Get Familiar: AKADRE
Photography by Ka-ho Pang | Interview by Passion Dzenga
Today we are sitting down with Akadre, a multi-talented young artist from Milan, now based in Amsterdam. With roots in both Ghana and Italy, Akadre brings a unique blend of cultures and perspectives to his work as a musician, photographer, and magazine director. Fresh off the release of his debut single "UNO" Akadre is poised for a breakout year in the creative arts. Let's dive into this exciting conversation with this rising star and get familiar with their process
How did music first enter your life?
I’d say music was always around me, growing up in an African household I always had music playing in the house. This exposed me to Highlife from Ghana and a lot of reggae music because my dad was a big fan of it. Next to that, R'n'B, Jazz and Italian Pop and Neoclassic music mainly because I was born and raised in Italy, so I had a nice mix of sounds around me.
What musicians did you look up to growing up?
I had a lot of different influences but when I was a kid James Brown and Michael Jackson were my favourites from the way their music sounded and the energy and delivery that they will be giving on stage at their live shows artists like T-Pain, Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino and Partynextdoor also had an impact on the way I think and make my music today.
What are some of your earlier attempts at making music before you were doing what you do now?
I started with programs like FL studio, and Logic X to create my beats and write on them but with not much success, to then, keep my music mainly for me but then once I moved to the Netherlands I met more producers who became friends and also got me to understand that I should be focusing more on writing the songs and singing them, leaving the rest to my friends. This made the process easier but also more accurate when it comes to what I write and how I feel.
I’m someone that likes to explore many disciplines and see how far I can push myself but eventually with time I’ve learned that just because you can do a lot of things, that doesn’t mean you have to do them all
Your creative energy is amazing, how do you stay so motivated to create?
My music and everything else I do creatively wise is connected with me and my lifestyle, I grew up with it, is my way of communication so as photography. My art motivates me to do more. I get excited about my new projects the same way a fan will get excited about their favourite artist's music that is about to release.
Everything comes from the inside, the outside doesn’t have an impact on me when it comes to this, I’d say more when I was younger but now I’m fully self-centred. In my double exploring.
I used to say that my life is like a TV series, that every day is an episode and every year is a new season, putting my music as the soundtrack of every special moment so that I can reconnect to it every time I play it.
Every project is a new revelation of me and who I’m becoming, it’s honesty and understanding better who I am through my music is the biggest joy and this is also what makes my music so special the fact that it’s purely and mainly for me and if people can see them self in it even better. I needed to find a way to delegate and especially distribute my workload so that could focus on what I needed to do right now.
Who are your favourite people to work with?
I don’t have a preference it’s all about good vibes, if your energy is good and I can connect with what you make I’ll reach out and propose to collaborate. I like people who are invested in their craft, who live and breathe their art and can express that with the same simplicity that people use to speak every day.
What journey took you to where you are, in terms of the aesthetics you appreciate in music?
Solitude helped a lot. Moving here alone when I was younger I didn’t know anybody so that brought me to have a really honest look at myself without any filter and be able to see myself at my most fragile point. I think that got me to understand what type of music I wanted to make.
I love to dance, the storytelling that comes with it, the communication that that it brings, eventually being around dancers got me to learn to visualise music in the movements and expressions realising I wanted to connect that with the aesthetic of my work as I did in the cover of my single UNO.
What is unique about the scene in Milan to you?
I feel like the scene in Milan is in continuous expansion and it makes me happy to see that. There were fewer, close to no black artists back when I was younger. Most of us grew up looking at the USA which was different than leaving in Italy of course.
Now if you look around there are a lot of talented people paving the way for the new generations such as J.Lord, Ghali, Axell, Heartman and many others, exposing themes regarding living and growing up in Italy, stuff that people could connect to more and reflect on.
I feel like what makes the Italian scene so unique is the hunger that these people have to create something to put out there.
You will say that this is cliche but growing up in that place the determination you need to be able to do what you want is crucial especially when nobody will give you opportunities, this generation Is the first one to fix the infrastructure that will allow the new generation to have examples that will inspire them and give them the confidence to do and become who they want to be despite their surroundings being designed to keep them demotivated and in line without any aspiration to do more.
What is the songwriting process like for you?
I always write on my phone when something comes to mind, every time and everywhere. I love to see words coming together and I love to have a flow that is more like a conversation.
I write my songs, in the same way, someone will write his thoughts in their diary, a personal approach that I’ve learned from poets like Pablo Neruda who was also the one that got me into writing songs in the first place.
I start them as poems without thinking too much about the result, after I find the storyline and then elaborate the flow once I lay down the beat with the producers.
How did this latest project come about?
The latest project, “UNO” is personal and is something that took its time. The energy is calmer in this one I do have songs with more emotion but what makes this one so special to me is its development of it.
You see, this song got out by itself. I’ve met people along the way who became friends and genuinely wanted to be part of this, from the producer to the sound integer to the photographer who shot the album cover.
My friend Tino made the beat and when I heard it I knew that was the one for the song, the flow followed naturally right after. The topic is around the idea of being the number one (UNO) I wanted to create a track that expresses my idea of being able to invest everything in myself. Being confident in the fact that “you can decide what to focus on and manifest it at any cost.”
You’re the main character there’s no way you’ll lose!
Expressing my fears and insecurities and showing that no matter what I’m just focused on my bag, the finish line, and the bigger picture. For how difficult something could be I’m thinking about the end goal and that is enough to keep me going knowing that I’m doing my best to make it through, and in the process learning to be unapologetically me.
How is it to be a multilingual artist?
I guess is more about the fact that you’re able to explore more flows, the sounds of words in different languages change a lot from each other and are a great addition to the recipe that makes a song.
But also being a multilingual artist gets you to experiment with different ways of writing and storytelling at least this is what it is when it comes to me, growing up listening to Italian neoclassic, and reading poetry got me to have a different look and feel in the music I make
But then R’nB, Ghanaian music and Reggae added more to what I do and I know now.
How does your music translate to a live performance?
I feel like my music in a live performance transmits even more energy and I’m happy to see that, so far I’ve had only 2 live performances before the release of my single and it was to see how it feels to sing my music in front of people and it was great, it felt natural and the energy was contagious. A nice exchange between me and the crowd and I can’t wait to perform more on even bigger stages.
You are also a photographer, so what is the importance of visuals when it comes to making and releasing music?
I feel like visuals are crucial when it comes to music releases. I’ve been helping other artists work on the image and concept of their music. This got me tho also see what type of work is behind it and required. The more I did it the more I was feeling like I wanted to put all this knowledge into my projects too.
I usually have the whole situation clear in my head the moment I make the song and the advantage of being a photographer is that visually wise you know how to communicate your idea to your team to get the best result and most accurate from your team
What do you get up to when you're not working on music?
Making videos, taking pictures, and working on new concepts to put on my online magazine, Mosaiko, where together with my team I like to highlight other talented artists from everywhere through interviews and content reposting. Creating a community of creatives that share pieces of information and discover each other. With an emphasis on BIPOC excellence and authenticity. Unifying our unique perspectives opinion and crafts to support a broad vision of art and culture.