Track By Track: Nwando Ebizie – The Swan
Nwando Ebizie‘s new album is a melting pot of her influences, practices and interests, all boiled down into a mind-bending sonic masterpiece that colours outside of the lines.
The first album under her given name, following a string of leftfield pop releases under her blaxploitation pop alter-ego Lady Vendredi. The Swan explores the Afrofuturist artist’s use of off-kilter spiritual electronics and global musical influences, glued together with found sounds and her powerful vocals.
Bridging traditional, contemporary and futuristic sounds, the album translates Nwando’s interest in Black Atlantic ritual cultures and speculative fiction, immortalised through her multi-disciplinary pursuits in live art, experimentation and multi-sensory experiences.
A series of three events accompanied the LP release and gave Nwando the opportunity to bring The Swan to life. Taking place at the Southbank Centre as part of the Summer: In The Black Fantastic season, each day Nwando let participants into her “lens of the world”, from sensorial experiences to live music, shared ritual and guided visualisations.
We asked Nwando to let us into the inspirations and origins behind each track on the LP, which include her diving into The Manosphere, transformative rituals and exploring Haitian traditional music.
Colour/s: Black and silver – Black shot through with a burst of silver – a bright flash heralding something new
Season: A steamy summer’s night
Inspiration: A New Orleans bar full of second liners who have gathered to talk revolution
Setting: The aforementioned bar in New Orleans would be the ideal setting! This track came out of an intense residency with lots of artists.
Colour/s: Yellow. Bright. Luminous. Shiny
Season: Another summer track – but in the heat of the midday sun
Inspiration: This was inspired by a disturbing deep dive into The Manosphere (don’t look) – that section of the internet where an unholy alliance of alt right, Pick Up artists and Incels gather. I imagined a group of young acolytes in a parallel universe in the future looking back at records of this time of the Manosphere and creating a ritual to try and understand what on earth they were on about.
Setting: This is perfect summer festival dancing material in a parallel universe.
Colour/s: The kind of light you see playing on water at night. I don’t know if that colour has a name. Its white and pearlescent.
Season: The very depths of winter
Inspiration: This was inspired by reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Post-Jungian feminist book – Women who run with the wolves. There is a great section on The Ugly Duckling.
Setting: I was in my old house in London and the song really came pouring out all at once. I think this is one for a dark basement club at 3am.
Colour/s: The reddish brown of Myrrh.
Season: Autumn – the dying of the year
Inspiration: This is very inspired by Haitian traditional music, containing one of its rhythms – the Yanvalou. It was also inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Setting: I was walking up on the Saddleworth Moors on Boxing day a few years ago. It was cold and bleak and beautiful. I think back up on the moors with the winds high would be a great place for it to be felt. Close your eyes and imagine the marching band rounding the corner towards you.
Colour/s: Stone grey
Season: Winter – Ephipany
Inspiration: This track is inspired by rituals of transformation
Setting: This should be heard in an old church or a clearing in the forest. I can’t remember where I was when I dreamt this up – perhaps in a dream.
Shadowland (In the Dreams of Others)
Colour/s: The colour of the Moon
Season: Winter on the cusp of spring
Inspiration: I imagined what it would be like to be the shadow-self of a person – there double in the spirit world – this is inspired by the traditional belief in my culture (Igbo) that each person is born with their Chi – there self in the spirit world. The idea of being somebody’s spirit self – ethereal, not made of matter, but somehow tethered to their life.
Setting: I was in Vietnam – having quite a difficult time. But writing was helping to keep me together. This should be listened to in the bath at nighttime
Colour/s: Midnight blue
Inspiration: This was inspired by the idea of ‘true believer’s – blind follows of all kinds of faiths – religious or political.
Setting: I was in a library. I think you should hold your loved ones tight and listen to this
Colour/s: Bright Blue
Inspiration: This was inspired by a dear friend – the power of a positive no came up in many of our conversations. How to navigate the world – the importance of setting boundaries, especially in a world where you are oppressed
Setting: This came of the nighttime. And to the nighttime it should return. On the streets – with all the power of the people.
Colour/s: The sea – grey and green
Season: Early spring
I wanted to write a piece that felt like a live, evolving live piece played by a group making a ritual
Setting: In my music studio! This should be heard by the sea with your fellow acolytes
Something Like Empathy
Colour/s: Fresh green
Inspiration: This came to me up on the moors – but Todmorden moors this time. It is also inspired by the neurological Syndrome I have – Visual Snow – which causes me to see a kind of augmented reality – like seeing through a pointilist painting with afterimages and bursts of light
Setting: Those moors at night! With high winds.
The Swan is out now on Matthew Herbert’s Accidental Records. Photo credit: Dimitri Djuric.
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