BaggE talks the return of gigs and NME’s House Of Papa: “It’s been overwhelming but exciting”
The North London neo-soul singer will play at the special intimate showcase later this month
NME has partnered with Papa John’s to turn an intimate London music venue into the House Of Papa for one night only. Hosting four of the hottest new UK artists, the gig will usher in the launch of Papa John’s new Fresh Soul range – pizzas so big on feel-good flavours that they make your soul sing.
BaggE headlines a bill including dreamy indie singer Cathy Jain, bedroom rapper and guitarist Finn Askew and Edinburgh singer-songwriter Brooke Combe.
Collaborating with the likes of Dwyer and Henai on recent material, BaggE blends classic soul songwriting with modern, cutting-edge ideas and lyricism. Hinting at new ‘80s-inspired material in the works, BaggE’s music is on the right path to feeling timeless, calling to the past in its musical style but firmly rooted in the pain and pleasure of the present.
Emerging in 2017, she’s since released a steady stream of hype-building material, collaborating with producers from across the genre spectrum to give her music a fluid, boundaryless feel. More recently, a new EP, ‘What About Summer?’, came out in 2020.
With new material on the way and the House Of Papa on September 29, BaggE speaks to NME about writing her first ever campaign track for Papa John’s, the “overwhelming” feeling of stepping back on stage after 18 months away and the new music she’s working on.
Are you excited to get back to performing live after such a long break?
“I’ve played two gigs so far since live music restrictions were lifted, and it’s been overwhelming but exciting at the same time! The first gig I did was a charity showcase for Black Minds Matter and then another at a festival in Brixton. I can get quite anxious before gigging, pre-pandemic I was always nervous before a show but was performing a lot more often, so I was getting used to it. But with not performing and not really being social for two years, it’s made a massive impact. Before my first gig back, I was shitting myself for a whole week! But then after getting on stage and doing it, I was like, ‘Okay, I was doing this very often two years ago, so let me just get back into it.’ In the end it was actually really good and now I can’t wait to do more.”
How would you describe your music to readers who aren’t familiar?
“What a question! I’m a 21-year-old neo-soul singer who sings about her feelings.”
You’ve written a campaign track called ‘Fresh Soul’ for Papa John’s new global ad campaign – how was that experience for you?
“I’m quite good at writing little fast and catchy things when I write my own songs, and so it was a really interesting challenge to use that skill for the campaign track, especially as I’d never written one before. I normally write a chorus first that’s eight bars, and then I go onto the next part, like the verse. For this campaign track, it was a case of writing a catchy little chorus. It was hard to not write about love or heartbreak though, as most of my songs are quite deep. Obviously, the track had to be more on the surface lyrics-wise to suit the campaign, but as an emerging artist kickstarting my career, it was exciting to partner with an international brand and I’m really pleased with how it all turned out.”
Are you currently working on any new material, and what can you tell us about it?
“I’m currently working on two singles that will probably be coming out either later this year or early next, and then I’m planning on putting out an EP next year. I’m trying to get all the material completely perfect because last year I was releasing [new music] every other month. This year I was like, ‘I’m gonna take a break and sort of make sure everything’s perfect for next year and then go again.’”
Has the pandemic affected your creativity in any way?
“I had COVID about three months ago now, and it’s crazy. After having it – and I’ve talked to other friends that are singers and rappers and musicians – you recover, and it’s like you have no desire to make any music. Normally I’m in the studio every day, but I really had no musical motivation for about three months after it. But it’s all started to pick back up now, and I’ve had a couple of sessions which are exciting with really sick producers. The new singles that I’m working on are very ‘80s, but then obviously it’s me singing on it which gives it a modern touch. I feel like I’m always developing, I’ve never really stuck to one vibe.”
And finally, can we expect any surprises at the House Of Papa gig later this month?
“I don’t think I’ll be playing any new music as it’s still under wraps, but I do have a song called ‘Hush’ that most people don’t know about. It’s the first song I ever released and isn’t available on Spotify or anything, so I’m looking forward to people discovering that and getting to play it live. After what’s been a crazy year for us all, I just want everyone to take some time out to enjoy listening to some tunes with good friends over good food.”