Princess Erika, passion for reggae – RFI Musique

Princess Erica, 2022.

© Thomas Baltes

Everyone remembers Princess Erica’s first hit, So much blah blah, far from being a “one hit wonder”, the Cameroonian prince has since appeared in film, theater and television and released five albums. The sixth has just arrived, I am not a saint, with original music performed by musicians solid against the current offering. Over a cup of tea, Erika talks about her current events and explains why it feels good to talk bad about your enemies in a song.

RFI Musique: How did this sixth album, the first in 11 years, come about?
Princess Erica : It’s a new team working with me.
In 1995, Didier Sustrak, whom I knew at Polydor, called me to win a title together. I get on the train, arrive somewhere thirsty, meet his manager, Ivanna Zoia, and his producer, Louis Ville. We’re looking for the right tone and Louis understands, he finds the right microphone.
He tells me when I start reading “No, read normally.” In short, I feel that he feels me. Ivanna is also brilliant. I call him the next morning and tell him I want to work with him. And Louis offers me. I was working with Dubmatix, he sent me his works on two chords viz cheap. Me, I compose, play guitar and piano, try to cover my melody. We test, I send Louis a vocal guide and a guitar I am not a saint, he gives me a soundtrack. I tell him I want a Geoffrey Oryema guitar. beats à la Gorillaz and it gets the votes it needs. It’s nice and subtle and I like it. I released singles, but no album was released for a long time. I was in a project with Chris and a beatmaker. Tyrone Downie had worked on the titles, but the producer pissed me off, so we stopped everything. My job is to write songs, I work with guitar, keyboard and Garage Band (music creation software, editor’s note). So we started working on songs with Louis. We found a co-producer, Laurent Balandras, grants, a studio, we moved forward quietly. We sent the album to EPM, Anne Sylvestre’s label, the guy said he was listening at 10 in the morning, at 2 p.m. “I sign”.

The sounds range from reggae through soul to blues…
Louis found a personality in every song. I literally call it the French variety. And I who gave the thread, my texts, my flow, my way of saying. for Nattymy favorite song is about the girl who made me lose a lot of time when I started making the album with Chris, Louis tells me “funky but reggae”. I loved working that way, we never duplicated each other, but there was a unity of sound.

It opens with an album African Ladiesthe first verses of which are in English…
I wanted to tell my story. At the beginning of my career, I used to sing in English. We were going to London. I started with Black Heart Girls with my sister and Patricia Ndiaye, we read African Ladies. I was 16 years old, we were fascinated by Africa, we had never been there. It was a fantasy, and I wanted to give the answer thirty years from now. What happened ? What is left of those years? Patricia went to Africa. I stayed, but we made the same observations. I recently returned to Cameroon to bury my father. I saw that the cities were hell, but the villages were very united. People go back to the countryside, to Dakar and Yaounde, it’s crowded, it’s dirty, there are beggars everywhere, it’s the square of miracles and it’s on top of the ghetto, we see super safe villas, it’s crazy. Africa is said to be corrupt, but it is mostly in the hands of Chinese and no longer French big companies. I want to be this small resilient village.

Between Natty and You gave me troubleyou look so angry…
These are petty personal vendettas. I can write songs. So when I’m upset, I make one. The guy in the second song came to get me for something, he didn’t get what he expected and he got mad at me for it. He will recognize himself. I don’t think about it anymore, once it’s over, and I don’t get cancer or ulcers like that. I’m not as flexible as I thought. I’m actually not very pretty! (laughs)

So much blah blah used as an advertising jingle, sorry?
On the contrary, I am very happy that it is advertising, that it gives me the opportunity to have cash, to implement my projects. This song has a life of its own, and so do I. You should be grateful. It’s someone else’s problem to reduce it to. I know I didn’t just do it, and I thank God. It’s important for me to be happy and aware of what I’m doing. People are later. I know I’ve made six albums, there’s stuff in it, it’s there. I thank my inspiration for creating this day So much blah blah In 1988 at the age of 62 with the recently departed Drummie Zeb. I am healthy and happy. I have faith and always want to “tube”, don’t lie. Artists always want to make something that will last.

Princess Erica I am not a saint (EPM/Universal) 2022
In concert at Nouvelle Ève (Paris), Tuesday, February 7, 2023.

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