Feminist infused jazz in Camden
Anoushka Khandwala
15:46 15th November 2018

Poppy Ajudha showcases feminist infused, jazz inspired tones in a soaring performance at the Jazz Cafe.

Beginning with 'She Is the Sum’, Ajudha’s rendition is true to the EP, but as always with jazz, so much better live. Moving effortlessly into ‘Love Falls Down’, her backing singers prove themselves as multifaceted musicians, picking up a trumpet and trombone to blast out the brass. Complex rhythms, spotlights of bass and guitar solos and a drummer who has mastered the act of spontaneity form a set which is exceedingly accomplished, so much so that like all technical competence, the audience doesn’t notice. 

‘Spilling Into You’, heightened by an ethereal reverb, soars past the ceiling of the Jazz Cafe, as Ajudha dons a guitar to serenade the venue. Hot colourful lights highlight the fingerpicking of the guitarist in ‘When You Watch Me’, immersing us in imagery, “you say my kiss is like a building crumbling… it feels a lot like liquid sunshine". The ‘watch me’ refrain is echoed by the endless talents of her backup singers in gentle, wistful reassurance.

Moving into ‘Tepid Soul’, her voice regains the strength of her feminist passion intersecting with a fascination with identity. She attracts a crowd who appear devoted to her, transcending boundaries of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation. Perhaps it is her strong political stance, “how many feminists we got in the house?”, moving with ease from a speech about female adolescent empowerment to her struggles with growing up as mixed race and never truly fitting in to either the black or white community. “When you grow up in London and you look ambiguous, people project their ideas onto you. It’s about feeling different on both sides of your family, this song is for any other mixed race people who have felt that."

The offbeat, melodic notes of the music are echoed by the rhythmic sway of Ajudha’s hips, despite declaring how nervous she was in the dressing room. Dancing away, she seems at ease.

The audience drinks her in, feeds off her strong vibrato; a nectar they’re addicted to. Ajudha’s voice, reminiscent of Winehouse combined with the nostalgic, dusky tones of old Fitzgerald and Armstrong duets, encounters no barriers whilst filling the Jazz Cafe. The venue is the perfect size; intimacy reigns supreme, yet there is a sense of even bigger things to come, the excitement of the future hangs in the air. Despite the unwavering success of the night (even the bar staff are dancing) Ajudha’s humility remains. Amidst giving a shoutout to her nan in the audience, she declares that she’d ‘love to meet you all at the merch table, you all seem lovely.’ 

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Photo: Anoushka Khandwala