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B-ahwe Every opportunity is ours

Brightening up what seem like dark and dreary times, B-ahwe takes us through the looking glass to a dream world filled with angelic vocals and ambient soundscapes.

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B-ahwe. Photo by Ellie Wildman.

Following the release of her debut EP Nuance, we caught up (virtually, of course) to talk all things life, music and how she's adapting to this new time of socially distanced gigs.

How have these past few months been treating you?

It's definitely been hard to adapt to. I had a trip to Vietnam planned which was, luckily, just before all the flights were stopped and we locked down. The plan after that was always for me to move back home for a bit, so here I am!

The hardest part is going from living independently to feeling like a teenager again. But I know a lot of people are in the same position. It's just something we have to get on with. It's not been all boring. I've been doing a lot of cheesy exercise videos - don't laugh! Also, I've been busy with the EP release and playing a couple of distanced gigs.

You played the virtual Manchester Jazz Festival in May, which must have been an unusual experience.

Yeah, I played the festival with Yaatri, a Leeds-based jazz project I'm part of. Playing a gig in this way was bizarre, just so far out of the ordinary.

It was actually quite hard to stay serious in the situation. I was facing the guitarist, a really good friend of mine, for my vocal cues, but behind him was a wall covered in flat screens showing the other musicians. It's something that none of us are used to, but it was a great opportunity to play together after so long. Maybe this will become the new normal.

What's the B-ahwe story?

B-ahwe is inspired by those that have influenced me most - Hiatus Kaiyote, Portishead, Fatima, etc. The whole thing actually first started as a production project. After graduating from Leeds College of Music I just started playing all over and working on my writing and performing by playing alongside Lausse The Cat. It all just went from there.

Has music always been part of the plan?

Growing up, I was always surrounded by music. Being from such a big family the house was a hotpot of different genres. Even though music was always present, it wasn't a career path that was particularly encouraged. The expected was to become a teacher or a doctor, something stable and 'normal'.

A lot of people find it hard to wrap their heads around a career in music, because it's not something you can hold in your hand. Especially now everything is virtual, you are just releasing sounds into the world. Those more traditionally inclined don't always understand it. But really what makes a career more 'real' than another? If you are passionate about it, go for it.

You've just released your debut EP Nuance. Tell us a bit about it.

Nuance was created out of a pretty difficult time. I wrote the EP during months of mental and physical entrapment due to illness. It tells the story of a journey through confrontation and acceptance to reclaim a sense of self-worth.

It's a real mix of jazz, soul and hip-hop, bringing together all of my influences to create the ambient and ethereal B-ahwe dream world. Nuance is an exploration of the mental prisons we create for ourselves, which alter our perspectives and stop us from realising that every opportunity is ours.

You were awarded the Do It Differently Fund by Help Musicians this month. How important is this to you?

This was such an honour to receive! To get this sense of recognition from such a well-established body is amazing. The whole time I was doing the application I was thinking, 'there's no way I'll get this' So the surprise was just the best feeling in the world.

The value of funding like this is massive. A lot of my support comes from friends collaborating or doing some work to help out. Being able to give them something in return for their hard work is really appreciated. It also helps a lot with recording my next EP.

What's next?

Last year was a crazy summer of touring the festival scene and playing gigs all over the country. This year will be nowhere near exciting.

It's hard to look to the future at the moment, though hopefully in the coming months things will ease and there'll be the chance to meet with people to record. After so much time, the thought of going out into the world feels very strange. It's like being a child again and having to learn how to act.

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