Over the course of the past year Louisa April has gone from performing at open mics to headlining at Maitisong Arts Festival and putting on her own showcase. That, coupled with a budding Youtube career has made her a relatively busy bee but we briefly sat down to chat about music, her upbringing and who she hopes to reach through her music.
Tell us about your background. Who raised you, where, what was it like? What made you who you are today?
I was named after my Ouma. Her name is Louiza T. April, over the years it seems i have taken on more than her name, even some of her personality traits, she is quite stubborn. My government name is Louisa Irojiogu. I have issues with my surname, it was changed after my parents got married and now that they have divorced I’m trying to change it back to April, it’s a tedious process but worth it. That’s my strength in a way. My name. I don’t see myself changing it after marriage.
The women in my family are very strong and you can tell by our names, old names, mine means woman of war, or something like that. I’m 22 years old and for all these years I have lived I was raised by my mother. Yes, I had a step dad around for sometime but when I look back and try find who did most of the work it was my mum. She made me who I am today. It was tough growing up, I spent my first 7 years in Namibia, with my Ouma at her guesthouse. Then moved to Botswana with my parents and younger brother to start Primary School. We moved around a lot renting at different places around Gaborone, I don’t remember a lot of the places but sometimes i’ll be moving around town and I’ll get flashbacks of certain things that happened then realize I once lived there.
I think I should mention my step dad is Nigerian, so he was very strict. I had no life outside of school and church. I had to find ways to entertain myself so there were a lot of books involved and singing. I tried drawing but I don’t have the gift. For the most part being a kid was alright. The happy parts of my childhood can be summed up in moments, the rest were just vacant or horrible and I blacked them out.
Tell us about your introduction to music.
I sang a lot because it was a fun way to pass the time, and I enjoyed it. The music in my life was never fixed. My dad was a jazz type of guy, he had all the records, on road trips he’d play them all. My mum liked whatever made her feel good. There was a lot of romance and storytelling in that sense. A lot of the Sundays had full on Nigerian gospel. We went to a Nigerian church, I was in the church and school choir for some time. At Church they made us wear uniforms, black skirts and various coordinated colour shirts. I remember a time looking in the mirror and feeling like the clothes were swallowing me. Then I decided I wanted to quit the church choir and everybody decided they had something to say about it especially my dad. Apparently me being in the choir and being able to sing made him look good and me wanting to leave meant I wanted to be a bad gyal now. I don’t know what it was. Some things you gotta let go off, though.
I am still in the process of becoming an artist. I’m not sure how I will know when I get there but I'm not there yet.
How has your approach to creating music changed from the time you started til now? And your sound?
I never want to create music because I have to. When I began in 2012, I was just trying to capture a feeling in musical form. I was a bit depressed, still angry and kinda lost. A lot of that is still here, in my core. I'm often mourning love. And I want to accurately show that through my work. I’d also like to heal through it. Cause we forget we are not alone. So now when I go the studio I have learnt to articulate what I want and don’t want. I know who I am making the music for. People who understand themselves and their emotions. Who are in touch with themselves, and mature in the sense that they understand that shit happens and you can’t have it all under control. You just have to feel it. Not sure if that’s an answer, but it's my truth.
I want to make music for me that is honest to you. To sing your thoughts out loud.