Luana Kiara’s voice is being heard across the world through her debut single “Trigger.” The Sweden-based Gambian singer tells a story of domestic abuse with an emotional video that features the singer dancing with a man as the romance escalates into violence. Luana Kiara’s dark R&B style has earned her great praise in Sweden, as well as a platform to spread the word about violence and feminism. Last month, the artist was the face of the New Balance International Women’s Day campaign.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Luana to learn more about “Trigger” and the heartwrenching music video that accompanies it.
Ariel Zedric: Tell me about the inspiration for “Trigger”?
Luana Kiara: I think the inspiration for “Trigger” was just made from being at my lowest point and making that into something creative. Just getting all those feelings out there. So basically the inspiration came from the daily struggles of myself and others.
Was the writing process difficult with such a heavy topic?
Since I know the people that I’m writing with, and we’d already had some long conversations before, the writing session came naturally. And as an artist, you have to be personal without being private.
What was the hardest part of filming the music video?
For me it was allowing myself to really go into feelings I had buried. I felt that the acting had to be authentic; it couldn’t feel fake with a topic that important. The only way we could do it justice was going deep within ourselves and giving it our all. But at the same time [again] not going too deep and become too private. To balance these two, was the hardest part. Of course, the fighting scenes and getting thrown at the floor was quite rough as well haha.
How did incorporating the dancing add another layer to the music video and story?
I love the dancing in the video. It gave us (me and Hannes) the freedom to really interpret the story through a creative form we were both more comfortable with. I think it gives the darkness of the video and the topic of a beautiful silver lining.
In what ways do your culture and upbringing play into your music style?
I’m very true to my roots. The vibe of afrobeat and afro drums always moves my soul and makes me feel at home and like me. I always try to get something from my roots into my songs. For example, in “Trigger” you hear artist Madi Banja talking “Mandinka” (Gambian native language) in the mid8.
Explain the personal and professional struggles you’ve encountered in the music industry thus far. How have they molded you?
I think the biggest struggle has been to have patience and believe in yourself and your music. It’s a rough business, especially the older you get, seeing your friends and people your own age moving forward with their lives while you’re still struggling in the music business. But I believe in never giving up, that’s what got me this far and what I believe will get me even further.
What’s it like being a female in the music industry?
There are not many females in the music industry. So you kind of have to speak up sometimes to get your voice heard.
Have you ever doubted your choice to pursue music? If so, what’s kept you going?
Not really doubted my choice but I’ve had the thought of having a “plan b” or something on the side alongside my music career. What’s kept me going is my passion for music, just how insanely happy it makes me with both singing and dancing and knowing I have something to say. In the end, you have to just follow your path blindly and do what makes you happy. And I believe in doing something a 100% with all of my focus on where I’m going.
Tell me about a moment in your career that has left you extremely proud.
I think releasing “Trigger” and the video to “Trigger” is one of those moments. Just because everything came so naturally, it wasn’t anything we planned. It makes me proud to know that I’ve released something real and authentic that comes straight from the heart. And through that, I’ve connected with others that can relate to “Trigger.” And I hope it will make someone out there feel less alone in what they’re experiencing or feeling. And I think that’s the most beautiful thing you can do with your art.
Who is your biggest inspiration? Why?
Of course, I have musical inspirations. But I would say it’s the “real-life-heroes” that inspires me. People I see every day. My mom first and foremost, who has gone through so much and still manages to stand strong. She inspires me.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists in the field? How has your success story panned out?
Don’t give up, especially when you really want to, just keep on going. In the end, it’s the people who don’t give up that separate the succeeders from the others. I’m still working on my success story!
Featured image courtesy of Luana Kiara