All the way from the Netherlands, Gaidaa is rising up over Cali to bless the R&B game. The Sudanese singer-songwriter puts her heart and soul in her music, unleashing powerful R&B ballads with acoustic instrumentation and vulnerable lyricism. With over 1 million streams independently, the “Falling Higher” artist proves dreams do come true as long as you work hard and stay passionate.
It was her 2017 cover of a Kehlani record that caught the attention of producer Full Crate. The two would go on to create “Storm On A Summers Day,” which hails over 7 million streams to date. Making the conscious decision to leave university, Gaidaa turned her focus to her own artistry, writing and recording any chance she could. In 2019, she was honored to perform “Morning Blue” at the COLORS studio, a record that sheds light on the political and social climate in Sudan.
Standing for justice and what’s right is a huge part of her mantra, as she puts on for her people in all facets of her life. Flaunt caught up with Gaidaa via Instagram Live to discuss her upbringing, how she’s surviving quarantine, her new single “Falling Higher,” goals, and more!
For those who don’t know, who is Gaidaa?
It’s an Arab name. I’m a Sudanese, Netherlands born and raised musician, singer-songwriter. I’m a weirdo doing my thing, love music. My mom’s a psychiatrist and my dad’s a musician. It’s intense because it’s hard not to analyze everyone in my whole life, about everything. It’s cool, it’s a nice perspective.
How have you been holding up during quarantine?
Life is going back to normal in a very strange way. I’m in the Netherlands, it’s super weird. It’s a lot smaller country so it’s easier to control. People are playing survival of the fittest at this point, it’s fucked up.
Any new hobbies or interests?
I started painting again, not even that I’m good at it. Because I’m not good at it, I like it. [laughs] It’s 0 pressure in painting, that’s been nice. Sitting in the garden to be honest, and doing nothing.
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Happy 21st to Meeeeee 👽👽👽 been a hella eventful year Ngl. This year I decided to follow my heart despite my brain telling me no. Beyond greatful for all the lessons I’ve learned and the people I have been lucky enough to cross paths with. Shoutout to my life man. Shoutout more clarity, shoutout more peace, shoutout more love. Turning 21 I’ve learned and decided that I choose no longer to live in fear (as corny as that sounds). I have the power to create my world, and I’ve decided i’ve got to make the most of that. I will continue to cry, to laugh, to love, to feel, to have my daily breakdowns and to just liveeeee. In spirit of my birthday and not living in fear haha, I’ve decided to release a likkle freestyle voice memo with @mariasvnchez_ I found on my laptop, on mySoundCloud. Thank you for all the loveley birthday messages today, I’m beyond greatful for the love in my life. I hope you guys enjoy 💛 LINK IN MY BIO
I know you just turned 21! How’d you celebrate your bday?
Really chill. I thought it was going to be like “oh my God, what is my life today? This is my 21st, I didn’t do shit.” I thought I was going to have to work on my birthday, but it was today instead. I went to the city with my brother, got some food and came back. Walked around, called my parents in the morning, bought myself a fucking birthday cake. Chilled out the whole day to be honest. I went to my friend’s house for 5 minutes because she got me a present. It was good, I felt very grateful. Even in this time I’m technically alone on my birthday quote, but I didn’t feel really alone. I have a lot of people who love me, I feel very grateful for all the love in my life this year round.
Being Sudanese and Dutch, what’s the cultural influence in your music?
Dutch is weird. I grew up in an international school, but I never even really felt like a Dutch kid at all. I was an international kid, whatever that meant. For the international kids, I was still a Dutch kid. When I’m in the Netherlands, I feel really Sudanese/non-Dutch. Really an English-speaking international kid. When I’m in Sudan, I feel super Dutch. The Dutch comes out. It’s been cool I guess. [chuckles]
What were you studying in university?
I went to university for a year, then another year pretending to go to university. I was doing International Media and Entertainment Management, which could’ve been cool but it was so broad. At the same time, I had a graphic design lesson, my teacher literally said “you guys are not here to be creative, just do the assignment.” I thought “what the fuck am I doing here? What is going on?” It was an experience. It’s my first time living alone, so that was fun. Apart from that, I moved right back home.
When did music become real for you?
During that time actually. In my second year of university, I lived down South. Most of the music stuff going on is in Amsterdam and up North areas like Rotterdam, which most musicians were. More studios, more stuff is happening. Since I was a student in the Netherlands, you get free travel. You could take trains for free, either the week or weekends. I chose during the week because I thought “how could I finesse this.? [laughs] For a year, I was essentially pretending to go to school to my parents. I was leaving my house going to the studio. Getting on the train making use of my free travel, networking.
Through that time, I really realized “oh shit, maybe I should pursue this.” The song “A Storm on Summer’s Day” hadn’t come out yet, that’s the first thing. We connected through Instagram somehow, then I moved to the UK and we never linked up. Spammed Full Crate for a good 2 years, he ignored me completely. As I’m about to move back, he randomly messaged me “when were we going to do something?” I said “yo I’m literally moving back in 2 weeks.” The first time we met, we wrote the song and recorded it. I had no plan, no expectations. I knew I wanted to do music but in my head, “fuck I have to wait until after university or someone has to discover me.”
It came out, I was going to the studio realizing “oh shit, this has way more impact on my life than I thought. I could actually take this seriously right now.” At some point, I had to fess up to my parents. I was sleeping on couches, on studio floors, people’s houses. Living my gypsy life, not going to school so that I could make music. It’s so hard to explain to my parents because they‘re like “bro, what the fuck are you doing everyday in random places and random cities?” Eventually I quit uni, decided to pursue music.
“A Storm On A Summers Day” is such a vibe. How’s it feel to surpass 5M streams?
It’s super weird actually. [chuckles] It’s the first real thing that came out. To think that it was received so well, it’s a pure moment. I’m grateful.
You released “Falling Higher” last month. Who or what inspired this record?
My life! While I wrote it, I went to New York. It’s funny because it’s my second time ever in New York. The first time was with my mom, she had one of those work trips planned a couple years ahead. I said “you gotta take me.” It was before “A Storm On A Summers Day” was released. I managed to get a session with Topaz Jones, it was a lot of fun. I thought “next time I’m here, it better be for music.”
Lo and behold, next time I’m there was to meet my management, do sessions, go to meetings. I was so overwhelmed by all this. What the fuck? I’m actually in New York doing exactly what I want to be doing, working towards my literal dream. How the fuck did I end up here? I was in a session with SamTrax, he plays the loop that you essentially hear on the song. Everyone turns around, it was a moment. We’re working on something completely different, The Phony Ppl were in the room too. Someone’s playing the bass, it super quickly happened. A pure moment again, a lot of fun.
What’s one thing you want fans to get from this record?
When I first heard this song, it made me feel very free in a way. To not give up on working hard and accept that sometimes you’re going to be fucking overwhelmed, and that’s okay too. Feeling my life and the world’s throwing me all over the place, but being thrown into the direction that I want. Even though I’m falling, it’s still in the right way. Shit’s unfolding. You might not feel control over the things that happen, but with a certain level of acceptance is a certain level of peace. You can do anything you want basically. [chuckles]
Any goals for yourself at this point of your career?
After Corona, so much stuff got cancelled. Shorter-term goals were performing at festivals, doing more band shows, travelling for stuff. Now, it’s not really a thing. I really want to release my EP. I’m already working on my second EP, but I really want to eventually do a sick album. I want to collab with my dad on my album.
I saw you said earlier you miss human interaction.
I really miss human interaction. I’m grateful that I’m able to perform on Live, I still have an outlet. I’m able to be an artist still, people can listen and hear me. But I miss the aspect of talking to people before shows, getting nervous. Every single show, I’m always like “why the fuck did I decide to become a musician? Why do I want to sing, why did I want to perform?” After the third song, I’m like “okay I get it.”