South London's own Nadia Rose is a true symbol of what perseverance in the music industry is all about.
Rose’s exceptional lyrical skills and witty ways of making music have always made her special. Some of her earliest tracks, ‘Skwod’ and ‘Station’ are proof of this. When she came onto the scene, she was a welcomed breath of fresh air.
But as music fans we’re not always privy to the challenges that come with being a musician. A career in music is full of ups and downs and Nadia Rose knows all too well about this. In We’ve all heard of numerous artists having troubles with their music labels. While getting signed is often a dream for any up and coming musician, we’ve heard the stories of disputes between labels and artists which have included the likes of TLC and Jackson 5.
After a lengthy row with her label Sony Music Group (Relentless Records), Nadia Rose is officially independent having set up her own new shiny label, Qwerky Entertainment.
Without the shackles of major label, Rose has a new lease of life and she’s determined to do things her way.
With her new track ‘Sugar Zaddy’ being the beginning of this, Clash caught up with Nadia Rose to talks Zaddies, label disputes and her newly independent status.
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How are you coping with this lockdown?
I've had some peaks and troughs. I'm a bit of a homebody anyway. Some days I'm just like, “ah, it's just another day”. But I guess not having the freedom or the choice sometimes is a bit ‘meh’. I do live alone, so it can get a bit lonely sometimes, but I've got a little dog, and my supporters are keeping me entertained online and I’m doing the same for them. So, it’s not too bad.
So, your new track ‘Sugar Zaddy’ is out. It’s quite an empowering song for women, what are you trying to tell your ladies (and men) out there?
Anybody really! I'm all about empowering, especially women, but overall everyone. But the message is there's no harm in us having a bit of fun. Basically men are always bragging about the things that they can get women to do for them and whatever. So this is my take on that. If someone wants to spend some money on me, I say, ‘yeah, let’s make it happen baby’! Why not? Yeah. Just appreciate the designer things in life.
Who's your ultimate Zaddy?
Ooh, my ultimate Zaddy… that's a tricky one. I’m no good at choosing and I don't want to upset anyone!
Choose a few then!
Mmm. Okay. Well, everyone knows Gary Lineker has been one from ages. There’s just something about Gary Lineker, I don’t know what it is! But he definitely gets my Zaddy stamp. Also, the Aquaman dude, Jason Momoa. Oh yeah! Lastly, I'll give it to Denzel [Washington].
This is your first track since you moved to your own label. How constraining was it being with your previous label?
Oh my goodness. It wasn’t pleasant, I'll tell you that. It was like constantly being told the things I was creating wasn't really going to do anything or “can we get something a bit more like…?”, and constantly having that was just really disheartening. That meant I wasn't putting out music because I'm not somebody who's just going to bend over because you want me to. I'm going to present to you what I want and what I like.
And effectively what I was presenting to them was an evolved version of me. The same me that you've had and have given you with some development. They just wanted everything that wasn’t that.
So, there was just a constant conflict, bumping of heads all the time and too many cooks in the kitchen. Too many opinions. It wasn't my favorite thing to be in. I'm a lot about the music first. I understand that labels are corporate and all the industry stuff. But really for me, the music is the core of everything. Having not been able to put that out wasn't nice. But yeah, we’re out now.
When you were first signed, what were your expectations? For many young artists being signed is a dream, but we hear more and more about these things happening for example with Megan Thee Stallion as well. They often don't see it coming. Do you think a part of you never expected this?
Yeah. I don't think I really did because, obviously I know a lot about how people have been screwed over in the past, like from your TLCs, to Prince, MJ to George Michael.
I've done a lot of research, studied music management and the industry at university. So I was clued up about the fu*k ups within the labels. But I took all the relevant steps. I had an entertainment lawyer, I had management, that I thought was good anyway and I understood my contract. I made sure I understood. If I read something, and I don't get it, I'm going to ask questions so I did that and I understood everything and I was down to go into that agreement.
Everybody knows labels have contracts to exploit the artist, it’s never in your favour, but with the agreement, I felt like I could use it to my favour. So I'd got myself into this position already, and now this label should be able to help propel me to the next level. I've done all of this so far. Now I just need this machine to give us the extra push.
So bringing a label on board, surely the job should be pretty easy for them? But it didn’t turn out that way.
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Presumably, it's been a bad situation, but you've probably learnt a lot from the experience. What's your advice for young artists who are considering signing a big deal?
Do you know what? Obviously, there's examples of situations with people like Megan [Thee Stallion] that didn't actually understand their contract and then get done over or end up in some sort of issue. And then there's people like me, for example, I did read my contract and still things happened.
A part of me feels like either way you go, things can happen. It's all about having belief and if you believe a situation works for you and you've understood that situation to a tee, then, there's no harm going for it. But I also believe in this time, here and now, there's a lot we can do without the major labels. I feel like the power is with the people. It's always going to be the people to be fair in my eyes, but more so now than, than ever. The strengths, like social media has, is incredible.
With my situation at the label, when I spoke out on Instagram or on Twitter, it made a difference. When I would just keep things between me and my label and team, it was like things were happening, but they weren't really happening. As soon as I spoke out to the people, everyone got behind what I was saying and supported it.
And next thing I knew I was out of my deal.
Would you say that being independent is the way forward?
Personally, yes. I feel like we're more than capable of doing the things that the labels are capable of. I feel like we're more in touch with what's going on. We’re inside it and actually live, breathe and sleep it. There’s always going to be a slight disconnect with the majors. Like now where I'm at, I believe that we can do action ourselves. Independent is the way.
And what's the process been like setting up Qwerky Entertainment? Has it been difficult? Has it been quite liberating to finally do everything how you want to?
I mean, of course it's been a process, just getting everything tied in and ensuring I've got a good team at the label. But just the fact that I've been doing it has been liberating. My main drive isn't to shove two fingers up at Sony, but that definitely is an extra incentive and does give me that extra push.
What can we expect from the double A-side follow up to ‘Sugar Zaddy’?
You can expect to have your mind blown. It's definitely one of my favourites out of all the songs I’ve made. And if you're into star signs, it’s one for you as well. It's a feel-good track. Good vibes.
What is coming up for you?
My plan from day dot has always been world domination. I want to empower the world. I'm starting off with this double A-side and then hopefully have another single, and then I'll drop a project. Hopefully corona will get off our necks and we can get back out there and do some touring, which is on the cards for next year.
And, just build the empire, Qwerky Entertainment. I've already got my eye on an amazing and incredible producer, Ryder. He produced ‘Sugar Zaddy’ and he's 15 years-old, and he is just insane. Also, my little sister, Tai Chi Rose, we have a song together, I plan to get her under the label as well.
I plan to just keep scouting for quirky against the grain, against the ordinary talent, and take over the world.
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Stay in touch with Nadia Rose HERE.
Words: Nikita Rathod
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