Music Heads

So I’m back in London again. It’s lovely to be back home. Exhausting, but lovely.

A good friend and music maker, Gumnaam, from Netherlands, has been in and out of London a lot lately. Having tracks regularly played on Nihal’s Radio 1 show and his vinyl releases on sale around London. Gumnaam is one of those fabulously hard working artists. We met through a mutual friend in Amsterdam, and I performed at one of his nights. We wound up in his Haarlem studio together, me jamming over his beats and us all generally having a lovely time. I left him with some of my music, in particular some acoustic parts that me and OIi had laid down. Over the last couple of years I’ve known him he has sent me various remixes of my songs as well as tunes he’s made out of our jam session and also new beats for me to work on.

Luckily for me he’s been about this week too so I took the chance to catch up with him last night. Sat like proper tourists sipping a vodka at the beautiful Thameshead pub looking out over the river,  watching the sky darken. I love this part of London. I’ve always made a point of driving over London Bridge at night if I happen to find myself in my car returning from anywhere South London of an evening.  Ah its nice to be home.

So we chatted about recent work he’s done. He’s currently releasing an EP featuring a track I’m on. And he also sent me 3 remixes of my album/ acoustic tracks a couple of weeks back which he wants to release as a remix EP for me. Brilliant. (I’ll keep you informed, reader/listener!) I wasn’t the most creative of people in Paris. I concentrated more on promoting others via BalconyTV Paris than making my music, so it fabulous to have someone else creating for you.

During our evening I got a call from my one of my best boys’, long time collaborator and favourite MC, Profit. He and Gumnaam hadn’t seen each other for about 2 years so it was lovely to hear them gas about DJs and MCs they both know and respect. Plus Profit’s album is close to completion and, fingers crossed, release. That, my dears, with be a must-buy item, I warn you now.

So watching my city light up at night, and listening to the guys wax lyrical (see what I did there?!) about their projects, I could sense a little warm glow inside… being around my people who want to make music and want me to create too… I’m so happy to be getting my music head back on.

Loves xxx

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B is for BalconyTV Paris

B is for lots of things that apply to this week… Being Busy, Boozing (Royal Wedding fun!), Breaking things, Beat gathering, Bloody heavy Bags Being dragged onto the Eurostar to Bring me Back home to London!

But also, B is for BalconyTV, specifically BalconyTV Paris. The online music show that I produce and present from a Balcony in Paris, with the assistance of co-producer, camara and sound man extraordinaire, Léo. It’s a lot of work, we meet a lot of musicians, from very different scenes, from all over France and the world. There are BalconyTV shows being produced from cities including New York, London, Poznan, Hamburg, Mexico City, Auckland and many more now. But we started the Paris one almost a year ago, and all for the love of music.

So when my ever handsome and extrememly talented guitarist Oli came for a weekend visit to Paris, which just so happened to coincide with a BTV shoot, well, there was only one thing for it really. Rope him in to collect authorisation signatures and then… record a show featuring Neech.

And here it is:

It’s actually quite nerve-wracking to perform on the balcony, sans mic, in front of all the groups you’ve just been inviewing! Thats all I can say for why I look so moody! No excuses for Oli though, he’s just cool.


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A is for Afro

picture by Kirsten Kendrick

My Hair Is Not Who I think It Is. It never has been. Most mornings we have to have harsh words with each other about how we are going to behave today. In general, she always wins. I can twist and tussle, pull and squeeze but my hair pretty much always goes her own way. It took me a long time to realise this but it does make life easier. I have of course tried various perms and straighteners to try to get it to be flowing and moveable like mum’s, but I must acknowledge that I also have African roots, and predominantly that means AFRO hair.

I am in no way complaining. I grew it, I love it. The last time I had relaxed hair I wound up feeling pretty dull and boring. I missed my morning battles and the thrill of seeing what she was going to do. She was weak and flat, and looked like everyone else in the office, so to speak. And as Jill Scott says, Everything ain’t for Everybody.

So we outgrew that and got back to enjoying ourselves. We love plaits and twists. And the interesting texture you get when you take them out. We can comb out for a bit of frizz, and some 70s style, or we can wash and go to keep the ringlety fuzz. And you don’t get no Afro puffs with straight hair. Occasionally we experiment with extensions – mostly during winter to keep our ears warm. We love a bit a colour, especially a flash of blonde. We know it’s not good for us but where’s the fun in that?!

But there is one reeeeeallly frustrating thing. My hair will not grow up. Or down. Or out. I swear, apart from trims, I haven’t cut my hair since I was about 13. Where are the long flowing Neneh Cherry locks I always thought I would one day wake up to? (Not that I’m wishing away what I’ve got, as I said, I love it. We’ve been through a lot together.) I don’t know if it just gets curlier, or, more likely, breaks of and flies away… But I don’t even bleach it all… anymore.

So I’ve decided to go the other way.  We are getting a chop. Simply because The Afro and I have hair envy. We were both enjoying a nice day out in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, frizzing out in the sunshine, when along came a group of young, showoffy dance kids. One of them started prancing about in front of us, and while pretending not to notice her we secretly could not take our eyes off her floppy, curly, short-back-and-sides-but-long-curly-on-top-and-front hair do.

Now I know my hair does not have the same loose curl youthfulesque flop texture of that young lady, but there must be something we can do. So I am currently compiling a collection of hair do’s for inspiration. Please feel free to assist me. (Comment a link to a pic, facebook me, recommend me a magical hairdresser…)

Here’s what I have so far…

And then me and The Afro had a little mess around yesterday and came up with this:

Which we quite like too. But it only works if we’re both on the same vibe.

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Time wasting is good.

You may have already seen this, apparently it’s been doing the rounds. It’s my new favourite thing today. Enjoy.

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Free download!

I’ve had a lovely weekend in the sun and it’s made me come over all generous, like. So please take advantage and help yourself to a FREE DOWNLOAD of previously unreleased track “Label Me” by clicking on the photo here:

Bring on the summer!

Neechy x

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Silver lined Manclouds

Two weekends ago my ever handsome guitarist came over to Paris to record a Neech show for BalconyTV Paris. I actually co-produce, present and edit BalconyTV Paris so it’s only right that at some point we appear on it! That show will be on line some time in May, and of course I’ll be linking to it here. We also took the time to record a few songs in the gorgeous Parc des Buttes Chaumont, as many as possible before we were rained off! And obviously wanting to work Oli as hard as possible while I had him here, I also got him into a friend’s studio to lay down the guitar parts to a new tune we’ve written called ManCloud. An exhausting weekend, but I figure Oli’s had it easy without me in London so I need to start gearing him up for the life takeover I plan when I get back!

So the studio I took him to (well actually, my wonderful camera man, beat making, TV producing boyfriend Léo took us to) is that of our friend Borrina Mapaka. An incredibly talented, prolific, music churning singer, guitarist, producer and dancer*. (I actually appeared, rather shyly, in one of Borrina & Longo’s music videos soon after I moved to Paris, but that’s another story…)

Neech & Borrina & Manu

So, Oli laid his parts down. Then yesterday I went to lay down my vocals, which was great fun. Relaxing, creative and wonderful to see Borrina and Kevin nodding their heads and vibing drumbeats, guitar riffs and string sections that they wanted to try out. A couple of vocal takes even had faint sounds of Borrina humming melody lines out loud between verses! A fun afternoon.

So now the track has been left in their capable hands, with some ideas about the sounds I want to hear and the feel I want it to have, but also a lot of creative freedom to see where they want to take the track… I’m excited.

As a side note, I am very precious of my songs at first. These days I mostly write with Oli. He gets me, I get him. My favourite tale of writing with him is when we were working on Label Me. I turned up with the lyrics and melody and described how I wanted the song to sound:
Me: (sings song) I see silhouettes line dancing in the desert, possibly a campfire…
Oli:  Ok, got it. (Plays a wicked slidey guitar riff which is absolutely perfect)… It’s in A minor.
That’s very nearly word for word. And that’s pretty much how we work. I say what I see, people look at me like I’m a weirdo, Oli strokes his guitar and plays exactly what I was trying to describe.
So I get very precious of the little song babies that Oli and I create but I love letting them go to see what others’ might shape them into. It may take a few listens and changes of opinion before I decide if I like who they’ve become. But it’s a fabulous part of the creative process. I can’t wait to see how this one will turn out.
*Neechy tip: Always surround yourself with multi-talented people, makes life much more exciting!
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Thinkin’ Bout Bloggin’

I’m East London chanteuse and songwriter Neech. I let inspiration blow from all directions. I love soul, blues, indie, hip hop, reggae, pop, all sorts really. My tracks range from the sultry acoustic ‘summer stories’ and the bouncy dub tinged ‘MerryGoRound’, to the fuzzed-up warped forces that drive ‘Thinking ’bout You’. ‘Label Me’ celebrates a lazy desert heat whilst defending friendships… Have a listen, maybe you’ll understand…

Growing up with the sounds of reggae, hi-life and soul divas at home, heavily influenced by the indie scene of my mates, a personal love for hip hop, and a stint as singer for electronic band, Euphonic, I combined this with an abstract blend of old-school soul, blues and electronica to create my own style with the help of a fantastic band. The ensuing sound invites you into darker territories and tells of intimate secrets with a warmth and originality that’s hopefully impossible to ignore.

I’ve been thinking that I need a way to talk freely with anyone who wants to know about what I’m up to musically and I hear blogging may be the way to do it. So please come back every now and then. Have a cuppa, and a read. And if you feel like commenting on anything, maybe we’ll have a little natter too. Either way, thanks for stopping by.


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