Protest anthem and making a stand: a chat with 'Artivist' KANIKA
Baltimore musician and activist "resonates with the injustices occurring on our doorstep" as the 50th Anniversary of Roe V Wade approaches. Highlighting the message behind such demonstrations against human violations, it is important her message is heard loud and clear...
Well-established in the proactive grassroot subculture as the front woman of rock/SKA band The Upstarters, Kanika aims to change the world with the lyrics in her music. 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.
How have you been since the last time we spoke? Any new projects or exciting news?
I have been GREAT since the last time we spoke. and very excited 2023 is here. My label, White Collar Music has recently released an EDM remix of It’s My Body. It has been very exciting to see the dance community embrace the song, by creating dances and posting across SM.
I am getting ready to go to LA to shoot a flash mob dance and have been working with an amazing choreographer and young female dancers who have expressed how much the lyrics of the song means to them. I invite everyone to dance with us, by learning the “It’s My Body Dance for Choice” on my website www.kanikamusic.com. This project is being performed in LA, Baltimore, DC to commemorate what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v Wade this year, if it was not overturned.
Previously released as a neo-soul track in 2022, ‘It’s My Body’ was one of the highly anticipated songs teased from Kanika's 3rd solo album which is slated for release in Spring this year. Invoking and facilitating conversations around important societal themes, Kanika’s work truly embodies the meaning of unity, female empowerment, and freedom of expression.
Can you tell our readers a bit about ‘It’s My Body’ and why the track has been revamped?
It’s My Body” is a protest anthem about a woman's right to choose what to do with her body. The original song was afrobeat, so as an artist that likes to defy genre stereotypes, it just made sense to create different versions of the song with the song’s producer and co songwriter, John Gordon. Given the importance of the message we wanted to get It’s My Body out to more audiences. Growing up in a House and Club music hometown (Baltimore, MD), I love to dance and the goal of It's My Body was to give people something to dance to, despite its political messaging.
Re-releasing the single as a remix in time for the 50th anniversary of Roe V Wade, this layered up-tempo dance track coincides with soulful ballads over rock guitar which highlights the raw lyricism and political message. Through a dance beat and powerful vocals, this party track encompasses a melodic narration of lived experiences from the United States as we approach an important time: January 22nd - the 50th Anniversary of Roe V Wade. o signify this momentous occasion in Feminist politics, Kanika shall be performing on the 22nd of January in Kingston at an event by Stories For Choice, accompanied by trailblazers in the fight for healthcare autonomy like V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Since her success in 2022, Kanika has made waves with her politically focused melodies. Recently introduced on network TV from United States Congresswoman, Lisa Blunt-Rochester - proudly serving Delaware, Kanika made an appearance on DETV’s New Year’s Eve special, an African American owned and operated TV network airing on Comcast channel 28. 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.
How was 2022? And what are your new year resolutions?
For me, 2022 was an eventful year musically and was really important to laying the foundation for 2023. I am not one to set resolutions, but I like to take time to reflect on the years’ accomplishments, and in gratitude intentionally set my new New Year’s goals. This year I look forward to collaborating with more producers and songwriters, releasing new songs, performing at more festivals, and getting song placements on TV shows and movies.
Pathing the way for future generations of performance activists, the Mother of one was seen fighting for her daughter's right for autonomy over her own body. On June 25th, 2022 Kanika protested in front of the Supreme Court- 1 day after Roe V Wade was overturned. With bull horn and 4 yo daughter in hand, she marched and sang ‘It’s My Body’ which caught the attention of Australian 10 News First journalist. The real life protest was taped in front of The Supreme Court where she was also interviewed for the news channel.
What do you hope for the future?
In the near future, I'm looking forward to releasing my new single See Me In You- a club song with a message about looking into one another’s eyes, so we can see one another's similarities - not differences. I hope to release a six song EPK in the summer. Most importantly, my hope for the future is our ability as a world to live in unity. Although that sounds so generic, WE just have to do better!