The Rapper/Makeup Artist/Computer Nerd/Imogen Heap Fan from Lagos Bares her Quirks
Lagos churns out daily pop and hip-hop gems, but when you first hear “High” by Eva Alordiah, or Eva, something particularly magic happens. Straying a bit from hard melodies and highly produced dance beats topping charts in Lagos, Eva’s single is slow, sultry, intimate, and organic. Her entire debut EP The GIGO is rooted old school hip-hop and fearless, cutting-edge production, with even her clubbier songs packing on the wit and MC talent of Nicki Minaj. Musically, she is raising the bar across the planet, and the fact that she is strikingly beautiful, brilliant (a computer science major!) and a fashionable freak will only aid her global crossover. Clearly, we are rooting for it.
We spoke with Eva while she was in Lagos about the local music scene, her makeup business on the side, about being a computer geek, and that lustrous head of hair.
Your music feels a little more mellow, old school, darker than a lot of what’s popular in Nigeria these days. Do you feel that there’s a shift in Naija music or do you feel like you’re doing something unique?
Naaahh not necessarily. I’m loud and crazy when I want to be. But on the flip side, I’m really different when it comes my music and my sound in general. If everyone’s gonna go “tap-ta-da-tap” I’m more like the person to go “ta-da-da-tap-tap” [Laughs]
What is “High” about?
“High” really isn’t about getting high like a lot of people have come to define it literally. It’s a song about getting in your own zone, forgetting what anybody says and just coming into your own natural high, whatever gets you there. In my case: music. It’s really that moment when an individual can suppress all the pain, and rise above like it’s all good even when it really isn’t.
How have Nigerians been receiving your music? How about outside of Nigeria?
Nigerians would probably make up for a larger percentage of my truest fans. The love and support I get is unbelievable, sometimes magical. I can’t understand it sometimes, I just enjoy it and relish in every moment I get. Outside Nigeria, it feels the same. You know? Its difficult to express. A fan is a fan. Black, white, blue. They are possessive, loving, supportive, absolutely awesome. I love em!
What is it like having multiple producers on GIGO? Are there ever too many cooks in the kitchen?
I doubt that. GIGO was my pet project and I really was willing to be open with it and explore as much as I could. Having four producers on eight full songs didn’t feel like so much though. I had a lot of fun working on it and having a sweet blend of several sounds and talented people to work with from Sossick, to BigFoot of Mircwox, Tintin and GrayJon’z. I personally think it was a beautiful collection. I’m proud to have it and really grateful to have had all the creative help I got with it.
What is your hair like right now?
[Laughing] It’s yellow. Naaahh I’m just kidding. Its a huge red ball of hair on my small Nigerian head.
Do you feel like the Nigerian music scene is a sort of a small, insular family, or do you feel like it’s expansive and growing all the time?
I think it’s huge and growing, but with very closely knit units. So it sorta feels like everybody knows everybody at some point. If you don’t know a particular person, you’d probably know his manager.
Watch Eva’s “High.”
Can you teach me some Naija slang and what it means?
[Laughs] ‘Metu’ is one I really love to say. When someone says in pidgin, “You go grow Metu” literally means “Its going to take you forever!”. I think Metu in that context stems from “Methuselah” who according to the bible, if I’m right, lived a really long time. Or was he the oldest ever? Haha! Help me please. Yea so when a person says “You go grow Metu,” he says it with a hand motion pulling on the chin as if to describe ‘Long growing beards’.
Who are your inspirations?
I sincerely cannot say. I am inspired by a lot of people. There’s a lesson to be learned from everyone I guess. If I was hard pressed to pick a name from the lot, it would be Eminem.
Are there other Naija female MCs you’d recommend?
Really I think everyone brings their A game so they are all good to go You get what I mean? Naija babes be kicking real hard, I’m so proud to be here and kick it with ‘em.
Your computer science degree — do you find that you’ve used it? Are you happy you got it?
Really am! Not that I have used it per say but I get to work with computers every day of my life and tweaking issues myself isn’t such a bother cause I’m like a little-minny computer geek at heart. Computer science itself wasn’t exactly the degree I wanted. I really did want to study animations which I’m still eager to do. I’m a huge lover of cartoons plus I draw pretty well. Would be nice to do that as soon as I get some free time off music. Right now I have sorta channeled my drawing skills and artistic energy into makeup artistry. I’m a lover of fashion and beauty and makeup is something I do so effortlessly to let go. So even with music, I run a makeup servicing company in Nigeria as well, doing makeup jobs in editorials, fashion, music videos, weddings and more. I have a fun life. I’m grateful.
What made you want to keep going with the degree knowing that music was your thing?
I’m not one to start stuff and leave ‘em hanging halfway. [Laughs] well except if it’s something I’m sewing and I’m tired of jabbing at my machine. But really, getting a degree was at the time a top priority. Music and everything else came after that and so I had to see it through.
I noticed you moved around Nigeria a lot as a child — why?
Oh my dad! He is such a hard worker and was always getting moved from one city to the next. I guess that was pretty much it. So we moved from Asaba in Delta state, to Bida in Niger state, and then we moved to Lagos when I was about eight. I think we lived in Warri and Abuja at some point too.
What got you into music to begin with?
I didn’t exactly think I was ever going to do music. As a child, I didn’t exactly think I was going to be one thing or the other. I always had a lot of different things I wanted to do. I think music came in naturally, coming from a family filled with lovers of music of all kinds. I was listening to everything my mom was listening to when I was about six, because she would turn it up so loud and sing at the top of her voice when she was cooking or cleaning. I was drawn to Lionel Richie, Dolly Parton, Michael Bolton, a lot of Don Williams at the time. Rap music only kicked in when I was a teenager and it seemed to just kinda really sink in well with me I guess.
What was the last album you bought?
Ellipse by Imogen Heap.
You have a very distinct style. Who are your fashion icons?
Wow! I’m really a very spontaneous person when it comes to style and fashion in general. I don’t know if I do look up to people as fashion icons per say but I find Gwen Stefani interesting. Pink as well. Madonna, Grace Jones. I’m all sorts of weird.
What is next for you?
Taking over the world (evil grin!). I don’t know what’s next after that but I’d be sure to let you know as soon as I figure it out!