NATIVE Exclusive: Bloody Civilian Is Stepping Into The Spotlight

"I followed the process of self-discovery and it was fun."

Before the release of her debut EP ‘Anger Management,’ Bloody Civilian was an ascendant star with only a handful of hits to her name. Powerful anthems such as “How To Kill A Man” and “I Don’t Like You” released just months apart, were open and honest confessionals from an artist developing in real time. Both written and produced by the Abuja-based singer, both tracks introduced audiences to her diary-like ruminations which sounded like a friend on the other end of the phone line.

It’s clear that Bloody Civilian arrived at her current sound with experiences that have shaped her musically, and personally, without fear of holding back truths about open about her past struggles with mental health, and Bad Aunties. “At first, I was trying to tone it down. I didn’t want it to be on the nose but I couldn’t do it any other way because these were the things I was really feeling,” she shared in a recent track-by-track interview.

Her artistry is put on full display on her 6-track debut EP, ‘Anger Management’ with a disarming authenticity and vulnerability that could shock new listeners. She tackles a series of emotions many can relate to; from the dread of withdrawal from a bad habit to the frustrations derived from interactions with nosy relatives. ‘Anger Management’ provides more insight into Bloody Civilian’s life and journey as she comes into her own armed with the skills and confidence of a veteran paired with the curiosity of a newcomer.


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In her first-ever exclusive interview with the NATIVE, the rising artist opens up about her creation process, the autonomy that comes with producing her own music and the years-long journey to where she is today: an artist unafraid to mince her words.

Our conversation, which follows below, has been lightly edited for clarity. 

NATIVE: Let’s start by talking about your name. Why did you choose Bloody Civilian?

Bloody Civilian: It basically stemmed from where I’m from. There’s a lot of military violence and the term bloody civilian gets used on the victims. I’m from a place where my people keep going through stuff like this. So, I chose the name as a way to take it back. 

Where are you from?

Taraba and Kaduna State.

Talk to me about your background in music. Who are some of your early influences?

My early influences are Asa, Nneka, Kid Cudi, Kanye, Tame Impala. These are the people I grew up listening to them, especially in high school. Their sound influenced my music. For song lyrics and song writing, these are some of the people I look up to. Kendrick is also in there. I love Kendrick. 

Early in your career, you achieved some outstanding feats like collaborating with Rema for the Black Panther soundtrack, how was that experience like?

It was a fun experience although I actually never met Rema. It was especially great working on production and seeing how someone with way more experience does what they do. It was just a nice learning experience. 

You double as a writer, producer and singer, and that’s an interesting thing a lot of artists in our time are not doing at the moment. How is it like being involved in the entire creative process of your music?

Production is something I didn’t make a conscious choice about. When I started producing, I didn’t know what I was doing was production. I just thought I was playing with my laptop. It was mostly playing around with the software that my cousin had installed on my laptop. Someone discovered it and told me that it was production. By then, I started to take it slightly more seriously. I started to pay more attention to it. Production was never an active chore or choice. It was a fun escape I did in my spare time.  [Also], I always loved writing songs from a very young age. I write songs and sing them to my parents. Again, it never felt like a chore. It wasn’t compulsory. It just always came from inspiration. If I got inspired, I’d write. If I got inspired, I’d produce as well. 

What advantage does producing your own music afford you?

I feel like because I have been able to express myself not only lyrically, and vocally, I’m also really able to control the story. Every time I make a song, it sounds cliche, but I always try to get the sonics to match what it is I am singing about. I don’t like when I create music and it feels like the instrumental is telling a story while the vocals are telling another. There’s a particular chord progression I’d use to say a particular sentence. I’m very specific about it. I always want everything to be perfect. So, I wonder how I’m going to cope now that I’m going deeper into the industry because it’s a process that may not translate when working with larger groups. I’m excited to learn how to work with people. 

You mentioned artists and producers that you look to for inspiration. What about their works stands out to you?

I think generally, the type of music I’ve unintentionally grown attracted to is all around the same style. They are created in similar conditions. Most of these people when I read about them, they are isolated. They like to be in their own space and in their own world. For example, Tame Impala. To create my favourite album, he went to a beach house without phone service. He was in isolation, far away from everyone and everything. There’s a purity his sound also has. There’s a nuclear sense to all his ideas and it makes it feel more authentic. Listening to his music feels very pure and original. That’s why I’m inspired by these people. 


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Your creative process entails you stepping back from the world to your own space to create. As a writer, and producer, do you think anyone comes first when you’re creating a song? 

Usually, the words drop with the beat idea. A concept or a chord progression. I always get the message and it already has its chords, melody and tune. My struggle from that point is to decide how to package the initial idea. 

Have ever produced tracks for anyone else, and is that something you’re looking to do in the future?

Yeah back in the day. Nothing too big. I started off making Trap because trap was very for my rapper friends. I charged 15K per one. It wasn’t much, and they were working with me because I was the only one they could afford. Now, because my production and artistry are tied together, working with other people is something I want to do. I have to see how that goes because I want to prioritise my career and take that leap of faith in myself . 

One thing that stands out about your music from the titles to lyrics is how confident and unapologetic they are. Especially “How To Kill A Man” and “I Don’t Like You.” Why was it so important to communicate these strong feelings as titles?

Music has been an escape for me. It’s where I live vicariously through the characters I create. For me, it’s necessary for my mental health. I can’t do without being able to express myself. If I didn’t have music, I don’t know what I would have turned out to be. I was a troublesome child  and music was one of those things I used to hold myself together while feeling like I’d let emotions out. 

Do you see music as your own storytelling medium?

Music is definitely my storytelling medium. I had a point where I really loved writing poems and short stories but I found out my attention span was really thin. With songs, you can tell a shorter story in a small amount of time. I’d enjoy the dopamine of musicality and still have a similar experience. 

It’s difficult to place you in a box or under one genre, is that something that was intentional? If you had to describe your music to someone that has never listened, how would you qualify it? 

My Spotify Wrapped always grouped me as an explorer. [I] cannot be in one place and that has been true for the longest. I really consume music in moods. I see myself as an A&R in a way. I love to curate different types of music that are not even in English. It has given me problems and benefits. Problems because my ability to focus on one thing is very slim. I usually just do so much. It also helps me have an abundance of ideas and inspiration. It’s so much stuff I’ve studied sonically and it helps me infuse so many different things. I started off making beats online. I noticed the recurrent feedback was ‘how did you mix those two things?’ I know that’s something I’ve organically had this inclination for. 

Are there genres you look forward to exploring in the future? 

Not really. I go by ear. I also just feel genre’s don’t serve the same titles as they did in the past. We’re defining genres more demographically now. I just know that I love music and when something sounds good and it inspires me, it simply works. 

Let’s talk about the moments leading up to your debut EP. How have you felt leading up to the release? 

The moments leading up to it were similar to most people. I [released] two singles and gauged what kind of crazy songs people would like “How To Kill A Man” and an even crazier song like “I Don’t Like You.” I followed the process of self-discovery and it was fun. I met people, and lost people. It was everything I expected. My perspective is just the default I guess.

Artists usually comb through a series of projects as inspiration for their own music. Who are the people you listened to while creating ‘Anger Management’?

The songs were created over a long period of time so it’s hard to place. Everything got reproduced so it can suit the times. I personally believe you can carry any song concept and put it in any time. A lot of those concepts changed from years ago, I just reproduced and revamped them to make sense for now sonically. I have been listening to everything. I can say for specific songs like “I Don’t Like You,” I liked “Xtra Cool” by Young Jonn. I loved his voice and the rhythm. At the time, he brought it into a space where I couldn’t find songs that sounded similar to what he brought in regards to the drum pattern. There was something about it and it really inspired how I approached the drums for “I Don’t Like You.” 


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What messages were your priority when you were creating the ‘Anger Management’?

I’ll be honest with you. At first, I was trying to tone it down. I didn’t want it to be on the nose but I couldn’t do it any other way because these were the things I was really feeling. As I was making some of the songs, I was actually really upset. I was really angry. I was trying to tone it down but it wasn’t working because it simply was not aligned with my reality. At some point, I had to tell myself I could only keep the act up for a while. It was going to be very different and toned down. Things happened as I was trying to wrap up the EP and we ended up having to change it from what it was before. I was taking out things I felt were fake and not what I represented. I had to go back and forth asking what the implications of trying to put swear words on air would be for example. People just kept saying do what you want because we can always do a clean version. I just wanted to be unhinged with everything and luckily, I have a good team that will help me keep my dreams of being X-rated. 

It definitely paid off. 

For sure. I’m glad we kept it as raw as it was coming. 

You have six tracks on the EP. Talk me through your process of deciding the final songs especially considering you had recorded some a while back. How did you decide what needed to make a comeback and the final cut?

[The songs] made sense. I also thought no one was going to listen to eight tracks, so I opted for six tracks rather than four. Left for me, I wanted to do an album but you can’t do it for your first drop. I haven’t been putting out music but I’ve been making music for such a long time. This is a dilemma you usually don’t find. Where people are making music and not releasing because most people’s motivation is the fact that they would put it out. I’ve spent so many years of my life just creating so I have so much music. It was very hard deciding what songs to push to the front. I went based on how I was feeling at the time. If I feel angry/passionate at a certain time, all the songs need to reflect that. I need to talk about that. The other songs will come out later if they make sense for how I feel at that time. 

What can we expect from you in the future?

People should expect more music from me. That’s what I do. What I want for my future is to meet people, travel and work with great minds. I am excited to see what the future holds. I feel like my team is enough for me and my A&R’s are convinced that I can find people outside the team I already have. I’m curious to see where that goes and I’m open to being raw for sure. 

Stream ‘Anger Management’ below.

Featured Image Credits/The NATIVE