Born in Uganda, famous in Sweden but now living in Germany. With three successful albums, Jaqee is set for another surprise in her next album which will be out on 20th September. She has been nominated twice for the Swedish Grammy awards, voted for 2010 Reggae album of the year by iTunes in France, a constant guest at Swedish Television SVT. In her encounter with Skandik Afrik crew at the just concluded Gothenburg Cultural Festival in Sweden, she bares it all in an interview on her journey to music, challenges, joy and what to expect on the next album.
When did you realise that you wanted to be an artist?
The interest for music was something that sneaked up on me with time. I have always liked music, I have always liked the idea is how powerful words can be. When I was young, l was more of a book person, l liked to read. I also come from a Christian upbringing and spent much time in church. So when growing up I was always surrounded with music, in that sense the music was already integrated in me.
I decided that I wanted to be an artist later in life, by that time I had already received hints and encouragement from different directions. By that time the next stage was to figure out the next step on how and where to start. It was not until I worked with Kiboy (that now lives in Kenya) that l really started working actively with music. We were a group of people that came together, from different parts of Africa living in Gothenburg from Hjällbo, Hisingen and Angered. It was then that everything really started, Kiboy and Martin that was part of Blao were my biggest supporters as they entered the role of producers. Since we were not able to get support from anyone, we decided to create something for ourselves.
How did your parents take it when you decided to fully commit yourself to music?
It was not easy, I think till today that it is not accepted. But at the same time parents have an obligation to not only guide their children but to also allow them to find their own path in life. The choice I made, to pursue my dream within music is nothing that I regret. By the end of the day you need to feel content with yourself when you go to bed that you have the feeling of doing something meaningful with your life.
Where do you find inspiration when composing music?
I always return to my childhood and nature. I find serenity in nature, it is a place of where I can isolate myself in my own reality. I need the serenity in order to listen to my body, look at myself and see where I am at the moment in life, where I need to be, what I have lost on the way etc. This industry constantly requires a lot of creativity. Nature is a large source for me in which I find my serenity and regain my balance in order to get perspective on what I would like to do next. Of course my surrounding is also part of the places I draw inspiration from.
What should people be looking forwards to on your next album which is coming out in September?
That is tough question that is rather hard to answer. You often have ideas of reactions you think you might get which does not always correlate with the reactions you receive. What was important for me when creating this album was to rediscover myself .Apart from that, I have written much about my daily life. I have covered from the spiritual, love, sneak-racism, and so many other things. Much of the observations are from the day-to-day life, I wanted this album to be more of time document of my emotions. What people should expect is rather hard to know as my perceptions differ from others.
How is your music promoting the cultural values of Scandinavia or Africa?
Being an African diaspora and doing music and being a female and dark as I am in the music industry is such a big statement. My experience has been very mixed. It was very hard as I had to do everything by myself as this was a path I had chosen. But then I did not want to compromise with my work. I did not want to be stopped or devalued because I was not light skinned which was the issue when I started in the industry. The judgmental issues within the industry were very frustrating and it was because of what I experienced that made me write the first album.
I may not have the traditional African sound in the music but I want to reach out to people that look like me. Role models are important, being a mother myself I want my daughter to look at the world with no fear and know that nothing is impossible. The music industry is very man dominated and already tough. The kind of music l produce, people will find you by the end of the day, it may take a long time which is what happened in my own case but you do not need to sell you soul and compromise yourself in order to be what the industry wants you to be.
Do you have any project in Africa or Europe apart from your coming album?
I don’t have any project at the moment, but would like at some time in future to start a project in Uganda for girls which would have something to with music and would obviously have to be constructive.
Have you had any performances in Africa? Is there a country you like to visit and perform that you have not been to yet?
I was in Africa touring with Selam for the previous album. We did concerts in Uganda, Ethopia, and Kenya.
I would like to perform in all parts of the world. I do not have any specific country in mind. When you have been touring, you really see that music is universal. I want to see the world as my playground.
Will you have any more performances in Sweden?
For now the only confirmed upcoming show in Sweden will be at Nefertiti in October, and then I will mostly be in Germany, France and the rest of Europe
How does it feel being back in Gothenburg to perform?
It was a long time ago. I really don’t know, it was so long ago I lived here last. Many things have changed since then, much is still the same but there are new audience in town as well, but I think it feels good. I will know that once I am on stage tonight (smile).
Are there any artists that you wish to collaborate with, that would be a dream come true?
They are many! The most important thing is that the chemistry works between us, this is where I get my WOW experience. It is not a given fact that the chemistry might work with your idol. Understanding between artists is very important in order to create music together. I do not have any specific person in mind, it could be anyone from the famous to the unknown.
Which artists have been an inspirational source to you?
I started with the neo-soul during the 90´s with Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Lauren Hill etc. I listen to a lot of female artists during the 90´s and later on passed over to Jamaican artists like Cleopatra. The red line for me has really been the female artists as I pick inspiration from different genres. What connects all these artists is that they are all black women and people that I can identify with.
Here is one of Jaqee video in “Drop of Water”
Sharing some pictures of Jaqee at Gothenburg Cultural festival in Sweden
Interviewed by Skandik Afrik crew
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