Falana released ‘Rising EP‘ late last year. Some days ago, visuals were released for Energy, a track off the project. In this article, we discuss certain themes of interest as we dissect parts of the music video together, but to what ends should we point you to a rising star without telling you the nonreplicable story behind her?
Words by John Eni-ibukun
It was the summer of 2018, I remember quite clearly, when I first heard Falana on any song… “In the garden there was you and there was me // Everything was perfect in between…” She sang assuredly on the hook of Show Dem Camp’s The Garden, the concluding song of Palmwine Music 2 album.
2019 came with lots and lots of new music. It was a year earmarked for alternative Nigerian acts stamping their names and leaving impressions in the hearts of young music lovers whose tastes called towards new sounds, sounds outside the norm of fast tempo Afrobeats.
With musicians such as Tay Iwar, Cruel Santino (named Santi at the time), Asa and other relevant alternative music pioneers releasing projects that expressed the phases of their careers while simultaneously influencing the state of culture, Falana stepped out with Chapter One, her familiarly organic debut Extended Play.
Chapter One was Falana’s first open window through which she officially and cohesively endeared her listeners with the consciously documented stories of emotional and motivational roller coasters which she experienced through the coming-to-light/blooming phase of her journey as an artist. All of these she expressed in songs that are sung in that uniquely sharp vocal texture that is natural to her. Magically, She blends all of these elements on instruments played live.
Falana is a singer whose style and grace seem effortless. The ease with which she approaches life is exhibited in her art of songwriting, act of live performances and through the bits of her everyday life she puts on display through social media.
In October 2021, Falana took the conversation about her art further with the release of Rising EP, her second project.
Rising EP is as optimistic as Chapter One, only bolder. Produced digitally and with a few more collaborations, this project bears all over it the mark that it is the creation of a more experienced, more open-minded Falana.
Some weeks ago Energy had its visuals premiered. It is a song off Rising EP.
I caught up with Falana recently and we had conversations about how this conversation had been a long time coming, her journey since Chapter One, the new music video and everything else in between.
Hello Falana, Good afternoon. How are you doing?
Good afternoon John, I am well. It’s been a lovely day so far. How are you?
I am well too, thank you.
You know, we should have had this conversation a long time ago… I truly started answering the questions you asked me the last time, but then I have been caught up in a lot since then…
I understand you, trust. It probably just wasn’t the best time then.
Since the last time we got in touch you have come a long way, putting out a project – Rising – sometime last year about six, seven months ago?
Yeah. October 15…
You must have learned a lot through that experience and the experiences you’ve been able to create through the project
Oh yes. I think what the project has taught me the most so far is to trust in the process. Rising reminded me to allow the process to happen and not judge yourself through the process by not being so fixated on how quickly it’s happening, just enjoying, and flowing, and experimenting to find where you will land. In this case, I landed with a nomination in the category of RnB album of the year at The Headies!
I’ve also learnt how to be more open, to experiment more, to push more boundaries, you know, just to do things differently.
I find that people generally have an idea of who they think I am, but I believe it’s not [a] complete [idea].
I care about songwriting, and I care about how music makes people feel and that it comes out how it is supposed to come out. If it’s a dance record, great! If it’s a ballad or acoustic song, great! I want to play and have fun like the songwriters I have always admired and Rising really helped me to show that to the world in its own way.
Because Rising is different from Chapter One in the sense that it’s not as organic in terms of the sound. It’s produced with more electronic sounds but it still has its organic analog feel with the guitars and the bass lines and things like that. I was able to find a middle ground for myself that I really like. Who knows where we go from here…
It’s definitely a straight path to growth. I started listening to you proper with Chapter One so I can attest to the evolution of your sound in intricate ways.
I’ve noticed however, how different Rising is from Chapter One. It’s not necessarily a complete change in the sound, but it’s quite obvious that with Rising, it’s more, like you said, computerized. Produced with this whole…
Exactly, digital production. It’s a joy to witness your willingness to always try something new… which is why I’m completely sure that you can only further grow after Rising.
Let’s talk a bit about Energy, the second track on Rising for which you’ve recently premiered a video.
The way the video commences, you have friends come over to the apartment. The feeling of joy and community is evident in how the characters relate.
By my interpretation I think that scene, which by the way informs the entire concept of the video, alludes to the joy of having one’s community around.
I’d like for you to describe what having friends mean to you as a person, and how important your community is to you as a creative.
Firstly, community is incredibly important. When I was growing as an artist I used to create in isolation because that’s what I thought I needed. I also think it was because I was still trying to learn who I wanted to be artistically and I was afraid of getting lost. But I’ve come to learn now that community can lift you up and help you grow. Like if someone else is rising, you too are rising. And as you’re pushing someone else up, they’re pulling you up. It’s really important and it’s also good for just keeping your mind open and keeping your mind fresh and keeping yourself humble and keeping yourself on the right trajectory, with the right people.
Coming to the music video. I wanted it to be relatable when I was collaborating originally with Zedeye (who styled and co-creative directed the music video) to bring the concept to Two Brothers, which are KC and Adeola, the video directors.
We wanted it to feel relatable; everybody has friends come over, everybody does a girls’ night or a boys’ night or whatever kind of night you’re doing, friends’ night. And that sense of community allows you to feel comfortable, allows you to be your best self, allows you to be your true self.
In the video, every girl, everyone of us had our own personality and we were just owning our identities and we’re allowed to own our identities in the space that we’ve created through our friendship.
Like even the song itself, the lyrics of the song which says,
‘I feel loved, I feel free // And this is something that you cannot take away from me // I feel open, fresh and clean // And if you’re lucky you’d be rocking with my energy…’
It’s like owning yourself, owning your identity, being grounded in who you are and then finding other people that empower that version of yourself. So, that’s what the music video embodies. We’re going out, we’re having a good time, we’re partying, we’re free, we’re open. No one is forming. We’re just open and we’re just free and we’re just ourselves. And we’re grounded and we’re comfortable and we’re secure in those things. So, community helps to foster that. Community helps to empower that. When you’re surrounded by people who allow you to be your true self.
I like what you’ve just said about how having people allow you to be yourself, giving you the freedom to express your true self. I also appreciate what you’ve just said about how community means lifting others and getting a lift from others too. It kind of reminds me of this South African word, Ubuntu, which allegorically translates to mean that one hand washes the other, we can’t do things completely on our own…
Let’s dwell a bit more on what you’ve just said about being your true self though. This is actually the first video in which I see you, for a lack of better phrases, “being comfortable in your body…”[CHUCKLES] Because I’m dancing now, you guys don’t know I’ve been dancing since…
No… I know you dance. It’s not that [SCOFFS] I’m talking about the more sultry, seductive movements you had in some of those scenes, that’s new…[LAUGHS] Yeah, where I’m giving them legs. Giving them sensuality. Giving them all of that. Yeah…
Also, the video features an almost all female cast except. The story revolves around women. Only the scene where Sir Dauda made a cameo featured a male figure… Was that intentional in the making of the video?
Let me go back to your first question, then I’ll answer this one.
So, the first one you’re talking about, like being more in my body and being more sensual, I feel like I’m a multifaceted human being. And the way the world works now, who you present digitally is who the world thinks that you are.
So if people do not see me in a specific light, like for example my friends would tell me that I’m quite funny but I’m not a comedian on the internet, no one would think that I was funny or witty. This also goes for other things I can do but don’t showcase. I can dance. I can own my sensuality and I can move and I love being in my body and I have that side of me but I’ve never shown it just because I just didn’t. With the video I was excited to be able to show that side of myself.
The dance in the party was choreographed by this amazing person. Honestly, I love this guy. His name is Jesse Banks. I want him to blow. He is an incredible choreographer. And he’s such a good human being. And he’s so Rock solid in his faith and his vision and his mission for himself. Working with him really helped me to reconnect with my body and explore movement again.
Your second question was about an all female cast. I am all about female empowerment. It’s not a secret. I talk about it on social media. I write about it in songs, Electric Lady for example. I write about it in my music because it is important for me.
But also, I just wanted an organic story. An organic story is all we decided to do. Girls night out. So, it’s a girls night out and it’s that simple. So much like
‘Oh, girls come to the house, we’re getting ready to go out’
‘I don’t know what to put on, what should I wear?’
‘Do you like my make-up?’
‘Can you help me with my make-up?’
Just ladies living their lives as they would naturally.
Quite simple, really. And it’s more beautiful because nothing seemed forced.
In fact, there is another simple part of the video that caught my attention. It’s this scene in the video where you and the ladies stand at the window frame, looking out through the window, down at kids who were having fun in the streets. You and your friends also seem to be having fun.
It kind of struck me that that could be symbolism to mean that we have to look back sometimes to childhood, to the years when we were much younger to understand or reminisce on that period of life as a source of joy and energy…
Hmm. Ding ding ding. Yeah.
Funny enough, I’d be completely honest. The idea of incorporating that element in the video was from the Two Brothers‘ side. From KC and Adeola. They really wanted to expand the storytelling and I liked the idea. It was a really special moment.
It is a nice reminder to remember who we were, who we wanted to be. That innocence. That naivete. Those dreams that we had. And making sure that we always hold on to them. And the same way that when we’re grown, we can be a role model to those younger women. To younger girls who are building identity, building self. So, actually for me it’s both ways.
It’s a synergy, that whole thing. That’s a good observation, well done.
[Chuckles] Thank you…
Now, to my penultimate question which is very simple.
You’ve been mentioning Two Brothers almost since we started this conversation and that’s because they directed the video for Energy.
I’ve also realised that there are three songs off the project that already have music videos. There’s a video for Joy. A visualiser for Sweet Adetola, and now, this one for Energy. I’ve also realised that the three videos were directed by three different directors. And that just shows…
Yes, I directed the Sweet Adetola…
Oh, wow! I never knew that
Yet another side of you we haven’t sent before![LAUGHS] Yeah…
On this project, you’ve worked with diverse directors as well as producers. This translates to me that you like to work with as many creatives as you have access to. Why is this important to you?
Yeah. Because I only have one perspective, you know. Like the example I just gave you. With KC and Adeola, bringing in the idea of having the girls dancing. That was them looking from the outside in. And it made for a stronger, more exciting video. It made for a moment an element that can inspire someone in a specific way.
I can’t… I’m not the source of all creativity. I’m creative and I have ideas and I have taste. And I like my ideas. But, I know that my best work will come when I’m able to also share and collaborate with other people who have different strengths than me. And that’s important.
Hmm.. that’s very profound.
There’s this question I love to ask people I hold these sort of conversations with; what matters to you the most and why?
What matters to me the most is my friends and family. Because at the end of the day, careers rise and fall. You have a big show today, at the end of the day you still need to go home and go to bed. Who are you going to call to tell them about how amazing that show was? Or who are you going to spend the days with when you don’t have a show and you’re just chilling by yourself?
Family and friends are the ones that keep you grounded. They’re the most important. The ones that comfort you, the ones that are there for you always. So, I’m very protective of those relationships. And I cherish them a lot. So, that’s what I value the most.
This article was written by John Eni-ibukun for Drummr Africa