Shunaji & Emma Barnaby – Nighthawks (Brainchild Woods Session)

The second in a four-part series of woodland sessions with Brainchild Festival. Watch the rest of the series.

Born in Lagos, raised in Rome and now based in London, Shunaji is a producer, rapper and singer-songwriter who takes cues from Andre 3000 and Missy Elliott in her rhythmic lyricism, with musical influences ranging from hip-hop to folk and ambient. A Year 3 alumni of the Future Bubblers programme, with help from Eric Lau as a mentor, has guided her towards two self-released EPs in the last two years. The latter, Blue Melon, led with first single ‘Nighthawks‘, which is the subject of her Brainchild Woods Session, recorded in the year of her debut performance at the festival, having be a regular at Brainchild jams and cyphers over the years.

It was the first time Shunaji stepped out from producing and MCing to sing her own lyrics, inspired by 70s Italian singers like Mina and Patty Pravo, with the velveted textures of Joan Baez and Patti Smith. The hook, “the night denied, the night denied, the night…” is, as Shunaji puts it, “the emblem of desire, loss, lust and incertitude”. Stripping back the track’s original production, Shunaji is joined by cellist Emma Barnaby, member of Fen Trio and Levitation Orchestra.

Brainchild is an award-winning not-for-profit festival taking place every July in the south of England. In the absence of this year’s edition due to Covid-19, we’ve collaborated to create a series of four woodland sessions with their 2019 lineup.

Read our View From The Wings reviews of 2019 and 2018 pulling together a collection of artist memories.


Film by Toby Haygarth and Arabella Turner
Producer: Matilda Verrells
Executive Producers: Marina Blake, Aaron Levitt and Andrew Mensah
Sound Design: Par Carlsson
Camera Operator: Abigail Holsborough

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