Constance Sojourner - Little Big Village
The poetics of “home” are woven in the blend of neo-soul and country music that Constance Sojourner sings over her ukulele. The upcoming artist has relocated across multiple small towns and cities over the UK, finally settling in London. As a woman of mixed heritage growing up in predominantly white middle-class areas, emotions of identity and community find themselves at the forefront of her music. Layered between the jaunty and positive melodies, Sojourner’s music speaks for the big personalities in the cosy and sometimes stifling small town mentalities. Now contrasting with the vastness of London, she pays homage to the DIY creativity of using intimate community skills in her latest music video, Little Big Village. I had the chance to speak to her about her inspiration and creative process shortly after the video’s release.
Talk me through the process of such a wholesome, DIY music video.
The music video sees three mates enjoying themselves in my old small town near Cambridge. It’s pretty much what it is, four friends including our camera lady Anita Winzler playing out for the day. Growing up in a predominantly white space, it also felt important to have a diverse cast. It was a chance to merge the vibrancy of London with the quaintness of the countryside.
My first ever music video, To The Moon, was shot in my first ever bedroom in London. It’s just me throughout the entire video, and I created it with friends from home (@thinkedenmedia) so it was an intimate shoot. I tried to recreate that with Little Big Village as well. I literally just took my mates on a walk from my childhood house to the park I played at as a four-year-old. It was sweetly nostalgic.
What made you pick up the ukulele?
I remember first wanting to play the uke when I saw Martina Topley Bird do a live acoustic version of Baby Blue. She was wearing this mask in the Tokyo underground and sang and played whilst the camera follows. She used to sing with Massive Attack so she comes from that trip-hop scene, but this is entirely stripped back. That was my moment of inspiration where I thought, “yeah, the ukulele is cool.” I looked at her and felt inspired and confident. Then, when I lived in Exeter I took my baby cousin’s ukulele and went to play it at the top of this beautiful valley and just sang my heart out, it was such a freedom. I play the uke because of the range of sounds I can produce, it’s so interesting and intricate. Every time I write something new on the uke I learn how to use my voice differently.
If anyone asked what genre your music is, what would your answer be?
There isn’t one definitive genre. Everything is more playlisted now and people aren’t just listening to the same five artists or albums. On a playlist, you’ll have a wider range of genres to listen through. It’s indicative of our time especially with the internet and the music industry changing so rapidly. People’s tastes are becoming more diverse so we’re more naturally into our fusions. I’ve grappled with not being easy to define in the past, so I’m hoping this is going to work in my favour and lend itself to more modern listeners.
Every time I show someone my music, they’re always so surprised and say stuff like, “I didn’t think you were gonna sound like that, I thought you were gonna sound like…” and then they’ll reference an artist of colour like Whitney Houston. Which of course is fine, but is it just because my hair is often channeling her ‘Dance With Somebody’ video? Sometimes people will assume that I’m gonna sing some jazz, which undoubtedly is on my to do list, but for now I enjoy the quirkiness of rocking up on stage with a uke and singing chirpy melancholic bops.
Why is it so important that you source your talent locally?
Creatively, I tend to work with people that I know and trust with my work, my baby. You gotta put it into caring hands. I worked with a producer from home, Jake Day at Northacre Studios, and he really helped me make the track come alive. I usually perform solo, so I can’t also play the bass line and rhythm section that’s in my brain, which meant it was so exciting to finally hear those elements out loud.
Working with someone who can turn my ideas into a reality is so liberating. We’ve coloured in the lines so people can see, or hear, in this case. It feels great for people to understand my music a little more with this fuller sound that I’m so proud of.
Would you consider your music to be community-based?
I think so. I’m an independent musician and so far have self published my music. I’m on Spotify, Apple Music, GooglePlay, Youtube Music, iTunes and Amazon Music (I think that’s all of them). I have a DIY attitude as do many emerging artists I’ve met over the years, regardless of form. I think that’s why it’s important to surround yourself with creative peers, so you can fully utilise that rarefied atmosphere. I met Shiri Shah and Jamel Altise at an Open Mic in Herne HillI and they were kind enough to join me in the making of Little Big Village. I think if you’re an ambitious person, hang out with ambitious people and surround yourself with do-ers and dreamers. London definitely offers you that which is why I moved here. I try to meet creative people wherever I go and London has them in abundance.