Analogue Music | Aisha Badru

Aisha Badru

By Matt Conner

The nervous feelings are back again.

It's not that Aisha Badru hasn't overcome the feelings that arise with an artist's first few steps into the public sphere. Rather, she's realizing that the healing path forward—for both her and her music—is taking her away from the expectations of the marketplace. She's not a new artist, per se, but she's breaking new ground.

The feelings, as it turns out, are the same.

Anyone who has listened to Badru's work to this point, however, should know better than to question her musical intuition. From the initial songs on her Vacancy EP to her powerful and personal Pendulum LP, Badru made instant fans with her thoughtful songcraft as illustrated by songs like "Bridges" and "Mind on Fire."

These days, she's living off the land in central Florida, a world away from her home in Yonkers but the perfect place for her to grow and heal, to learn and listen. She's a different artist experiencing the familiar sensations that come with taking risks, but she knows she's all the better for it personally and she's offering that same hope to those who will follow along.

Analogue: You recently relocated to Orlando from New York. That's an interesting move.

Aisha: I have always been interested in sustainability and environmentalism and this movement of reconnecting with the land and living off of the land. I found a group of people doing that here in Orlando. I spent a few days down here last year and then I ended up just moving out here to be a part of that community.

Credit: Melissa Ann Photography
Credit: Melissa Ann Photography

Analogue: Do you find the work with the land and the rhythms there inform your songcraft?

Aisha: I think there's a little symbolism in my journey back to reconnecting with the earth—the planting, the sowing. I first became interested in growing my own food because I realized there are a lot of areas of our lives where we don't feel like we're in control. We've given up a lot of our power and control. That has to do with our emotions. Maybe we work jobs we're not happy with or we're suffering from a type of illness. All of those stem from giving up part of our power.

Reconnecting with the earth is me taking back a little bit of my power and my health. I think my health is very intertwined with my emotions, so I'm trying to look at health from a holistic view. I'm trying to deal with a lot of my emotional past, and I am doing that simultaneously while I'm doing these things to nurture me physically. I think the physical, the mental, and the emotional all go hand-in-hand.

So I've been growing and healing through food that I'm eating and the lifestyle I'm creating for myself. I think my music is healing as well. I feel like I used to reflect a lot on the negative things and focused a lot on my emotions. Now I feel so much more control of where I am in my life and where I am emotionally.

Analogue: Was there a turning point where you noticed that in your own music?

Aisha: I think it was maybe "Mind on Fire," when I wrote that song. It was me just trying to figure out why I'm not doing what I know I want to be doing. I think a lot of us, we have all these passions and visions for the world, but we get caught up in the things we can't control. "Mind on Fire" was the first song I didn't write about love. I wrote about society and how I feel about it. I wrote about how the girl with the mind on fire is still hiding and how I'm still searching for her.

After "Mind on Fire," I began to uncover her more and more. I think especially with this new EP, she's completely revealed herself. I think Road to Self is different than my previous release, Pendulum, because it's not about anyone else. It's not about being heard. It's about finding love and finding healing for yourself. So it's definitely a different girl on Road to Self, and I think it started with "Mind on Fire."

Analogue: As you find personal freedom and healing, are you finding that others are connecting in the same way as they're on their respective journeys?

Aisha: Yeah, for sure. This may sound weird, but I feel like every single thing that I went through—every imperfection I felt I had or every wound I had inside or every misstep—I think a lot of what I'm going through is reflective of where we're at, at large, in society. As I heal these places within myself, I'm realizing how important it is not just for me to heal these places but for everyone. When I release this music, people will say, 'Wow, that was like a therapy session.' Or they will say, 'I saw you live and it was a healing session.' So to have people look at me as a healer or therapist in some ways, it makes me feel that what I went through is something we're all struggling with. Those feelings of not being enough or being worthless or feeling lost or being independent on others for validation—so many people feel that way. That's why it's so important for me to continue to share this clarity that I feel in retrospect.

In a lot of ways, my music is medicine for some people, so that makes my healing journey even more pressing for me. Maybe there are days where I don't feel like being positive or I don't feel like trying to figure it all out. But the more I work on myself, the more I feel rewarded when I realize, 'Oh, I went through that because maybe this person needed to understand you can overcome that obstacle.' So I do feel people are connecting to my music in a profound way.

Analogue: You described music as medicine. Is that true for you as a listener?

Aisha: Well, honestly, the weird thing is that we also live in a society where if you turn on the radio, there's not all that much uplifting. Even if you try to find uplifting material, it's hard to find. There's a lot of consumerism or covering up your feelings with parties or drugs or alcohol. I've found that music has been a tool for me to wallow in a lot of my pain, so I'll go through periods where I have to turn off the radio and stop listening to music. I have to truly get past singing about our pain and heartbreak and trying to figure out where we go from here. I'm hoping that my music can fill that gap. I hope we talk more about happiness and healing than just the heartbreak and the losses and coming back from those.

I can't go back to writing those songs, so I have to continue to become this new person. It's almost like putting music out there for the first time. Now I'm having those same fears and doubts I first had back in 2014 and 2015.

Analogue: What is medicine for you then if maybe it's not so much as a music listener?

Aisha: Reconnecting with the land has been medicine, but the greatest medicine has been reflecting and trying to find the reasons why I went through a certain hard time. I think the most healing medicine of all is hitting rock bottom and then realizing why you needed to have that experience. I think that's powerful and healing. For example, if I didn't go through those relationships that didn't make me feel so bad about myself, I wouldn't have began writing music or creating art. Then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to travel the world. I wouldn't be making a living off of music. So I needed to go through those things for a purpose.

When I started embracing the hard times, I was able to convert it into something positive and use it as a tool to propel me forward. Understanding why we go through the hard things has been the medicine for me.

Analogue: If you're writing about these hard times or discoveries, is it hard to figure out what to put out there for public consumption?

Aisha: All of my personal reflections are there for the world to read. I share it all. [Laughs] I think that's what has helped me reach this level of connection with people. People want to connect on the level where they're not showing. We need to show it because it will encourage them to show those places within them as well.

Analogue: Has there been a moment where you've at least flinched at the sharing of it?

Aisha: I've been more afraid to release the songs that don't have to do with being in pain or heartbreak because I just don't know how people will receive this new perspective I've found. Will people want to hear some of my commentary on society or the places I think we need to heal. I just don't know if people are going to enjoy it as much as they enjoy some of my older, melancholy songs.

Analogue: Have you had much feedback to get a read on that?

Aisha: It's hard to tell. A lot of this music is new. I just released the EP, so it's hard to tell at this point, but I'm hoping that people also continue to follow me on my journey. It's at a point where I did get a lot of attention for the sad singer-songwriter songs I put out. I can't go back to writing those songs, so I have to continue to become this new person. It's almost like putting music out there for the first time. Now I'm having those same fears and doubts I first had back in 2014 and 2015.

VISIT: Aisha Badru