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Multidisciplinary Afrofuturist artist Nwando Ebizie releases her latest album, The Swan

Image: Photo of Nwando Ebezie by Natalie Sharp.

Nwando Ebizie is the London-based musician and artist who works across media, genres and artforms creating mythopoetic metanarratives and alternate realities. With her latest release - 'The Swan’ – out now on Matthew Herbert's Accidental Records, she catches up with Run Riot to talk about the new album.

Ben Romberg: Your music is very original, combining genres that span jazz, dubstep, experimental and orchestral - how did you approach song writing when creating 'The Swan'?

Nwando Ebizie:
My music writing always comes from speculative narratives. I dream and I drink in the world around me. What is going on inside? How does that connect to my perceived reality and how does that reality meet our shared agreed objective reality? I don’t work within genres, so I never know how to describe the music. Possibly the best way of describing the music in this album is as a communal ritual.

Speculative spirituals. I create rituals. A ritual is there to serve an exploration into the self and the community. And so the music is always meant to serve a purpose.

Each of the songs then, comes from a place in me of questioning and searching and has shared and disparate influences. For example, ‘I seduce’ was inspired by too many late nights learning about the ‘Manosphere’, red pill movements, Incels and one particularly nasty piece of work called Roosh, who has since disowned his Incel-baiting and become a born again Christian.

Something Like Empathy’ came after a particularly wind-swept walk on the moors during lockdown.

Months on my own, the power of the weather. And this crossed with the research I have been doing with neuroscientists and psychologists into a rare neurological syndrome called Visual Snow Syndrome (which I’ll be presenting a paper on at a Cognitive Science Conference the week after my album launch!) 360 video - It is 4K - watch it in 4K!

Sonically, I just love all music, so I really just follow what I feel the particular song needs.
Ben: What is your concept for the album? What inspires the musical and creative direction?

Nwando: The album is a work of sonic fiction into the imagined world of a matriarchal community in a mirror reality. It is outside the global minority’s version of what narrative should be, what eschatological time should be. It invites you into mythical time through a supposed ethnographic account of found sound and footage that is at once both ancient and futuristic.

It is a stage in initiation.
It emerges from the water
From the lake in the centre of the clearing

Where a ceremony once took place
A ceremony about self-love

Where the double meets the self
At the place where she was always waiting to be born

It is a work of Proto Persephone
Of the sea beneath the sea
The earth, the belly of the beastess

Ben: The song Myrrha is a song of sufferance, metamorphosis, "change is painful, and transformation is essential". Does this relate to any key experiences in the last few years?
With this album, there is a particular connection to ritual cultures of the Black Atlantic, and in particular Haitian traditional rhythms. So Myrrha uses the Yanvalou rhythm - a beautiful Vodou rhythm that denotes the universal wave that connects all things. So although I draw far and wide, everything has meaning and potential efficacy to affect the listener.

Ben: What music recommendations would you give to our readers? What's on your playlist this summer?

Nwando: I love NikNak’s new album - an experimental turntablism take on Afrofuturist comic book narratives.
Ben: What festivals are you planning to play at or attend this year?

Nwando: I’m going to go to Iconoclast - a queer festival in Todmorden - its gonna get messy!

I’ll just be playing at my curated happenings at Southbank Centre. Then going into hibernation for the rest of the summer to work on my new Opera!
Ben: Tell us a bit more about your pop persona Lady Vendredi?

Nwando: There is no more Lady Vendredi! She died! Long live The Swan! There is a new alter ego developing related to The Swan - she is called Kpakpando. She will be fabulous.

Nwando Ebezie: The Swan, out now


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