Following a brief stint as one third of the now defunct award-winning band ‘Black N Peach‘, singer/songwriter Noella Wiyaala took the bull by the horns and branched off as an independent solo artist. She has rebranded herself with a new style and some new music in tow, creating her own style of Afro-Pop.
Her latest single ‘Rock My Body’ featuring reggae star Jupitar, dropped back in June and we got a chance to interview the lady herself to learn more about the track, her inspirations and what we can expect to see in terms of future collaborations and new music.
Your music is very diverse. ‘Rock My Body’ has a reggae feel and tone to it and ‘Make Me Dance’ is more of a pop/dance track. How would you generally describe your music?
It’s true that my music is not always genre specific, but I always see it as Afro-centric. I will be releasing an album of my own songs later this year and I will be singing in my local languages of Sissala and Wale as well as English. Some of the songs will sound traditional and local to where i grew up, whilst others will be be more mainstream influenced.
When did you first start singing?
When I was very, very young! My mother was in a local bar in Tumu, Ghana and I just started singing and dancing for the customers. Apparently, they loved it so much they gave my mother money! After that, I just continued to sing and dance at every opportunity.
Which artists, if any, inspired you to sing?
Again, when I was a small girl, we used to watch a friend’s TV in the village and it was there I saw Madonna, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston sing. Being a little show-off, I used to imitate them to entertain friends and family! Later, I became interested in Tina Turner and Angelique Kidjo.
Do you write your songs yourself? And if so, how often and where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?
Yes, I write all my songs. The inspiration can come at any time. When, I wrote Make Me Dance, I was hanging out washing on a fine day and the thought, the feeling, melody and lyrics just came into my head in a sudden rush. I came inside, worked on the lyrics and took the song to the studio a few days later.
I really like the vibe and lyrics to you latest track “Rock My Body”…how was it putting this song together?
Ok, I’ve got admit I cheated a little for this one! The song is heavily influenced by the Soul Sisters “Wreck a Buddy” from the 1960’s. And that song got it’s melody line from “The Drummer Boy”. So I added my own lyrics, style and a Genius Selection beat so that it would be entertaining for a live audience. Although I say it myself, it really gets live shows moving as the boys come on stage and compete to “Rock My Body”! It’s fun, you know, it’s not meant to be very serious!
You also collaborated with Jupitar on the Rock My body’ track. Can we expect any more collaborations in future?
Yes, I have a demo called “Feeling Free” which features Kesse. He does a beautiful soulful job on it. And it’s a real pop song! We Africans can write and perform pop songs also. You can listen to it and other songs on my website www.wiyaala.com
You have recorded more traditional material in the Sisaala dialect and you mentioned before, that we can expect to hear more of these tracks on the album.
Definitely! Sisaala is a beautiful language very well suited to singing. I believe I may be one of the very few artists in the world singing in Sissala.
We love your fashion style. Describe your look?
Thank you! It’s wild, wild young lioness of Africa style! As I am also an artist, I sketch out my designs and then give them to my designer to create the look. I use exclusively African fabrics, print and kente and combine them with my own designs, often western influenced.
So what’s next for Wiyaala? Are you working on any live performances, any new CD’s or are you writing new material?
So much to do! I’m currently appearing at Cuzzy Bros in Accra every Saturday night, I’ve been asked to do the Miss Universe Pageant in Lagos at the end of the month. I have around 30 songs recorded from which I will select 10-12 for an album due out later in the year. And I have at least two more videos to shoot this year. On the business side, I’m talking to potential sponsors and I’m always writing songs, designing new stage costumes and so on. This business is hard work!
How can our readers learn more about your music?