London is in the midst of a musical golden age right now. Just cast your eye over this morning’s Mercury Prize nominations if you need any proof; seven of the twelve nominated albums are from acts that started in the capital and still call it home. At the forefront of this golden age is the city’s RnB revival. As grime and, to a lesser extent, UK rap, has taken up the headlines, a generation of young women have been turning nostalgia into a new sound, fusing 90s harmonies with unmistakably London lyrics and production.
The list of artists in the capital taking on this sound seems to grow by the day, and almost all bring something unique to it, yet few have arrived as fully formed as West London’s JaJa Kisses. Part of the elusive Serotonin collective, JaJa brings a dose of post-vapourwave haze to the scene, crafting atmospheric, spacious songs that practically seep purple smoke out your speakers. Having released her Young Fashioned EP at the tail end of last year, JaJa is already racking up something of a cult following thanks to her hypnotic sound and unique aesthetic. She makes multiple appearances in long term friend Ray BLK’s ’50/50′ music video and already has a back catalogue of stunning visuals of her own.
Today she’s premiering the video for the EP’s lead single ‘Zoning’. Directed by BERLIN, the video is sultry and cinematic, favouring lingering shots and moody lighting, JaJa cast in deep blues and reds, maintaining the air of mystery that she’s cultivated so well. The song itself is full of overlapping hooks and harmonies with JaJa’s voice melting in and out of existence over the delicate, sparse beat. It’s a sound and aesthetic that inevitably intrigues and draws you further into JaJa and Serotonin’s self-created world, so we did just that and sat down with the singer to find out more about where she’s from and where she hopes to be going. Watch the video for ‘Zoning’ below and read our interview with JaJa Kisses after the jump.
Hi JaJa, there’s been a lot of ‘mystery’ in RnB lately, but your take on that trend seems more considered than a lot of other people’s. What’s the concept behind JaJa Kisses?
The concept is kind of like the journey of really understanding myself and coming out of my shell to discover and pursue the things I really want to experience in life. In many ways, I’m still a mystery to myself which makes me doubtful at times, but making music always brings me clarity and a sense of purpose that keeps me going.
What is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a London based collective of creative misfits – mostly musicians but also directors and artists, who capture and present our version of events through multi-media. We have a pretty post-modern, nostalgic style and just hope to make a difference with our art and contribute to the culture.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Mostly cute and purple lol. I’d say it also has a modern digital feel to it – linked to the topic of the internet and social media – as it’s something I became deeply fascinated with at a young age and it’s led me to discover so many other genres, artists and music platforms. I like to play around with that 8-bit vibe too as it adds to the nostalgia of those MS Paint, Dollzmania and WordArt days.
What’s the appeal of purple and smoke?
I think purple and smoke appeals to people I’d want to party with… we’re not sad, but we’re not completely lit. In those moments I can vibe, be myself, feel myself and still be wavy. It’s an exciting, mysterious place between blue and red.
Your videos have a distinctive vibe to them. How important is the visual element of your work?
It’s important to me to capture my present state of mind and truest ideals for every video – and to know I can be proud of it later down the line. I love shooting and editing and finding more ways to express myself, but for me, the music and lyrics have always been the most important. Although I’m excited to work with more visual artists and make my live performances a more unique experience, in order to really give everyone the vibes I felt when creating the music.
Where in London inspires you most?
Hmmm, I probably write most on the Central line. Even though it’s super busy, it kind of feels like I have a moment away from the world and I usually make revisions on my songs while listening to them on the tube. Maybe it makes me feel like it’s going somewhere too!
People might recognise you from Ray BLK’s 50/50 video – how did you get involved in that?
I met Ray at an acting class 7 or 8 years ago and we’ve cheered each other on ever since. So when she invited me down to the shoot, I was there. It was great to be part of such a powerful video!