Fashion enthusiast and lover of all things arts and culture, Victoria Falana is a singer/songwriter who has been in the entertainment scene for some time with a unique and definitive style of music. While exploring her artistic voice, she discovered and developed her signature “soul fusion” sound – a blend of jazz, soul, Afro beat, and R&B – during her sojourn in Cuba. The multi-instrumentalist who captivates audiences is definitely not afraid to be in a musical lane all on her own. She talks about her career in this chat with Ferdinand Ekechukwu
How would you describe/define your kind of music?
I listened to a lot of Afrobeat, hi-life, R&B & Soul, both vintage and contemporary. I love jazz and absolutely adore playing around with percussion and rhythm. I also spent a year living, studying and recording music in Havana Cuba. Without being cliché, my sound blends of all these different sounds.
How did music start for you?
I have been singing, performing and writing music long before I ever released my first project. I would always sign up for singing competitions and talent shows from when I was five. I’ve loved performing since I was young. I also joined a bucket drumming group when in primary school. We used drum sticks and large plastic bucket to make music. Music is just naturally a part of me and who I am. I feel like music is my natural form of expression.
What inspires your lyrics?
I just try to write from an honest place. Whether I am telling my own story, or sharing someone else’s story, I just want to make timeless music that connects with people. I have always loved the honesty and universality of Lauryn Hill’s music. Her music has had a huge influence on my songwriting style. Another songwriter I admire for her skill, creativity, and process is Sia.
You grew up listening to Jazz, high life music (Sunny Ade and the likes) which could be attributed to your parents. What were those moments like a teen and to what extent did that experience impact your kind of music?
My parents are not musical, but the music they exposed me to influenced the artiste I am today. Before I was creating I was emulating everything I heard. I would memorise songs and perform them for my family and friends. So whatever my parents gave me access to, or whatever was on the radio was what I listened to, until I was old enough to start exploring music on my own.
Falana appears as someone that is culture-centric. Was this borne out of your upbringing?
Yes, I am really passionate about where I come from, and my parents raised me to be proud a Nigerian.
Tell us about your journey getting into the Nigerian music industry?
I started opening and performing with bigger Artistes like Yemi Alade, Asa, Femi Kuti, Adekunle Gold, Widkid & Runtown. Because of my passion for being on stage, in 2016 I started a Pop-Up Concert series called “Falana Uncovered” where I headlined my own concerts in unconventional spaces around Lagos (Lamisigo Showroom, City Hall, Contemporary Centre for the Arts Yaba, ALARA). The reception for that concert series was amazing! In the same year, I released my first EP “Things Fall Apart”, which was recorded in Cuba. This year, I released my second EP called Chapter One. The video for the lead single Ride or Die was shot at National Theatre.
What were the challenges encountered in the course of your journey in the entertainment industry?
When you are an independent artiste, it does take a lot of heavy lifting to get your music heard, put on concerts, build partnerships, etc. Building the right team who believes in you and your vision was not easy. But with perseverance and passion, you begin to get the right support for your career.
Recall for us some memorable moments of your career?
The most memorable moments for me will always be on stage. I remember the first time I performed at the New Afrikan Shrine for Felabration, and after I got off stage, Femi Kuti himself came to tell me how much he loved my cover of Lady. I remember feeling so humbled and excited. The music industry comes with highs and lows. I have performed on a stage with an audience of five, and have also rocked a stage with 10,000 people and the whole place was mesmerised. It’s part of the journey. Also working with legends in the music industry will always be something that excites me. Mr. Odion Iruoje and Commissioner Gordon are amazing mentors and worked on some of the records that I remember loving when I was growing up.
Are there artistes that you drew inspiration from?
The list is long – Etta James, the Lijadu Sisters, Majek Fashek, Shina Peters, Fela, King Sunny Ade. More contemporary – Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Florence + the Machines, Bjork, Sia. I am really inspired by artistes who are fearlessly unique and honest with their music.
What project is Falana working on at the moment?
I’ve just wrapped up a four city Africa tour. We touched down in Lagos, Accra, Kigali, and Abuja! I have also partnered with Global Citizen and performed in New York as part of celebrating their 10-year anniversary and supporting the mission to end global poverty by 2030 and addressing the UN’S Sustainable Development Goals. Of course, I am working on finishing my debut album with Grammy Awarding winning engineers and producers in Accra, New York, Kingston, Lagos, and even Lisbon! This album I am working on is really exciting and I can’t wait to share it.
So far how has the acceptance for Falana been in the Nigerian music industry?
I think the acceptance has been positive.
How do you aspire to take your music career beyond Nigeria being that you are multilingual?
Although success in the Nigerian music industry is really important to me, I have a global view and perspective of the industry and music, and I believe that will really help my career to grow internationally. I definitely see myself collaborating more and I have been writing for other artists as well!
What is your view about the Nigerian music industry?
Many of the leaders in music, (but also fashion, arts, and photography) in Nigeria have been building and dominating for years, and the world is just now starting to pay attention.
Our creativity is fueled by a passion/pride for our own culture; and a dedication to explore (and finding) ways to present it on the international stage on our own terms, in our own words, and in our own way.
Everyone should pay attention because Nigeria gives birth to a unique kind of trendsetters, and is the perfect incubator for creative minds who are not afraid to disrupt and be bold. What you get in Nigeria you cannot get anywhere else in the world!
Tell us about your love life. Are you in any relationship…getting married soon?
Current status: Single.