Gaidaa (pronounced Guy-duh) has been singing all her life and started playing guitar when she was sixteen-years-old. Her ambitions lead her to stick with playing guitar and her pure soulful voice is a match made in music today. “I’ve been singing for most of my life to be honest, I never really got lessons or anything, I’m sure I have zero technique whatever that means, but just always been singing. My mom got me my guitar when I was 16, but to say that I ‘play guitar’ is a big statement haha. I play to sing, I essentially just move the only two chords I know, up and down the guitar has worked til now.
Gaidaa’s music is a cross between the greats: Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. Her style, though, resembles that of Missy Elliott’s, as she paves the way for a new alt R&B generation to come aboard. The singer admits she’s not trying to fill any void. “I’m really just doing me. I think in life in general there is a void though, in the sense that people aren’t trying to connect with themselves. People think that they aren’t in control over their choices, and people really don’t believe that they create their own world. There’s a lot of self-work we got to do in this world, if anything I hope my music can trigger or inspire someone to want to care and think about that stuff.”
Gaidaa’s new single “Falling Higher” off her Overture EP is out now. Ladygunn’s Robert Frezza talked about the singer’s roots, her creative mind, and making uplifting music during COVID.
How difficult was it growing up in the Netherlands and Sudan as a singer? Do you want to break in the states? Is that a goal of yours?
I’m an international school kid, so I’ve always felt kind of all over the place. Never quite Dutch enough, never Sudanese enough, kind of always lost somewhere there. I think growing up in The Netherlands in a Sudanese household, with an international schooling, in retrospect was the best way to realize that I am not just one thing. I have many layers to me, and I’m influenced by all my ways of thinking which all in turn has influenced the way I approach music I’m sure.
I think when I was younger I really looked to the States as this ‘If I make it there then I made it’ type of situation. I guess for a while I didn’t think it was realistic to try and make it from my corner here, but in an increasingly global world honestly I don’t think my aim is even the States, I think I’m just an international artist and I want see the world, so hopefully the world will see me.
Your style is incredible and the video for “Falling Higher” is as imaginative and creative as any Missy Elliott video. What was the inspiration behind the video? How did it come to fruition?
Thank you, that’s a pretty big compliment to be honest, but I really can’t take all the credit for that video. Marwan (the guy who made the video) and Yousra Elbagir (directed it) really blessed me with this one. I remember right after recording it, I was staying at my manager’s place in NY and Yousra came over. I showed her the song, and immediately she started pitching this idea to me about me running through a game and going through the motions with a little version of me. She brought Marwan onto it. I didn’t hear anything for a while, and then all of a sudden the video just existed. Super huge huge huge shoutout, because it’s super me. It’s just me going step by step (level by level) trying to make it, catching what I can along the way.
How long did it take to create Overture? What is your song “Falling Higher” about?
Technically I’ve been working on it since ‘A Storm On A Summers Day’ with Full Crate came out in June of 2018. But I don’t think I knew I was working on it yet, I was just trying things, meeting people, going to the studio, figuring it all out. The first three tracks on the project were created pretty early on in the process, whereas there’s a track that literally accidentally made it to the project right before we uploaded.
The lead single ‘Falling Higher’ is about feeling like the world is throwing you all over the place, and you have no grip on what’s going on really, so you really feel like you’re falling, an undeniable pull. However, we’re falling higher, into the right direction, exactly into the things that I’ve always wanted. ‘Falling Higher’ is essentially about my dreams manifesting themselves in-front of my eyes, and me not really knowing how to process it, but really going for it anyways.
Who created the EP artwork and is there any meaning behind it since it’s faceless?
Shaina Mccoy painted me, but my best friend Segraphy and this dope graphic designer Pepijn Temmings created the overall artwork, ended up being a dope quarantine collaboration. I remember while recording ‘Say Yes,’ Segraphy was just like sitting on the floor next to the fridge in the hallway on discord with Pepijn making my EP cover, I would like to pop in and out give my opinion, then go back and record.
Shaina generally paints mostly faceless people, but it tied in really well with what I wanted anyway, because this project and my music, is not about my face. My face is the least important part. The painting only has characteristics of me, and it’s easy to see that it is me. I recognize myself in it still. With the sunrise and the colors we tried to represent what this EP meant to me, ‘an introduction to something more substantial’, ‘Gaidaa meeting Gaidaa’, as I say on the cover, “dawn”. The artwork is mainly supposed to bring forth the idea of warmth and new beginnings, the conception of something from nothing.
Are you excited for Overture’s release? If you can sum up the EP in one word, what would it be?
I’m super excited, it’s crazy to think that it’s here and that people are ready to listen! I personally feel super ready to let go. If I had to sum the EP in one word, probably: honest.
Was it difficult to put together the EP during COVID?
I’ve been working towards this EP since before COVID, and it was initially supposed to release a lot earlier than it did. Life kept happening so the date kept changing, it brought its own challenges but I didn’t find it extra difficult. If anything, I feel like because of COVID certain things happened that led to the collaboration ‘Say Yes’ with Joshua J and ‘Interlude 47’ making it onto the project super last minute.
CONNECT WITH GAIDAA
photos / Segraphy
story / Robert Frezza