The Soulful Rebellion of Poppy Ajudha
Pioneers6 Minutes Read

The Soulful Rebellion of Poppy Ajudha

May 25, 2024 Share

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Rising star Poppy Ajudha reveals heartbreak lessons, shares childhood music inspirations and dreams of collaborating with Adele and Gaga.

The name on everyone’s lips is Poppy Ajudha. The rising star has captured the industry’s attention and airwaves with her latest release “Ready” – a beautifully vulnerable exploration of risking it all for love’s cruel gambit.

Image courtesy of Edge Ent

But don’t mistake Ajudha and her delicate soul-baring for weakness. “I learnt a big lesson on the importance of who you give your heart to…Turned out, I was ready for the wrong one,” she confides about the romantic inspirations behind the hopeful single’s lyrics. The young talent has an uncanny knack for transforming life’s messiest emotions into rawly resonant artistic treasures.

“Ready” follows up Ajudha and her empowering anthem “My Future,” which boldly encouraged prioritising one’s dreams over societal pressures. Videos premiered with heavyweights like Rolling Stone UK as tastemakers urgently align behind Ajudha’s rising star. Co-signs from revered voices like Charli XCX and NME only amplify the feeling that something special is brewing.

The buzz builds as Ajudha prepares for a headlining show at Colours Hoxton on the heels of her sold-out KOKO run. But her ambitions stretch far beyond sold-out crowds. This charismatic creative force has already graced stages from Glastonbury and SXSW to the Venice Biennale‘s prestigious halls – not to mention Fashion Week runways.

As her new music lays bare, however, Ajudha remains grounded in profound self-discovery and truth-telling. In our latest discussion, the fast-ascending talent gets candid about life’s messy lessons, the hopes that propel her boundary-breaking artistry, and the vulnerable magic that’s established her firm presence in the British music scene.

Read on.

Can you share a story about a piece of music from your childhood that has continued to influence your sound? How do you see this influence evolving in your future projects? 

Music was a big part of my childhood, both my parents loved music, my mum would always buy CD’s from the newest female artist to play in the car and on long drives to see family I’d learn all the lyrics to Lily Allen, Adele, Amy Winehouse and The Pussycat Dolls. Frank by Amy and 19 by Adele were huge inspirations to me growing up.

I think the influence these artists had on the evolution of my musical sound and identity is the power of emotional story telling through lyrics paired with the aesthetic of slick pop stardom. 

How do you blend elements of pop and R&B in a way that stays fresh and innovative? Could you walk us through your process when you merge these genres? 

I am a very intentional person in my work and personal life but I try to relinquish control when it comes to creating. I let the ideas naturally flow and don’t ever try and fit a song into a particular genre, I do what feels like it will serve the song and tells the story best. 

The process can be different every time, depending on what I’m writing, who I’m with or even what I’m listening to at that time… But regardless it always begins with a story happening in my life at that moment, something I need to work through or gain closure from, something ruminating that needs to come out. 

Image courtesy of Edge Ent

It’s really important to me that the music magnifies the story of the song, so through collaboration and experimentation I am always trying to find a depth and emotion that will take the listener on a journey and best describe exactly what I’m feeling, or take them right to where I was, when I’m reliving the moment through music. 

Poppy Ajudha, your music often tackles significant socio-political themes. Is there a particular issue you haven’t yet explored in your music that you’re passionate about?

I try to be honest and raw and write about what is effecting me at that time, there will always be more to explore but my aim with every song, is just to spark conversation, to provoke new perspectives and hopefully create solidarity for a shared vision of the future where we can all express ourselves freely in whichever way makes us feel seen and accepted. 

What has been the most challenging song to write or produce so far, and what made it so difficult? 

Every song has it’s challenges, I think sometimes if a song is particularly vulnerable it scares me a little, but then I always think those are the most important ones for me to put into the world. Visiting uncomfortable places is a great way to gain self-awareness and ultimately to grow, so I always try to welcome it.

Image courtesy of Edge Ent

How has growing up in South East London shaped your musical identity, and how do you carry this identity with you on international stages?

It was my complete musical education, I never studied music so I learnt from all the musicians around me, how to sing, and write, and perform, everything I know. 

One thing it definitely taught me is the power of community, having spaces where you can experiment and learn and fail in order to grow, I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t experienced everything I did growing up in South London. 

….If you grew up in SE what you take to international stages is grit lol 

Could you describe a pivotal moment in your career that was significantly shaped by one of your collaborators? 

Featuring on Tom Misch’s Geography album and our song making Barak Obamas yearly playlist, was definitely a pivotal moment in realising just how far a song can travel.  

Fashion appears to play a significant role in your artistic expression. Could you describe an outfit or fashion trend that profoundly represents your artistic persona?

Fashion is an incredible way to express your individuality, I can’t say I’ve ever followed a trend… My friends tell me I live under a rock because I never hear about anything that happens when it does. I just love unique pieces, designers who are innovative and groundbreaking, work that is provocative and people who exist boldly. 

Can you tell us about a day in your life when you are deep in the creative process? What does it look like? 

The world is full of distractions, and being deep in the creative process means trying to eliminate all of them. I love to write in LA because I can really focus and isolate myself, when I’m writing I don’t want to think about anything else but the music because it feels like a block to my creative flow, so I try to immerse myself in the music and most importantly ignore my team lol

Image courtesy of Edge Ent

What is the most unexpected or memorable response you’ve received from a fan regarding your music or its message?

When artists began performing again after lockdown I played my first festival and someone told me in quite an intense and somber way, that my music had very literally got them through lock down.. And it really stuck with me because I hadn’t considered how meaningful my songs could be to someone else and in that moment I really realised the healing power of music.

Reflecting on your performances, which event has had the most profound impact on you as an artist, and why? 

Performing on Jools Holland was probably one of the most meaningful performances I’ve ever done, his show made up so much of my childhood dreams of being an artist, and I really looked up to every female singer that performed on that show. I remember watching it at 8 years old with my mum religiously, planning what I’d say to him if we ever met, and when the day came that he randomly called me on my mobile to ask what song I wanted to sing for our duet, I was quite literally lost for words.

As Ajudha, how do you feel about representing modern British music on a global scale, and what responsibilities come with that? 

All an artist can do is speak honestly from their heart, represent their experience wholly and be bold when others feel they can’t. For me the privilege artists have of unfiltered self expression which so many people feel they can’t access in themselves, comes with the responsibility of honesty, conviction and compassion. 

How has your relationship with music changed as you’ve matured personally and professionally? 

Every day I grow older I try be a better version of myself personally and better writer/singer/artist professionally. I feel like a sponge that is always learning and I hope that never changes.

Looking ahead, what kind of legacy would you like to leave with your music? How do you hope it influences or inspires future artists?

I want to be an example of the fact that women can be many things at once, that you don’t have to conform to ideas that don’t feel natural to you, and that your most beautiful attribute will never be in the superficiality of the physical, and will always be in your ability to be bold and express yourself freely.

I hope my music inspires people and future artists to be authentically themselves, it’s easy to feel like you have to fit into a box or do what other people are doing in order to be seen, but nothing truly beautiful or innovative ever came from trying to be something you are not. 

Is there an artist, past or present, with whom you dream of collaborating? What would you want to create together?

So many! I’d love to collaborate with with Adele or Lady Gaga, both incredibly powerful and emotional singers who convey so much with just their voices.

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