Words Danai Mavunga
Ghanaian singer Efya floored a capacity audience of over 2,000 at AMFW 2012 with her soulful voice and engaging performance. Fresh from a four-city US tour (check out her amazing live performance in New York below), ARISE caught up with her to talk life, fashion and music.
Your performance closed AMFW and blew the crowd away. How was it for you?
It was great, I was really happy that people liked and appreciate what I do and am very grateful I was given the opportunity.
Did you manage to catch any of the fashion shows?
Yes I did, I really loved Maki Oh, Grey and Ozwald Boateng.
Describe your personal style.
It depends on where I am going and what my stylist advises, but if left to my own devices I’ll wear jeans and plain t-shirts everywhere!
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Kumasi but relocated to Accra when my mother went to study at NAFTI film school. It was a strict, Christian upbringing but her nature meant that we travelled the world extensively and I experienced several cultures along the way. I studied theatre and music at the University of Ghana.
When did you decide you wanted to be a singer?
I gained national recognition in 2008 as the first runner up in Charterhouse’s Stars Of The Future TV show, which secured me a three year recording deal as part of a group. We ended up recording one album, Irene & Jane Unveiled, which was released in South Africa. This opportunity afforded me a lot of experience and once my contract concluded I was a free agent once more.
What have been your career highlights since going solo?
I sung on the same stage as Hugh Masekela at the Lagos Jazz series and I have won a few awards. Most importantly though, I have had the freedom to perform my own kind of music.
How would you describe your sound now?
It’s Afro soul with a hint of pop but I tend to interpret other genres through it. It depends on how I feel and who I am working with.
Your delivery incorporates English and Twi. Who are you appealing to with this style of delivery?
Being bilingual, it feels natural for me to mix both languages so as to reach everyone. My music is real, I’m not trying to impress anyone, I just stay me at all times while spreading my music all over the world.
What are your upcoming releases?
An EP will be released online soon with an album coming later in the year. The theme is love – the good, the bad, the ugly, the heartbreak, the pains, the highs and lows. We can all relate to that. It will feature Sarkodie, Paedea and some international artists too. Look out for the tracks Best In Me and Get Away.
You’ve just shot a video for Mixed Signals with Naija pop star Lynxxx, and recorded some tracks with him in New York. How did you two hook up?
Lynxxx’s producer Ikon is a close friend of mine so I go to his studio whenever I’m in Nigeria. I met him there and we made a song together and then went to Miami in March to shoot the video. It’s a really nice song that talks about making decisions and knowing exactly what you want, especially concerning a boy or a girl.
You've recently been to the US [Efya visited Austin, Chicago, Miami and New York], how were you received?
I met with many artists and learned a lot. I did a demo listening session and showcased at SXSW and had a gig in New York. It was great to see Americans at the shows as well as a lot of Ghanaians and Nigerians from back home. It was awesome.
How healthy is the Ghanaian contemporary music scene right now?
The scene is still developing in Ghana. We are still building it and we will go higher. Other female artists to look out for are Becca, Irene, Bertha and Lady J.
Your top five Accra hangouts or hotspots?
The Office, Grand Papaz, Twist, Hollywood Boulevard, Honeysuckle.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
On top of my game, flawless, fully blown internationally, no jokes.