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Meet our BOTW: Ronika

It’s taken a few years for Ronika to get her self-produced, self-released debut album out there, but at last she has – and it’s awesome. As the musician herself puts it, Selectadisc peddles a broad, pop aesthetic but also adds underground genres into the mix. Many of the songs are rooted in her upbringing in Nottingham; ‘born and bred’, she tells us. But while she embraces her upbringing on occasion (see album title), she’s also disillusioned (see ‘In The City’). We gave Ron a call to ask her about this ambivalence, plus Joe Buddha, record shops and Nile Rodgers.

Planet Notion: You tweeted about the Lykke Li, Kelis and Little Dragon gig for the Mercury Prize last night. How was that?

R: That was amazing, as you can imagine. Yeah, a friend just texted me last minute saying she had guest-list, and yeah, all my dreams had come true. They were all amazing. It was brilliant. Like, three such incredible, strong female artists.

PN: And all so different.

R: Yeah, I know. And it was a really intimate gig.

PN: Moving on to your own music, how does it feel to finally get your album out there?

R: It feels like a slow, painful birth. It also feels kind of uplifting actually. I’m really happy it’s finally done, because I’d been putting out things steadily for a while now, so to bring it all together into what I think is a nice, cohesive piece of work… I’m super happy and thrilled.

PN: How does it differ – if it does – from how you initially thought it might sound?

R: It’s pretty much the same actually because I’ve done it all independently. It’s going out on my label, too. So really there’s only myself to blame [laughs] if it’s not how I want it to be. It’s all my own vision and it’s how I wanted it to sound and everything.

PN: There’s an old school disco vibe on the record, which is very ‘of the moment’. Your PR described it as a bit like Tom Tom Club. Would you agree?

R: Yeah, Tom Tom Club were definitely one of the influences on the album, for sure. I love them. It’s greatly inspired by disco, boogie, electro-soul and freestyle: a lot of 80s club music. And there are a lot of feel good vibes. It is very of the now, but I did start putting out disco music back in 2010, so it’s a shame it kind of took me so long to get this stuff out. But at least people are feeling disco sort of more in the mainstream now.

PN: What do you make of this whole Nile Rodgers revival?

R: Brilliant, I mean I’m a huge fan of his music. He’s a genius. I was lucky enough be in a lecture by him at the Red Bull Music Academy in Madrid in 2011. And yeah, it was pretty special. On the application form, you get to say if you could have three people there to lecture, like, you know, dream scenario, and I put down Nile Rodgers as one of them. And then, yeah, there he was. It was incredible. The lecture was him for a couple of hours talking about his life’s work. And just yeah, he’s such an inspiration for me. I’m thrilled that he’s having a renaissance, you know, and everyone’s finally realizing all the work he was behind.

PN: You’ve worked with some co-producers on this album. One of them is Joe Buddha – tell me about working with him.

R: So, Joe Buddha is a real UK hip hop pioneer. He’s from Nottingham as well. That’s the connection, how we met. He produced some real classic albums, for example by Klashnekoff in UK hip hop. I’d always known his production work and he always used to promote a lot of hip hop gigs, like when I was a teenager. As well as putting on UK stuff, he’d bring over big American names to Nottingham, so it was amazing. I was lucky to have that going on in my hometown.

We met and Joe Buddha, he’s a real crate-digger. He’s a musical aficionado. He knows everything; he’s just a fountain of knowledge and real inspiring to be around. So, we just completely hit it off. We had a lot of the same influences and yeah, he’s amazing. He’s so talented.

PN: Talking about crate-digging, you named this record after the record shop Selectadisc…

R: Yeah, Selectadisc was named after a beloved Nottingham record shop that closed down in 2009, so I sort of wanted to name the album after the record shop that helped to shape me musically, as I was yeah, growing up and getting into music, because I spent a lot of time digging around there for records. And hopefully my album has that kind of eclectic crate-digger vibe to it, where every song, you know, you can imagine in a different section of the record shop. It’s a sort of feel-good pop album, I think.

PN: My favourite track on the album is ‘In The City’. Is that about Nottingham?

R: Yeah, that’s sort of about that frustration you have probably with your own town and stuff. Yeah, how you’re tired of being somewhere and you kind of need friends to bring a place to life, you know. I guess if you live in a place for too long, it’s a very love-hate relationship. You kind of love it, but you want to escape at the same time. It’s kind of an escapist track, that one.

–Huw Oliver


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