After winning Eurovision with her first-ever single, “Toy,” back in 2018, Netta has continued to achieve global success with her sweet, vibrant, and playful pop melodies. With hundreds of millions of views and streams to her name, Netta is ready to release another hit song that will leave the world mesmerized by both her sound and story.
“Playground Politica” is Netta’s latest single, and it is three minutes of pure heart, celebration, and fun. Collaborating with Nigerian artist Mr Eazi on the record, Netta details the joyous moments from her childhood when she was living at a Nigerian international school. It’s a song about feeling at home, reminiscing about the good times, and wishing to be transported back to a place of happiness.
Pop Crave chatted with Netta about her new song, “Playground Politica,” what it was like to grow up in both Nigeria and Israel, how winning Eurovision 2018 has impacted her life, and who her current musical inspirations are. Keep reading for the full interview!
Hi Netta, I’m so happy to be talking to you today! I had to speak with you after listening to “Playground Politica” because I truly think it’s so much fun! Could you explain what the song is about and what the song personally means to you?
Thank you! Basically, every time I go to the studio, it is a very therapeutic process for me. I start by playing around and improvising on a beat, and a lot of the time, it’s just my subconscious saying stuff… I go and work on them with my producer. He always helps me to do better and to say more original and authentic stuff to what I feel. It’s usually a very painful process.
When I grew up in Nigeria, it was a very happy childhood. I don’t think every kid gets to experience what I experienced as a kid. I grew up in an international school, which means there were kids from all over the world. I was from Israel, there was a kid from Japan, two or three girls from Nigeria, from Kenya, from England, and there was a Nigerian team running the school together with an English team. I was learning, observing, and I was like a sponge to so many different cultures and types of music. I know Japanese nursery rhymes, and I know the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria; I know some songs of theirs. I’ve come to learn and memorize. I come from a lot of cultures, a lot of types of music, and looks. Because everybody was different, everybody was their little own firefly and shining with their own light. Nobody was really different.
One of my biggest traumas was to leave without saying goodbye, and the day that I got back to Israel, I got into a situation where there were 40 white kids in a classroom… because it’s Israel. You find out – they break the news to you – that you are different. I was the fat unibrowed kid with the accent. I had a very sensitive way of talking and being, and a very active imagination because I was brought up being free, musical, and dramatic, so it was all very new to me. I didn’t have the skill that a lot of kids learn in the beginning of their lives. They learn how to fight, how to defend themselves, how to lie, and I didn’t need to do that up until very late.
For me, it was no playground politics. From there, it’s the name of the song: “Playground Politica.” One of the things I would deal with is a lot of bullying toward me, and every time there was a recess in school, I would run to the swings. Whenever I’m in motion – even today – I find it easier to fantasize and run away in my head. It’s like a meditative state in retrospect. It’s like staring outside the window of your car when you’re listening to music. It’s easy to run away and disconnect from reality, and all I wanted when I was swinging was to take me back [to Nigeria] … I would never let anyone sit on it, and I would run like lightning just to be on it because it was so miserable. This is what the song is about. It’s about my happy place, and even though it’s a little difficult, I wanted it to be very happy and very natural.
I know you also flew to Nigeria to shoot a music video for “Playground Politica”! What was the experience of shooting the music video like?
In this video that we did, I really let my guard down in a good way. I wanted it to feel natural. Usually with my former work, I do a lot of extravagant, colorful, very clean, cold, and aesthetic videos with fashion. Everything is bigger than life! I wanted this one to feel very, very natural.
[For the music video], I did something really different… I worked with different producers and different directors, and together we’ve created something that I really like. Some we shot in Nigeria with Mr Eazi. Mr Eazi is a big part of the song… There’s footage that my parents took when I was a little girl in Nigeria, and it comes together so nicely with the stuff we took in Nigeria in 2022. I really like the result. It has a lot of heart and is very cute!
I know Mr Eazi went to an international school as well. What was it like getting to work with the talented Mr Eazi on “Playground Politica”?
I didn’t actually know that he went to an international school. We finished the song, and I was singing the whole thing, and it felt very lonely. The whole song is about being in a group and about being with friends – no playground politics and just being together. I was missing a friend, and it was very lonely. I was thinking it would be cool, having Nigeria as my happy place, to do it with a Nigerian artist. I am a big fan of African music, and it’s been a big part of my influence for a very long time, spending so much time in Africa as a kid. I was starting to think, “Who would be the best fit?” Because I have such a dense and quirky way of producing my voice, I was thinking it would be amazing to pair it with a very milky, easygoing performer. The perfect fit was Mr Eazi, and I was only wishing that he would agree. Mr Eazi told me in the first Zoom meeting that he had all these offers for a collab.
When he played my song, everybody reacted. Whether they liked it, they didn’t like it, or they just raised their eyebrows, everybody reacted! It wasn’t just like any other thing. He was like, “I knew that I was doing it the minute I heard it! I didn’t need to hear it one more time. I just knew but didn’t know how to jump on it.” When we talked, I told him about my whole experience in Nigeria, how I longed for closure, and how I missed this place so much. Then he told me that he grew up in an international school and went through the same experiences, and my jaw dropped! I never knew that this was the case. When I got his verse, I was so relieved and so happy! It felt whole.
Who are some music artists currently inspiring you right now, and is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with in the future?
I’m a big fan right now of Rosalía, obviously! I know everybody says that right now, but literally she is doing everything right. She’s doing amazing… It’s such a generic pick; everybody picks Rosalía right now because she’s doing the most amazing stuff. She’s changing the game. I am in love, in awe, and I’m jealous.
I also love Nathy Peluso! She is amazing, amazing, amazing! Wow, wow, wow! [“MAFIOSA”] is such a beautiful track! Everything about her is so raw. She doesn’t care about how she looks; she just cares about how she feels and how she moves. With her energy, she wants it to be clean and clear! I don’t understand a word of what she says in her songs, but I can feel the vibe!
Another one that I really, really like right now and draw a lot of inspiration from is Remi Wolf. She’s so, so good… and I’m in love with Megan Thee Stallion. She’s doing a lot of amazing work in hip-hop. She has such a beautiful flow. A lot of female artists [laughs]… there’s not a lot of men on my list of who I listen to right now.
I obviously have to talk about you being Eurovision ROYALTY! I mean, that’s such an iconic thing, and I remember watching your season of Eurovision live and being so happy that you took home the win! It was so well-deserved. Looking back now, how overwhelming and meaningful was that experience?
Thank you! It changed my world. For a lot of people, it’s like a really big milestone of their career after a really long time, and for me, it’s one of the first things I did. I was very anonymous before that, and it was my first single [laughs]! It was my first-ever single!
An iconic entrance into the world of music!
It changed my life, it changed me, and it’s forever in my heart.
Now that “Playground Politica” has been released and is out in the world, what’s next for Netta, and what can all the Netta super fans expect next from you?
You know when you go out to the supermarket and have a full cart? Like, an overloaded cart, and you don’t know what you’re going to make for dinner? This is kind of like what I am right now. I have so much stuff in carts. So many songs. The most amazing team. I’m just very excited for the next things coming up, but I still can’t tell you what they are!
Netta’s new song with Mr Eazi, “Playground Politica,” is out now.