Kindred.’s entertainment editor, Shenead Poroosotum, speaks to singer/songwriter, Angel Seka and rising songstress Davina, also known as muva of Earth, who make up the creative collaboration DIVINEANGEL.
With sounds that are reflective of the African diaspora, textures that are glossed over West African rhythms and uplifting lyrics to show appreciation for their culture, DIVINEANGEL tell Kindred. about their unique sound following the release of their first single.
How would you describe your music?
Angel: DIVINEANGEL is afro-futuristic punk. It will always have African revenues, or something inspired by the motherland. It’s a fusion of afro-rhythms, soul and psychedelic rock.
Davina: It’s alternative, new-wave fresh afro-punk inspired sounds that are motivational and uplifting.
When did you start taking music seriously?
A: About four years ago when I started college in 2018 and I started doing gigs. I’ve been writing since I was very young and making beats since I was in high school.
D: I started singing seriously when I was 14 and learnt how to use my voice as an instrument. I attended music school when I was 16 and went to open mic nights. I also started gigging to get the live music experience. I released my first song at 19 and I was experimenting with electronic sounds to get recording experience and then I moved onto visuals.
How did you come together as DIVINEANGEL?
D: It was quite natural because we’re already best friends. We worked together at the vintage market in Shoreditch. We were just mixing with a lot of creatives and friends, so it was a quite creative hub around April last year. We have a lot of inspirations in music with a lot of them defying with their sound, such as Bootsy Collins who has a band called Parliament.
Who else are you influenced by?
A: Joni Mitchell, Jill Scott, Steve Spacek and Lauryn Hill. As well as old school singers like Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, James Tillman and Solange.
D: I would say Lijadu Sisters, Fela Kuti, The Funkees, Ebo Taylor as well as Sade and M.I.A. We’re inspired by people who push their culture to mainstream media and who are proud of it.
How do you incorporate your culture into your music?
D: With our latest track ‘OBiNRiN’, it was through collaboration with Nikhil Beats, a producer from East London. He was showing us a new pack of drumbeats, and we extended it with bass and guitar, Angel had the idea to sing in Yoruba, so I asked my mum for the translation for this message we had. I challenged myself to write in another perspective of how it feels like to be an African woman in a world that doesn’t really try to understand you.
A: For my verse, I never really rap but when we were in the studio, it just came naturally. My lyrics were very strong, and I had something to say about what was going on and teach about the system and decolonise minds because that’s what I study. I did my verse in one take, and they said it was perfect!
What sorts of other messages do you want to get through your music?
D: I want people to feel uplifted, powerful and that there is hope in the world. There are lots of connotations, as well as encouragements in the intention behind the song to make people make the effort to seek out their roots. The track is called ‘OBiNRiN’ which is Yoruba for ‘woman’ in West Africa, but it’s for everybody. It’s a song for anyone who is passionate about connecting with their African roots or anyone who wants to change the system or has a mother and wants them to feel powerful like a queen.
A: It’s also to accept yourself unapologetically. Just accept your roots, your skin, your place in life and not to feel sorry about that, just feel proud. That’s the motivation and affirmation in the song as well.
D: When you feel lost, look to the sun because there’s always hope. When you’re feeling down, ‘OBiNRiN’ is uplifting because we understand you. We hope to be pioneers of what it’s like to be West-African British and there’s lots of them up and coming but not many in mainstream media.
What was growing up like for both of you, and how does this shape your music?
D: We’re here to represent our demographic because it’s confusing being raised in an African household but going to school in a British constitution. In ‘OBiNRiN’, I talk about growing up and people not understanding you and demonising you. Angel’s verse is about going out and getting it! It’s giving advice and it’s lovely.
A: I grew up with my mother who was a single mother at the time and from the Ivory Coast, so I grew up with different values and morals in life. Going to school, I thought I needed to straighten my hair to fit in or talk a certain way. But when I went to high school, it was more diverse, and it allowed me to embrace my own culture and that I’m beautiful in every aspect. When I was writing the song, I had a few conversations around that time about how languages are only spoken and not written, like this one language in Congo where the Danish and the British translated it. In my verse, I have a line that says: “Expect another to speak for your bloodline” about how we need to speak for ourselves and the African diaspora to teach people. I was focusing on my ancestors and going back to my roots.
There are many moments where you talk about nature. Does that play a part in your music at all or your way of life?
D: Every day. Life is nothing if love is not recycled. Every day I like to give thanks to the air and the earth, and I’m very grateful for nature. Soil is the main foundation of the earth and even though I’m grateful for man-made creations, there’s nothing like the sun, moon, stars, soil and trees.
A: When I look at nature, especially in the city, there are only a few designated parts and spots to enjoy. I feel very peaceful when I’m near nature rather than being near a concrete brick skyscraper.
Do you have any plans to make an album or EP?
D: It’s definitely the start. We’re just growing and right now I’m trying to release my own individual muva of Earth project and Angel is working on her own debut project under Angel Seka. Also looking to release a remix EP, hopefully in spring.
What does your identity mean to you in terms of your music?
A: I’m a person of mixed heritage from England, Poland, Ivory Coast, Scandinavia, Sudan and Ghana, who was raised in North-East London by my mother, who features at the end of ‘OBiNRiN’ and is from the Ashanti tribe. I like to express my pure self who is a mixed-race, African woman, but I’m also non-binary and feel like a ‘they’ inside. I like to incorporate Akan rhythms to express my tribal roots and express myself alternatively, as well as calling myself a poet because I like to speak truths.
D: Identity is something that is natural to a person, and anyone who is human will create something that reflects upon them. I’ve always felt like a force of nature, and I’m grateful that nowadays we have pronouns and freedom of expression. Being a spiritual person, you have to be balanced with masculine and feminine. I’ve always felt like a ‘they’ but generally prefer ‘she’ for aesthetics because I’m proud to be an African woman and to represent the woman who gave birth to me, and I know the struggles. My individual expression is that I like to be called a life force because I’m a force of nature. I’m here to live and be free as a soul.
This is from the Kindred. Identity issue, out now. Purchase the copy through the link here.