The Floor had the pleasure of virtually catching up with the multifaceted BINA. We talk about her recent releases: Boundaries and Dark Cloud (with accompanying self-directed visuals. She also generously opens up about her musical upbringing and inspirations, her spiritual connect to her art, as well as future aspirations for her musical journey.
"I'm just trying to balance the new amount of time I have now that work is back on," BINA remarks on the phone, before she resumes getting ready to leave her house for work. Like most of us, the singer/songwriter found her self with quite a bit of time on her hands when lockdown was mandated and she chose to spend hers "being creative," in quite a number of ways. "I wrote a lot of music, a lot of songs. I practiced guitar because I recently started playing. I was also painting and drawing and stuff because I like visual arts as much as music. And then I directed a music video for my song that came out during the beginning of lockdown called Boundaries."
Is Dark Cloud going to have the same RnB, Soul and Jazz influences too?
"Yeah it's influenced by those things but I would say that it is a bit more alternative in its sound. I would not say it is solidly within the boundaries of RnB. I’m really excited for people to hear it and see how they would resonate with the song and maybe where they would place it."
That’s interesting. I feel like a lot of artists are keen on making it clear what genre their music fits in or denying genres altogether; it's interesting to hear you give listeners that sort of freedom to categorize your music.
"Yeah I really think music is a universal language so obviously people are going to interpret it in different ways. But overall, I’m aware that my influences are Jazz and r&b and a bit of hip hop as well in terms of like production anyway. But I would be interested to see what people have to say- I feel like genres can be a bit restrictive but I don't necessarily think they are a bad thing.
Although it is present in her music, BINA tells me that she did not listen to a lot of Jazz when she was younger- unless you generously slip Kenny G into that category. Growing up, it was Neo-Soul that graced her household owing to her mum’s taste in music. She mentions that the sounds of Amy Winehouse as well as her biggest inspiration: Erykah Badu were a household staple. It's only when she got older when she added the likes of Ella Fitzegarld and Billie Holiday into her musical rotation.
What about Jazz musicians in the UK? I find the scene particularly interesting because it feels old and up and coming at the same time.
I listen to a lot of UK artists but I wouldn't say that any of them are solidly within the Jazz category because the thing I find really interesting about artists from the UK, especially black artists, is they really cross different boundaries with music. In terms of what would count as UK Jazz I suppose I listen to Amy Winehouse. I wouldn't call the rest Jazz although they are very Jazz influenced. I listen to Ego Ella May a lot, IMDDB as well who is like jazz meets trap meets RnB meets so many different things. It's interesting to see how the genres intersect.
And I guess not being purely in the Jazz category lets artists carve out their own lane and incorporate more of themselves in their music.
Exactly, I really feel like I have been able to create my own sound for myself and I continue to do so, partly down to the fact that I listen to very genre bending music anyway. Also, listening to purely Neo-Soul or Jazz growing up, made me understand the foundations of what it is to make music and I can take it from there.
What got you into making music?
My dad is quite musical, he never did music as a career but he was always making music at home and so I feel like I got my creative side from him. And when I got into my teens I started taking it seriously because I found it to be an outlet for a lot of the things that were going on in my life and how I was feeling about them. I grew up in foster care as well, so a lot about music has been therapeutic to me. So that’s how I started off writing but I’d always been interested in making music from very young. I didn't really get into production until maybe the past year and a half. When I made my EP (Humble Abode) I was messing about with soundscapes but then when I started playing the guitar, I also started playing with production. That’s as recent as like six months ago. But in terms of how long I’ve been doing music properly, it's been about two years.
What do you mean by properly?
So I first released something two years ago, but I had been recording from home like a year before that. And the first time I was like ‘cool, I’m doing this,’ was when I put out Summer Breeze, in like the summer of 2018.
Is that distinction significant for you? Is that when you wore the title musician, once you put something out?
I think I started calling myself a musician once I started performing which was a little bit before that, but I only started going by BINA about two years ago. When I decided I was going to put out music, that's when I was like, cool I'm BINA now. So that started around that time of Summer Breeze. I suppose you could say that's when I felt I could call myself a musician, when I actually had music out.
What to do you envision for the future of your music career?
I'm trying to make my music reach so many different parts of the world, but first and foremost I'm trying to use music as a healing process for myself and other people. It's so heartwarming to hear when people message me randomly telling me that they listened to my music when they were going through something and that "it really helped me through some shit," you know. I'm trying to make people feel stuff when they listen to my music. And also just like being able to tour with artists that I really love and admire and do headline shows and stuff like that. Just be able to share my art with people all over the world.
That's really cool, and really important. You sound very grounded.
Yeah, I definitely believe what I'm doing is cool but I also believe that it doesn't just come from me. I really feel like there is something greater at work.
Can you tell me more about that?
Yeah, so I feel like my gift was given to me by God, the Universe or whatever you want to call it but like something has been given to me to use as a tool for myself and for other people. I feel like my gift is to use my music to make people feel fulfilled or uplifted or help them escape some shit.
Is there anything you dread about growing as an artist?
Mh, I haven't really thought about that.
Yeah, maybe let me rephrase the question so it's less pessimistic.
It's not even that it's pessimistic but it just hasn't come to mind. Like I can't even conceive of anything that I'm scared of because I haven't gotten to that point yet. But I'm just trying to build momentum at this moment in time so I'm not really scared of anything so much as I'm just trying to focus on just moving forward.
I find that a lot of artists that think of their craft as a form of catharsis tend to collaborate with people close to them?
No, I feel like my scope of collaboration is quite wide. For instance the producer for Dark Cloud is in America and I actually really like collaborating with people from all over the world. And I think sometimes when I say my music is cathartic people think that it's just a small small thing I'm only trying to do for me, but like I still enjoy making it to show to other people. I just think the roots of where it started was for me to use as an outlet, and I still use it that way, but I collaborate with different people. In London, outside of London, in the UK, outside of the UK.
Do you have dream collaborations?
Yes I would love to collaborate with Erykah Badu. There's a couple of UK artists like Ego Ella May, Lianne La Havas. A tune with Kendrick would bang. And a few more.