“The Chosen Ones” Pt. 5 – Poppy Native, Singer/Songwriter
Call it cliché or ironic, but truth is, the first thing I talked about with rising R&B singer/songwriter, Poppy Native, was - in fact - love.
From our complicated relationship status, recent heartbreaks and inevitable run-ins with no good “f--boys,” nothing was left off our table of scattered Hibachi lunch trays. “We legit be minding our business, but they make it ‘a thing.’ All I do make music and mind my business.”
To minimize our meeting to just an interview would undermine the connection that took place. This was a dazed reunion of sorts, which in itself speaks to the divine order our paths have led us to. The creative scene in SC small, so small that Poppy and I, have been in the same room and didn’t even know it; “Literally all of the creatives in South Carolina know each other.”
If you’re from the South, you can attest that this isn’t a far cry from our interconnected relations; their cousin is your cousin. Your friend went to school with their sister, and somehow we’re all connected through a thread of peculiar kinship.Although Poppy was born in Long Island, NY, and jokingly admits, “I can’t even claim it,” it was Orangeburg, SC where she came of age and eventually found her voice. “I’ve been making music since my senior year of high school, but it was always on the low.” With the push of her inner circle, Poppy eventually broke out of her shell and began putting out music little by little.
Still, coming into full-singer mode came with its set of challenges when her demanding college schedule required all of her attention, “I was a history major. I know people who can do both, but I just couldn’t.” After reaching a standstill with her studies junior year, she took it as an opportunity to take her musical talents more seriously.
In everything she does, it has to feel right; it has to feel like home. From her stage name, to love and relationships and her artistry, if Poppy’s heart’s not in it, neither is she. Lucky for us, this ensures that whatever we're gifted from the 22-year old songstress will be wholly and righteously hers.
Are you a moody songwriter? How do you usually come up with you work?
It depends. Most times it’s a venting session, other times it’s fantasy. I have a lot of love songs but that’s not my truth. Not right now. I don’t have a man, nobody adores me, I’m not falling in love. But I write a lot of stuff that would ideally be nice. So yeah, fantasy is a big part of it but venting and my personal experiences is a hell of a big chunk of it too. I have a nice balance of both but love is usually the fantasy part, sadly enough.
That’s surprising because listening to your music, I would think you had a man. To be able to pull that out of you says a lot.
Is it really that lovey-dovey?
I will say that when I was listening to “Venus in Cancer,” you sampled “Rain,” by SWV, and with rain, it can be depressing, but it can also me cleansing.
I was in a good space when I wrote that, but I also had the voice in the back of my head that was like, “Are you sure sis? Are you positive that this is what you want to do?" But at that point, I was so far gone, I was like f-ck it; let’s just take it there. That’s where I got the concept from. It’s like a half-love, half-heartbreak song because I was preparing myself, I wasn’t feeling 100% sure about it, but I allowed myself to fall into it.How would you describe your sound?
Tantric, dark, R&B. Dreamy, but especially dark. A lot of my songs are dark, but not “dark” like, I’m so depressed. The instrumentation that I cling to tends to be very slow, that grabs at you. Most of the stuff I do is either old-school sampling or very dark. I just make music that I would like to listen to.
It’s interesting you say that because a lot of your music also gives me Jhene Aiko vibes, do you draw inspiration from any artists like that?
I love Jhene Aiko. I stan for her. But, she’s not one of my influences. I don’t draw my influences of anybody modern at all. I am an old-school girl, my mama raised me off of Motown. Anita Baker, Patrice Rushen, Minnie Ripperton, Mary J. Blige, Marvin Gaye, Donnie Hathaway, I adore them. The way they were able to capture emotion in song was just beautiful to me. But I mean, I still listen to modern music of course, because I’m a girl in 2017. But the people who made me pick up the mic and sing? It was them; 70’s and 80’s R&B.
Let’s get into your name, how did you come up with the concept of Poppy Native?
Poppy is a flower. I knew that it was a flower but I really connected with it because one of my favorite poets, Alysia Harris from the Striver’s Row, her name on Twitter was “Poppy in the Wheat.” And I was like, Poppy in the Wheat? How she placed it together really caught my eye. There’s just something about Poppy that’s so cute and bubbly. And anything that’s floral just makes me feel happy; nature in general [does that for me]. And "Native," I just slapped on there because anywhere I go, any part of my music, has to feel right to me; it has to feel like home.
Speaking of home, as an Orangeburg native, what’s one thing you would say about South Carolina that you wish other people knew about it?
Orangeburg has some crazy talented people in it. Everywhere has talent, but Orangeburg? Man, I promise, when you go into the schools and actually give these kids a platform, they are remarkable. My writing teacher in high school would give us open mics and there’d be crazy talent. I think a lot of people don’t know about [Orangeburg] because it’s so small. I mean, there’s [South Carolina State University and Claflin University], but those kids at the high school and middle school level they are super, super, talented. And that’s when I started to experiment with my creativity, when I was in high school.
Now, with South Carolina...
Is that a challenging question?
It is because... I don’t know if this is easy but, it’s a community here. Yeah, we have our little bouts here and here, everyone can’t get along, but it is a community. With the push of culture that’s coming up now, I feel like a lot of people have each other’s back and we all just want to see each other win. Being that we’re so small [as a State], I feel like it’s bridging us together as opposed to keeping us apart. For the most part, community is really big here because it’s us vs. Atlanta, it’s us vs Florida. So I think people are coming together, at least from what I’m seeing.
When people talk about South Carolina, it never seems to be in a good light. Do you think there’s some truth to this?
We have to give SC more credit because we probably wouldn’t be making music if we weren’t here. Something here ignited something in us to say, “Ok, I want to take this creative route.”
Let’s get into how boring it is. Yeah, it was boring! But it forced us to be creative; it forced us to be imaginative. I remember when I used to sing songs to myself while outside playing. We didn’t have a lot of distractions around us, so we used that space as children to really use our imagination and just take it there. It was so peaceful, no sirens, you could really hear yourself as a child and just take it there. So we have to give credit to that.
How do you see yourself continuing to push the culture?
Just by being myself and being transparent. People are always watching. I can’t please everybody; I can’t be the perfect person I can’t reach everybody with my music. But I’m never going to forget where I come from. I’m not going to stay here all my life, so let’s say I go somewhere else, I’m never going to forget because it’s important for people to know where you come from. I don’t want there to be any misconception about where I come from because everything that happened in Orangeburg is the reason why I’m here today.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
That’s really the toughest question because I'm the person that lives my life day to day. I usually plan out my New Year months before the New Year [starts] because I feel like planning too far ahead places limitations. There’s nothing wrong with manifestation but what if God has something better? What if God has something that you never thought you wanted to do. but it’s more home to you?
But honestly, I don’t see myself ever stopping making music even if I go back to school or start a career, I don’t have to be famous but I’m still going to be making music. I would like to reach different crowds outside of SC, of course, that’s like the main goal. But as far as making music, I’m never ever, ever, ever going to stop. I’ll go crazy without it.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
That love lives, love never dies. And that vulnerability is the best thing you can do for yourself and the people around you. As bad as it hurts to write about that “thing,” write about that “thing.” Just do it because someone else might need it. In addition to that, you’re also moving past it. The theme is always love.
For more information on Poppy Native and her endeavors, follow the below links:
Peace, peace, peace,