The Lagos-based musician chats about the release of his latest single 'Longé', creating his forthcoming, debut EP 'Ileké' in under a week and his all-encompassing sound.
You recently released your debut single ‘Longé’, how has the reaction been to the release?
Wonderful, I’m getting love from the most random places. It’s a great feeling to create art and have people appreciate it.
What did you want to explore on the track and how was the process of creating it?
I made this track in 2019. The purpose of the song is to make you dance. From the drum patterns to the guitar melody, I want to make you dance.
You also released it alongside a vibrant visual directed by The Alien, how was shooting it and what were your main influences?
We shot it during the lockdown so there was quite a bit of restraints. We wanted to create something colourful to match the theme of the song. I think we hit the nail on the head.
"We recorded this EP in 5-6 days. The energy and vibes were there."
How important are visuals and using them to tell a story to your music?
Visuals are super important because it helps to enhance the feeling of the song. The feeling strikes more, visuals help you understand the purpose of the song.
How has working on your debut EP ‘Ileké’ been?
We recorded this EP in 5-6 days. The energy and vibes were there. The inspiration of the EP comes from infatuation and “ileke” means waist beads in the Yoruba language. I wanted to have an object that signifies the infatuation. It’s been a wonderful process and it’s helped me learn more things about myself and my creative process.
What can we expect from the project?
You can expect a lot of sensuality. The EP has a rhythmic bounce to it. The project is very strong in musicality. I grew up listening to R&B, Soul and Jazz.
What themes did you want to explore and what were your initial influences for the EP?
The themes of the EP is sensuality and infatuation. I had feelings for this one girl and I thought it was going to materialise into something. It didn’t, but it was a wonderful time because I was inspired by the experience. As far as influences, I was listening to Vybz Kartel back to back, Wande Coal, Asa, Angelique Kidjo and Niniola. Juju music and a lot of Fuji music and most of all R&B and Soul.
"I want to be authentic. I want to open my world for people to join. I want to let people in. "
How important is it for you to remain unchained to any genre boundaries and instead create authentically?
It’s so important for me because when I made music with my bros, we were like 16 at the time and we were not familiar with “genres”. We was just making music that made us happy. I’m older now and I see people telling artists that they have to stick to a genre. I don’t ever want people to decide what I create because I want to always be real to myself. I want to listen to my music and feel like this is me. I want to be authentic. I want to open my world for people to join. I want to let people in.
How has your sound evolved from your previous releases ‘Wagwan’ and ‘Need Luvin’?
“Need Luvin” and “Wagwan” are heavy R&B songs. At that point in time, I was confident enough to approach other genres like R&B.
R&B is my core. Now I am more confident about exploring other genres and sounds. I feel like I can do anything when I’m in the zone, creatively. I am limitless, I am boundless. No one gets to tell you who and what you can be. That ideology stems strongly from my mother. My mother makes things out of nothing. You can’t tell her what she can and what she can’t do. My mother has a strong influence on my music.
Having such vibrant visuals, do you take inspiration from mediums other than music e.g. film/fashion etc. and incorporate that into your music?
Definitely. I love street fashion. 90's fashion in particular. Baggy jeans, punk fashion and street wear. I tell people to not be surprised when I explore other ways of expression outside of music. I love fashion. If I wasn’t doing music, I’d be chasing a career in fashion.
"What actually first inspired me to get into music was Disney films like "Mulan" and "The Lion King". I sang them so much and then I started to write my own."
Being raised in Lagos, who are some local artists you would recommend?
Lagos is the hub for music in Africa. The most creative people come from Lagos. Zinoleesky, Oxlade and SGaWD. There are even the Alté guys like Odunsi and Santi. Older generation I would say 2face, P-Square and Fuji music.
Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?
What actually first inspired me to get into music was Disney films like "Mulan" and "The Lion King". I sang them so much and then I started to write my own. When I wanted to take music seriously I was listening to Wande Coal. The 'M2M' album is one of the greatest albums of all time. Asa’s album “Asa” I still listen today for inspiration.
Outside of Africa, Kanye West. I grew up on “Graduation” and “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”. I’m a big Kanye West and Travis Scott fan. You can hear the similarities in my music. I also love Drake, his “Take Care” album is top for me. Frank Ocean and Daft Punk is also on my list.
If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would you choose?
What’s coming up for 2021?
We are finishing my EP and I’ve already started writing for my debut album. Depending on COVID I want to start doing shows and performing. I love to perform. Fingers crossed that everything gets better.