Ntjam has recently released her new album “The One” and is to perform at the North Sea Jazz Festival this year. When I had the opportunity and honor to pose some questions to Ntjam, she kindly responded. Here you can read what she had to say. I wish this wonderful artist and incredible woman a very successful future; with her talent and strength there is no doubting she will receive the attention and success she so richly deserves.
You were born in Cameroon. What brought you to Europe – why the Netherlands?
My mother married a Dutch man. That is how I ended up living here.
How has your African background influenced your music and who do you consider has inspired you?
My roots are important to me, but most of all is the message I want to get across in my music. My roots can be heard or felt as a breeze throughout my repertoire. I am a crossover soul and jazz artist. I like to mix gospel soul jazz and world.
Regarding my influences, many artists have inspired me. Sade, Stevie Wonder, Badu, Laurryn Hill, Oumou Sangare, Alicia Keys and Lizz Wright.
In your biography it says: “ ..striking creativity in the world of fashion has made her into a style icon.” Have you ever seriously consider a career in fashion? or is it a way of expressing yourself and your music?
As a kid all I knew was that I wanted to be in show-business. I am creative, so who knows…maybe if things would have gone differently, I’d now would be in fashion instead of music but then again, music has always been the thing I loved the most. More than dance, fashion, film and all these other art disciplines I love.
The beautiful thing though is that I can express myself in several ways as an artist. You need fashion to show people who you are and you make video’s for example. I also write my own lyrics and music so my creative thirst is quenched by this fountain called music.
With the mix of soul, jazz, gospel, folk and world music, did you face any/many challenges with regard to “where” your music should be placed? With such boundary-crossing genres, you are impossible to place into one “box”.
Yeah, it’s hard to put me in a box, I guess I have my own little box and that’s fine for me. I’ve always been like that, I need my own artistic spectrum. I’m not a follower and I like to create something that I can truly call my own. That is my biggest talent and strength.
You have used the words, “pre-destined” [fate] and Love – romantic and “greater”. Does faith play an important role in the music you write and choose to record?
My faith is what inspires me, lifts me up and gets me through life. My art is a reflection of my being and the core of that being is my faith in God’s love. I’m fortunate enough to have a platform that I can use to spread peace love serenity and positivity.
With regards to Gospel music you have said “I needed the water”. Could you please expand on this and what it means for you?
Look at it like this, to live, one needs air to breathe, water to drink and food for thought. God is all these things for me. His water gives me life and as a spiritual artist I share my spirit with the world. You can feel my spirit in my music.
Water means life, and life needs to be felt and celebrated if you ask me. I am more than willing to share these gifts I have been given. It would feel selfish of me to keep the water to myself.
What made you decide to release your music under your own Label? This is not something for the faint hearted. Were you dissatisfied with the deals you were offered or was it more a decision based on vision?
I get this question a lot. I don’t really know to be honest…my independent journey is partially a mistery or fate and partially a necessity. I’m not the kind of person that sits around and waits for people to help me. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth if you know what I mean. As long as I don’t feel I have the right peoplewith me, I will make sure I find a way. That often means doing it yourself, I’m a survivor in this crazy business.
This state of mind has brought to where I am now, but that does not mean I am not interested in a label or investors. Of course I would love to be signed to a great label that understands me as an artist and that helps me out in the investment department. PR, tour support, licensing, distribution…these things cost money and you need people that know about strategy and have the right contacts. So I‘m always on the lookout for more or bigger partners. I want to grow and evolve as an artist and I realize I can not do it alone.
You have 30 concerts booked in the Netherlands; are you planning any other European or UK concerts?
I have more concerts in Holland than anywhere else in the world. I live here, and have been building a buzz around my artistry for several years now.
For me to play abroad as a small independent artist, means getting invitations or trying to make a tour happen with my management. Like I’ve explained…it’s not like you think of a country and you just go and tour there. You need to get/find financial tour support. And that is just not that easy.
The future of my concert agenda is in God’s hands I guess…I might get some Uk dates next year…I just never really know where the wind will bring me. I‘ve not been bored up to now though.
One of those concerts is at the North Sea Jazz Festival. Tell us what you will be performing and with whom?, Any special guests?
My show at NSJF will be a special one. I have invited my friends to join me on stage. The ones that helped me make my latest album ‘THE ONE’ extra special. The audience will get a proper Ntjam Rosie experience, with a full band. Percussion, backing vocals and special guests. I normally don’t get the chance to perform with such an expended band. I am really looking forward to this performance. I love the NSJF!
If there was one project that you would love to undertake [whether music, fashion..], what would it be?
Too many I could come up with. All I can wish for now is for my music to fly and for me to get ito the next level as an artist. I need serious investors, people that believe in what I do, that can help me to go beyond what I have been able to build up by myself up until now.
Thank you for spreading the word.