.
Tackling Social Media
Social media is a funny one, the artist professes. “Yes, it’s helped me to start building a career, share my music, and talk to people who enjoy my music….On the other hand, it can be quite destructive, disposable and fickle. We’re in a time where music and visuals are equally important. If both of these are quality you can’t go wrong”. By the same token, Kianja highlights the importance of finding people within the music industry who believe in your vision. Her advice is to follow your dreams, and to not be put off by the rejection, which can be overwhelming. She explains how every day comes with its own personal challenges. From juggling studying, working & pursuing her career; to developing her craft and taking care of family.
The artist is starting to open up more creatively, with a new found focus on creating new material. With a final message that she’s looking to start collaborating and experimenting with young visual artists. Ranging from stylists, photographers, videographers through to graphic designers #watchthisspace