Somadina was born in Nigeria to Nigerian parents; she grew up in the Netherlands; she schools in the UK; she has Indian and Chinese best friends; she had a Russian piano teacher. “Do you also have a French chef?” I ribbed; she laughed. Her universal outlook, which suffuses her music, too, is at once enviable. She traces this attribute to her father—”my dad used to drill it in us that we had to be global-minded, that we had to be able to sit in a room and have a conversation with anybody.”
The uninitiated might think the song’s title is guilty of a mixed metaphor: how can you roll sound? But Somadina is talking about a different kind of loud. She means cannabis; to buttress her point, the single’s cover art dazzles with psychedelic, abstract colors—psychedelia is precisely what ensues when you inhale that intoxicant. High on weed, life and youth, Somadina cares little for naysayers, the 22-year-old sings in this song she calls “afrobeats” and her most experimental sound thus far. Usually she is an afro psychedelic rock artist (she prefers artist to musician).
Rolling Loud is her first single since SUPERSOMA (2021). Her discography comprises singles like Kno Me (2020), Lay Low (2019), and IHY (2018). A body of work is in the works, but Somadina won’t divulge its title just yet. However, she is willing to indulge, among other things, a sneak peek behind the silk curtain of her musical, eh, artistic sensibility.
Where were you born?
I was born in Port Harcourt, but I didn’t stay in PH for a long time. I grew up in the Netherlands. That’s where my dad’s job was.
Were you especially exposed to music as a child?
I was exposed to a lot of RnB growing up. My dad always used to play that. My dad is my biggest inspiration. And because I wasn’t allowed to use technology while growing up, every piece of music he consumed, I consumed, too. So that’s Brandy, Beyonce, Rihanna, Chris Brown, John Legend, Asa. Asa was probably the only Nigerian artiste I listened to growing up. When I started to discover music for myself—I think I was about 16 when I first got on a streaming platform—I started listening to afro-psychedelic rock and diving into 70’s music. That’s when I started finding my love with rock music.
Would you say the Dutch soundscape influenced you?
It did. But I’m not so sure of it in the sense that I can’t point to particular Dutch music that influenced me. But I was exposed to the culture and that must have influenced me. Not just Dutch culture, but many other cultures. My best friend is Indian; I had a Chinese close friend as well.
So you speak Dutch fluently?
I don’t. I’m not very good with languages. But I can speak a little bit of Dutch, and I can understand it.
Did you attend university in the Netherlands?
I went to university in the U.K. I studied sociology.
Do you remember when you first composed music?
I composed my first song when I was like 7. I started learning how to play the piano very early. I was classically trained, and that just helped my songwriting. The first song I wrote was titled It’s All Right; It’s Okay. My second song was Change Can’t Hold Me Back. I wrote these songs before I was ten.
How did your parents take your growing interest in music?
My dad has always been an amazing foundation for me. I’m blessed with that. He’s always been open-minded and a go-getter. So even though he didn’t grow up like us—he grew up in Jos—he was determined to give his children as much exposure as possible. Growing up, my dad used to drill it in us that we had to be global-minded, that we had to be able to sit in a room and have a conversation with anybody. And I can do that. It’s not been an easy journey, but it’s been a loving one. My mom supports me, too, but she’s not a music person. She still comes for my shows.
Do you play any instruments?
Yes. I was classically trained, and I play the piano. I had a Russian piano teacher. I just started learning to play the guitar, and I used to play snare drum.
Let’s talk about your new single, Rolling Loud. What’s behind it?
I made the song as a statement. I made it in Lagos. It’s Afrobeats, and so far it’s the biggest experimentation I have done.
Do you ever think that your universal sensibility will ever prevent your music from having a local (Nigerian) flavor?
People may not always be able to listen to my music and say, ‘she is Nigerian’. But I see myself as an artist, not a musician. That means that through fashion, visuals, and any art form, I can express my identity. I love Nigerian culture, and it goes beyond the sound. But even in my music, I still think that if you listen closely enough, you can hear my Nigerian accent.
You put out the project “5 Stages” long ago but deleted it. Why?
When I made that project I was in a different headspace than I’m in now; I was a lot younger. I was going through a lot. Inasmuch as I appreciate those songs, I no longer identify with them.
Will your next project be an EP?
I’ll just call it a project. I can’t say for now if it will be an EP or an album.
Which artists do you see yourself working with soon?
Asake, Zinoleesky, Arya Starr, Tems.
When you’re not making music, what are you doing?
I take a lot of rest. I take a lot of time for myself.