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Enter Fana Hues’ Vast Musical World

The singer's new project is a lush sonic ecosystem.
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This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

When Fana Hues sings, her voice is so powerful that it’s hard to believe there was ever a time she couldn’t even speak. Growing up in a family with eight siblings (most of them sisters), the rising R&B artist has been surrounded by music all her life. But a combination of strep throat, tonsillitis, and scarlet fever left her without a voice for part of her childhood. That event has since served as inspiration for her craft today.

After the release of her debut collection Hues in 2020, Fana’s impressive vocal range and captivating presence have caught the eye of many—especially after her feature on Tyler, The Creator’s GRAMMY-winning CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST last June catapulted her into the spotlight. Her latest project, flora + fana, brings fans even further into her world: “For this project, I wanted it to be a full world,” Hues tells Audiomack World. “I wanted it to be vast. And what’s a world without flora and fauna?”

Packed with soaring melodies and lush production, the project presents a sonic ecosystem that shows Hues at her best. “I had more access and more freedom with this project, she says. “I wasn’t holding anything back.”

For the Pasadena, CA-born artist, the album most noticeably differed from her debut collection in its expansiveness: “I wasn’t paying for studio time and only having three hours to record. I had time to trial and error, to build out bridges. So I feel like it’s next-level.”

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Now, as she gears up to go on tour with powerhouses Raveena and Snoh Aalegra, Hues is ready for the shifts that are coming next: “I’ve had the best kind of steady growth in the past year as far as building a support system of people who enjoy my music,” she says. “A lot has happened. I’ve grown a lot as a human. I’ve grown a lot musically. But it’s been steady growth.”

A big turning point for you last year was the feature on Tyler’s album last June. How did that come to be?

So I guess a couple of people had been sending him my music. And then he just DM’d me on Instagram and invited me to the studio. I went and he just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t crazy. That’s what I gathered. And same for me. Because I brought my sister the first time I went and then every time I went, I was bringing somebody with me because you never know who could be crazy.

So we were both doing that thing. And then he was like, “You’re cool. You’re tight. I’m gonna find something for us.” A couple months later, he called me and was like, “I have this idea. I don’t know if it’s gonna work but do you want to come in and try it?” And I was like, ‘Yes, let’s do it!’

It’s so funny that you brought your sister with you the first time.

I brought my sister to the first session and my manager to the next one. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that Tyler is a genuine fan of what he does. He loves music so, so, so much. There’s zero weird energy in the studio with him. He gave me the blueprint of what he wanted me to do, like the lyrics and melody and stuff. But then, he just told me to go in there and go crazy.

So I was trying a bunch of different harmonies, singing in a bunch of different ways, and he was just very supportive of what I saw, you know, and what I wanted to do with what he gave me.

Your new project flora + fana speaks to a double entendre. I thought that was so clever.

I really wanted to teach people how to say my name with this project as well. Like that was the cherry on top. But it made so much sense. Especially because the first music video I shot [for] “Icarus” was very floral. I felt like that was an ongoing theme with my last project, Hues.

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Ever since I was little, when I would tell people my name is Fana, they’d be like, “Oh, like flora and fauna.” So I was like, this is full circle. I wanted to create this sonic ecosystem. I wanted to bring people into my world. And what’s a world without flora and fauna?

What stories were you exploring with this project?

Obviously, at the age of 25 and 26, when I was writing it, I’m documenting my romantic life. But I really wanted to put self-care into this project, because it’s something I’ve been trying to do more of. Me and my sister were just talking before this about not having such a jam-packed schedule and allocating time to just breathe. So I wanted to put a bit of that in there because it’s something I’m actively trying to do right now. “dayxday” is a reminder to not think too far into the future and to take things one step at a time and not overcrowd my thoughts and my brain and my space with all these things I have to do. Just take things day by day, and if you need to take a day, take that day.

Then, “fall in line” is me looking inward and outward on my experience as a Black woman in America. So I for sure am following a love story. But also within that love story, I am reminding myself of my own self-love and how to keep that intact in this wild ass world. I write about love with my friends, my family, and myself. It’s a full spectrum of love.

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Many of the tracks on the album have a cinematic, atmospheric quality. Was that intentional?

Absolutely. When I first started this project, I was telling producers I wanted to make a score. Like, “Let’s make a score for a film.” And I actually never even gave them a specific film. I wanted everything to feel cinematic, because my visuals and my music go hand-in-hand. When I’m writing the song, I’m already thinking about what the music video is going to feel and look like. So I wanted the music to tell a story by itself. Then on top of that, I’m telling a story with my lyrics and my vocals.

Which films did you give as examples?

I don’t remember, but it’s not even that it was so long ago—it just wasn’t working. I was giving them films, but [what they came up with] was becoming too specific to that music. So once I opened it up and gave them keywords like “romantic, cinematic, retro futurism with hints of soul,” then it started making sense because I wasn’t putting the producers in a box. I was doing what Tyler did for me where I gave them the blueprint, and now you guys do what you can do, you know?

Definitely. I feel like each song is a different scene, a different environment and setting altogether, so I can see how that would limit you.

It’s like when you make a really good playlist. Your playlist isn’t the same exact shit over and over and over again. When I make a playlist, I take people places. So when I’m sequencing my album, or when I’m creating it, I want to take people places. And I found that when I was being extremely specific about the inspiration, it pigeonholed it.

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Outside of film and TV, is there anywhere else you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from real life. My best friend, I always find myself writing about her, her life, and what she’s going through. But it’s because we talk all the time, and they’re at the forefront of my mind. And then again, I said this about the last album, and I’ll keep saying it: I write with idioms a lot. I really like hearing people just say things that are specific to a region, or a community of people that I’ve never heard before.

I was watching this documentary about mobsters [and] they said that the main guy was so cool that “he could walk through the raindrops.” And I ended up taking that and making my song “rain” literally just because of that. It was just such a cool concept—he’s so smooth, that he can walk through the raindrops. So I pull inspiration from things like that, just hearing people say terms I’ve never heard before, but that are well-known and super unique.

By Eda Yu for Audiomack

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