Conversation With . . .
An award-winning Eritrean singer, songwriter and a producer born in Germany currently living in London. Performed at the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, O2 Arena alongside the likes of Justin Timberlake, the 1975 and London’s Philharmonic Orchestra. As an entertainer she has wowed her audience with her “Happy Monday” videos, her Shégitu dance class that empowers women and hosts her own show “Love & Music” on LYE TV. This month in Conversation with Lidiaana, the Entertainer talks about her passion for music, the pandemic, and her journey so far.
What got you first into music?
From when I was a little girl, around 5 years, I just loved watching music videos, watching people dancing and movies with a lot of music. I loved it and had a strong connection to music. My older sister loved music too, she was in a band and was a big inspiration to me.
My confidence was often bigger than my skills. I remember in second grade the teacher asking if anyone could sing solo and I confidently said 'Yes Miss, me'. Here is a 6-year-old me being confident and I pulled it off. I always had this feeling in me, that it will somehow all workout.
Did you go to school to study music?
The passion for music was always in me. Being born in Germany led me to be in bands, backing singing, being the lead singer in the choir and touring with them. At some point, I thought I needed to take it to the next level to learn English as well as to progress in my career ( in Germany, we used to sing in English mixed with gibberish lol.)
I came to London and I studied at Lewisham college for a year. Continued 2 years of Music technology – learning to write and produce music. Then I went on to Westminster University to study Commercial Music.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Life is the most interesting story everyone has, it was going through all the experiences from going through a relationship, coming out of a relationship, finding new friends, find myself, then losing myself. We keep reinventing ourselves and keep on changing and that's why life is my biggest inspiration.
Are poetry and song writing similar?
I respect poetry as an art a lot. I find that there are similarities in rap, song writing and poetry. There are all words, but they all express something different. It's unique to the performer.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
My tutor Mykaell Riley at the University of Westminster always said that you must reinvent yourself every 3 months from the inside, the outside and your spirit, thoughts, emotions as an artist and a creator. My first phase at Uni when I wrote a lot of music, was because I had to deliver an album. I worked under pressure, and I ended up writing 11 songs - a mixture of RnB, African tribal, heritage and Pop. With my singles 'Adey' and 'Hagerey', I tried to get back to my roots by producing Eritrean music mixed with Reggae and Pop. My current phase is combining the 2 above, with my amazing team at LYE.tv. I think it's important to flow and to discover new music or art that inspires you to be you. I can't really say what I typically create as my sound has changed over the years.
Do you get writer's block?
I remember saying to myself that I had writer's block a couple of years ago. Now I know that the timing wasn't right and that I didn't feel motivated enough to create music at that time.
I stopped naming conditions as I believe that those will block us even more. I am a huge fan of Dr. Joe Dispenza and he always says that it's important to not say negative things to yourself as your brain can't distinguish if it's the truth or if it's just how you feel right now. I needed time to evolve and to get to the point where I am today. I had years to work on myself and my music and to nurture it in the right way. I think we feel often blocked as something bigger is happening in our lives that needs to be resolved first before creating music.
Photo provided by Lidiaana
What was it like performing alongside Justin Timberlake?
That day was amazing, and it was at the Brit Awards a couple of years back at the O2. Being a part of the choir, LCGC London Community Gospel Choir, we were given the melody on the piano and practice it, we were not told who the artist is as it was top secret, so I did a bit of my investigation on who that could be. 2 days before the performance I cracked the code and so I went to Westfields, buying different options on what to wear. He came in saw the choir and he was excited. He was the opening act of the night, so we all went on stage and performed 'Say Something' featuring Chris Stapleton. That was an incredible experience.
Where did the idea of Happy Monday come from?
It was about 7 years ago, I was going on holiday to Turkey with a friend, but my friend couldn't make it. I decided to go by myself as I wasn't going to let the ticket go to waste. My family was concerned and made sure I will be safe and then called in every day to make sure I was doing fine. This was the best holiday for self-discovery. I met new people and we would have conversations in various languages and go on adventures every day.
The whole trip was highly spiritual, it's amazing how well everything turned out in the end.
It turned from a let down on my friend's part to a holiday to self-discovery. When I came back, I was listening to this song by Mase "Feel so good" and I recorded myself singing and posted the video as Happy Monday. It was well-received, and people were keen to know what I was going to do the following Monday and the rest is history.
This year I have stepped back from consistently doing the videos as I am giving myself time and not being under the pressure to appear each Monday, right now I might do it 3 times a month rather than the full 4 weeks. But I will continue it even when I am married, heavily pregnant and even when I have my children, I will get them involved.
What is it like being a model and working in ad campaigns?
When I started getting proper bookings with budgets, proper TV spot, big campaigns it had elevated my standard and my confidence. I was able to believe more in myself and therefore attract more amazingness into my life. I absolutely love to model and act, it's always so exciting to be part of something great. Very Grateful to Moonpig, Boux Avenue, Heist and many other brands for the opportunities.
According to you, what is the most important quality an entertainer should have?
6 months ago I would have said to be consistent, however, today I am going to say to be authentic. I am consistently being authentic and since there is not much going on in terms of entertainment out there at the moment, I am working on my authentic self.
Sometimes your persona is so different from who you are, to the point you don't recognize yourself. I am realigning myself to bring a balance back into my life.
What do you like least about being an entertainer?
For me, there is nothing bad about being an entertainer, but I think the reactions and expectations of people can be a lot sometimes.
I think people sometimes forget that I am a human as well. If I do not feel the energy of someone's entertainment, then I step back from it. Some people just love to bully and troll - that's just who they are.
What do you like most about being an entertainer?
This question I love. I love that I can brighten up someone's day - that's truly an honour.
Many people have shared with me in the past that, me telling them the right thing or posting a video has inspired them to become better human beings. That makes me so happy.
Shégitu is your brainchild, what is it?
Shégitu is a dance form that I have created in 2016.
A common company we worked for had announced redundancy and that gave me the initiative to act and start something. I would sit for hours after work and brainstorm on what business to create. Then it came to me - A dance Class.
I wanted this dance form to be sexy and empowering and for Women only. I wanted it to be unique and nothing can be more unique than my name, so Shégitu (Nick name) it was.
We teach women to feel sexy, confident and be body positive.
For now, the classes are online, but soon we will be back to the studio. When we tap into that feminine energy, we flourish.
What is your way of contributing to the community?
To motivate and make a difference. Confidence coaching, Shégitu dance and my Charity Foundation are some of the ways of how I contribute to the community.
My charity "The Lidiaana Foundation" started 9 years ago and we provide stationary to children and support their education fees. 20% of my personal music earnings are proceeds towards the charity. I am grateful to have the opportunity to do what I do.
How has the pandemic affected you?
Nobody likes me to say that. I am grateful for the pandemic and if it has to happen again bring it on. I am not happy that people are suffering, losses of lives, job losses. Things are happening the whole time and life goes on. There is always a choice whether you want to be happy or be upset about it, though I did go into panic mode at the beginning of it.
I worried about my dance class and the rent for the studio. I did not like that part of me, I had to tell myself that this is not me. So a friend of mine suggested to go back into interpreting and helping the community as well as earning a little money. But more importantly, I got time to myself and do the things that I had been putting off. I became aware of all the people out there needing assistance and it made me realise that I have it good and I am grateful for it. There are several things I have been working on without the pressure from others.
I see the good in every situation. I decluttered, got rid of so many things that did not serve me and my purpose.
What do you do for relaxation?
The two things that I absolutely love doing is one a foot massage. It's a 40 minutes routine, a massage then a foot bath with Epsom salt, coconut oil, tea tree oil and then I remove all the dead skin. I feel like a brand new person. Also washing my hair is so soothing to me. It's a very long routine but I enjoy it. Doing these 2 things relax me from my crown chakra down to my feet. Afterwards, I like to go to my garden and listen to happy music and watch the animals passing through.
If you were not an entertainer, what would you be doing?
My mother, just like most African parents would ask me what I wanted to be and I would shout a singer. However, in an African household, you have only the choice of becoming a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer.
In order for my mom to stay happy I'd tell her that I would become a doctor and I would operate on Michael Jackson one day and the moment he hears me sing I'd become a singer.
To answer your question, I would have become some type of healer.
Now that I think about it, in a way I became a doctor as I am healing people through laughter, music, coaching and reiki.
How can people contact you?
Email for professional work: firstname.lastname@example.org