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Yànjú Untold

January’s Creative Saturday featured spoken word, connected artists through the Collective Marketplace, and included a performance from Yànjú, a young Nigerian-American musician. Before Yànjú's performance, the RRC's resident producer SPNDRFT (check out his collection of playlists on Spotify) interviewed Yànjú, asking about where Yànjú draws creative inspiration: 

SPNDRFT -  Take us back to little Yànjú, where did creativity start for you, where did you get that initial entry into creativeness?

Yànjú - I am a Nigerian American and I come from a musical family, oral tradition and that. And my mom sings, so I guess I got it from matrilineal lines. I don’t know, I’ve always been singing at home, a...shout out to my mom!

SPNDRFT - Yeah! Shout out to moms everywhere...We were just catching up on our favorite artists...you are a Nigerian performer in America, and what is that like negotiating your own cultural roots, your own familial roots, and then your place here in this American society? What is that like for you? ... Or, to put it a different way: where do you draw influence from as a performer?

Yànjú - I mean, I’m a Nigerian, so we don’t negotiate [audience laughs]. But...Nina Simone [audience cheers] I call them my somnic mothers: Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan. But like on the Continent...Fatoumata Diawara from Mali. I love music from Mali, Senegal, all them...Fela Kuti. You’re probably not gonna hear it here [in the US]...but those people are really cool.

SPNDRFT - So Yànjú is going to Berklee College of Music [Audience cheers], so when I say he is a prodigious talent: he is a prodigious talent. And there are two things I really respect about you as an artist...

Yànjú - Oh man…

SPNDRFT - One of them is your courage: You approach music in a way I’ve never heard before. And the second thing about you is you pull melodies out of nowhere, and then you stretch them, and you caress them, and you do things to melody that I’ve never heard before. So, how do you approach music? Where do your ideas come from?

Yànjú - I think it draws back to the genres of music that have had the most impact in my life. So, jazz, classical music...I really like sacred music in general, whether it’s Christian sacred music, Jewish sacred music... I feel like devotional music, it moves - not even a little...it shakes! You know what I’m sayin'?! The melody from jazz to the the ethereal from sacred music...shout-out god! Or whoever…whoever you believe in!

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Check out SPNDRFT's full interview with Yànjú on Youtube or watch it below. And follow Yànjú on IG (@venusianroses) as his musical career takes off!