Discovering new music can feel like sauntering around a party at a stranger’s house sometimes. As you listen to different masses of organised noise, casually eavesdropping into someone’s steamy love stories, deliciously mean disses or gripping displays of vulnerability, every now and then, you stumble into something that makes you want to listen to what they have to say.
‘You’re with her, but you belong to me’ – may seem like a banal subordinate pair of sentences, but it reflects a thought that has possibly crossed the minds of many of us during our character building years; more importantly, it is a verse on Hamzaa’s debut single ‘Stranded love’. The sonic contrasts between paused and elongated vocals diffuse the feeling of longing for a lost love, elevating the drama of the ballad, perfectly filling the voids left by the instrumental. The vocal grit is also warmly welcomed. If you listen close enough, the accent leaves no trace of doubt where she comes from. London. East London to be precise. As the conversation unfolds, the nineteen-year-old shared that her real-life experience was her source of inspiration for the single, but as the artwork indicates, Hamzaa is now free from this past.
“I left school very early. A lot of things come with independence at such a young age. I had to grow up really fast and learn how to balance it out.”
Hamzaa’s voice, like her music, sounds wise beyond her years. An intoxicating blend of old-soul sapience with a sensual edge. Over the line, she kindly attempts to describe the online reaction to track’s transparent display of emotional honesty.
“It’s rewarding as it is humbling. It’s a bit overwhelming, but it’s really cool. It’s hard to describe it, but it is the best feeling possible as an artist. ”
It all feels new to her, even the very context that led us to speak in the first place. Raised in a household where soulful music was on heavy rotation, it’s no surprise the chanteuse gravitated early on towards a career in music.
“My mum was a dancer in her heyday, so I naturally took a liking into it growing up. I discovered that I could express myself through writing when I was nine. That’s when I really started to put my feelings out. I was the only child at home.”
Putting thought into the paper from such a young age, experimenting with her vocal range became the next logical step. Earning her first stripes doing covers on YouTube and remixes of her favourite songs, she soon gathered the attention of other like-minded individuals. Starting the year with her first solo performance in London, prior to releasing ‘Stranded Love’, she lent her verses alongside multi-award winner Shakka for “Chance” the latest single of fellow Londoner, New Machine.
Retaining some of her mystique, Hamzaa affirms that’s she’s in a creative space, crafting new stories for us to listen. As we bid farewell, her confident tone asserts that we’re not going to wait long till we hear from her again.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to release a new EP by the end of this year.” – she pauses – “Hamzaa is my surname. My real name is Malika. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Watch her video for “Stranded Love” below.
Words by Catarina Ramalho