"Support each other and create our own platforms" - In 2020, Naploes wants us to uplift and elevate.
Thursday 14th May 2020 | Grace
Having already been played on BBC 1Xtra and Rinse FM, as well as having opened for Beyonce and Jay-Z, Nápoles is a rising R&B and hip-hop star that cannot be missed. The Swedish musician went from singing in choirs to making her own music. So, we spoke to her about what the scene in Stockholm is like and why she doesn’t feel the pressure as a woman in the industry.
Tell us about yourself and your music
I grew up in Stockholm, with Cuban and Russian heritage and I’ve always been around music, mesmerized by it’s magic. I want my music to be a break in daily life. Something to relax and unwind to and receive positive energy from. After taking my time to explore what music really means to me I’m very happy about this journey I’m on.
How have you been coping with the lockdown?
In Sweden we haven't had any kind of lockdown, only recommendations. So, I haven’t been affected as hard as other people have in other countries. I’m very careful and mindful when I’m outside and do my best to follow the restrictions. These are truly special times we’re living in, but I hope something positive can come out of this.
What is the music scene like in Sweden right now?
Even though Sweden is a small country it’s starting pop over here! I think it’s really elevating right now. A lot of young people are making music, more than ever before. Swedish hip hop is one of the biggest genres here if not the biggest. The number of female rappers is growing. I’m really happy about the development in the scene here.
Where are your favourite places to hang out in Stockholm?
Stockholm is a beautiful city surrounded by a lot of nature so to be out in the greens is definitely at the top of the list. I also love hanging out at the Humana second-hand stores. Our local thrift shops in the city where people of all kinds buy lit clothes and listen to good music. I love chit chatting with the staff and buying new cute outfits. When it comes to night-clubs, I love Trädgården -great atmosphere, music and memories are made there. I can't wait to go back there one day. I’m also into food and exploring the world of wine. My favourite place at the moment is Vina located at Södermalm. It's a cosy place with character. Minh Mat is super nice as well. Authentic Vietnamese food made with a lot of love.
As you mentioned, you also have Russian and Cuban heritage; how do these different cultures play into your music and who you are as a person?
There’s so much to explore when it comes to my heritage and the depth feels infinite. As of now, it has affected me in the way that I’m a very open-minded person. I know a lot of people can relate to the feeling of not being really sure how to relate to culture, but I think it's a great opportunity to create our own ways of life. I feel like I can take what I believe is the best parts from my background and apply them to my world. However, when it comes to music, I must say that Cuba has played a big part in my life. I’ve learnt a lot by just being there every summer growing up. Cuba as a country is known for having a rich cultural history when it comes to music.
Tell us about your new track ‘Circulate’?
Circulate fuses R&B and hip hop with jazz-infused elements which creates a sound that’s smooth, sultry and slick. I wrote it together with Chapee and Joe Lefty and it’s the first song I made that was right up my own alley. It was actually made in 2018 so I have been looking forward to this release for a long time. Before it was recorded, I was struggling with finding my sound and when the vibe of Circulate came to me I just knew that I finally found a piece of me as an artist. It’s laidback, fun and energetic at the same time. That’s what I love about it.
Your previous single, ‘Slowzy’, was played on places like BBC 1Xtra and Rinse FM. How did that feel?
I was very happy about that. It was like a receipt that Slowzy has what it takes to be enjoyed internationally.
You are one third of the collective Ladieslovehiphop. Tell us a bit more about the rest of your band?
Well, the other two co-founders are Cc and Namarijana. Both are DJs and music business graduates. We work together with my music project and I’m so happy about that. They’re also the creators behind the Ladieslovehiphop Festival that was organized last year in Stockholm. Besides Cc and Namarijana we always find ways to work and collaborate with our friends and other creatives. Right now, we’re working closely with Sabrina-Anne Sarpong from the platform DSTNGR in London. She’s spreading the word about Ladieslovehiphop over there and represents us. Anyone who is connected to Ladieslovehiphop in one way or another is part of pushing the culture forward.
Why did you decide to go solo on this project?
I’m the only one of us that makes music so it was a natural transition.
What can we do to get more women into music, in particular the hip hop scene?
Support each other and create our own platforms. In 2020 we don’t hate, we uplift and elevate.
Do you ever feel as a woman that you have had to fight harder than a man would in the creative world?
I know that’s the case but since I’m an independent artist who is mostly surrounded by women I don’t feel that pressure all the time.
As part of Ladieslovehiphop you opened for Beyonce and Jay-Z. How did that come about?
We got an email one week before the concert saying that the team had requested for us to be the warm-up DJs. At first, we thought it was a joke but when we realised it wasn't we switched to work mode and didn't turn it off until after our set. It’s still a blur and definitely one of my favourite weeks as of yet.
Are the couple as amazing as they are in our dreams?
Oh yes they are, we didn’t meet them personally but being around their huge workforce and experiencing them performing together is just an amazing thing.
What have been the high and low points of your career so far?
The highs are the experiences, the growing and learning. Doing something that I love and having fun. The low is that Sweden's cultural scene is limited when it comes to diversity and it affects me since I’m based here.
What is the best piece of advice you have heard in general?
Find your inner voice and take your time. Release what you create. Once you’ve created something it belongs to the world. Got the last one from Jill Scott after watching Verzuz live on IG with her and Erykah Badu last saturday. It really hit me and the whole session was iconic
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would erase global injustice.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More music, love and vibes. My EP “Slowin It” is dropping later this year.
Check out more about Nápoles on her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.