[Listen while you read]
On the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we connect with South-East London songstress Muva to celebrate the release of her newest track Feed My Mind and explore how she is navigating life as an artist on lockdown.
Muva oozes sensuality with her sweet soulful sound. Her lyrics of empowerment salvage through the noise of social media and pressures on women in society as well as exploring love and female sexuality with a mature yet tongue in cheek style. She interleaves the vibrant liveliness of old-school jazz with the earthiness of her voice, proudly maintaining her African culture, sharing her pride through her music and style. The greats, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sade, Jill Scott and Amy Winehouse shimmer over every one of Muva's lovingly planted lyric and pitch, as she nurtures her identity as a 21st-century Muva of Earth.
What was the inspiration behind the song?
Me. I just wanna grow and I just wanna learn. That is my aspiration in life - to grow and learn. Reprising Miss Eartha Kitt’s words ‘I do not need to compromise to love, I love myself and then a person joins me in that'. And I reciprocate. I don’t and will never compromise myself in order to love and neither should you. It’s also just my character, I fall in love with someone who teaches me new ways of thinking, I need that stimulation or I just get bored.
what is the lesson you are communicating through the lyrics?
That is okay to have standards when dating and also in friendships, not everyone is for you and that’s okay. You will always know when you’ve found someone special as they will have only pure and good intentions for you, they will lift you up regardless of the circumstance and they will be patient and contribute to your growth naturally. If this person is not stimulating you in any way and pushing you to be a better person, then I suggest you reflect deeply on why you are with and/or friends with this person and also why you are accepting this behaviour in your life. It’s all down to self-worth and how much you value yourself. Like I said ‘I only take fruits and wines’.
How are you feeding your mind during this lockdown?
I am Feeding My Mind by taking time for myself because when then the world is up and running there is never anytime to do that. I am learning a lot about colonialism and if there will ever be a way out. I have also been learning and improving my skills on the guitar and skateboard. I have been cooking lovely plant-based dishes, doing lots of art/poetry, braiding my own hair and just laying under the sun, meditating and being grateful — saying thank you to the universe and my loved ones.
How has lockdown affected your artistry?
I just miss live music so much, I miss the sounds of bands jamming, I miss dancing and sweating in crowds and mostly I miss performing. But I’ve had a lot of time to focus on my priorities and aspirations as an artist. This lockdown was really hard on me because I had, previously, never owned a home studio, I’ve either had to pay for studio time or record my vocals at a friend’s studio. The closing of studios and not being able to travel to my friend's studio pushed me to create a GoFundMe page to raise funds for my own home studio. This experience cemented my greatest belief that everything happens for a reason because now, I amazingly have my own home studio. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone that supported me, I am so grateful to be feeling this much loving. I also received a grant from Help Musicians who are funding freelance musicians effected by COVID-19 £500.
Art by Charis Cocker
Lockdown is forcing creatives to be adaptable, resourceful and resilient. how did you produce your music video during under quarantine measures?
I am honestly just lucky to know and be friends with amazing creatives — the creation of this video was born from a rash, spur of the moment decision I made. I honestly just felt cute that day and then I said to my roommate Charis Cocker ‘Can you pls help me shoot a music video?’ and she was down for it. Charis soon became my Art Director for the project and shot the video on a 2007 JVC Everio which also features two of her paintings. It was so fun and I remember the weather being so hot and beautiful. I then downloaded the visuals and finalised a structure myself using iMovie on my smartphone. I then let the video's Editor and Co-creator: Fiona Quadri know about the project and she was fortunately down to edit. Fiona is currently isolating in Belgium so we communicated a lot through WhatsApp; constantly going back and forth with ideas. Fiona is honestly the best to work with, she has an amazing eye, works so hard and efficiently and includes me in every decision.
earth day takeaway
I believe my lyrics are relevant now more than ever. Despite COVID-19 the world continues to move forwards and backwards. I wanted people to see Peckham, how it is a victim of gentrification, to see me in nature but acknowledge the juxtaposition in the fact that I can never escape the pollution from cars etc - it is important to know that pollution has been killing way before Coronavirus. This pandemic has made me want to change more than ever, not only that, I demand change from others too. Seeing so many independent business owners having to shut down their livelihood and huge corporations like Tescos, Sainsbury’s are still open is a demonstration of the injustice in our system. Still, our PM still has done nothing to support UK renters. This shows me that there is only one type of person the UK government cares about and it’s not me.
This pandemic has definitely made me more conscious about who I am giving my money, the market man relies on my money to eat and sleep and needs my money more than Sainsbury’s does. It has also allowed me to see that there is not an unlimited supply of products. Us humans use and use and use, we don’t even pay attention, that these products that we love and need are cropped, nurtured, packaged, shipped to us from afar to have and enjoy.
Seeing the shortage in supermarkets has made me aware of my privileges and I just want to give back to Earth, see all that it’s going through; deforestation, bushfires, pollution. I want to take care of what is, in fact, my first home. I don’t understand how people rather send funds to have us live in on Mars instead of investing in a climate change resolution.
Please do your part by walking if possible, eating less meat and thinking of how you can contribute to and support decolonisation because I’m still trying.
Written and Performed by MUVA
Directed by MUVA
Produced by Delio Lima
Filmed and additional paintings by Charis Cocker
Editor and Co-creator: Fiona Quadri