Somadina Is Here

January 31, 2023

If we’re talking star power, we’re talking Somadina. In November 2022, Somadina dropped her latest project, Heart of The Heavenly Undeniable (she likes long names). Despite releasing music across the past few years – early fans will recognize previous tracks such as ihy and lay low  – singles SUPERSOMA and Rolling Loud indicated that something new was coming. On SUPERSOMA, Somadina establishes herself as a force to be reckoned with ‘I know nobody can talk to me because I’m very bigger’. And on Rolling Loud affirms her star power ‘Look how bitch shine like wow’. For the past 2 years, she has been setting the stage for her entrance and finally; Somadina is here.

Somadina photographed by Chukwuka Nwobi and styled by Bube Israel

At 22, Somadina is rich in life experiences and she’s only getting started. Born in Port Harcourt and firmly rooted in Lagos, her sound traverses her life in past environments including the Netherlands and London. Ultimately, it all comes down to the music that started it all. ‘My dad had a very deep love of music and the legends, so I was brought up in quite a musical space.’ This is evident in Heart of the Heavenly Undeniable (HOTHU). An incredible body of work, it seamlessly blends genres of punk, dance, psychedelic rock and more with the richness of Nigerian culture and history. The EP is incredibly versatile and fun. It shifts and twists becoming multiple things at once, testament to her belief that ‘music is a playground. It’s the place where I get to be my inner child, where I literally get to play.’ This youthfulness is evident when we speak. Somadina is smiley, bubbly and confident. To me, it reads as a surety of self and yet, ‘Going in, I was just like I don’t know what the fuck I want to make.’ Despite this, Heart of the Heavenly Undeniable showcases an unshakable belief in self and the freedom of trying new things. ‘The things that we think are our weaknesses are actually our superpowers. That’s where the growth really comes from.’ Welcome to Somadina’s world. 

For two years, Somadina explored the sound of HOTHU. In experimenting and researching influences, she pulled on artists from her childhood to make new discoveries about the versatility of sound. Because of this, Somadina is able to express herself across genres. ‘Everyone tells you you’re supposed to have a sound. My sound is my voice.’ She recalls listening to Bongos Ikwue’s Cock Crow at Dawn. The works of William Onyeabor and other musicians she learnt more about when she moved back to Nigeria as a pre teen all play their role in making the project what it is. The ability to incorporate the past with the present lends itself to its features. The balance of accompanying voices like Zamir, the Cavemen, Chi Virgo and L0la, serve as talents that contribute to unearthing more of  Somadina. ‘I wanted it to sound like Somadina featuring Somadina. I wanted it to just be like multiple variations of myself.’ This multiplicity of self means HOTHU is incapable of being one thing because it’s everything. Opening track Time 2 Time is alluring, an almost siren song capturing listeners and drawing us in. The shift in tempo encourages  movement and provides  an insight into the expanse of the project before mellowing out into the psychedelic feel that accompanies Y I Want U. We joke about the playlists HOTHU tracks should feature on. Sounds of chaos (Everybody Bleeds), music to let loose to (Dirty Line), sounds of discovery (Small Paradise), the sound of rebellion (Imagine Giving a Fvck) and ultimately, songs you should not be sober to (Crzy Girl).

Somadina photographed by Chukwuka Nwobi and styled by Bube Israel

The incredible feat of the EP is derived from her relationship with Nigeria. Its production and the features stem from Nigerian producers, artists and song-writers she worked with. Nigeria and the move back have been instrumental in developing her sound. ‘I’ve always loved music but this country is the place that brought out rhythm … it helped me come to terms with my identity when I was little.’ It makes sense then, that HOTHU embodies an exploration of sound and visual expression, ultimately paying homage to Nigerian culture. If you listen carefully ‘the Cavemen are playing drums, there are these little intonations of African culture. I felt the music elevate, we had more soul.’ But it doesn’t stop there.

Over the past few years, the Y2K aesthetic has taken charge in the mainstream. Nigeria holds a special place in the moment, as the rise of more Alté (alternative) artists has also championed the otherness in and of the arts and creativity. Nollywood has made a massive comeback in terms of newer visuals and the unearthed archives of past movies. Accounts like Nolly Babes are doing their part to keep this alive. HOTHU recognizes the role of early 2000s fashion in Nigerian culture. ‘I really like the fashion behind Nollywood… I’ve always wanted to incorporate it into the music in as much as I have a history of being in a different country, I like being inspired by that country as well’

So what’s next? What do you do, when at 22, you’ve dropped an excellent project, performed at a star studded festival, headlined 2 of your own shows (including a sold out second date), and attended a Sony music writing camp rubbing shoulders with producers, song writers and artists? Simple, you casually mention your next project. ‘I try my best to exist in reality… the people that love me, I take it, I accept love, I move in with it. But it’s a process and I’ve dropped this project, I’m looking forward to making the next.’