'I am an eclectic person'

Magda Mbande Every Friday evening on El Punt Avui Televisió, Nicole chats with an English-speaking expat. For this month's interview she had a conversation with musician, Magda Mbande.
Where are you from Marga and what a beautiful name!
I am from Equatorial Guinea. My name Marga comes from the name Margarita. Like the pizza or the drink or the flowers. My grandmother is also called Margarita.
Most of my guests on the show are born outside of Catalonia but you were born in Barcelona and raised here.
I have three brothers and a sister, and I am right in the middle. And my role in life seems to fit the middle of everything. My parents came here from Equatorial Guinea 40 years ago and stayed.
Do you feel like you are more from Catalonia or Equatorial Guinea?
That is a difficult question. I really feel like an African born in Spain. At home my mama was always talking and teaching me about Africa, and I speak the language. I have also been there, just once 12 years ago, and it felt like home. It was difficult growing up here as a child. A black girl in a white man's country and that can be hard sometimes. As a young girl I noticed this and didn't understand why for example people where pointing their finger at me. It was hard to find references and hope, but in the end you can make life what you want it to be.
What do they speak in Equatorial Guinea?
The official language is Spanish and some speak French. The capital is a little island and then there is a continental part, but it is a small country.
You are a singer, am I right in saying a soul singer?
You can call me a soul singer, but I just call it music. I love soul, I love jazz and reggae. I find connections between these styles.
Did you have a musical upbringing?
I have been listening to music all of my life; it is part of our culture. My parents aren't musicians. Yet, they listen to everything, from hip-hop and soul to African music.
When did you realise you wanted to become a singer?
I have been singing all of my life. But there was a time when I found a vinyl record and it had the lyrics on the back. They were in English and I didn't then speak English, in fact I am still learning. That was a good starting point for me. That was about 10, 11 years ago.
How did you learn English?
I began just like that, reading lyrics! I learnt at school of course and went on to study tourism at university but really is was from studying lyrics.
Your first album was in 2003. Tell me about that?
It was when I was in a band and I was really into R&B. I wanted to be like Destiny's Child! Between 2003 and 2012, we did three albums and then we went our separate ways. When I left I started to collaborate with many different artists and created different sounds.
You say that musically you are very open. What does that mean exactly?
I see myself as an eclectic person. It isn't that I don't know where to put myself, it is just that I don't want to put myself with only soul or jazz because I see a connection with all of the sounds of the music. So whenever I hear a sound that inspires me, I go there!!
Your boyfriend is a musician, too?
Yes, a very good musician. Marc Ayza, he plays the drums, he mainly comes from jazz but is also very open. We work together in a band called Cypha Sessions, and it's mainly hip-hop. We start the session and then leave the mic for the public, it ends up in a party where energy flows everywhere. I also collaborate with reggae and Afro-beat bands from Barcelona.
Where do your inspirations come from?
There is no mystery; they are great leaders of soul that everyone knows like Angie Stone, Mary J. But everyone knows these greats and I am interested in others like JoJo Abbot. She is very new this girl; I think she also designs clothes. Benjamin Clementine, he is self-taught, very deep and not afraid to show what is inside. This really inspires me. Anderson Paak, he talks about styles in one of his albums. I want to see myself like this. And I look back and research people who aren't new like, Franco Luambo and Brenda Fassie.
You describe these artists as people who have everything every artist should have. What do you mean by that?
No limitations and to be able to connect with the public. You shouldn't be afraid to show what you have inside, to be free and open. Touching different sounds.
What are you working on right now?
I am excited to be working on my new EP. I cannot say much, but I will tell you when it is ready. It mixes electronic, soul sounds, and more. Hopefully, the first single will be out before the end of the year.
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