Hi, I’m Loliaba, a singer, songwriter and siren. I’m also an astrologer, tarot reader and all-round metaphysical mami. I’m emotionally intelligent, but I am drawn to chaos. I love sweet and spicy foods; think suya with bread and jam. Most people don’t know, but I’m an introvert with an outside personality. It’s so bad I had a friend replace the heart emoji he used to store my name with a ghost emoji. I’m Loliaba, the ghost.
I love your name. What does it mean?
My name, is Ijaw, and it means “star”. I think it’s a very befitting name with everything I am.
Your parents are the best in manifestation. What’s your relationship with them like?
I grew up in Port-Harcourt with my German-Nigerian dad and Nigerian mum, who were a bit psycho. None of them were adulting adults. We’re all very playful, affectionate and emotional, and this has led me through adulthood. My dad is late, but my mum and I have a great relationship, even with all my non-conforming spirituality. I’m grateful for that.
How easy was it for you to accept your spirituality?
I realised there was more out there because not everyone in my family is Christian. Dad’s dad was a traditional ruler, but he and his wife were Scientologists. My introduction to astrology happened after I read a cousin’s slum book in 2009; I was ten and intrigued. Officially, it took off when I fell in love with a Libra man, knowing I was Pisces and kept looking at our zodiac compatibilities and birth charts. Libras like to pretend they are fair, but they don’t know how to separate their personal opinion of fairness from what fairness is. I’m thankful I found myself while looking to validate my feelings for this person even though everything was saying no. After my grandma died, I’d written my EP, Retrograde, but my relationship with him made me revisit it.
As a Libra, I take offence, but also, we suck. Did that relationship influence your EP?
The songs in Retrograde are about processing love, the loss of my dad and grandma, my mental health, and my relationship with him. But there are songs about dealing with grief after my grandmother died. My favourite has to be Troubled Waters; I sang and listened to it a lot after my experience with him, but consistent listening made me realise there were bits of me in the problem too, which is where “retrograde” comes from. You’ve moved forward, but the universe says, “wait, take a step back”. I’ve written music scatteredly before, but Retrograde is my first work in the world.
How much of your music is influenced by your spirituality
I feel like my astrology career feeds into my music. I mean, I titled my first EP Retrograde. Retrogrades, where astrology is concerned, is a time to reflect and feel because things you don’t want to deal with are eager for attention. I wrote those songs between 2018 and 2020 while going through my personal retrograde. I think of every song as a planet in my solar system going through its own retrograde. There are discussions about love, loss, embracing and triumphing over your inner darkness. My music and spirituality both help me make sense of human experiences, which I think are blinding lights of happiness and an abyss.
I thought retrogrades were bad, but you make it seem beautiful, like an unfolding of self.
That’s my speciality, explaining astrology. We’re not close if I haven’t told you to call your mum and ask for your birth time, so I can explain your chart. With life, you want to keep moving forward all the time, but retrogrades stop you whether you notice it or not. That’s something we constantly fail to do, stop. Let’s stop moving. It’s okay to sit and reflect and take stock of what’s happened in the past. It doesn’t mean getting stuck in the past; it’s just a means to move on.
What do you do when you’re not making music or helping people discover their problems via astrology?
I studied English, but I’m a content analyst for ART X Collective, the creators of ART X Lagos, where I get to meet revolutionary people. I mean, contributing to African and African diaspora culture in a way that presents us, not as a dark continent but as thriving and evolving is just incredible. I enjoy it.
I think people who study English always do exciting things with their lives
Yeah, it’s an exciting course, and I enjoyed studying it. I can’t help you with syntax, but language and literature? I’m your girl. I read a lot; I think books have galaxies in themselves and reality is very sus.
How easy is it to switch from your superhero job to your day job?
It’s not so difficult because my work environment is very inclusive. I’ve had tarot and birth chart readings for colleagues and patrons during my break at work. I’ve never felt the need to separate one from the other.
How did you get into tarot reading?
I don’t know if you can call yourself a self-taught tarot reader, but I didn’t take classes. I did get into it because of the same man. Bless him for the 180° spiritual awakenings. He was the valley of the shadow of death I had to walk through to get there. I also watched YouTube videos like a crazy person, and so far, I’ve done readings for over 50 people. I charge about ₦5k for a reading just cause Nigeria’s tarot audience is still growing. I also have a spiritual botanica where I sell candles and crystals and do house cleansings.
Do people make weird comments about what you do?
Every time. And it’s normal when you work in my type of space. I’ve come in contact with people who think I’m crazy. I’ve even been called the “village witchy lady”. But for most people, they see the usefulness once they can get past the initial disdain. Granted, they might not become astrology enthusiasts, but they become more respectful of what astrology is.
How fulfilled are you in your astrology, music, tarot and work?
I feel blessed and fulfilled with my current reality. I think of my music as healing. It’s me putting forward the darkest, most uncomfortable parts of my humanity. It helps me feel less alone, and that’s the basis of my spirituality. It’s a connection to self and a link to the divine. I lean in on my spirituality to uplift myself and vice versa with my music. I hope in years to come, my music reaches more people in need of support, connection and community.
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