In our latest interview, we had the pleasure of talking with ‘Ms Melanin’ herself, NeeQah. As we broke down her incredibly powerful single ‘Ms Melanin’, breaking down the message behind the track and her aims to promote body positivity through it’s video and resulting challenge.
When did your interest in pursuing a career in music begin?
NeeQah- “I’ve been interested in music forever. At first I started out dancing. In 2015 I decided that I wanted to do music so I went for it. That decision definitely opened a lot of doors for me”.
When you started out in music who were your main inspirations?
NeeQah- “Diana King is my aunt, so to see her come from Spanish Town with clean and positive music definitely inspired me. Lady Saw and Tanya Stephens are also big inspirations for me, I had a mix of inspirations, so I can go slack and can go positive”
What inspired you to record a single like ‘Ms. Melanin’ that has such a strong and powerful message that is connecting with people across the world?
NeeQah- “I had the idea from January last year, at the time I didn’t know how to bring it across. I knew I had to go for a slow tempo and really let the feel good message of the track come across.
In the summer I decided to voice the single, as soon as I had finished it’s production I decided to drop it.
For me the track spoke to the issues I had dealt with coming from a light skinned family, I was the darkest girl, I love my dark skin and I wanted people to feel the same way about themselves.
How did the remix with Charly Black come about?
NeeQah- “He reached out to me, we are good friends, we spoke and he said he had a dream that he remixed my song, so he invited me to Ochi with my engineer to record the remix”.
One of the most impactful elements of the release of ‘Ms Melanin’ was definitely the video, what was the process behind the video?
NeeQah- “Early on I decided that I had to shoot a video for this song, I saved an arm and a leg for the video.
The actual shoot was a stressful day, I had scheduled a 1pm start, thinking that the actual video shoot would start at 5pm. The makeup artists arrived late, the females had to get ready. The whole time heading up to Cane River Falls it was raining, I was praying the whole time that it would stop.
As soon as when parked the rain stopped. When we got to the entrance, we had to pay to shoot the video, which I wasn’t expecting. By the time we were at the falls we had 30 minutes before the sun went down. When we started recording I just made sure I was being recorded with the girls in the background”.
What was initial reception to the video like?
NeeQah- “I received the most messages I have ever received, girls were messaging me saying that ‘Ms Melanin’ had given them confidence, even mother’s with their daughters were messaging me saying that they had made ‘Ms Melanin’ part of their morning routine”
One of the most impactful parts of the video for ‘Ms Melanin’ is the ending in the white room with the women in the video talking about their own personal experiences of colourism. What was the original concept behind this part of the video and was it something that you went into the video having already thought of?
NeeQah- “It was a big focus of the video, I made sure that no one had makeup on. I just wanted them to share their own experiences, I told them to say whatever they wanted to say. I didn’t know any of them personally, I just wanted everyone to showcase their own experiences”
Following the release of the video you also promoted the ‘Ms Melanin’ challenge, what was the idea behind the challenge?
NeeQah- “My main idea with the challenge is to preach confidence. Send me across a video without makeup without filter, just be you.
Have you been surprised by some of the people that have supported ‘Ms Melanin’?
NeeQah- “Honesty I have. A lot of female artistes that haven’t supported me previously have supported ‘Ms Melanin’
What impact do you hope ‘Ms Melanin’ has in Jamaica?
NeeQah- “I really feel like Jamaicans are the biggest racist people to themselves. Bleaching is popular, people will say things like you are “black like tar”.
I wanted to make the movement behind ‘Ms Melanin’ irresistible something that everyone would look at and give positive feedback”
Following the release of ‘Ms Melanin’, what are your aims for 2019?
NeeQah- “My big aim is to make material that isn’t easily consumed, meaning music that lasts for generations to come.
I did an EP last year on the more raunchy side, which now I don’t think I should’ve ever done. For a while I had writers block, I didn’t know what type of music I wanted to pursue, I didn’t want to do videos, so I decided to record “for the moment” music.