Editors’ Notes “I’ve definitely felt like I’ve been accepting myself more wholly,” London jazz artist Nubya Garcia tells Apple Music. “There’s that everyday feeling that you get as a Black woman that sometimes people don’t fully see you,” she says. “I haven’t always been able to be myself because I’ve been worried about how people will respond to me. But now I feel more empowered—there’s been a really positive movement within myself towards accepting who I am.”

That interior sense of movement sets the foundation for SOURCE, her full-length debut and follow-up to the 2018 EP When We Are, co-produced by Kwes and featuring Joe Armon-Jones on keys, Daniel Casimir on bass, and Sam Jones on drums. The album is a rich Afro-diasporic affair, building on her jazz training, colored by explorations into cumbia, calypso, dub, and soul. “I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I want to know what feeds me, what feeds us personally and collectively,” she says. “What it is we each draw strength from.”

There are the familial memories and personal histories on “The Message Continues” and “Before Us: In Demerara & Caura,” and collective visions of sisterhood on the lovers rock reggae-inspired “Stand With Each Other.” The album’s overall sentiments, Garcia says, are perhaps best captured by its closer, “Boundless Beings.” A soothsayer’s lullaby, it offers a meditation on finding beauty in Blackness, dreaming of modes of being that exist outside of Western concepts of time and materiality and beyond traditional value systems. As the lyrics, written by Chicagoan vocalist Akenya, offer: “Enter my dimension/Show me a deep ecstasy/We’re boundless beings/We are free.” Join Garcia for her own track-by-track guide to the album.

Pace
“I wrote this tune during a very busy period—I was saying yes to so much and putting myself out there as much as possible. Then I started to ask myself how it would be possible to keep going at that pace. I wrote this as a tune to bop down the road to—it’s got a driving bassline that makes me feel like I’m running around London. In metropolitan cities in particular, there’s a constant need to be ‘doing’—this tune is a reminder that we don’t need to strive for this breakneck speed of living. Capitalism has done this to us. Life isn’t forever and people aren’t going to be around forever. I don’t want to regret that I didn’t spend enough time with the people that matter to me.”

The Message Continues
“This track is about talking to your community, and especially our elders. When they’re gone it's harder to hold on to knowledge and pass it on. I’ve been speaking to my parents to find more of the stories of my heritage that I don’t know. My dad sent me lots of photos of himself as a child, my grandparents at my age, and of my great grandparents. It's about that sense of connection and feeling like you’re from somewhere—especially with everything that’s been happening [in the news], it's important to find out more about those places I have connections to help me feel more grounded.”

Source (feat. Ms Maurice, Cassie Kinoshi & Richie Seivwright)
“I wrote this a long time ago, but this dub rework hits you in a deeper place in your body. Essentially it's asking, ‘What's your life force? What makes you get up to do what you love, other than the thing you love? How can we be the best versions of ourselves? What do you draw from and where does that come from? And what inspires you to do for others?’ I think giving words to those forces helps to give them power so we can act on them more. This version carries even more feeling and meaning because of my relationship to dub and reggae—it's what I grew up listening to, it's in my soul and bones. There’s a different kind of joy I get being in front of a sound system.”

Together Is a Beautiful Place to Be
“This track is dedicated to my late stepfather. I’m grateful I was able to make it back in time before he passed away, as I was on tour at the time. Instrumentally, I knew that I wanted it to be flugelhorn—it's got such a deep tone. It’s Sheila Maurice-Grey on this one, and I love playing ballads with her, she has such an amazing sound. The two of us play the melody, and Joe Armon-Jones plays around that. It's beautiful, but sad. Compared to the rest of the album, the stillness in this tune says a lot about taking a second to reflect. It connects to the sentiment behind ‘Pace,’ and the importance of spending time with your people, your family and friends. It's about being present with each other. COVID has obviously given this a whole other meaning.”

Stand With Each Other
“I got the idea for this from a poetry reading with Aja Monet a few years ago. She was reading from her book, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter, and there was a discussion afterwards about the ways different groups of people have shown solidarity whilst fighting for justice throughout history. In particular I think about solidarity between women: Elevating each other is important. Instrumentally, this tune started out with me and Sam improvising on a Nyabinghi beat. It's Richie Seivwright, Cassie Kinoshi, and Sheila Maurice-Grey on vocals here. I love their voices together. The track is very percussive and vocal, and has a haunted element to it. I was channeling groups like The Congos and the lovers-rock-style backing vocals I had in my head. It's that close, beautiful blend that draws you in, and leaves you wondering how many singers there are.”

Inner Game
“This is about the inner fight that can sometimes happen within us. I read a book called The Inner Game of Music [by US musician and author Barry Green] that has always stayed on my mind about the psychology of playing—it's something I’m really interested in. I’ve always been shy and had a fear of failure. There’s so much pressure that can impact a musician’s self-belief and confidence—so many of us deal with anxiety behind the scenes. I’m glad we’re talking more about the mental health of musicians, and this is an ode to that struggle. The melody and bassline are quite introspective. The intention in the writing was to create this sense of quiet franticness—how it feels to struggle internally. Here, I’m asking: ‘Do you trust yourself? Do you believe in what you do? Do you care in what you are doing beyond recognition?’ I’m glad I took my time and thought about what I wanted the music to say and how I wanted to move forwards.”

La cumbia me está llamando (feat. La Perla)
“I went to Colombia with the British Council last year and I met musicians; it was a real sharing experience on the other side of the world. That’s where I met Diana Sanmiguel, a member of La Perla, the band I play with on the track. We played and wrote this together, then afterwards Kwes and I chopped it up. The lyrics are beautiful: ‘The cumbia is calling me.’ I had them translated after the recording—it was incredible hearing the lyrics after the fact, because I felt like I understood what the music was saying the whole time. I went back to Colombia, and on that trip I stayed with the Afro-Colombian singer Nidia Góngora. She was my first entry into Colombian music and cumbia. I was so enamored with the rhythm, it was like coming back to something that was both familiar and unfamiliar at once. I stayed in her family home Timbiquí on the Pacific Coast—there was incredible live music and late-night dancing. You can sit, dance, and meditate to those sounds. It makes me feel alive and warm—it's so rhythmic, with pure drum melodies cascading over the top. It's a different kind of joy there. This is a small offering to that.”

Before Us: In Demerara & Caura (feat. Ms Maurice)
“This one is a true nod to my heritage in a different way, Demerara (just like the sugar) in Guyana is my mum’s birthplace and where she grew up. Caura is where my paternal grandad’s family were from in Trinidad. I’ve never been to either place. I asked my parents what they remembered from where they grew up, and started sonically wondering what it would sound like through my language of music. My mum remembered the birds, the cool sea breeze and salty air. She talked about liming by the water after school, bike rides and hot thunderstorms. The thought of birdsong stuck with me. Then, my dad told me about Caura—it used to be rich in natural resources, and then, essentially, colonialism ruined it. Everyone living in the area was moved to build a dam, but due to corruption, it was never built—so all of those people were displaced for nothing. I’m interested in music from different Caribbean islands, artists like Calypso Rose and Clive Zanda, in sounds that have a jump attitude, like calypso and soca, that have an upbeat push. It's the music of the sun to me.”

Boundless Beings (feat. Akenya)
“This track was meant to be an interlude. It's got a loop that could keep going forever. The lyrics are incredible. I told Akenya what the album was about, and asked if she’d like to sing the melody with me—and if she’d be up for writing it, as I don’t think I’m good at writing lyrics. She summed up the story and feeling of the album in two stunning verses—I’m still marveling at it. The notion of us being boundless beings is thinking about the fact that people will remember you after you are gone—we never truly disappear. For me, the idea of boundless beings gestures towards a bigger sense of spiritual freedom. It's about reaching beyond all the things we’re taught to aim for and covet. It's asking what are the things that inspire you or make you feel fed within your soul? What makes you feel empowered and alive?”

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