ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW WITH RAQUEL
When one sits down and is in the mood to hear a beautiful love song, the first songs that pop into the mind are songs by the lovely Raquel. Songs such as “Sweetio” and “Lovie Dovie” are timeless songs which reflect love in various forms. Raquel is affectionately known as the “queen of love songs” in Ghana, but her music is internationally recognized. Raquel is a solid artist, and she has collaborated with many of Ghana's other top artists, including Sarkodie, Okyeame Kwame, Trigmatic, and others. Raquel's music is unique in the sense that she sings about the emotions that all people are capable of feeling. Raquel is currently working on the release of her first album and has many things in store for the year 2014 and beyond. Please read the following interview I conducted with Raquel:
1. Tell us a little bit about your background- where did you grow up and go to school, how many siblings do you have?
I grew up in West London with my Mum and three siblings…I have two brothers and one sister and I'm the last but one. I actually attended many schools because we moved houses a few times…but my favourite schools were Hogarth Primary School based in Chiswick, and West Thames College.
2. How did music influence your childhood?
We had a lot of domestic issues in our home, so music was a way of survival for us…a place of joy, a place to escape emotionally and mentally, and even spiritually. My Mum and Dad had the LP player on 24/7. Music was food and water for us when money was down. We were so full and satisfied as long as music was blasting through the speakers in our home. It influenced every aspect of my childhood.
3. What is the importance of music in society, as a whole?
I think music is absolutely honest, it never lies…it addresses all issues that the average person is too scared to talk about. Society is filled with so much politics, gender issues, spiritual issues, class issues but at the end of the day music is the only element in life that EVERYONE is so cool with. Music is society's best friend…you can always count on it.
4. Who were your favorite musicians when you were growing up?
I never really had or have a favourite musician because…I'm an all-rounder when it comes to that but I know Brandy was an artist I listened to EVERYDAY…and Shirley Brown, Aaliyah, Monica and Mary J, Faith Evans you know…SWV and all. I also remember my Mum and Dad constantly playing Reggae and Wulomie and hi-life and then my older brother too was a hip hop lover, which got me also addicted to hip hop at a tender age.
5. Who are your favorite musicians now?
I just try and update myself with what's new around the world and in the industry , that's all, and I have specific songs that I really like…and of course I still listen to old school jams.
6. Which Ghanaian musician would you like to work with and why?
I would love to work with the legends. I can't name them cause I would work with them all if I could, lol. I grew up listening to Pat Thomas, Kojo Antwi, Daddy Lumba, Amakye Dede, AB Crentsil and more…
7. One collaboration you are widely known for is your collaboration with Sarkodie in “Sweetio”. How was that song created and how was Sarkodie chosen to collaborate with?
Sweetio was a song I had worked on; for one of my birthdays and after I composed it there was no one better than Sark that I knew could deliver on it without a doubt. We had worked on some underground material some years before recording the Sweetio record so we already had that chemistry.
8. How does technology impact your music?
Well let's just say that things are not as they used to be when the best way to own a record was to walk into HMV or any music store and have a physical copy of a record…NOW it's the 21st Century so everybody wants to download and I mean almost EVERYBODY. And we have great phones and all kinds of gadgets that can load music up for you within seconds. All you have to do is type an artist's name or song title and BAM you have it, lol. So I guess it's an easier and faster way of pushing the music out there. It's not always helpful though because of copyright issues and all so…I guess it's just a matter of getting your music up on to the right sites.
9. What year did you officially enter the market as a musician?
10. Since entering the music scene, what's the most important thing you have learned?
That you have to stay humble no matter what because a lot of unexpected things are going to hit you like a ton of bricks and that can make you lose focus and remain untrue to your art.
11. Do you consider yourself a UK artist or a Ghanaian artist?
Both…because my music has a blend of everything
12. The Ghana market is flooded with male musicians; there are not that many female musicians. What do you offer to the music scene that is different from the other female artists?
I just do me!!! … I'm something out of this world. Absolute bonkers.
13. When was the first time you were nominated for a Ghana Music Award?
Some few years ago with my first single 'Odo' .
14. The media is always getting on you for dressing too provocative. How would you respond to the media that seems to pay more attention to your dressing than your singing?
Lol! You have ONE problem then all of a sudden everything you do is talked about. I just don't pay no mind to some things cause everything I do is going be talked about anyway and don't get me wrong there are some media houses that like to push the positive things about me to the world and unfortunately we have those that will always condemn you once you slip. I'm not worried though because sooner or later they WILL pay A LOT more attention to my music whether they have or haven't already. For me the focus is always and will always be on my Art .
15. How many albums have you released?
I'm about to release my Debut Album, called @25
16. Out of all of the songs you have released, which one is your favorite?
I love the new one that's out now, ' I Won't Cry'…it really shows the serious side of me, a part of me that the fans are yet to experience and this song is the introduction to that side of me. I also have a few more favorites on the album but I can't tell you about that just yet, lol .
17. Tell me a bit about your hit song “Lovi Dovi”.What influenced you to write that song and how did you come up with the concept for the video?
Haha!!! I got the beat from Teey-Mix of Nigeria and it just had to be a Lovi Dovi Song… I just heard the beat and I was all in a hi-life kind of loving mood and so 'I want to do the Lovi Dovi' just came out. When Raquel and Pascal are in the same room you're going to witness some crazy, artistic stuff, lol, we just threw ideas at each other and it worked
18. What were you doing and where were you the first time you heard your song on the radio?
Wow! I think it was Jeremy Van-Garshong that played my song first and I was actually being interviewed by her at the same time and oh my! Was that an experience…it just felt strange hearing myself ,lol, but I was ecstatic.
19. Before you give a live performance, what backstage rituals do you do to calm your nerves?
I try to keep as normal as possible because the moment you try and do something different it all goes wrong so I just try and stay calm but act normal.
20. You have done collaborations with Sarkodie and Okyeame Kwame and others. Which collaboration was the most challenging?
Lol! Trust me when I say that there is a story to tell for every collaboration that I have done and even with my own solo projects, so I don't really think there was ever one specific time where things went a little smoother than the other…they were all so challenging and THAT should tell you that God has a different plan for everything and you know it's all going to fall in place at the end.
21. How did you choose the name Raquel as your artist name?
My birth name is Raquel Patience Naa Ayorkor Ammah so I decided to choose my first name, my real name…so you could get the best, and the first, and the real me.
22. Describe the way that you write your songs—what factors into your music writing process?
It depends…on what I'm writing about, my environment/atmosphere, my mood and whether I have a beat already or not…I think maybe I should take you around with me sometime so you can see how it really works, the different and many ways I handle writing, recording and production sessions etc. You would love it.
(Author note: Yes, I would love to experience a day with Raquel).
23. What inspires your music writing?
My life, the universe and things that we experience in general in our minds and what not .
24. You tend to sing in both English and Twi. How important is the language when composing a song and how do you determine which language a song will be sung in?
I've done a few songs in Ga, Twi, English, and Spanish before, hehe…I just hear a beat or write a song and say 'HEY' there HAS to be another dialect in there because it just sounds like that but…the English is what I'm more used to and the Ga and Twi are my mother tongues so the three always remain a priority in my work still.
25. If you could look back and give one piece of advice to yourself, like5 years ago, what would you say?
I would keep things the same. I wouldn't change any of my doings. I'm happy with who I am now so I would not advise myself differently.
26. What are your goals for the upcoming year?
More videos, more music, more shows, Charity work, travelling the world and more…
27. If you were not making music, what do you think you would be doing in your life?
I would probably be another being that doesn't even exist as of now lol! Or a different human that exists in another body with the name of Frafel hhaha!!! Music IS a MUST for me.
Fun Facts about Raquel
Favourite TV show: Scandal
Favourite song: I Won't Cry
Left handed or right handed: Right
Tell us something most people don't know about you: I have an extreme street and hip hop alter ego Favourite food: Banku and Okro stew OR Jollof OR any pasta dish
Last time you cried: The 'I Won't Cry' Video shoot
Craziest thing a fan has ever done: Fainted
Find Raquel's Music here: