WANDE is a natural-born motivator not only through her art of music but with the platform possessed on social media. Always a light, she speaks unashamedly of her faith and of the past leading up to the blessings she's perched upon now. Exit is her debut album, not only with Reach Records but as an artist overall.
The week prior to the release of Exit, I was honored to spark a telephone conversation with WANDE about the new project and how she utilizes social media as an effective ministry tool.
The last four years have been a whirlwind for you as you've been killing it as an indie artist, signing with Reach Records and touring the second leg of the Unashamed Tour. Now, you've released Exit. How have you been handling the countless blessings and changes?
It’s been a great deal of transition these past four years. I address how the multitude of transition has impacted me as an artist and a person on Exit. You experience the phases in life with each stop and destination directly impacting you one way or another. The stops and destinations also prepare you to move forward in God’s will. God prepared me each step of the way as I made sure I remained in His will. I feel like I’m meant to be exactly where I am right now. It’s an amazing feeling. I’ve been able to have joy in it knowing I’m walking in God’s path. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the journey with every step.
How has your personal faith been directly affected through God’s plan and provisions over the last few years?
I’ve really had to put forth all my trust in God. Growing up as I have–being Nigerian, being a rapper–is not a traditional career by any means. Therefore, faith is required. Generally speaking too. Not too long ago, I started as an intern for Reach (A&R). So even that looked like it was going to work out. Again, each step of my journey, God has translated my strong faith to one blessing after another. My career has consisted of trusting God and his voice of what He’s called me to do with this life. I just dive in with daily with God leading and trust He knows best.
How did Reach connect with ESPN and give songs like “No Cap” and “No Ceilings” a platform on mainstream media?
ESPN is actually planning some recent songs too like “Happy” and “Be the Light” featuring Evan and Eris Ford. Thankfully, ESPN just really liked my music and was thrilled over it. They reached out stating how much they enjoyed and loved my music and for Reach to let them know if I had anything new. With Exit, they were eager to obtain the new music and feature it which was amazing to me. It’s been really cool to see God active in that realm because they’re not a Christian network, yet their audiences will be exposed to Christian-inspired music that’s exclusively Christian. It’s just really cool to be featured on that level.
Being one of the dopest emcees regardless of gender, you have an elevated impact on the general listeners of Christian Hip-Hop (CHH). What do you want the impact from Exit to be with the album between you and the listeners?
I want listeners to discover their purpose through the tracks on the album. To really dive into their calling of who God ultimately wants them to be in Christ. That was the biggest lesson God has personally taught me. To listen to His plan and His ways, not those of our own or what other people think. People will be able to take an introspective look at themselves and check if they’re living for other people right now or themselves. Are they living what God has called them to be?
The visuals and concepts for the lead single, “Happy,” are beyond impressive. How did everything come together for the video and the choreography?
For over a year, I’ve had the vision of a music video involving the sand. One of my close friends, Brianna Baca, choreographed the video. Brianna was able to make my vision come to life! I was able to communicate to her my wish list–natural movements, “flowy” with praise and worship-like dance movements, and sand. Lots of sand. I even spoke with my stylist team, Emily Martinez and Ibukun Oladejo, about our garments. I wanted them to be quite simple and natural, reflecting on our inner beauty of what God ultimately created us to be. It ended up being beautiful. Between teamwork, delegation (everyone did their own part quite well), and cooperation, things couldn’t have turned out better.
It was filmed at a “top secret location” in Atlanta. It was indoors too. I was able to find a one-of-a-kind location. A natural sand deposit in Georgia.
How did you team up with Evan and Eris Ford for your second single, “Be the Light?"
“Be the Light” is one of my absolute favorites from the project. The track portrays one of my main missions in life; to be the light of the world. The concept behind the song feeds into the entire theme for the album–to live out the life God calls us to lead. One with Him and for Him. The track immediately points you back to God and feeds into the main mission for Christians–to be a light to the world and to reflect God while sharing His love with all.
Which track off of the album was the most personal for you to write?
Honestly, they’re all pretty personal to me. If I had to pick, it would probably be “No Further.” It’s one of my personal favorites in terms of talking about my life. The song speaks about how God truly sees us who we are under all the layers. We don’t have to pretend with Him. God’s seen all we’ve been through and experienced including all of our pain. All he wants us to do is look no further and lean on him. To trust Him and not rely solely on our own abilities.
You recently posted a handful of visuals for individual tracks on Instagram. How do the images fit into the concept for Exit?
I’m a visual person. Because of COVID-19, we had to halt promotion on several visual ideas for the project. However, we were able to complete the photoshoot for the album, hence the individual photos for tracks. If fans pay close attention to the photos and the details along with the outfits chosen, you can see what the sound for the particular track will be.
For example, I have an alter ego referred to as “Blande.” Those tracks, of course, will be more hype. The photos of an elegant dress will be more of a chill vibe. I have an African outfit too, so those will be more tribal in sound. Everything celebrates my different influences sonically, together.
You touched on my next question. How did the alter ego, “Blande,” come about?
It was a natural development. It’s funny because people say some of your biggest things will never be planned. They’ll just spring upon you. I’m coming to find out that’s exactly true. I love wigs. I love trying out new things. One day, I was wearing my blonde wig and just going crazy rapping on Instagram Live. It just became a joke. Whenever I’m going crazy rapping and wearing my blonde wig, I’m “Blande." It’s just become a thing that’s evolved over time so, I’ve just run with it. If fans want the ratcheted songs, they get “Blande.” You’ll have a “Be the Light” version of WANDE where I love to sing. Then, you’ll have a “No Cap” WANDE where I love to rap and you get super bars.
I know tour plans have been halted with everything going on with COVID-19. However, will we be seeing a headlining tour for Exit a little further down the road?
Absolutely! It all depends on what the new normal looks like over the next few months. I will definitely be having some type of live performance run to correlate with the new music. We’re even thinking about online situations depending on how long the effects of the coronavirus prolong. The world will definitely get a live version of Exit, Lord willing.
What are your favorite staple foods in greenrooms while on tour? I’ve heard about the love for PB&J, but what else do you love to see?
I have my personal favorites, then I have my "healthy should be eating" favorites. As far as personal favorites which are not exactly health forward, Sunny-D is like my favorite drink of all time. Of course peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As far as healthy goes, I just really love some celery dipped in ranch. Water has always been holding me down.
How important is being present on social media for your fans? Some artists do not interact at all and some are constantly live on IG or Facebook. What’s that connection look like for you?
It allows artists to have a direct and personal connection to the fans. If fans never see an artist live, this gives them an up-close and personal opportunity to interact with artists that otherwise, would never happen. As a Christian who shows others the love of Christ and assists others with their Christian walk, social media plays a vital role. It brings me joy to be able to communicate with people on a constant basis. I love to encourage others and see how they’re doing with life and everything.
Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists?
I love to do features. Actually, I have a cool one coming up soon with Marty from Social Club Misfits. I’m just a collaborative person in general, so I love networking. Features are fun for me. I love experimenting. Features are a great opportunity for that. You’ll definitely continue to see me doing features.
We always like to inquire about how we can be praying for the artists we interview. Do you have any specific prayer requests we can be praying for?
I would ask for God’s will to be done with this project. I think it’s a really unique opportunity God has given me to represent women on this platform and in CHH. Also, with the timing of COVID-19 and everything going on in this world, just for God to reign and His ultimate will shine through all of the negativity the pandemic has allowed.