By Karissa Braxton
As part of our commitment to amplifying Black creative businesses, workers and their contributions to Seattle’s identity and economy during Black History Month and beyond, we are thrilled to share these interviews between local creatives and business owners Nathan Nzanga and Talaya Logan.
Nathan Nzanga is a first-generation Congolese American storyteller from Seattle. He describes himself as having “a whole lot of love to share” and not “just a rapper, but a Storyteller.”
My name is Nathan Nzanga! I was born in Seattle and grew up in Shoreline. I’m a love advocate! When I was growing up I learned about the power of storytelling. Stories break down barriers and bring people together. Stories have the power to connect people in the midst trials and tribulations or the midst of triumphs and celebration. Being an artist is my opportunity to find myself and be there for someone else at the same time!
The pandemic really hit the performing arts community hard! I was just beginning to start traveling to perform before the lockdown. The virtual adjustment has been fun, but I definitely still miss sharing the music in the same physical space. I miss the eye contact and the universal connection made between everyone in the room! We’ve moved forward by trying to rock as many virtual shows as possible! I think The lockdown has helped me tighten up my own abilities too! I’ve been recording myself and sending vocals to my team back and forth all year. It’s now always an option to work whether I’m in the studio or not.
We recently produced a short film called Enough: A Dream, A Nightmare, A Musical. It’s two part music video and documentary that captures interviews of me growing up. It’s all about the pursuit of love and empathy while dealing with racial tensions and policing. Enough is the lead single to a project we’re releasing this year called Accountabilabuddy. The concept behind it is that I’m willing to have your back in hopes that you’ll be willing to have mine.
I’m really looking forward to putting out our new music and one day being on stage again. I’m looking forward to all the new people our art may allow us to meet on the journey. Seattle’s got a great community of artists and creative business owners, so it’s amazing seeing more and more folk from the hometown shining and bringing a light on our city.
Nathan sat down with his friend, fellow creative and business owner, Talaya Logan to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on her business, her experiences within the industry, her growth and success, and hopes for the future and others in the industry!
Nathan: How has the pandemic affected you as a producer, engineer and recording artist?
Talaya: Oddly enough, I’m one of the people that have benefited the most during the pandemic. People are coming to me saying that they realize how much they don’t really need their 9-5, and that they’re ready to make their passion for music a career. Most times that starts with recording their music. I’ve been blessed to share what I’ve learned and been able to help people actualize their music. It’s amazing to witness.
Nathan: How have you had to adjust artistically and/or financially?
Talaya: This is an area of life that I expected to take the hardest hit during the pandemic, but it’s taken the greatest rise because people are really focusing on their careers. I’m working with more clients and revaluing work by setting appropriate pricing for engineering, vocal production, songwriting and recently artist development. The past year has truly allowed to me grow my small business and pool of community resources.
Nathan: What’s it like making connections in a male-dominated field?
Talaya: It’s been somewhat of a challenge. I’ve had people tell me that I don’t need to mention that I’m Black or a woman and I completely disagree with that because there are about 7 million people in the state of Washington and about 318,000 of those people are Black (2018 census). When you factor in age (21) and gender, that leaves probably about 10 people in my field that look like me. I only know of two other Black femme identifying engineers in Washington, so I feel the need to make who I am known because people who look like me and do this work deserve representation.
Nathan: Do you take pride in being a Black artist from Seattle and why?
Talaya: I do take pride in being a Black artist from Seattle mainly for the reasons mentioned previously. There are so few of us and often it feels like crabs in a barrel, but there’s a Renaissance coming. In fact, I believe it’s already started. There are so many new artists on the scene with incredible talent and hunger. I think it’s going to build a great infrastructure for the future of Seattle music.
Nathan: As the year goes on, what’s something you’re looking forward to?
Talaya: Something I’m looking forward to is releasing my first album and financial stability. I’m really excited to have a space of my own and really step into adulthood. Sometimes I still feel imposter syndrome. Like, who I am to be grown and live off my passion? But I know that I’m completely capable and my hard work is going to pay off soon. I’m really looking forward to that moment where I can say I finally did it. I got to the next platform in which I will then decide what my next goal is and crush it.
Talaya Logan is an engineer, vocal producer, songstress and beat maker from Seattle. She is inspired to “connect ears with hearts one song at a time.” One recent collaboration she produced is with creative Charles Zaid, who released his debut EP this week. Talaya did the recording, vocal production, mixing and mastering on the project.