Soulful, charming, sweet. Naomi Cowan embodies the very song title that fans have come to know and love her by. Paradise Plum [produced by Teflon Zincfence] has been one of the year’s top records in reggae and dancehall as many deejays have been acquainting eager crowds with Cowan’s music.
Making its much anticipated debut, is the official Paradise Plum video, a colorful, cheery, Jamaican inspired take on the song, directed by Cowan’s long time friend and leading Jamaican creative, Kia Moses.
KingstonToLA recently caught up with Cowan to learn more about her “coming of age” and the making of Paradise Plum.
KNG2LA: Paradise Plum, everybody loves it, reggae song of the year, did you see this coming, what’s been the most surprising?
Naomi Cowan: “I am blown away by how much everybody loves Paradise Plum. I think what’s the biggest surprise of it all, is how many people from different backgrounds, nationalities and even tastes seem to like the song. If I saw it coming, I don’t know how to answer that because I had a feeling about this song. There were a lot of weird challenges that kept popping up and the more the challenges popped up, the more the release was delayed for different reasons, the more I felt inside there’s greatness to come from this song. There is a part of me that had a gut feeling that it was gonna be great, I just didn’t know what that meant.”
KNG2LA: Give us the real definition of Paradise Plum.
NC: “So the real definition of Paradise Plum, some people define it in different ways (Cowan says giggling) but the way I define it - one, it represents a sweet authentic love. A sweet authentic relationship with someone romantic, where there’s this ability and knowingness with the person where you can be yourself and you don’t have to push too hard to prove that you’re anything but you. It’s so rare to find those relationships, even in friendships and any other arena. But especially romantically it’s hard to find someone that you can just do you and life with. Even though ofcourse, the challenges are gonna come, but there’s this synchronicity between you guys where you’re like alright this is a challenge between us, we’re going to work through this, we’re going to decide to make it work because we know there’s something special here. That’s the first definition. Second definition for me, it’s just a hot gyal. You know a girl whose inner beauty and her outer YAAS shines you know? Sometimes I’ll post pictures with my girlfriends and I’m like yeah that’s a Paradise Plum, just a beautiful sweet girl, with a sweet spirit but a little bit of fierceness on top.”
KNG2LA: How was the process in the studio with Teflon?
NC: “What’s funny is he and I were listening to different riddims before and I had written a few songs and nothing had really clicked with him. The thing is if you know Teflon, he has a very laid back personality. It’s easy to be around him and easy to work with him. When he gave me the instrumental for Paradise Plum, we just sat in the studio, I turned on my voice recorder and I literally have four to five different voice notes with me playing around with the ‘silence’ part. First the song was actually called Silence. When I finished writing the verses with Sarah Couch, who co-wrote the verses with me, we wrote this part of the story where this guy bought me a Paradise Plum sweetie, and my mom and I actually figured out a way to drop it in the chorus. It was then when she was like ‘listen if you put that word Paradise Plum in the chorus you have a hit song.’ That was actually the process and thankfully I’m really grateful to have a team of people and different people I can work with because for me collaboration is key. I don’t think we can get anywhere on our own.”
KNG2LA: What was the most exciting part of growing up in a musical family? [Cowan is the daughter of reggae greats Tommy Cowan and Carlene Davis]
NC: “Growing up with my parents, taught me how to treat all people with respect, with equal love and attention. It doesn't matter who is famous, influential or not. People are people. The most exciting part were the places we got to go and the people we got to meet. I’ve been traveling since I was in my mother’s belly. I found footage on You Tube where she said ‘you know I was actually pregnant with you at this concert.’ So I think for me, I feel like I traveled more when I was a little kid than I do now but I think having been able to be close to people that are considered celebrities, that allows me to have a sense of humility now so when I meet people that may be of influence or any level of fame, I don’t really make a big deal out of it because those are the kind of people I grew up around. It also helped me with the stage because I’ve always been side stage, back stage or on the stage and it has allowed me to become a better artist. So going places, going to concerts, being on the plane, being at the airport, all of those little things that are glamorous in their own way but exciting for a child. You just get to be exposed and see the world through a different lens.”
KNG2LA: Where are you feeling the most love? And where have you been surprised by the love?
NC: “I’m feeling a lot of love in Canada as well as in South America. Countries like Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, ofcourse in Jamaica I’ve been feeling a lot of love. I’ve been going to high schools, talking to girls and empowering them to pursue their dreams. You know to see high school girls attach themselves to my music is a blessing because it means that I can make good quality music that’s clean and fun that doesn’t have to be talking about certain things for girls to feel attached to it. That’s always a blessing. Where I’ve been surprised by the love, I would say it was pretty dope to start getting tags on Instagram after I did a radio appearance in Trinidad!”
KNG2LA: How was it working with your long time friend Kia Moses on the video?
NC: “It was magical, we've always admired each other's creative abilities and creative journey, so it was only a matter of time before we collaborated. Furthermore, we both have an understanding of what we'd like to do in the industry of film and music, break through the noise - create something fresh. So it never felt like we were forcing an unwanted vision on each other.”
Kia Moses on the making of Paradise Plum: “I went from shooting my first short film to directing my first music video in one week. What a summer! I’m so excited to be able to direct a music video at this standard and at this level of production. It’s frustrating to see the art of storytelling lost in the music video industry so I’m very happy that Naomi and I had similar desires to create something fresh. Furthermore our entire production crew did it for the love, everyone gave 100%. I knew this was going to be GOLD when I told Naomi that she’s gonna ride around downtown Kingston in heels, and she actually ROLLED with it.”
KNG2LA: What’s your next single and what’s coming up next?
NC: Ah! My next single is titled So Right. I collaborated with Jamie Rodigan, out of the UK on this track and I'm participating in a few school tours here in Jamaica. In November, I head to Miami for the Grace Jerk Festival. I'm also getting focused on selecting songs for my EP.”
An upful take on the pivotal development of new wave Jamaican storytelling, watch the video for Paradise Plum here on KingstonToLA:
Featured images via Design Dojo