Libianca: Chasing A Dream
Thanks to the Internet and the growing influence of social media platforms, there’s so much musical content shared from all over the world, daily. A lot of the time, unfortunately, some don’t merit a second listen, but so often, you come across one that just sticks.
The chorus “I’ve been drinking more alcohol for the past five days, did you check on me?” is one that many are familiar with and that comes from the gifted vocal cords of Cameroonian-American singer Libianca.
She sits with the Guardian Life to discuss her early life in Cameroun, her creative process and the peculiar circumstances that led to her smash hit song, ‘People’.
Tell us about yourself, who is Libianca?
Libianca is a woman who likes her peace, she likes to be a loner (most of the time), she loves to read books, she writes poems, she can be very stubborn and she’s very emotional.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Bamenda, Cameroun. I used to go for holidays between Bamenda and Yaoundé and that’s how I learnt to speak French. I went to primary and secondary school in Cameroun, so, I definitely learned a lot during my time there. Most of the moral values I carry with me today are from my childhood. I was in Cameroun from age four to 13 before moving to Minnesota to live with my parents.
When did you start making music?
I started singing at the age of six, and then, I was writing songs when I went to boarding school. I don’t know what it was about music that drew me in, but I was very drawn, because it helped me regulate my emotions.
Who were your early musical influences?
I used to listen to Grace Decca, Charlotte Dipanda, Lounge Lounge and a good number of other Camerounian artists as well as P-Square (they had me in a choke hold). I also had RnB influences such as Akon, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Beyoncé and Keyshia Cole. These were definitely part of my early influences.
Can you recall your first-ever stage performance?
My first ever performance was actually in church, while I was in boarding school, and I was singing with one girl. We were supposed to sing a hymn and I messed up, but I looked at her like she was the one who messed it up, because I wasn’t going to embarrass myself (laughs), so, I just transferred it to someone else.
At what point did it become clear that you had ‘hit it’?
‘I’m not gonna lie’, once I set my mind to be a musician, I already started seeing myself as a
superstar, but it’s a whole different thing when it actually becomes a reality and you’re like “damn I actually did it”. With my song People it really shocked me.
What was the inspiration behind that song?
It was really just my own experiences. During that time, I quit the job I was working, which was in healthcare sector, and I left, because I felt employees weren’t properly cared for. I left that job with no backup or ways to pay my bills so I decided to sell shawarmas to make ends meet. It was very tough and my mental health wasn’t doing well at all and I was having a very low period and that’s where people came from. I poured my whole heart into that song.
Can you describe your creative process to us?
First, I prefer to write without drums usually, so, if I’m writing to an instrumental song, they would have to remove the drums. I can write a lot of songs to just piano or just guitar, so, I start off with melodies and then put lyrics to the melodies because melodies come easy to me, however, sometimes lyrics take a little bit longer. That’s usually how I do it and within 30 minutes, I have my verse, my pre-hook, and my hook which is over 60 per cent of the song done and I’ll just go record it and finish up the little bits later.
What’s the goal while making music?
I go into the studio with one goal, which is for the song I’m about to create to be my favorite song and I do this every time. I’m always trying to outdo my past self and that’s how I measure growth.
Are there any artistes you’re looking forward to working with?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with most of the producers that I admire, but I would love to
get in the studio with Dj Spinall. Artiste-wise, I love Yebba, Adele and Sza — these three, before I leave this earth, I intend to have at least two songs with each of them. I also love Tems, Rema, Ladipoe and Crayon.
Are you working on anything now?
Of course! After ‘People’, I have to step things up this year. I’m working on an EP and I’m getting more songs done so I have a lot of options for my next single. I’ve been going into the studio like twice a day and working with so many people and a lot of great songs are coming from that.
What can fans expect from Libianca in the near future?
They can expect very good music. Not just melodies, but music that’ll make you think deeply about yourself and love yourself. The message is soft life and self-appreciation, that’s what I’m promoting.