Culted Sounds: Libianca talks her new EP, CBD self care & being a Spotify RADAR artist

Culted Sounds: Libianca talks her new EP, CBD self care & being a Spotify RADAR artist

by Juliette Eleuterio
13 min

For music to be authentic, an artist must open themselves up and confront themselves in a way most of us aren’t used to doing, but in a way Libianca has unmistakably done on her new EP. Titled Walk Away, the Cameroonian-American singer-songwriter’s latest project feels like an exposé of her open wounds, coming to terms with them and healing them through music.

“In A Way,” the opening track of the EP, sets the tone with its lyrics fit for a funeral of a past relationship. Then, there are songs like “Mistaken” in which Libianca shares her feelings of doubt and being wronged, as is so common in any relationship, with a raw quality soaring from her soft voice, contrasted with High-life-inspired beats.

This year has been a busy one for Libianca, because on top of her new EP, the artist has teamed up with Spotify, as part of its Spotify RADAR global program, committed to spotlighting emerging artists on its platform and help their careers grow. Together, the two have created a short film that is as sensitive and passionate as anything Libianca touches.

In the video, we can see the artist suffering the effects of an abusive relationship, a delicate subject she had “spent so long hiding from [herself].” Emotional and, at times, hard to watch, the film goes hand-in-hand with Libianca’s new EP, and comes as a very-much-needed step in the process of healing.

We caught up with Libianca to talk about her project with Spotify, her musical journey, the process of making her EP, and her self-care routine that involves CBD bath bombs.

ABDULLAHI ALI ADEN ©

What have been three songs or artists you have had on repeat recently?

I haven’t had any songs or artists on repeat recently, because I have been listening to my EP over and over again, because right now is a crucial point in turning it in. So I haven’t really touched my phone in a minute. I haven’t been listening to music, trying to get this EP done. Usually Jayco and Cleo Soul would definitely be in the mix. 

Your musical journey publicly started on The Voice, for which you competed in 2021. Your love of music actually started at a much younger age, though you have said to have been shy at that age. How did you overcome that shyness?

Everything is in the mind. For a while, for a long time, every time I used to just dread going onstage because everyone’s staring at me and that whole deal didn’t feel like a comfortable space to me. But over time, I just accepted the fact that [I am] a performer. People are gonna look at [me], people are gonna be in awe sometimes – that’s just how it is. 

Most importantly, I just got comfortable in my skin and just comfortable with who I am, and just being who I am all the time. It doesn’t matter who’s around, I won’t turn it off. [It’s about] being really accepting of myself and my gifts and letting them just rip out without caring who wasn’t around. [2:34]

Love that. Does this love and appreciation help calm you in front of cameras and massive crowds?

Yeah, because I’m starting to get desensitised to cameras and crowds. I’ve literally been doing that for the past year the most that I’ve ever done in my life. It’s been amazing, and I would rather learn how to overcome situations rather than just be in it, if that makes sense. It doesn’t make sense to worry. 

For me, I just came to that conclusion. It doesn’t make sense to worry, because you’re just tormenting yourself. And if the worries were to come true, you tormented yourself once and then got tormented again. So you might as well just relax.Iif something happens, it happens and you deal with it. And if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. But don’t commit yourself already.

While growing up, you lived both in Minnesota and Cameroon, where your family is from. How did that multicultural upbringing shape your identity and your approach to music?

I definitely did. I think environmental factors definitely play a role in the development of children or young adults. Switching over from Cameroon to the States was a culture shock. There were a lot of experiences that went into the change of my location, and that obviously played a part in who I am. I really wouldn’t have it any other way because I am bicultural. It just makes me me, and my music is me.

What was your biggest culture shock when coming to the US?

The fact that people don’t really talk to each other usually. When you walk out of the house in Cameroon, you will see so many people just talking to each other, you can see so many people in discourse. But here, you walk out and everyone is in their car, driving somewhere. Everyone’s just kind of focused on their own thing. They’re not really paying mind to their surroundings or even talking to anyone. I was like, ‘Okay, this is cool. Everyone’s mute, that’s cool.’

Fast forward to your post-The Voice days, how did you decide to move forward with your career? Did you receive interest from industry professionals or did you decide to go (what we like to say in fashion) “freelance,” considering your musical engineering background?

I just freelanced. I just kept on doing what I was doing. If you’re waiting around for somebody to recognise the talent you have and try to do something with it, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life. I’m not really a patient gal. So I just decided I was gonna make shit on my own and if it goes the right way, that’s cool. And if it doesn’t, then it’s going to lead me somewhere else.

But yeah, that was the plan; to just keep creating and sharing my gifts with the world. If the world says ‘you know what, girl, we don’t want you to do this,’ then that’s cool. But it didn’t go that way.

@iamlibianca ©

And then came “People,” your hit single that altered the trajectory of your life. Did you ever expect “People” to receive such widespread acclaim?

Abso-fucking-lutely not. I wasn’t thinking that when I was recording the song, getting the content for it or when I posted it. It was just another one of my songs that I was posting on social media. I honestly anticipated that something like that would happen, maybe two years down the line. I prepared myself for 2025. But obviously, God had different plans that were a lot quicker. It was a complete shock.

Since, you’ve really carved out an AfroSoul sound that “feeds the soul.” To you, what attributes does music have to have to “feed the soul?”

To be able to feed someone’s soul you need to bury yours. There’s only one requirement for music that can feed someone’s soul: if the person creating that music, pour their heart and their soul into it. That’s literally the only way. You can talk about a plethora of things you could talk about homelessness, spirituality, marriage, divorce… You could talk about fried eggs if you wanted to and if you’re baring your soul on it, it’s gonna feed someone’s soul. It’s gonna connect to at least one person in the world. That’s what’s so special about music. I just want to keep respecting the art.

It’s not just our soul that’s been fed with your music but also Spotify’s. Tell me a little bit about Spotify’s RADAR programme.

So far, Spotify has been the only team that accepted my creativity, not only in the music, or in the studio, but outside of that as well. I’m a very involved artist. Sometimes, I see things when I’m writing a song, and I know what I want something to look like. I talked to [the Spotify team] about the EP. I got to know everyone on the team, and we had had a bunch of conversations together. We landed at [them asking] ‘what do you want for the EP?’ 

Usually, Spotify RADAR artists have introduction videos that would tell the public about who they are, where they come from, and how they do music, or how they ended up in the musical field, and how important music is to them. And that’s cool, but I had other ideas. We had talked about [those ideas], and they came back to me with creative directors to pick from. I picked them and we just executed these ideas. 

@iamlibianca ©

It was so amazing to work with other creatives and just see something come to life, something that was in your head. This is technically my first acting role, so that’s one of the many things that I’m working on with Spotify. But it just goes to say that [Spotify] knows what a true creative is, and they know how to support a creative – especially one that is very involved in everything they do. So I’m happy where I’m at right now. I’m pretty happy.

In the video produced for Spotify, we see you covering some pretty sensitive topics such as abuse from past relationships. Why did you choose to cover such a personal and traumatic topic? And did you go about it, keeping in mind the nature of those themes?

It’s so hard to answer questions like these, because I live in my head. So in my head obviously there’s feelings, there’s visuals, and it’s very easy for me to dive into something deep because I usually prefer the deeper ends of the water. But when I was writing every single song on the EP, it connected me to either a part of my past or a part of my present. I had quite some time to just sit and think about what works. What works has always been keeping it simple for me, at least.

I am a very dramatic extra gyal, but when it comes to the music, my diamonds are in the simplicity. It’s just about being real, and not trying to make something look like something else or trying to polish it up too much. We’re just going to talk about the things that we don’t want to talk about and we’re going to see it as if it were real life. That’s what I care about, being authentic. Especially when I’m talking about things that have been in so many people’s lives. 

[Toxic relationships and abuse] have become such a normal thing that some people are desensitised to it, especially in America – we need to talk about these things. In African homes, we definitely don’t talk about it. And I’ve always been the most emotional gyal in the house. So basically, I want to talk about things most people don’t want to talk about. That’s the whole point of life. We can’t start off with pain and experience and it just remains pain. I’m just gonna turn that into art, turn it into something beautiful.

Clearly, self-care is super important to you. What are some self-care habits you have incorporated into your life?

For one, I smoke CBD, or hop in a bath with CBD bath bombs. It’s used to treat anxiety, but that’s optional. What is not [optional] is when I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is I pray, before my feet even touch the ground. It’s not a long prayer. I’ll be there for about five minutes. When you wake up in the morning, your brain is like ‘I need to get this done, I need to get that done.’ So [I always take] a little bit of time to just thank God for my day and give Him my mind, my heart, and everything. Then I put my feet on the ground and go about my day. 

I have learned sometimes saying nothing says something, and sometimes saying nothing is the best way to go. I definitely have been thinking a lot more before opening my mouth, which has been good because I’ve been less impulsive. That is a part of self care for me because it protects my inner peace.

How does it feel now that your EP is finally out?

Walk Away is a torch light I’m shining on several sensitive things that go down in our households that we don’t talk about because there aren’t enough safe spaces to do so. Every song on the project is a symbol of the things I’ve held in for the longest and I was more than ready to release. And my experiences make about 60% of the story. 

The rest are experiences I’ve lived through others’ eyes. Well it’s time to get them off my chest and finally move on. Abuse, anger, temptation, radical acceptance and moving on are all subjects I touch on in Walk Away because that’s been my healing process. 

I let myself feel everything and hopefully I can give at least one person a safe space to do the same when they listen to this project. I’ve been working on Walk Away for 6 or 7 months now. While I was on tour, travelling for shows and taking time in between to rest, I spent so much time bringing each track to life with my team to the best of our abilities. I want to take every listener on a trip into my mind. I even had to fight some people on how I wanted my project. My project, isn’t that crazy? *giggles*

More on Culted

See: Culted Sounds: Joy Anonymous on Southbank gigs, listening to its community, and documentary with Brooklyn Pilsner

See: Culted Sounds: TYSON on her new mixtape & uplifting women and gender-variant musicians

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