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KANIKA 'IT'S MY BODY' : Interview

"IT’S MY BODY makes bold political statements. It is an intriguing mixture of fun rhythms and production that make you want to dance. The combination is certainly unusual, and I think helps deliver the message. The vocalist is talented, and you can hear that they really believe the words that are being said.”

- Spotify Playlist Curator, Gabrielle


In 1969, a 25-year-old single woman, Norma McCorvey using the pseudonym "Jane Roe", challenged the criminal abortion laws in Texas - forbade abortion as unconstitutional, except in cases where the mother's life was in danger. Ms McCorvey was pregnant with her third child when she filed the case, and alleged that she had been raped. But the case was rejected and she was forced to give birth. In 1973 her appeal made it to the US Supreme Court, where her case was heard alongside that of a 20-year-old, Sandra Bensing. By a vote of seven to two, the court justices ruled that governments lacked the power to prohibit abortions, and judged that a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy was protected by the US constitution. As a society in 2022, we see ourselves regressing. The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Mississippi's ban on abortions and in doing so, it has effectively ended the constitutional right to an abortion for millions of US women. Individual states are now able to ban the procedure again, with the universal expectation that half of the country is expected to introduce new restrictions or bans imminently - removing basic human rights synonymously.

An activist curator and cultural spokesperson, KANIKA is a musician native to Baltimore, who deeply resonates with the injustices occurring on our doorstep. ‘It’s My Body’ is one of the highly anticipated songs on her 3rd solo album, coming Spring 2023. Invoking and facilitating conversations around important societal themes, Kanika’s work truly embodies the meaning of unity, female empowerment, and freedom of expression. Despite centralizing upon heavy topics, such music proves technically beautiful and atmospheric.

Layering up-tempo dance tracks with soulful ballads over rock guitar, Kanika proves undefined by genre. Coupled with thought provoking lyricism and powerful vocals, ‘It’s My Body’ encompasses a melodic narration of lived experiences from the United States. Not her first political statement in protest, Kanika sang for over 24 hours straight in Washington DC, to break the record of the longest filibuster and demand the Senate pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Also a finalist in the Songs For Good national writing contest during the 2020 election cycle, her "Vote in 2020" soundtrack for democracy became one of the top TikTok sounds used by voters across the US - contrasting from The Real Housewives of Potomac to Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. A career day frequent flyer and TED Talk speaker, Kanika advocates for economic equality and has assisted over 1,000 unemployed Baltimore residents in receiving workforce training to acquire a healthcare career.

Well-established in the proactive grassroot subculture, Kanika aims to change the world with the lyrics of her music, and to be the type of artist that can create unity through song. Hailed as a high energy performer with a catchy spark, Kanika is an accomplished singer, songwriter and “Artivist” who uses her gift of music and voice to uplift the world and inspire awareness and social change.

PERFECT song and message and a great performance as well

- Bryon William Harris President, BWH Music Group

Over the past decade, Kanika has been known as the front woman of rock/SKA band The Upstarters. By fan demand, she has been invited back for performances at neighborhood events, popular regional festivals and nightclubs as the headliner or concert opener. Kanika doesn’t just sing what she believes but is living proof that you can live your passion AND impact the community.

FLEX had the opportunity for an interview following KANIKA's recent release of 'IT'S MY BODY':

Love the track and everything it stands for! How would you convey the importance of audiences listening, acting and sharing political messages like IT’S MY BODY?

Music is truly the soundtrack of our lives. The last 3 years have been everything but peaceful in the world. Post George Floyd, the pandemic, the January 6th Insurrection, and Roe vs. Wade, I believe people are really paying attention to all that is happening around us. People are acknowledging the major issues that are affecting humanity such as gun violence, climate change, voter rights, and more. Now more than ever democracy is on the front line and messages like It’s My Body are as important today as were the protest songs in the 60’s.

How has this creative process for the release allowed you to grow as an artist/activist?

As a woman and now mother who has had to make difficult reproductive choices, It’s My Body definitely hit home. This song forced me to not be afraid of publicly sharing my personal beliefs about a very political topic. I had to be ok with knowing not everyone would support me putting out this record OR would feel the same way I do about a woman's right to choose. So..I decided, who cares if I lose a few likes, SM followers or fans? The risk for not using my voice is far greater than if I remain silent.

What’s been the most exciting thing about the track hitting public audiences? What’s been the best or most unusual response?

It's been encouraging to hear the responses from people- both women and men about what the song means to them. Again, I was unsure how people would respond to the bold statements made on the record. I have had women come up to me and share their personal experiences; feeling they did not have a voice to share their story until they heard It’s My Body. It feels good to be able to empower others! It’s also been great to have received support on a local level, with the song first airing on radio and in rotation in my hometown Baltimore, MD (shout out to Audio Infusion). I think the most unusual but not surprising response is someone turning down the offer to work with me on this project because of their religious belief- which is cool. Everyone has a right to their own opinion or belief system!

How do you think your career would be different - in either a positive or negative way - if you came from a different socioeconomic background? What injustices and inequalities would you like to highlight within the industry? How do you think as a community, we can bridge the gap and confront them?

I don’t think socioeconomic background has affected my career in a negative or positive way. We have all heard of the stories about artists who came from/or had nothing but they were able to rise above their circumstances and become one of the largest household names in entertainment. I know for a fact that if I didn’t have passion, drive or consistency, I would not have met those important people along the way (i.e. producers, song writers, engineers, vocal coaches, stylists and more) who helped to catapult my career. Because I believed, I was able to find others who also believed in my vision.

Although things in the industry have gotten better for women and women of color-there are still injustices and inequalities that take place. I think we still fight sexualization, freedom of speech, ageism, and for women of color in particular- being confined to only “hip hop or R&B” just because of the color of our skin. The earthquake created by

Female artists like Beyonce, Lizzo, Pink, Doja Cat to name a few, are showing the industry that you can be a wife or mother and have a career. You can create any genre of music regardless of your racial or sexual identity. And you don’t have to be a size 2 or a certain age to be entertaining. Due to SM, the community is also paying attention to the vastness of female musical expression and from their continued support, are helping to shift the industry's ability to hold on to prejudices.

To anyone with a uterus listening, what would you want to say to them? To anyone who could aid the fight for bodily autonomy, what message would you want them to take away from IT’S MY BODY?

To everyone with a uterus who is listening, never give up your freedom of speech. We must not remain silent. Like one lyric in my song says: It’s our body, It’s our voice. It’s our future, It’s our choice! To everyone fighting for bodily autonomy, It’s My Body is strongly stating we must VOTE. It’s time to hold lackluster leaders accountable by using the power of our Vote. After all, We the people…

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