Learning the discipline of becoming an artist with Ntjam Rosie
Ntjam Rosie is a stylish singer who creatively mixes pop, soul, world and jazz into her own little elegance. Residing in the Netherlands, her striking spiritual sounds mixed with her unbelievable fashion takes you on a journey you won’t forget. A journey that will take you outside of the box, and open up a whole new world. Ntjam reveals to Stimulate Your Soul why it took her years to become disciplined as an artist and why she releases music on her own label ‘Gentle Daze Records. Margaret Tra writes.
You recently performed at the North Sea Round Town concert in the Netherlands, how was that?
My guitar player Jorn Ten Hoopen and I performed as a duo twice for North Sea Round Town (NSRT). I also played some songs on guitar. Something I rarely do in public. The setting was up close and personal during two living room concerts. I often play with my full band, so this intimate way of performing was nice for a change.
And for NSRT I also played with my band at the Rotterdam Got Soul Festival! It was a great evening with a spotlight on Rotterdam's finest soul talents.
You released your latest album under your own label, what made you do that? How has the response been?
The reason why I release my own music on my own label, Gentle Daze Records, is out of necessity. I am not against labels. On the contrary, it's good to work with a great label that has a bigger network and more financial base for promotion and tour support. Again, running my own label together with my management is a necessity and I wouldn't mind getting signed as long as a label is willing to let me do my thing artistically. I don't see the point in pursuing the signing of big lucrative record deal if I can't be the artist that I am.
Most people are afraid to turn 30, but you have a different point of view?
I love getting older, because of the wisdom that comes with it. I am so much happier and calmer in my soul and spirit than before. Growth is part of life and I think we should all embrace it. I am not a teenage girl anymore, but a young adult that still has a lot to discover.
You live in Netherlands, what’s the music scene like there? Do you cross paths with other musicians like you much?
My music is a mix of pop, soul, world and jazz. I especially came to Rotterdam for it's conservatory. The music that is popular in Holland is dance, pop/rock and Dutch Hip Hop. The rest has to fight its way up.
I have good acquaintances and friends in the music scene over here. There is a little pop/jazz/soul crossover scene and we all know each other. Holland is a very small country, so you can imagine how small this scene is.
What is more important to you? Fashion or soul? Or both?
Soul? Do you mean soul music? I don't really think in boxes when it comes to my music.
But, if I had to choose between music and fashion I wouldn't ponder on it for long. Music is my first love and the gift that God has given me. The rest is just fun, fashion to me is not something I have to think about. There is style and there is fashion. I have my own style, I am a creative person. That comes with the package I guess. But my music is serious. It's a holy calling that goes beyond vanity.
You say when you started your passion you were the only one who knew it was the right path for you, what did you mean by that? Did you have much support?
I always knew I would become an artist. But the discipline was a mystery to me for years and years. I was good in languages, arts and some sports. I was interested in intellectual and spiritual readings. I definitely loved to dance and to make music. Especially the creating part, it’s something I learned way before I could sing. I sang, but not like a real singer.
The whole "what kind of a singer am I?" thing was difficult for me and the outside world. I had to try some things before I really could say, yes. This is me. I am now at that crossroad. I have found my musical path now.
As far as the support goes, my family and good friends have always supported me. It was more a battle in my own soul and mind.
Did you think going to music school helped you develop as an artist?
Yes. Education was the key for me. Especially learning the different values in different kind of music has brought me a lot. To be a crossover artist, means you have to know where everything that you put in the mix comes from.
Otherwise it all doesn't really make sense if you ask me. I am a pop child, in Cameroon I listened to the radio a lot. But I was born and raised in a Christian Cameroonian community. It had a lot of worship and gospel music. Traditional sounds like the balafon around me all the time.
Coming to Holland, MTV taught me even more about pop music and in my studies at the conservatory I added jazz and world music to my musical bag.
Therefore you hear all these things in my music. It's really all me. But I am glad I took the time to study it all well.
What’s next for you?
Only God knows.
You’ve performed across the globe, any memorable moments you would like to share?
Touring around the globe is a blessing to acknowledge. I am very thankful for all of the travels, the experiences. Meeting new people, seeing new crowds is always exciting to me and it keeps me grounded.
What stimulates your soul?
God's love and the gift of music that he gave me stimulates my soul. Music, music, music, music!