Today 22th September, rising Dutch-Ghanaian singer-songwriter Nana Adjoa shares the visual for National Song and releases her highly anticipated debut album, Big Dreaming Ants PRE ORDER HERE
The third video in a trilogy created by creative director Rudy Asibey and video director Robbert Doelwijt Jr, which includes the compelling visual for Nanas previous singles ‘No Room’ and ‘She’s Stronger’ National Song tackles cultural identity and neo-nationalism. When listening to the song and its lyrics, I landed on this core idea: we need to wake up from our collective dream, explains the director Robbert Doelwijt Jr. Each line of the lyrics starts with You know…., as if Nana is constantly addressing a person, a group, or a culture.
The song is also about searching for ones own identity on a personal, cultural and global level. Neo-nationalism is occurring all over the world, explains Nana. Our ‘nations’ and borders are no longer what they once were because of so many different and rapid changes in what used to be our small worlds. Growing pains of progress (I hope), which express themselves as a desire for conservative ideas rooted in a fear of change. Every occasion in which the old tradition of a national song is sung, it feels to me like a moment of doubt between the past and the future. It’s something I never used to think about twice and now makes me feel something different; there is something uneasy about it. The Dutch national song, Het Wilhelmus’, is one of the oldest national anthems. Some countries don’t even have lyrics to their national anthem because there has already been a history of identity crises within the nation itself. Some countries dont only have one, but two national songs, and some aren’t in the native tongue. What is this feeling of belonging to one nation worth nowadays, especially for people with mixed backgrounds like myself?
The scenes in the video perfectly depicts Nanas nuanced take on activism, in the directors own words; one that goes beyond hashtags and tries to find real understanding. Her melody, her words and the state of the world conjured this image of a flaming fist in my mind. I wanted to show how we need to stand for what we believe in but need to make sure we check ourselves and make sure were okay after the battle.
Long takes of expressive dancers wearing traditional Ghanaian school uniforms pay homage to Nanas heritage. Natural elements and symbolism expressing care and the idea of waking up from the collective dream run through the video; the girl carrying the water to put out the flame at the end while the fist maintains its stance. The fire might die down, but we should keep standing for what we believe is right. Whilst the potential to this worlds great beautiful things is represented in the scene with the mother and her newborn child.
Following a string of irresistible singles including, the recent Gorilla VS Bear-approved I Want To Change, the Complex-premiered No Room – which went to be featured in London In Stereo Tracks of The Week and spinned by Chris Hawkins and Lauren Laverne on their BBC 6 Music shows. Whilst earlier singles ‘‘Throw Stones’ and ‘‘She’s Stronger’received praise from the likes of i-D, Noctis, The Voice, C-Heads, Mahogany, Indie Shuffle and Consequence of Sound to name a few. The upcoming album – which has earned a raving review in Loud & Quiet newest issue – focuses on Nanas poignant lyricism tackling complicated questions of race, gender, religion, and sexuality – Nana often meditates on the meaning and make-up of one’s identity.
A skilled multi-instrumentalist and trained jazz player, Adjoa joined her first band as a teenager, choosing to play bass because, every other instrument had been claimed. It was a lucky twist of fate, unbeknown to the musician, her mother had once been the bassist in a Ghanaian Highlife band and happened to have her instrument. Accepted to study jazz (electric bass and double bass) at the prestigious Amsterdam Conservatory, Nana traded the restrictions of a structured curriculum for the free-flow of her own compositions.
Since her debut in 2017 – the vulnerable EP Down at the Root (Pt. 1) – she has been praised for her sonic explorations and effortless lyrical poetry. Her second EP, Down at the Root (Pt. 2) and the Stereogum-approved A Tale So Familiar, increased support from international press including Consequence of Sound and The Fader, influential radio stations such as USA tastemaker KCRW and streaming platforms. Making her USA live debut in 2018, Adjoa played a series of headline shows as part of a worldwide Communion residency, as well as performing on some of Europes largest festival stages.
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Directed by Robbert Doelwijt Jr. [Instagram: @nimlong Website: https://ateliermunkicloud.com/]
Starring: Naïma Souhaïr, Megan Simons, Nancy Schieveen, Zane Kwame Buah, Robbert Doelwijt Jr. & Nana Ajoda
Choreographed by: Megan Simons & Naïma Souhaïr
Produced by Luka Van Den Bos
Executive Producer: Sydney Miller
Director of Photography: Sertse Fulani
Creative Director: Rudy Asibey
Art Direction: Rudy Asibey & Natalia Guiking
Edited by: Robber Doelwijt Jr.
Styling: Daily Paper & Schepers Bosman
Flag by: Schepers Bosman