Nigerian-American R&B duo VanJess (aka sisters Ivana and Jessica Nwokike) put a fresh spin on '90s R&B with their excellent new EP Homegrown, which features Kaytranada, Phony Ppl, Jimi Tents, and more and is out now on Keep Cool/RCA. They spoke to Okayplayer about their influences, which include stuff that you can really hear coming through like TLC and Aaliyah, as well as everything from classic '70s funk to modern indie pop:

Ivanna: We’re ’90s babies. We grew up listening to *NSYNC, Mariah Carey… TLC, Aaliyah. Growing up we were in choir. [We were] basically the leaders in the choir and putting together harmonies. Now we’re digging more into the technicalities of music, getting more into jazz, getting more into funk bands. We’re just products of what we’ve been around our whole lives.

[...] Jess: I think both of us can agree that we’re just music fans. Like truly. It really changes. No brainers are Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder. I’m really inspired by a lot of big vocalists like Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston, and Brandy. Those are people that I study. But also, I grew up listening to early 2000s pop. [From] the UK [there’s] The Sugababes, Craig David and here [in the US there’s] Britney Spears, the Spice Girls, and *NSYNC. This music really inspired us as well.

Ivanna: Jess said some of mine. Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, SWV, XSCAP3, The Gap Band, Charlie Wilson, The S.O.S. Band. I think that in general, we���re always going to gravitate to music that has a feeling and that has soul. The ’90s, 2000s, ’80s, ’70s, ’60s — a lot of music from that time had a certain something that still hits the same way now.

They also add that their current favorites include SZA, Jhene Aiko, Men I Trust, Haim, Cleo Sol, and more. That should give you a good idea of where they're coming from on Homegrown, which you can stream in full below.


1. Come Over
2. Slow Down
3. Roses
4. Curious ft Jimi Tents & Garren
5. Dysfunctional ft. KAYTRANADA
6. High & Dry
7. Boo Thang ft. Devin Morrison
8. Caught Up ft. Phony Ppl
9. Come Over Again


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