In Conversation With Falana

Sitting at GeeJam studios in Jamaica, Nigerian-Canadian singer/songwriter Falana falls into a reflecting spiral and discovers eternal gratitude while the sun shines on her face. “Life is too short not to be grateful for every single damn day,” she reminds herself. After finishing eating her porridge, Falana went in for her studio session and recorded the uplifting track ‘Joy with a new Spax remix featuring Oxlade.

Falana describes her journey as ‘atypical’ and lets her fans in with a new documentary, ‘Life From My Point Of View’. The songstress gives us an insight into her life from feeling like an outsider, choir days, winning singing competitions to traveling and recording around the world – Jamaica, Portugal, UK, New York, Sweden.

Sit back, and enjoy the compelling tale of Falana.

What were some crucial things you remember about growing up in Toronto?

I grew up 20 minutes outside Toronto, in Brampton. It’s a very diverse city. I remember when I used to go to events and shows in the Toronto music scene, I always felt like a bit of an outsider, and I never really understood why. I worked and volunteered in Toronto as a community worker because I was just very passionate about empowering girls and boys particularly in priorities neighborhoods. I remember dragging my guitar and cajon on 2 hours trips by subways and buses trying to get to shows in Toronto from Brampton lol.  I remember summer concerts organized by an artist collective called 88days of fortune, or Intimate and Interactive shows organized and hosted by Tika Simone (now pka as TiKA). 

How did you get into music and singing?

I always used to sing! I remember being in the choir when I was in elementary school and getting picked on by the other girls because my voice was so distinct, raspy and loud. I remember it used to make me feel really insecure. But I guess to make up for that, I used to enter singing competitions as a kid and win money, which felt like big money at the time! I bought my first laptop from money I won at a singing competition put on by a fair in Toronto. I would always sing showtunes or songs from musicals, because the judges always loved that kinda stuff. I thought one day I might sing on Broadway haha, I was just a naïve girl with fire inside of me, and I never really knew what I was doing, but just that I had a gift I felt compelled to share. 

What inspires you?

I am inspired by films a lot lately. I’ve started writing for some independent films which I am really excited about. I’ve always been inspired by the stories of other creative people, especially musicians such, Amy Winehouse, Maya Angelou, Jimi Hendrix and most recently, Tina Turner.

How would you describe your sound?

It’s a mix of R&B, Afrobeat, Soul and Pop! 

Could you share some stories from your recording sessions from all around the world? How do they differ (Jamaica, Canada, UK, Portugal)

Wow, they were so different. Portugal felt like a songwriting bootcamp with my family, which I loved! I think I grew a lot as a songwriter working in Lisbon focusing on writing “hit songs”. I learned to always let the song tell me who it wants to be, instead of forcing myself on it. We wrote mainly pop songs, R&B and trap-soul songs. 

Jamaica was where I wrote some of my favourite songs on my album. The energy and the vibe was so Intune with where I was at that point as an artist! The plan was to work with a different producer everyday 2 days, vibe and have fun, which Jamaicans are very good at! We were experimenting by reinterpreting afrobeat with R&B and dancehall. It’s cool, because afrobeats music has some influence from Jamaican music, so it feels like it has come full circle how Naija is inspiring Jamaica producers. It’s how we created the sound on Joy and a lot of the tracks on my forth coming Chapter Two EP.  

Canada felt like home, I was working with producer LordQuest who literally watched me grow up! So it was funny, coming full circle as an artist in my own right and working with him more confident and sure of myself.

I worked with Tboy a dope producer based in Peckham, UK, who also produced a track “Secrets” for Burna Boy feat. Serani and Jerimiah. So loved vibing with him. 

I also made stops in Ghana and New York! But, last stop was Sweden, where I worked this amazing producer and friend Lukas Nathason. We wrote some amazing music, ate well, and shared personal stories that really made the writing process more real and authentic.

Every city and every producer and writer I worked with taught me something new and really helped me grow as a songwriter.

What was your Covid experience like? What got your through last year?

Lockdown was an emotional roller coaster I am sure everyone can relate to. I ended up being caught at my parents house in Brampton for lockdown, and honestly, I was so grateful, because I haven’t spent that much time with my parents and brothers in the last 7 years. I also really tried to make the best of it! I was recording music, exercising, reading a lot.

What does ‘Joy’ represent to you? 

Joy is like a deep knowing that everything will be okay. Joy is peace and balance. 

How did you write the track?

I remember sitting at GeeJam studios in Jamaica reflecting on how far I had come as an artist and as a person, and just feeling so grateful for life. I was sitting eating porridge before the recording session, and I just remember listening to this Jamaican playlists thinking, “life is too short to not to be grateful for every single damn day”. I just felt like I needed to channel that energy into a song. I want listeners to listen to Joy and be uplifted and reminded that the best way to live life is “one day at a time”.

How did the Spax remix of ‘Joy’ featuring Oxlade come about?

I worked with Spax on a song with Showdemcamp called “The Garden” so getting into the studio with him is always fun. I loved Oxlade’s EP and he also collaborates with RedBull culture Nigeria, so the alignment was kinda organic.

What can your fans see in your documentary ‘Life From My Point Of View’?

The documentary is a great way to learn where I come from, and who I am, and that my journey has been atypical haha. 

Why did you decide to make a documentary?

I had made a documentary before which was never released, so when it was suggested to do a new one, I thought it would be a great idea to share my story and where I am now as an artist. 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m in Lagos working with a lot of Nigerian and African writers and producers. I have also been asked to write and record music for films, and I’m writing songs for other artists. 

Follow Falana On Instagram

Words: Karolina Kramplova