Born and raised in Paris to Senegalese parents, Khadyak is an artist who reflects on where she’s been, while remaining determined and focused on marching forward. A singer, songwriter, dancer, and choreographer, Khadyak is by definition, a creative. As a professional dancer, Khadyak traveled the world supporting artists like Metronomy, Yelle, Busy P, and Breakbot. As a musical artist, Khadyak performed at the 2019 Paris Pitchfork Music Festival, and was spotted by artists such as Sampa The Great, Iggy Azalea, and Tommy Cash, for whom she was a supporting act in Paris.
On her newly released solo EP Rise & Walk, Khadyak introduces herself to the world with an energy as vibrant and raw as the underground French club scene. Her lyrics speak messages of empowerment and resilience over a soundscape of house-music meets afro-beats.
We spoke with Khadyak to learn more about her upbringing as a creative individual and the powerful messaging behind her debut EP.
The Orchard: You just released your first ever EP, Rise & Walk. What is this EP about? What do you want listeners globally to take away from this release?
Khadyak: Every song on Rise & Walk is an assessment or a lesson I learned after a setback in my life. I wanted to give everybody, especially those who need it most, the will to move and dance under any storm. As for the title of the EP, I love the image that you can be reborn and restart anytime you need to — you just have to rise and walk. I wasn’t born a Christian, but the idea that you can be forgiven is beautiful.
I want listeners to walk away feeling the importance of their existence. You are a human, moving and being. You are important. Like [German Dancer and Choreographer] Pina Bausch once said, “Dansez sinon nous somme perdus” — Dance, otherwise we are lost.
Many of your songs speak powerful messages of female empowerment. In “Lazertits” you sing “Where I come from, women is the power.” What about this song is your personal anthem and what went into that creative process?
All of my songs are very personal, so the writing process differs for each song. My song “Lazertits” was about realizing that I needed to move on from a bad relationship. Nobody wants to be alone, so I wanted to write a song that gives women the courage and strength to let go.
Who are some women that have inspired you and how have they contributed to your career progression? Can you talk about why producing songs with messages of female empowerment is especially important to you as an artist?
M.I.A is a real precursor — she was the one who gave me the will to pursue a music career. Grace Jones gave me the love to be different and to embrace the beauty of being black and powerful. I love that Maya Angelou showed eloquence and excellence in every career that she chose to do. It’s important that I produce and share my music because there’s no legacy or platform in Paris for artists like me. With such a blank space it’s important to create one for generations to come.
It’s hard to fit a lot of music these days into one “genre box.” How would you best describe your music? Where do these genre influences all come from and how have you used various influences to create your personal sound?
My music combines electronic music with elements of hip-hop, afro-dance, house, or really anything that can relate to club music. A lot of my musical influences come from the underground club — I’ve always loved the clubbing life.
You were raised by Senegalese parents in France. How do you think your upbringing influenced you as an artist and a person?
Senegalese people are very disciplined, resilient, and faithful people. They are also very creative. My parents taught me that you can create anything without a cent of money behind it. With love, kindness, and respect you can create anything.
Before you took off as a musical artist you were a professional dancer! I read that you had to put a pause on dancing and that’s when you found songwriting as a form of self-expression. How would you compare these two art forms when it comes to expressing yourself? In what ways has dancing influenced your musical career and vice versa?
Dance and music both complement each other, and I recently realized moving and using my voice can transform bad feelings into something creative. I always wanted to be a performer in every capacity. I really wanted to be a singer who can dance and perform on stage, so I practiced them both diligently. Putting a pause on dance was beneficial for me and allowed me to take the time and action needed to become the artist I am today.