New York folk-pop singer-songwriter Aisha Badru is majestic. Her music is the exact place where light meets darkness. Sure to add her flare and authenticity into music’s melting pot, Aisha has cultivated timeless sounds and stories with her records.
Aisha first burst onto the scene in 2015 after releasing her EP Vacancy, which went on to showcase her dynamic voice and delicate craftsmanship. Since then, she’s grown and has removed herself from solitude to create another amazing and highly-anticipated debut body of work; Pendulum via Nettwerk.
Pendulum is the perfect contrast between extremes and Aisha Badru is gunning to make you feel everything.
Just weeks following her epic performances at this year’s SXSW, Aisha sat down with Singersroom to discuss the forthcoming album, sharing creative control, her music’s message, live performances and what it means to be a healer.
Pendulum is on its way. Can you describe the album’s title and what inspired it?
When you think about a pendulum, it swings from one extreme to another; [the album] is just about the swinging between all things we go through in life, the contrast between light and dark or being lonely or being in company. Swinging between happiness and depression. I think many of my song sort of explore both sides of the spectrum definitely, that is why I titled it Pendulum.
While recording this album, what amount of growth did you see in yourself as an artist especially since recording your last body of work, Vacancy?
Vacancy was very stripped back. At the time, I just recorded it with my vocal and guitar. This album, I worked with a producer from the UK, his name is Chris Hutchinson. It definitely took a lot from me to allow someone else into the project to contribute in their own creative way. I grew a lot in that aspect because I am very reclusive and in my own world. The album is, of course, all written by me but the production is from someone else’s perspective.
So you have to allow yourself to share that creative space; sure that is not easy.
Yeah, it’s not easy. Not everyone can understand what you are going for so it takes a lot of time and effort to find someone who understands you.
How did that relationship come about? Did you go out to seek him or was there someone that introduced the two of you?
I literally Googled music producers and it took me to a website and I scrolled through every producer’s profile. I stumbled across his page and I wasn’t sure of who I was going to go with but then I woke up the next morning he was the first name I thought about.I was like, ‘okay’ and knew that was the sign that I should be with him. That’s sort of how I go about things. I go with my gut.
You’re single “Fossil Fuels” is about a one-sided relationship. Can you provide more detail on its creation?
So, all of my songs are definitely true stories. This one, honestly, I will have to say that I have consistently stumbled upon relationships where I am the over-giver or over lover and when you are someone who gives so much and you are not given the same in return, it is very draining. The longer you stay in it the more you feel drained and eventually, you just have nothing left. Then there comes a time where you have to decide whether you’re going to stay here and be miserable or leave because this person can’t or is not willing to give me what you deserve. So yeah, “Fossil Fuels” is about one of those relationships.
Being from a city that is often perceived as hard and rough around the edges like New York; hearing someone like yourself who is an over-giver and an extreme lover, how are you able to balance such extremes of hard and soft in your personal life?
Honestly, I feel like growing up in that environment is what made me soft; it made me compassionate because you see a lot of people struggling. You know, a lot of people are on a daily are grinding to survive and growing up in that environment is where I got my selfless from. I developed a strong sense of “these are my people and it is tough” and you have to care about each other to make life easier and I guess what made me firm is knowing that if you wanna get out, you have to know what you want and go after it. So I guess that is what you learn from growing up there.
For some, this new album might be their first introduction to your music, which will then prompt them to listen to your previous record. When they listen to Pendulum, what is something that you want them to take away?
I think we have romanticized so many things about life. I think we have romanticized what it means to be happy especially. I think we only want the good part and the not so good part are what give way to the good part and you can’t have one without the other. Pendulum really highlights the complete spectrum and how that works. That is what life is all about, both the good and the bad of it. You appreciate life when you know it is going to end.
If you could only listen to one song on the album all day, what song would that be?
My favorite track on the album is “Splintered.” It’s my favorite track because I think knowing the dark sides of life and society we often externalize blame and we very seldom look inside for the answers to the problems that we have and “Splintered” really encourages people to look inside for the answers instead of blaming people for our problems. Or blaming people for the way we feel about ourselves, and just seeking inventory of what is there and listening to that and healing yourself from the inside out because you can do it the other way round. If you fix external without fixing the internal then the same problems are just going to manifest again in another form. So “Splintered” is about going within for the answers.
You were just at SXSW. What was your favorite moment during that experience?
After my performance, someone came up to me and they said, “You made my brother cry and he never cries.” Just to know that what I am talking about or that my music is resonating with people on such a deep level makes me feel like I am doing exactly what I’m supposed to do.
What’s your songwriting process?
Songwriting is super spiritual for me. I cannot sit down with the intention of writing a song, because if I sit down and say, “I’m going to write a song,” it never happens at all. I’ve never written a song that way. It will just come from somewhere at a random time and it will just write itself in fifteen minutes. It’s almost like I am not writing the song; I just scribe. But yeah, it usually happens that way and I write a song in fifteen minutes. If I don’t finish a song in fifteen minutes it’s normally not a song that I have always released. Every song that I’ve released, I’ve written in just a short amount of time.
Tranquility is really important what bring you peace?
I think what brings me peace is when I’m around people that make me feel accepted. Like I love I don’t feel I have to dress a certain way or talk a certain way or do certain things to prove that I’m something that I’m not. I love just finding spaces or traveling to places where the overall vibe of the community is just acceptance of everyone. I think that is where I find tranquility.
Finish this statement: “If I weren’t a musician, I would be a ________.”
If I weren’t a musician, I would be a healer. I’ve been getting into yoga a lot lately… This is a hard question because I think you can be healed through many different mediums and I can’t really pinpoint which medium I would do it because I feel like I am healing with music. If that was taken away, I would just find another way to heal. I don’t know what it would be but that is what I will do. I feel like that’s my purpose. I’m a healer.
What are your hopes for your career?
I really do hope that my career can inspire other people to switch lanes. You don’t have to stay in one place, you don’t have to stay in any bag, you don’t have to sound like anything because of people that look like you sound like that. You should find your own voice.
Aisha Badru’s Pendulum drops April 27th and is available for pre-order on all major digital platforms.