Poppy Ajudha isn’t here to sugar coat things.
Despite her silky smooth vocals, the South London artist addresses thorny issues. In her nimble fusion of jazz and neo-soul lie bold, challenging statements on identity, gender politics and society.
Poppy’s 2018 ‘FEMME’ and ‘Patience’ EPs demonstrate a knack for conscious song writing. ‘White Water’, for example, explores the immigrant experience, while ‘Tepid Soul’ unpacks Poppy’s own dual heritage - her family are St Lucian, with roots in the Caribbean and India - and the recent ‘Man You Aim To Be’ digs into toxic masculinity.
“It’s something I feel very strongly about,” Poppy explains. “I’ve realised on my journey through feminism and studies [gender studies at London’s SOAS] that the common denominator of a lot of my past experiences is toxic masculinity.”
It’s just one of many topics she also addresses onstage at shows, explaining the messages behind tracks and why they’re important. This approach starts real-life conversations - for example, between men and women at her gigs - acting as a catalyst for change. Exactly what Poppy wants her music to do.
Unsurprisingly, she’s gaining a reputation for being political. “I like that; people acknowledging what I stand for,” she says. “I turn everything into politics because that’s the way I see the world. As a woman, as a person of colour, as a person who’s queer, the world is very political for me - I intersect with it in lots of ways.”
This refreshing approach hasn’t gone unnoticed: Barack Obama listed ‘Disco Yes’, Poppy’s collab with Tom Misch, as one of his favourite tracks of 2018. “It was pretty wild,” she smiles. “He’s so apart from any of the worlds that I inhabit. It’s always amazing when you get recognition.”
Poppy’s mission to push the conversation forward and never stop exploring or questioning is set to continue, with tours and further social commentary tracks set to follow. “There’s so much you can do and say to the world, why waste it all on love songs?”
What: Jazz-infused socially conscious R&B
Where: South London
Get 3 Songs: ‘Devil’s Juice’, ‘When You Watch Me’, ‘Spilling Into You’
Fact: She’s been on national TV in St. Lucia
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Words: Emma Finamore
Photography: Sophie Mayanne
Fashion: Zarina Shukri
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