According to the singer herself, Njomza means “a fresh bud of a flower, before it blooms.” She shared this during a 2019 interview with FOMO Blog before adding, “It’s the new bud, so it means something fresh, something new, something youthful.” At just 27 years old, Njomza embodies the full meaning of her name. She’s still young and her music and presence in the industry could be considered new and fresh to many. With just two EPs and a mixtape under her belt, Njomza is just getting started.
That brings us to the release of her third EP, Limbo. The quarantine-made project captures the lengthy moment of uncertainty that Njomza experienced over the past fifteen months, one that those who listen to the project will surely relate to. Its seven songs deliver what is the Chicago-raised artist’s most collaborative affair yet as it boasts contributions from Russ, Ari Lennox, Metro Mars, and WurID. However, make no mistake, Njomza has plenty of experience working with other artists like Ariana Grande for example and she helped penned the pop sensation’s “7 Rings” and “Thank U, Next” singles.
Fresh off the release of Limbo, Uproxx caught up with the singer to talk about the EP, how she dealt with her own period of uncertainty last year, and what she hopes listeners take away from Limbo.
It seems like the theme of this project, Limbo, is isolation with self or isolation with someone, confiding with them in a sense. What inspired this?
Being in quarantine, I feel like we were in a place that we were kind of in limbo. Also, I kind of noticed while I was writing the songs that they were kind of manifesting themselves into this project. I had initially finished my album first, and then Limbo came to be once I was already done with my album. So I was like, this needs to come up first before the album because I wanted it to be an EP. I didn’t see it as an album, even though I ended up treating it that way, but it’s really just like that back and forth of a relationship. That in-between space where you don’t know what direction y’all are headed, you don’t know if it’s the right thing for you, and the relationship really being in limbo.
Do you feel like you’ve broken out of limbo? If you have, what was the moment where you were like, “Okay, I’m free from this moment of uncertainty?”
I feel like I’m definitely coming out of it. The moment, I would just say, for me, is just choosing myself and getting to know myself first rather than falling into all those little traps to be in limbo. I really took time while being in that position to get to know myself and kind of figure out what I want for my life and my own self. So that was really the moment, just choosing me first before anything else.
With this period of uncertainty, are you someone that rides it out until it goes away? Or do you look for a way out of it as quickly as possible when it arrives?
I feel like I’m definitely the person that once I realized what’s going on, I have to pivot, I have to figure out a new direction. Especially if I’m seeing that it’s not serving me well. Obviously, we all fall back into stuff that we don’t want to fall back into sometimes, but I would definitely say I’m the second option definitely, as soon as I realize it I’m like, I gotta get out of here.
That brings me back to the pandemic. I can only imagine that if that’s an innate and natural feeling to you, it must’ve been hard for you to accept that breaking out of the pandemic world and its weirdness was hard.
During quarantine, I mean, it was so depressing, obviously, with everything going on in the world. Then, my whole career stopped, it was at a halt. I was supposed to drop my album, I was just planning to do so much. So coping with that, I really just leaned towards recording myself. I spent a lot of time recording myself at the house and trying to stay safe, but still being creative. The song “Honestly” on my project, on Limbo, I recorded at home and wrote it at home in my bedroom. That’s one of the songs on Limbo that I felt was birthed in quarantine. I was just trying to stay creative, trying to keep myself sane, while not freaking out every day.
What does this phrase, “finding comfort in discomfort,” mean to you? Especially now that we’re breaking out of pandemic life and getting back to a world that we once knew?
Finding comfort and discomfort, I feel like that phrase is my whole life in a nutshell. I feel like being an artist, for me, is exciting, but it’s also uncomfortable, like having to constantly present myself and be perceived to the world. I think the biggest thing for me recently has been being okay with being uncomfortable and being perceived all the time and having to constantly put my foot forward as an artist and show who I really am. I feel like releasing music is such a vulnerable process in all forms, when it comes to videos, the songs, [and] performing them. It’s just kind of finding comfort with that. That’s what it means to be at least, when I hear that that’s what I think about.
Have you ever found yourself trying to change how you create music so that it gets perceived in the way you want it to? Or do you just put it out and accept that everyone will receive it in their own way because that’s sort of the beauty of art?
I guess if I’m being completely honest, it’s got to be a little bit of both because as a songwriter, I feel like I can write any genre I want. I feel comfortable doing that and I listened to so many different genres, so in a way, I almost have to kind of think about what it’s going to be perceived as when I’m making a project. For Limbo, there’s a sound with Limbo and it kind of stays in this world. With my upcoming album, it’s the same thing. I feel like it’s different than Limbo, obviously, there are notes that are the same, like I’m singing all of this, so it’s still in that realm, but when I make projects, they become their own world. I think about what it means to me, but I also think about how my fans are going to perceive it or how the listeners are going to perceive it, I definitely think about that. But you can only think about it so much, because like you said, people are going to take it and run with it however they want. My hope is just that people feel it in a similar way that I do or at least they feel my intention behind it though.
Heading back to the music on the project, with the title track, “Limbo,” you mention money, fame, and pride as things that would interfere with a relationship. Are there any other things that get in the way whether it be through your doing or from your partners?
I guess pride is the best word out of those three, just covering all those bases, as something that can get in the way with not only romantic relationships, but friendships [and] all sorts of relationships. I definitely have dealt with that in my relationships and ego can definitely get in the way. There’s just a lot of paranoia all across the board when it comes to the music industry and especially living in LA. You just question people’s intentions and I think when you can put that aside and just realize we’re all human, we can prosper. I feel like those things definitely get in the way.
Moving onto “Over And Done,” you’re hit with the unexpected end of a relationship. How do you personally try and cope with things ending out of the blue?
You just have to realize that it’s just life at the end of the day. You can’t control people, all you can control is the way you react to situations. That’s just something that, personally, I just try to do in the best way possible. My new thing is that I’m trying not to take everything personally, that’s my new thing right now. My new motto is don’t take anything personally Because a lot of the times it’s not, everyone’s dealing with their own sh*t. I think that’s how I cope with it.
Contrary to your other projects, you worked with a lot of people on Limbo. There’s Russ, WurID, Metro Mars, and Ari Lennox. Why did you decide to incorporate so many new acts into this project?
I love collaborating and I’m excited that I’m finally just starting to do it. I’ve always just focused on writing my own music and getting my own sound figured out. I feel like I’m in a space now where I know what I’m bringing to the table, so I feel comfortable working with other artists and writers. I’m excited to see what other collaborations I’ll do in the future. I’m so open to it, so I guess we’ll see.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who feels like they’re in limbo?
My best advice is to go inward and get to know yourself because I feel like we’ve finally kind of had the time and space to do so. Put yourself first as much as you can and just strive for the better. That’s the best advice I could give in this situation.
I don’t want to dive too far into this, but how might Limbo go hand in hand with your next body of work? In terms of how the journey from Limbo to your next album might go?
I think Limbo is leading me to a place where I really am finding myself and focusing less on my relationships, I guess, and — still focusing on my relationships — but putting more focus on me and dealing with my emotions. That’s what I would say Limbo is leading me to.
For someone who might be new to your music or even someone who’s been a fan, once they finish Limbo, what’s something that you hope they take away with it?
I just hope that you can feel me as a human on these songs and that you just get something positive out of it. Whether it’s literally just being able to ride home from work and listen to the project and vibe out or it hits you a little deeper and taps into what you’re actually going through in life, I just hope it hits a heartstring in one way or another.
Limbo is out now via SinceThe80s/Motown. Get it here.
Njomza is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.