BHM: We need to talk about Poppy

SOAS grad and musician Poppy Ajudha

Poppy Ajudha’s star is on the rise. After graduating from SOAS University of London in July 2017, her summer has consisted of performing at a multitude of music venues, including Brighton’s Great Escape, Canary Wharf’s Jazz Festival (the capital’s largest!) and Love Supreme Festival. It’s no wonder she has her first headline gig coming up in November 2017!

SOAS Blogs sits down with her to find out what makes her tick and her music so emotionally resonant.

Tell us about your music – how would you define it?

My music is a mixture of my life’s influences and experiences and because of this cannot be easily categorised or defined. Broadly speaking it seaways between Jazz, Soul and Electronic styles, but like most musicians I have never enjoyed being boxed and I hope to be always changing.

The music video for Love Falls Down is very intimate and personal – did you film it in your actual flat and local area? Where is that?

Yes, I wanted it to be an honest depiction of my life and heritage, showing my roots has been very important to me in the formative years of my musical journey. Setting the foundations, I guess. Growing up in South East London is such a huge part of who I am, I know that my upbringing and surroundings have taught me the skills I will utilise and reflect on all my life.

Does your background and surroundings influence your music?
I try to take influences from all the parts of my life that I feel have constructed my identity, as long as I do this my music will be honest.
Like most musicians I have never enjoyed being boxed and I hope to be always changing

Did you get introduced to any artists or types of music whilst studying at SOAS you were previously 
unaware of?

Studying music from all over Africa was really beautiful and insightful, especially East and West African styles and genres. Those music lessons lead me to visit Gambia and Senegal during my degree, which really made an impact on my understanding of making and learning music.

An East African band, Culture Musical Club and the style of Taarab especially stands out, as well as the diversity of West African music which is maybe more familiar to the ear including one of my favourite songs, Kadia Blues by Ochestre de la Paillote.

Who are your influences?

Growing up around a diversity of musics and cultures, the list of my influences are endless. Soul music of all sorts has always been at the centre of how I perceive music, and I guess I emulate that in my own way from my melody lines to the chords I write.

What did you study at SOAS and how did your time here affect you – as a person, or in your career?

I studied a BA in Social Anthropology and Music (got a 1st oooh yeah) and it completely changed my life. My degree completely changed the way I think about the world and therefore the way I write music and what I write about has been politicised in new ways. Anthropology was central in this and every year I felt newly inspired by the lecturers we were assigned. Notably Caroline Osella, on my gender course in 3rd year was amazing at enabling you to rethink yourself, challenge yourself and accept things about yourself you may have buried.

“So amazing to graduate with a First Class Honours from an institution as inspirational as SOAS University.”

Any London gigs coming up? And when are we going to be blessed with that first album?

Yes you can come see me play at a number of places!

I’m supporting Jose James at Islington Assembly Hall on 29 October, doing my first headline show on 23 November and then supporting Roy Ayers at The Jazz Cafe on 27 November – follow my socials for up to date info on these shows and others.

You are going to be blessed with the first EP very soon! My single is coming out on Friday and the EP should follow shortly afterward!

Poppy’s socials:

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