It’s no secret that since stumbling across Qendresa earlier this year through her NTS show, Raw Addictions have been keeping a close eye. It really brings us great pleasure to be able to bring her down to our first voyage into Stokes Croft and share her talents.
Luckily, we’ve also been able to have a catch up with the singer-come-DJ, and get a bit of an insight into what moves her musically and how she approaches radio, live shows and studio time. Born to Kovoso parents in London, there’s a great article here discussing her background and integrating herself into the capital.
How did your residency come around? Have you been involved in other radio projects in the past? Are there any other stations and shows that you're a big fan of or regularly listen to?
I remember getting together a bunch of tracks that I loved, old and new. One of them was my own track called Underwater Haters (out soon) and it went so perfectly with the track “essence” off of Giggs’ Wamp To Dem album. So when my boy Mack was looking for someone to cover his show as he was going away - I somehow turned in to the bravest person ever and put my self forward to him. He accepted instantly and I took my best mate along, had a couple GnT’s and just did the damn thing.
The show was called City Rhythms and was my first recorded set. The NTS gang loved it to my surprise, and they offered me my own slot. Big up NTS man.
What first struck me about your radio show was the diversity between styles of vocal orientated music, is this a conscious decision and do you consider the show to have a particular music policy? How do you prepare for radio/shows?
I literally just make playlists on streaming platforms, Bandcamp, Juno, YouTube. I have to make sure I have stacks of tunes on my USB for gigs I do (I have a residency at a rooftop bar in The City and it’s a 5 hour set). So I have to have tuuuunes! In a range of genres too so I and the punters don’t get bored. I prep my music for my show but bring my other USB for back up. I never ever play things I don’t like so I know I’ll be good. Oh and I’ll probably slip a couple tracks off vinyl records that I love too.
I always found my own music that I liked, and i always bought compilation CD’s as a kid cos it was cheaper than buying one artists work... Shouts to Woolworths for the Pick N Mix and NOW! that’s what I call music selenky…
On them CD’s you had everything man. You had cheesy Pop Rock (s/o Nickelback and Wheatus), Britney’s undeniable pop hits… I was a big fan of Eminem in my primary school days although my dad didn’t approve haha. On some discs you’d get some wavy classic garage bangers - a bitta So Solid Crew on there, Craig David and Artful Dodger, and then also you’d get some comical bangers like “Because I Got High” by Afroman! + “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy!!
I guess that taught me not to take my sets too seriously in terms of selection and just play what I thought banged. Just had a look at the latest NOW! Compilation CD and it’s everything I expected it would be. It’s your Jess Glyne and Ed sheeran chart toppers, bit of Anne Marie bit of Sia... all in all a very white, samey and monotonal line up. I’m alright for that but I guess it’s what the kids are eating up these days.
Radio aside, what else have you been working on this year? You're DJ'ing for Jimothy Lacoste at Simple Things and did the same at Reading. How's that been? Any standout shows?
This year I’ve been working in my home set up and trying to be self sufficient as I got a bit tired of depending on producers/studios etc. It’s always been my goal to be self sufficient in music. Not saying I don’t work with others because I absolutely do and I love the feeling of a group effort and making magic together. However I feel that if I’ve got free time, why not work on my own and work on being able to express my self in every way possible.
I started DJi’ing for Jimothy at the beginning of this year and we’ve done quite a few shows together. I love that kid, I loved him before I even met him. He’s super talented and so smart!
Our best show so far has been Reading I think.... crowd went off!!
Last year we saw the project with Hugo Mari and you've also worked with Faze Miyake. I know there's a few tunes lurking in some of the more recent NTS shows...
Yeah Hugo and I had a bunch of tracks we felt we wanted to put out, he’s one of the first people I ever worked with. He’s an amazing producer and inspired me a lot. I met faze on a night out and we were both talking about wanting to go studio and not be out on road wasting time haha. So we hit up the studio and did the damn thing. Fun guy to work with and amazing work ethic. I looked up to him too as I was always in to Grime stuff he produced.
How do you approach your vocal projects? With a seeming love for quite a wide spread from 80's stuff through to the more contemporary like Tirzah and Smerz etc how do you come to a decision about what is going to work in the studio and what fits your style and background?
Are you able to go into a bit of detail about your vocal background? How long have you been doing this and what sort of artists inspired you to do this initially? Who inspires you right now?
I did music as a subject in secondary, and I always sang in the talent shows. I always got in trouble for having my CD Walkman on haha, we weren’t allowed them in school. So so lame.
I started jamming with friends back in 2011 and wrote my first song, “Cigarettes and Rum” haha. I used to work at a bar called The Social and so did my friends I jammed with. I kept writing and making songs, but I knew I wasn’t ready to share with the world yet. I preserved my self quite a lot until I knew in my heart I was ready.
Nowadays when I approach a project I literally just feel it out. I never force it if I ain’t in to it. I don’t think that’s what I want music to be about for me. No way. I need to be 100% feeling it otherwise it won’t work.
I am hugely inspired by vocalists like Sade, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill. My main queen though is definitely 200% Mariah Carey. Just the way she could make those heartbreaking ballads, and then flip the script and jump on tracks with people like Camron, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes and just make the most unfuckwithable bangers. Her sort of rap/singing style just did it for me.
I owe my love for 80s slow jams to my first boyfriends mum. I must have been about 15 when she played me tracks by Loose Ends, Cherelle, Zapp n Roger... She changed my life. Shouts to Mia every single time.
Right now people like Tirzah definitely inspire me because I identify with her laid back but impactful style. I love her latest record so much and just saw her live she is so cute man. Her track Devotion with Cobey Sey breaks my heart. S4U I love too. So badass and unapologetic and if you see them live be prepared to get sexually aroused whilst experiencing multiple eargasms haha.
I have to say though I’m listening to a lot of grime and trap music these days and it’s bloody amazing I tell ya. I’ve listened to the Jumpy Remix by Ambush Buzzworl about 70 million times. E N E R G Y.
We've always got our mind on the club and are always looking forward to the weekend, what's your relationship like with clubs and nights? In your shows you manage to fit your vocal selections next to artists like Larry Heard, Ron Trent etc. Have you spent a lot of time going out in London over the years? If so, what venues/nights/genres are/have been formative for you?
In London I love going to Corsica the most. I’ve had great nights there and I they curate their line ups really well. To be quite honest, I don’t really go out much any more - I think it’s because I’m always DJ’ing and quite adamant to work on my music. Once I get some projects done and dusted though it’s rave o clock for sure. I need to let my hair down ASAP! I’ve been working mainly on my self produced stuff, obviously life happens sometime which has bought music making to a halt BUT I’ll be dropping a mini mixtape very soon. I’ve also been working with producers too, will be releasing some warming jams this winter.
Photo Credits: Mack