We caught up with mega babe Nubiya of Nubiyan Twist ahead of The Funk & Soul Weekender to chat getting into the industry, dream collabs and musical inspo…
How would you describe your aesthetic and how does it inspire your music?
My name is Nubiya Imani Dawson Brandon. I am commercially and institutionally problematic, a writer of poetry, stories and music. I have the great privilege of being surrounded by creativity, which through the ordinary helps internalise a great appreciation in the meticulous happenings around me. I have not been cast away in this business for long, but I have had enough time to see it’s loneliness and watch others around me sink in the quick sand. I am always trying to revive some sort of romanticism of our fathers and mothers in music, their attitude and relationship with the music, which seems, to be ghost of the industry.
Who’s the coolest person you’ve met so far?
David Johansen, Adam Ant if we’re talking celebrities but my fella’s step Grandmother Lil, is probably one of the most incredible people I’ve met, I’ll never tire of her stories.
What’s the best gig you have ever played?
Who would you like to collaborate with and why?
I think I always fanaticised about living in a different era of music, when composers would help shape the singer style or stage presence. For that reason I would have loved to collaborate with Count Bassie and Bennie Goodman if I had a time machine. Denis Bovell who in my personal opinion shows a perfect harmonious relationship between jazz and reggae in his work. And last but not least Phil Spector, I strongly believe that the Engineering process and technique is the most important part of creating a record, he created the wall of sound and I’d love to capture that in an album one day.
Why do you think the relationship between fashion and music is so strong?
I suppose fashion contributes to your persona and the attitude of the character you create for your music. It’s not a vital part of expressing yourself but it’s an elusive outer shell that ties together your personality materialistically. The sort of artist I have been influenced by have been dressed to the taste of their time where it is more of an obvious cultural scene to wear those sort of clothes, so, perhaps it is an artist’s way of referencing the time that they live in or simply a secret competition of stage flamboyancy.
What’s your favourite music video?
Galvanize – The Chemical Brothers
Who did you listen to growing up?
It has become so typical within my generation to be musically defined by such a variety of genre’s and era’s in music. Carmen Miranda was the first piece of music I ever remember hearing, it was being mimicked on a Tom and Jerry cartoon. From there i heard everything from disco, jazz and opera from my mother, punk, 2tone and new wave from my first school crush’s mother and reggae, dub and soul from my godmother. I took a liking to almost everything nobody wanted to listen to at school, whilst most were interested in pop or bassline I loved heading out to northern soul nights and the last of the blues clubs in Leeds to get a taste of the 1960’s, 70’s and 90’s.
Who’s your biggest musical inspiration?
My greatest influence has to be Nat King Cole. I always felt a sort of personal commitment or I pledge, in a sense, to try and understand everything about his voice. His body language during his performances, even the tones and gestures of his speaking voice has influence on the character I try to create within my music and aspired me to, to the best of my ability, adopt his gentlemanly gestures into my own personality. He taught me to crave an overall sense of elegance in my music. I can always shed tears to his song Nature Boy.
What’s your guilty pleasure, most played track?
The Bug feat: Flowdan & Killer P – Skeng.
Last album you listened to all the way through?
Sonny Boy Williamson, Bummer Road was the album
What track gives you goosebumps?
Nature Boy by Nat King Cole
What item of clothing can’t you live without?
My 1950’s cocktail dresses and gown I couldn’t live with any of them.
What items do you make sure you pack on your travels?
I’m not what you call an accomplished packer so if I’m being honest I just throw things in the bag and hope it all goes well later.
Who is your style icon and why?
I couldn’t possibly narrow that down to just one person. I idolise both men and women. Prince Buster has to be one of my favourites, he had to be one of the bet dressed men in the 1960’s. Joan Crawford is another. She was one of my greatest style icon as a young teenager. Audrey Hepburn for her simplicity, I’ve probably tried to replicate every outfit from ‘Funny Face’ but I also loved Josephine Baker she is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen and of course Maria Callas she had and incredible wardrobe for her performances.
Where do you look for fashion inspiration?
I look to the men and women of the past.
What best describes your style?
If you could steal anyone’s wardrobe who’s would it be?
You can only wear one outfit for the rest of the year, what is it?
My 1960’s 2 piece with dress and overcoat and my Chelsea crew shoes. Hair ginormous of course.