Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Ryan Goldade and Amie Nguyen
Photography by Jenkin Au
Location: Toronto[Show Text Only Version][Hide Text Only Version]
Born and raised in Canada, Saidah Baba Talibah is a singer, dancer, actress, writer, and artist. She released her debut LP (S)Cream recently, which is said to be more than just an album. She describes it as an experience as she took an unorthodox approach to funding her album. Her fans were able to pre-invest in it through the Make Me Wana (S)Cream campagin. Through her music, she creates stories that reflect sounds and styles that reflect upon Toronto’s musical and diverse communities.
Grown up in a family full of talented musicians, she shares about his connection with her Grammy-nominated mother and uncle. In the interview, the justalilhype! Crew got a chance to discuss about how her family, education, and inspirations played a role in her career as an artist.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Saidah Baba Talibah. Saidah means happy, Baba means born on Thursday, and Talibah means student.
Tell us about your years of education.
I was a dance major in school at Claude Watson. It really nurtured me as an artist. It nurtured us all as artists to just be creative beings. Even though we focused on one major, there were other minors and electives. It gave me the freedom to think outside the box.
Why did you choose to stick with your name and not a stage name? I say that because it’s a difficult name to remember.
That’s actually very interesting. I actually left off my last name, so I was born with four names. I chose to stick with my name because while I was growing up, I just used my first and my last name. I had a hard time with my first name because people would mess that up. Then when I told them my middle names, they would make fun of me. I kept that away from a lot of people for many years so coming out with my name was sort of an empowerment for me.
Why did you choose to leave out the last name?
Fours names are a lot and Matthews doesn’t go with the rest. Some people suggested for me to take my mom’s maiden name which is Bey but that’s not me. That’s my family and my foundation but that’s not me.
Tell us about the music genres that you’re involved in.
I like to be quiet organic with myself. I like to go with the flow. That’s why I chose that genre, because it speaks to me.
When you first started in music, what were some of the goals that you had? How have these goals shaped your path?
I’m constantly realizing goals and constantly making new goals and focusing on them. One of my biggest goals that I’m starting to realize is to travel the world and performing. One my biggest goals at first, was to write one of my own songs and put it on an album. So I’ve realized that.
When you first started with music, what was your dream?
My mom was a singer so I was rolling around in the womb of an awesome artist. She had me on stage when I was really young and I’ve been doing this for a long time. Professionally, I’d say I’ve been doing it since my early teens. When I decided to actually step forward into my own solo career, a big main goal was to sing my own songs. That was goal number one: write and sing my own songs. Second goal was to do an album. Third goal: travel the world and collaborate with people.
Coming from a household of musical talents, are you ever intimidated by it?
Definitely, I do get intimidated by it. I have a lot of talent in my family: my sister, my mother, my cousins, my aunts, and my uncles. It’s like taking on the family business but being an artist is not just about the technical side, it’s also about the emotional. You do go through the “am I good enough?” scenarios. There was nothing else I could see myself doing but they are big shoes to fill.
Where do you draw your inspirations from for your music?
Life is a big inspiration. Definitely other music and musicians inspire me. Everything I take in is what inspires me.
What does it mean to be an artist hailing from Toronto, Canada? Have you ever thought about moving to another city to further your career?
I have thought about it but I really love Toronto. It’s a great city and a great place to be a creative person. There’s so much talent here.
Who are some of the local talents that you look up to?
Where do I start? My band, I definitely look up to my band. They’re amazing. Who else? I love Owen Pallett, he’s an awesome artist. Wade O. Brown is awesome. There are so many! Devine Brown is great.
If you had one political issue for your music to stand up for, what would that issue be?
Food. I’m really disgusted by the lack of care when it comes to food and people and the feeling that we have a lack of rights when it comes to eating our food. Also, the waste of food and the cost of organics as well as the propaganda of how to eat certain foods like you have to drink milk or have to eat meat. That’s a big one for me.
What would you say is your biggest challenge today?
Having listeners understand that my music reflects people and it’s not about my jumping genres to dibble and dabble. It’s actually from my heart and it reflects a lot of people who feel hard and soft sometimes. They feel a little R&B sometimes or feel a little soul or feel a little aggressive and raw.
What is HYPE?
HYPE is getting on top of a mountain and shouting what is real.