Forget Toronto, mates, as Montreal is the undisputed place to go if you want to see beautiful women and hear awesome music. Despite it being deep Céline Dion territory, the streets belong to Naadei, a singer who inspires awe and awesomeness from the moment she blesses up with her signature sound. Known around the way as Naadei Liones, this ethereal French-Quebecer singer-songwriter has collaborated with the likes of Wyclef Jean, 2 Chainz and Lil’ Jon to name a few.
We discovered her by digging through the Soundcloud crates and were impressed by her amazing blending of soul, jazz, floaty vocals and rap-inspired verses. Rooted in the real, while going after the fantastic, Naadei isn’t your everyday, average jill-of-all-trades. She is official, an ambitious artist able to stunt on your favorite without mincing melodies for some run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter sound. Instead, the woman who was a fan of Céline Dion’s rap song, has elevated herself into a new tax bracket of dopeness.
From her debut EP, I’m Fine, to her work with producer High Klassified — Naadei Liones is a lioness of a performer who deserves your time and attention. With that in mind, we are proud to introduce this Montreal musician to you and her special, exclusive acoustic performance of “Jimmy,” featuring Elle Ray (guitar) and shot by Perrick Dufrenoy and JP Charlebois. You can watch all of that goodness below! This week’s First Look Friday is golden in everything she does, so we talk to her about her innate passion for music, how her creative outlet can help others in need and listen intently as she expresses what the overall message in her sound means to audiophiles. Enjoy the sounds and the story below!
Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in music game are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?
Naadei: To be honest, when I make songs, all I care about is that my 15 friends think I’m cool and they wanna play it the car. After that, if other people like it too, I’m just thankful that the music somehow made its way to them. Every time I look at my soundcloud and there’s a play from like, Hungary or something, I’m mind-blowned that my voice went places my body has never been [laughs].
OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?
N: I have too many to list. They also tend to vary depending on where I’m at in my life and what I’m going through. But there’s been a few staples who stand the test of time. Sade, Nirvana, Getz & Gilberto, Sublime and Pennywise. I wouldn’t know where to stop really. I’m not completely immune to trends, but [I] rely a lot on a few classics.
OKP: Can you talk about how your life was while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?
N: I got put on the fast track when I started making music. I was working with an artist who was well established in France, so I began getting coverage earlier than most artists usually do. I was about 16 at the time and I remember feeling halfway between excited and overwhelmed. At the time I hadn’t had a chance to really develop as an artist and earn my stripes. It took a few years to distance myself from that and create a sound that was truly mine. Nowadays I appreciate acknowledgment, knowing that it’s based on the work I put in. But when it comes to press, I feel like the recognition that truly matters is the one generated from the ground up. When someone has to write about you because their listeners really fuck with you.
OKP: With incidents involving people of color, police and racist occurring almost on a daily basis around the globe — how can your music (and/or others) help to relieve the trauma that is being experienced by the masses?