Bina, an alternative musician raised in South London, unites romantic feelings of compelling melodies with neo-soul and RnB jazz extensions. Now that her new debut EP This Is Not A Film is out, she is ready to share her passion for the power of music. As an emerging artist, she has begun to refine her craft and establish herself as an artist to watch, having collaborated with an array of tastemakers in the music and the fashion scene, such as Boiler Room, Dr Martens and London Fashion Week.
She views her music as a very therapeutic medium, a sort of journalistic vision into the chronicles of her life, as she describes herself, she's “a dark-skinned babe with too many feelings.” Taking her thought-provoking rhythms to connect and heal many souls around the world, we spoke to Bina about navigating the industry and her therapeutic outlook on producing her music.
You have a very therapeutic outlook on producing the music you make. You want your sincere lyricism and neo-soul beats to support people in their healing processes and find some sort of solace within your mellow harmonies. How is it to sing about such vulnerable experiences in your life?
It is freeing. Making music is probably one of a few healthy coping mechanisms I have when it comes to dealing with my feelings. And the healing I get from that process is something I want to share with everybody.
Your sound is a remarkable genre-bending oasis of alternative R&B, soul, and jazz. Have you always been attracted to these genres and why?
Yes! A lot of it is to do with what I grew up listening to: my mother played Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse and Kenny G religiously when I was younger. So this music was the foundation of my childhood, there’s nostalgia there, but I also love how experimental these genres can be – especially jazz.
Congratulations on the release of your new EP This Is Not A Film, featuring four melodic masterpieces. The track titled Just a Sec is breath-taking. It fuses alternative, also somewhat classical beats with dreamy undertones. Have you always been attracted to the art of music-making and what led you to this course of life?
Thank you! Yes, I’ve always been attracted to the idea of making music. My dad used to record music at home so I think he inspired me. I recorded my whole EP in my bedroom (except for one song) so I suppose it’s come full circle. My parents initially wanted me to do medicine – for African parents, that’s quite a common aspiration (laughs). But once they saw that I was serious about doing this music thing properly – once they saw what music meant to me – they began to support me fully.
Correct me if I’m wrong but you are in the ‘early stages’ of your music career. How has it been navigating the industry for you?
I’ve been releasing music for just over two and a half years. It’s been a learning experience for me: a process of trusting that everything will make sense when it’s supposed to. Of learning to trust and to be ok with not knowing much as long as it comes with the intention to learn more about the world I’m stepping further into. It’s been an amazing ride thus far.
You are based in South London, the music there is constantly evolving. How have you found your community within the scene there?
The music scene in South London is incredibly diverse! There are so many great artists from South London – Enny, Greentea Peng, Ego, Ella May (just to name a few) – and to be part of a community that supports each other so much is beautiful. The area is so quiet as far as creative spaces and opportunities are concerned, us South people often find ourselves trekking to the other side of London for gigs, studio, meetings and so on but it’s part of the process and I enjoy it. In my experience, South London musicians are very supportive of each other, but we branch out too!
You have said that you were raised in foster care. What awareness has this given you in a professional and personal light?
I think going from living with my six siblings to being the only child in my foster home made me a lot more introspective than I was before. I think I’ve always enjoyed my own company, but actually being the only child for a long period of time gave me time and space to be creative and also think a lot more. I also lived primarily with Caribbean families and, coming from an African family, this obviously expanded my experience of different Black cultures. My upbringing has definitely shaped me, it’s something to be grateful for.
You recently learnt how to play the guitar, both electric and acoustic, by your friends via Facetime during the lockdown. Now that’s what I call dedication. How has this medium influenced your voice as a musician today? Are there any other instruments you hope to experiment with one day?
(Laughs) I have always wanted to learn guitar and, of course, I’m still learning. Big up to Joel though, he's a real G who's been very patient when teaching me. Anyway, I love the versatility guitar brings to my songwriting – it inspires a wider range of different melodies and concepts, compared to when I’m writing to beats. I also like the way guitar blends with my tone of voice, if that makes sense?
You mention how tracks like Boundaries resemble late-night phone calls or intimate pillow talks. You explore the inner conflicts you have with yourself. For example, in your song Prisoner, you sing about how “your inner thoughts keep you frozen like a cartoon,” meaning that you are a prisoner of your own mind in a sense. How has music helped (and is still helping) you overcome these fears and create healthy coping mechanisms?
All of my songs bookmark a significant feeling or chapter in my life. I think making and listening to music is soothing and journalistic to me. I sing or put my headphones on whenever I’m in my feelings or I feel anxious. Sometimes, listening to/making music takes me deeper into whatever I’m feeling so I can work my way through it. That helps me get over the fear of my feelings. Other times, I listen to music to escape my feelings if I’m not ready to tackle them. I do think your mind really is your sharpest tool if you can get to a place where you stop fighting it and instead embrace its random detours and nose dives.
Your music paints an authentic picture but you also delve into the world of fashion and photoshoots. What are the classifications when it comes to what shoot you say yes to? What narrative do they have to tell in correlation with your music?
I love modelling and painting – on top of the music. I like to work with photographers who capture melanin well – I’m a dark-skinned young woman, so that’s important! I love photography which tells a story, that’s where my obsession with photography stems from. Something about film makes the shots look more cinematic, like some sort of time capsule. Photographers with whom I can collaborate on concepts, or who come up with concepts to which I can connect, always excite me.
Do you have any projects or any other creative endeavours planned for the future?
Now that This Is Not A Film is out, I’m really excited to collaborate with more artists and continue to grow creatively. I would like to do more modelling gigs and continue to blend my visual art with my music. I’m interested to see where my emotions and life experiences will take me next. Everybody should definitely stay tuned!