On October 3, British-based Generation W took over Rockwood Music Hall in way downtown New York to present three women they felt were representative and authentic voices of the city.
Generation W started in the U.K. four years ago, originally as a book featuring 100 British women writing about living through the 100 years since women received the right to vote in the U.K. They’ve since collaborated on various initiatives with more than 20 countries around the world, with leading artists in India, South Africa, China, Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Egypt, and Sweden. This year they launched a sold-out show at the iconic venue The Troubadour in London (where the likes of Dylan, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Adele, and Ed Sheeran played some of their earliest gigs, and which the legendary Los Angeles club The Troubadour is named after).
Although the October 3 show was Generation W’s first in the U.S., their production company, Urban Kingdom, had previously produced videos for Method Man and Ruff Ryders in New York City, and for Hannah Williams & the Affirmations’ song “Late Nights & Heartbreak,” which Jay-Z sampled on the title track to his latest album, 4.44. Six degrees of separation, eh?
At the show, the three musicians who beguiled and thrilled the audience in the intimate setting and who you should definitely keep an eye out for, were Ashley Yoshi, Ashen, and Bakko. As I ventured with my camera to capture an abstract of this spirit of the feminine, I witnessed the voice of the underground. A beautifully interwoven series of performances, an ode to memories, grandmothers, and our own place in the sensual now.
The one I found most interesting was Ashen. Her music is R&B, hip-hop, and reggae. She’s from Queens, N.Y.—the melting pot’s melting pot—and has a Jamaican background. “In high school was where I found my decision to make this my career,” she told me. She says she’s not per se part of a scene, but “I am invited to different scenery in N.Y., and to do collaborations.” She has no record label, but says confidently, “I am one hell of a creative director for my videos!”
Her message is, “tell the youth, or the grown, to not be afraid to stand up and speak. No matter what it is, get it off your chest! You’ll thank yourself later.” Her presence was a nurturing one—she was also the MC for the night, bolstering her peers.
Bakko is the chosen stage name of Barbare Mchedlishvili. “It’s a nickname I’ve had since I was a baby,” she says. “In my music circle and in my family, I’m called Bakko, but in my regular life they call me Barb.
“I never went to school for music but learned a little guitar when I was 12, while on a stay in my native Tbilisi, Georgia. I write most of my songs on my guitar. I describe my current sound as indie-soul. I have a full band, bass player, keyboardist, guitarist, drummer, and violinist. I’m with a label called Pinch Recording, working alongside an incredible producer, artist, and sound engineer, Caio Carvalho.”
She goes on to tell me: “I have written songs involving politics/social topics, but the songs I chose to perform that night were mostly unreleased love songs that are from my new album, other than one tune that I wrote about my late grandmother, called ‘Bebo,’ which I plan to release as a single.” Bakko’s sound is rich in nostalgia, and her voice has a soft power that carries the traces of melancholy delivered with finesse.
And Yoshi does “emo R&B” but is really a fusion artist who plays a lot in NYC. Her songs are about changing social norms, sexual liberation, and empowering messages for women. “I’m independent and do not have a label yet, although I am a student at the Roc Nation School,” she says. An A+ student we’re imagining.
Yoshi’s voice has an impressive versatility, and her sound possesses a powerful sensuality with a tinge of innocence. “So stuck on stupid, I said hello to my past,” she reflects in one of her songs.
“We start intimate as always” were the words of Bakko as she took her place on the stage. That summed up the essence of the evening. A moment to cherish in the beginning of every musician’s journey, when sharing their expression early in their career.