Selected by: James Keith
Photography: Edward Cooke

Name: Abisha

Where She’s From: Devon-born, South London-raised

When She Started: 2017

Genre: Alternative R&B

File Next To: Ayelle, Izzy Bizu, Greentea Peng

Sounds Like: “I’d define my sound as alt-R&B with a splash of pop. The core is R&B, but I do love a good catchy pop melody every now and again.”

First Music That Inspired Her: “I’m gonna go with ‘2 Become 1’ by The Spice Girls. That was my most popular karaoke choice when I was younger.”

Before moving to London in her teens, R&B newcomer Abisha was born and raised in Devon. Besides growing up what felt like a million miles away from the cultural hub of LDN, she also felt isolated for a different reason. As the only queer person and the only mixed race person in school, her confidence took continuous knocks. “I would sit in class and pull on my hair to make it straighter and longer and less bushy,” she says, “as the only mixed-race person surrounded by white people, you take extreme measures to try and fit in and look like everyone else.”

Understandably, leaving for university at Goldsmiths in London was a freeing experience and has given her a marked boost to her confidence and a noticeable self-assuredness that can be heard more and more with each new release. Take her 2018 single “Confused”, for example, which arrived just one year after making her debut. The track has rightly been praised not just for the music video’s diverse casting, but for its sensitive and intelligent exploration of the coming out process and the pressures that come with it.

“That song is so personal and I wanted to get across exactly what it meant to me. It was so important to showcase other gay couples, sexualities and races,” Abisha explained when profiled as part of Gay Times’ ‘Solidarity’ issue. “The song is talking about my experience, but I also wrote it because it’s so relatable, whether it’s about your partner struggling to come out or they don’t know where they stand with their loved one. I wanted to put it across in as many ways as possible. I’m trying to reach out to people who do feel different and make them feel like they belong.”

Although it was a chance meeting in a pub in New Cross with Australian producer Mike Chapman (The Knack, Blondie), who worked on “Confused”, Abisha’s success feels inevitable. Her gift for rousing songwriting and her emotive vocal style—at times tender and vulnerable, at others powerful and soaring—suggest an artist who seemingly emerged fully-formed and with a clear vision for her trajectory. As well as a gifted singer-songwriter, she’s also enjoyed significant success as a DJ, having played at some of the biggest festivals in the country including Parklife, Reading and Wireless, which she considers some of her biggest achievements to date.

Although touring as either singer or selector isn’t really an option just yet, due to COVID-19 restrictions, that will no doubt come in due time. For now, Abisha still has plenty to say on record, and if recent single “One Night” and EP Scorpio are anything to go by, major recognition is just around the corner.

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on August 06, 2020