Name: My government name is Hadiza Kubura Sa-Aadu, but most people just know me by first name.
Tell us about yourself and about your work!
I’m a singer-songwriter, composer, musician, performer, graphic designer (by necessisity) and occasional visual artist. Solo, I perform under Hadiza and I am also 1/2 of the electronic, experimental, soulgaze, whatever project Collidescope. My partner Madi and I met in Iowa City in 2016, but we relocated to Kansas City last summer. I was also born and raised in Iowa City/Coralville.
Solo, I’ve had a lot of trouble describing my music. I make music becuase I don’t see a therapist. I make music to heal. Sometimes people resonate with it and that gives me the greatest joy. ‘Gone’ is me on the keys and voice with a bunch of layered harmonies, my friend JL on drums, and Madi on bass and guitar. When I’m not playing or rehearsing with the full band, qait’s way different than with the other instruments. I guess solo, it’s more akin to jazz/soul/classical and with a band, it’s more aligned to rock. I don’t really know though, you should listen if you want to!
Collidescope is more of an experimental collaboration blending elements of soul (vocals and production), rock, industrial, but for the most part we’re combining sounds that we come up with and that we like. Madi does the production, some synths and background vocals, and I do main vocals, lyrics and some synths. The best characterization we’ve gotten is ‘ambient funk’, which was cool but I wouldn’t use that as the description for our current set.
Any places we can access your work right now?
At the end of last year I released my first solo EP ‘Gone‘, which you can listen to on Band Camp. I’m working on a full-length solo LP that will be released late summer inshallah. We also released our first iteration of Collidescope to the world, an EP called ‘Systemic‘ late 2017, which you can also listen to on Band Camp. For that first EP, Madi and I shared (and to an extent, still do) a mindset that once we finish songs we record them, mix/master ourselves and release them quickly and make space for new ideas as they bubble up to the fore. If you’ve never seen us live, our current set is quite different from what we have of ourselves online. We’re working on a 2nd EP, featuring a couple singles, perhaps some visual assistance, in the form of a music video or two, and then we’ll have space for our first Collidescope LP.
Why do you think the artistic community in Iowa is so important?
Personally, the artistic community of Iowa is so incredibly important because I owe my identity as an artist in part to it. Specifically, growing up in the Iowa City Community School Disctrict (ICCSD) there was so much emphasis on art and music education that you didn’t need to have parents with means and connections to put you in music lessons, to pick up an instrument or cultivate a passion for visual art. I am so incredibly grateful for that foundation. Though I was privileged to have parents who put me in piano lessons at a young age, I had several friends who didn’t get to, but still were able to learn instruments and participated in band, orchestra and choir in school. Some of them still play! Having come from that background and having peeked into the realities of public education outside of Iowa (namely Kansas City), it is exceptionally rare in the United States that public education will fund arts education. It’s both depressing and infuriating that art in all its mediums is something that the powers that be deem unworthy of being taught to children who are so naturally attuned to expressing themselves, unlike adults.
As an adult, the arts community of Iowa has been a fertile ground for me to further develop myself as a performer and songwriter. Before returning to Iowa City for grad school, I lived for the most part in Atlanta and briefly in New York City. I first grew into my shoes playing keys for other artists in New York shortly after finishing college, and really didn’t take it too seriously at all. It was more an outlet for stress and anxiety dealing with the throes of corporate america (espcially navigating it as a Black Woman, WHEW). I didn’t see myself as a performer, a singer, a songwriter or really anything that I’m doing musically these days. I moved back to Atlanta (where I moved for college), and spent a couple years experiencing exponential growth recognizing myself as a songwriter, performer, and background vocalist and I also started giving lessons. I took all of these experiences back to Iowa City where I could hit the ground running more or less. Iowa City is the place where I established a band for my solo project, built connections with other musicians, did a whole bunch of jams and met and fell in love with Madi and created Collidescope. Iowa is where I got used to the idea of getting paid for shows, both DIY and otherwise. It’s almost wild to think that in the short time that I was back in Iowa (less than 2 years!) I was fortunate enough to be play festivals and sing my heart out on bigger stages/events like Little Big Fest and Mission Creek. You wouldn’t think, as an outsider that Iowa City would be such a breeding ground for the creative arts but it really is, despite its size. There are so many opportunities to grow and establish yourself as a musician because Iowa City is a place that at its core, really cultivates and supports the DIY ethos. I know I and so many other artists sometimes deal with feelings of self doubt, but with an abundance of examples of other artists just ‘doing it’, you realize it’s all possible and at your fingertips. You just have to believe and put in the work, experiment, regroup, refine.
I can’t lie though, Iowa City can be frustrating. Paritculary as a Black person who happens to be queer and a woman. In my experience there have been times where it seems like people are hesitant to approach you or give you the time of day (at best) and are straight up hostile to you for seemingly no reason (at worst), all because you have the audacity to be exactly who you are in front of people while not matching the typical profile of the most known artists in Iowa. It’s almost like you can hear folks thinking “how dare you think you’re anything great” from their body language or efforts to act like you don’t exist. These can be devastating experiences in the moment, they have great potential to rob you of your joy. I’ve learned to be genuinely grateful for them because they become fuel for art. You realize that you must find your own niche. Not every crowd is for you. Not every crowd wants to see you shine. Some crowds are going to go out of their way to be disrespectful and make you feel small…and I guess this is probably similar in just about any place, but it’s slightly different in Iowa because there just isn’t as much diversity overall as other places. There aren’t really places where you aren’t “the only”, or one of a few, who become tokenized or pitted against the “one other”. That’s why, when you do find those crowds that genuinely love, that aren’t afraid to affirm you and thank you for helping them see their own source of inspiration within you, hold on to those (shout out to the Quad Cities!). If anything, I think actively seeking out artists who don’t fit the cishet white profile is an excellent start to breaking down false walls. Don’t be afraid of outspokenness either.
Who else can we lift up? Give someone a shoutout!
Sorry (not sorry) to be corny but the person I want to see uplifted is Madi! She does her own solo project ‘Babydoll‘ and let’s me play keys on it. She’s incredible and she’d probably never seek something like this out herself, but I would love to see her featured. Her Instagram is here.
I also want to give a shoutout to my friend Fatima Diokno, who has just organized the 4th annual “Violence Against Bodies of Color” event of performances, focusing on POC in Iowa City taking place April 17 at Merge. The email address for submissions is: email@example.com
Any events coming up?
We’re doing a short weekend run as Hadiza, with stops in Des Moines at Petal Palace on Friday night (February 22rd) and Iowa City’s Yacht Club on Saturday night (February 23rd). In March, we’ll be doing another short run as Collidescope. We will be at Rozz-Tox in QC Friday, March 22nd, opening for Sneaks and back in Iowa City at Blue Moose Saturday, March 23rd with some dear friends of ours.
Check out Hadiza’s Instagram here!