HAWA Is “The ONE”
In addition to releasing The ONE on Thursday, March 5th, the artist also just dropped a sultry music video—and it’s safe to say that it’s an expressive statement on raw emotions and queer love. Watch the video for “FRICK” here, and read the exclusive interview below.
You clearly have lived many lives. Having modeled for Telfar to being the youngest-ever composer for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, what made you want to break out of those molds and venture into the world of making music independently?
I’ve always wanted to be a musician. I’ve always wanted to perform in front of millions of people while they're screaming my name. With the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, it was really a once in a lifetime chance, and I knew that it could help me build structure. But at the same time, I didn’t want to feel as if I was confined to one type of music. Also, my passion for it was dwindling. So one day, I said, “Fuck it, I’m gonna make the music that I want to make,” and that was that.
Your background is definitely different than most, born in Berlin to West African parents but raised in New York. How, if at all, does this shape your sound?
It shaped my sound in many ways, like New York influenced my flow in my music and Africa influenced the melodies. I could honestly keep going on and on, but these are like the top things that really make my music sound the way that it does. These are also one of the top things I try to master when it comes to making music.
Being 19, so many things are happening. Fresh off of high school graduation, finding love, and discovering who you are—what does this EP say about this current chapter of your life?
It says a lot, but the most important one is the fact that I’m starting to establish my placement in the music industry and proving that I can really accomplish my dreams.
With everything moving so fast, how are you taking your newfound success, and how are you defining it?
I’m taking it well to be honest. I thank Allah every day, but then at the same time, I’m still staying focused and not letting the success distract me, because I know that this is just the beginning. I’m not at the point of success that I want to be at yet, and so I’m very happy and grateful but staying focused.
Unrequited love is a bitch, and your newest single “IPHONE” reflects that. Tell us how you have navigated this feeling?
Through my sound choice, I wanted it to feel dark but not too dark. I believe that as a musician you should be able to sing or rap about anything. It could be the most bullshit, but believe every word, and then you can get any emotion across. I am not saying I was singing about bullshit; I’m just saying that I believed every word and felt every word so that my listeners did too.
The ONE is the first EP to be released from B4, a music label known for its genre-smashing landscape. Why this route?
I mean, why not? If you have a hard-working and dedicated team that not only cares about your vision, your music, and also the artist themselves? And I can also make my music freely... Sounds like paradise to me.
With this release, you’re also premiering the “FRICK” video. It seems like queer love is the main theme. What was the inspiration behind this? And why Aya Brown and Ama Elsesser as your accomplice and love interest?
I feel like the theme is just about love in general and about how far it can push a person. The gay part was simply, because I love and adore womxn—that’s just me as a person. When it comes to inspiration, my creative director Keenan and I built the concept out of personal life experiences and a desire to make more content that we want to see in the world. We randomly talk and text at all hours of the day. I’ll tell her what the message is in the music, and then we'll go from there. This time, I used myself and past love experiences. I thought about all the lust I have for that person and how head over heels I was. It was to a point where I would do anything for them, like murdering their husband on their wedding day. Aya fit the role perfectly. She just honestly has so much swag about her, like not saying I would, but if I was gonna kill a nigga for someone I was in love with, I’d dead hit her jack. So she was perfect. And Ama is honestly a gorgeous person. Their energy is so captivating, and they just knew how to play that wifey role. I would be a madman not to have them.
How nervous were you for your first on-screen kiss?
I wasn’t nervous. I’m never nervous, especially when I’m kissing a beautiful person.
In the video, you have a lot of backing from Telfar as he has supplied most of the wardrobe. How important is it for you to have this kind of support from brands or people you’ve previously worked with?
I mean, it's very important, because it also shows that they believe in my vision as much as I do.
Music can be such a compelling force. What is it about your music that you believe is different?
The way I build on my sound. Nowadays, I structure my music the way I would if I were writing a classical piece. I make sure that the sound and melodies are always building and evolving.
To an unfamiliar audience, what are some messages you want them to take from this EP?
That love is something you should appreciate in the moment, because no matter what we do in life, love will always end. That end could be a break-up, death, etc., but at one point, it always ends.
What else can we expect from you after this EP has planted its feet?
I will definitely be putting out some more shit after, but I'm gonna start working on an album soon, so be on the look out.