WELHOUS x EMMAVIE INTERVIEW
Being a music fanatic and trendwatcher i always try to lend my ears to the (digital) streets. On a rainy and lifeless Tuesday afternoon, i stumbled upon a Rinse FM radio episode with Wantigga as their guest. Loving Wantigga’s sound i decided to read more into it.
I found out they were also discussing a topic i was struggling with, so i decided to make it my thing to do on this already bright and insightful afternoon. Struggling with how to categorize or class new age music with a lot of soul, hip hop and r&b influences, i decided to dig deep. It has that old-school feel, but it has evolved/merged into something new. Some call it ‘Neo Soul’, others ‘Future R&B’, but rather quickly i decided not to hold on to wanting to pigeonhole types/genres of music and to just to enjoy it!
About three tracks into the set i got awarded and rudely awakened!
The song ‘Murder’ by Emmavie, ROMderful and Jarreau Vandal came on and i still vividly remember the nostalgic feeling Emmavie’s voice gave me when i first heard her on the track. My normal head bop-rate began to intensify and a smile appeared on my face..
I knew right away – “This my Jam!”
In my mind it threw me straight back to my youth and placed me on the backseat of my late niece. The niece that really nurtured me into loving Soul and R&B music. These were the hay days of – Mary J Blige, Ginuwine, Joe, Erykah Badu, D’angelo and the list goes on & on..
Right after hearing this track i just had to know where i needed to be to continue this feeling and i surely wanted to know whose voice was transferring this positive and nostalgic energy to me.
After shazaming and/or going through the tracklist i found out it was a talented singer/songwriter/producer called ‘Emmavie’, hailing from London. Already collaborating with Soulection and making a name for herself. She already had two EP’s out called ‘EPOCH‘ with ‘Alfa Mist’ and ‘L+VEHATER‘ written and produced completely by Emmavie.
I guess you could say i had some catching up to do.. But if you think about it nothing gives a better day filler than finding out about an artist late and being able to go back through a catalog and hearing a lot more good and new music.
This catching up i had to do resulted in Emmavie’s presence on our ‘Eclectic Bass‘ and ‘Lyrical Hip Hop‘ playlists and me getting even more mesmerized by her sound.
Much like the topic i was struggling with as her music is also hard to pigeonhole. It’s of this time and age, but immersed in old school soul and r&b that transfers these nostalgic vibes as i experienced..
I approached her to do an interview, because i wanted to know how this artist got to the point where her sound was this impactful to me. It was a real blessing to find out that Emmavie was this approachable, kind, woke and willing to make and take her time to answer our questions:
Who are your parents?
My mum is Valerie and she’s from Nigeria but she came to London by herself at 17. You’ll never meet a person that’s been through as much hell as my mum and is still a blessing to everyone she meets. My dad was Emmanuel. He was from Cameroon and like my mum, came to London in his teens. Both of them were go-getters. My dad passed away in 2009 after a traumatizing battle with cancer. He was the first person to take my music seriously and bought me all my first studio equipment.
You can’t truly know yourself until you know where you’ve come from…Emmavie
When and where were you born?
I’m a 90’s baby, that’s all you need to know lol! I was born and raised in North West London.
Where did you grow up? And how was it growing up?
As a kid, we moved around a lot. Though we were always moving from house to house, we tended to stay in North West London. I guess so we didn’t have to change schools. Growing up was pretty unstable but when you’re a kid, you just want to play so you don’t make much of the lack of stability. I’ve become more aware of a lot of the complexes I had developed from constantly moving around now that I’m an adult. Things like never really growing attached to any one place and nowhere ever feeling like home. Despite that, we were blessed. We had clothes on our backs and I was a really fat kid so I clearly didn’t starve lol
School years were cool. I bunked off school a lot though. I loved my friends a lot and the teachers understood me even though I don’t think I really understood myself until my early 20s. I’ve had the same best friends for 17 years. My relationships are what have kept me alive at times.
Do you ever visit the place where you/your parents are from?
I haven’t been back to Nigeria or Cameroon since I was 11 or 12. I want to go back now. You can’t truly know yourself until you know where you’ve come from…
To what genres of music did a 12-year-old Emmavie listen?
I hate to admit it, but i listened to pop and pop RnB music profusely. Keep in mind when i was 12, there wasn’t Soundcloud or Spotify so I literally consumed television and radio music. I was a HUGE fan of Justin Timberlake, Usher and all the big pop RnB stars that were popping at that time. And when I’d come home every day after school watch Bearman and N Dubz haha!
I also went through a weird rock phase. Watching WWE wrestling with my brother I ended up getting into bands like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park for a bit.. It didn’t get too deep though. Just the hits.
To what genres of music did an 18-year-old Emmavie listen?
At 18, things had changed. I was a skilled Limewire user and I was able to find music that I wouldn’t ordinarily have been exposed to. I was listening to strictly 90’s Neosoul, RnB and a lot of jazz. If it wasn’t Erykah, Bilal or Jon B then I didn’t fuck with it at all.
Soulection is a lifestyle. A race of people..Emmavie
When and how did music become a part of your life?
I always loved music as a child. My mum always told me about how I would jump on the couch and sing songs as a toddler. My dad bought me a karaoke machine that could record to cassette when I was about 7 or 8 and that was the beginning of my career as a recording artist lol!
Music became serious to me when I was about 15 or 16 and I started uploading the (then crappy) songs I was producing on fruity loops and recording on my parents’ computer using a £15 Logitech microphone from Argos. The songs seemed to gain some traction online. I got a good handful of followers and they followed me into the Soundcloud boom. It was around 17 or 18 that I started getting booked for shows and I went from singing in my bedroom to singing on stage.
In 2013, I committed to the decision that music would be the only career I would practice. I’ve had plenty of side jobs along the way but in the last few years, music has helped pay some bills and buy some lunch. We thank God.
Musically where do your skills & passions lie and how did you hone these craft(s)?
Music is my passion as a whole. I’ve taught myself how to do a range of things from producing to DJing so that I can enjoy music in all its glory. I practice everything. Sometimes I hate it but I can’t live without any element of music.
Did you set out to become a professional that practices these skills/passions from an early age?
It took me a while to realize I could do music professionally. By the time I knew, I had missed the train on formal training and performance arts schools etc but luckily, music isn’t something you have to study to do professionally. I just set out to be original and I think that’s what has set me apart
Did you have other dreams/ambitions in your childhood?
I started off my career in music as a dancer in high school. I used to create my own dance mixes and that’s how I learned how to beat match. That slowly transitioned into me making my own music to dance to and that’s when I realized I loved producing more so than dancing. Because I was encouraged to do my further education in something that wasn’t music, I went to uni and studied Industrial Design for the first year. I quickly realized I was more of an appreciator of design than a passionate designer.
If you had to categorize or name the type/genre of music you create, what would you name it?
I’ve already named it. It’s called ‘Cool Bounce’. It’s experimental Neo soul and RnB with a lot of movement. I fuse genres like jazz, 2 step and trap mainly where the drums and bass are concerned.
Artists normally never like to have their voice, flow, sound or style compared to another artist, because they strive to create their own, but who have people told you, you sound like?
I used to get compared to Marsha Ambrosius. Not because we sound alike but more because of the kind of sultry Neo-soul I was making. I listened to a lot of Floetry..
We hope we don’t offend you by saying we hear/feel a fusion of Macy Gray, Lil’ Mo and Faith Evans in your voice/sound.. What do you have to say on our opinion?
Haha! I’ve had those comparisons before, I’m happy that when people make comparisons, they always choose legends. It gives me some hope as to where I will be positioned in the history of music one day.
What’s the story behind the creation of the track ‘Murder’ with ROMderful & Jarreau Vandal?
ROMderful and Jarreau Vandal were in the studio one day and they called me saying they had a banger for me! I couldn’t go to the studio session that day because I had a terrible flu but the next day I crawled out of bed and dragged my arse to the studio. When they played the track, my head came off of my neck.
Did you write the lyrics? And how long did it take you to write these lyrics?
Yeah, I wrote the lyrics. Originally, it was a song called “Caught Up” about ruining my relationship by partying and drinking too much. Then when the opportunity came around to release it with Soulection, I had fallen out of love with the song and concept – especially considering the fact it was too closely related to how my ex-relationship ended. I re-wrote the song to a smoother, more relaxed RnB song about loving someone that doesn’t show me love and I sent it to Monty.. He preferred the energy of Caught Up but appreciated the growth of the next song. Murder was actually a jigsaw puzzle of both songs being chopped and spliced until it turned into a song about me loving someone that doesn’t need me and it driving me to drink! Voila! Murder!
How long does it averagely take you to come up with/write the lyrics to a song?
There’s no set time. Some days, I can write a song in an hour and those are usually my best songs. Other days, I can write a verse over 3 days and not get the entire song done for months!
Are you signed to a label? If, so which one? And When/Why did you sign?
My album is signed to Fresh Selects so, in a way, my music is signed yes, but I’m not signed as an artist. I signed the project to them because it makes sense. They have always put out original, groundbreaking and simply cool music. Kenny has a way of always catching artists right before they blow up. Clearly, Fresh Selects has a lot to do with why they blow up. They get me and allow me to be myself. It’s the perfect fit.
How did you get in touch with Soulection? And can we expect any other collabs with Soulection artists?
It was very organic. I have Soundcloud to thank for everything really. Joe Kay played my song “Getting Nothing” from my L+VEHATER EP on one of his Soulection radio shows pretty much days after I released it. I’m not sure how the song got to him and so quickly but he liked it enough to play it! At least I was on his radar..
I released Epoch with Alfa Mist and that grabbed the attention of IAMNOBODI who hit me up to collaborate with him. You can imagine how gassed I was! We started working on a bunch of music and we released “Deeper”. It was originally a throwaway but it got so much love, I was shocked.
ROMderful and I had some cosmic connection. I swear, one day “Jumpsuit” by Deffie and ROM came on my Soundcloud timeline and I screamed. “I was like who the hell is this?!” The very next day, ROM tweets something like “I love Emmavie’s voice” and I fainted. Synchronicity. A few weeks later, we end up booked on the same show and it was just love at first sight.
These non-coincidental meets just lead to me doing more work with the artists and yes, there’s more in the pipeline.
What is ‘Soulection’ to you?
It’s a sound and style. Soulection is a lifestyle. A race of people lol
When can we expect an ‘Emmavie’ solo project/album? And what can you say about it?
I’m releasing my album called “Honeymoon” with the waviest people over at Fresh Selects. It’s 100% produced, written and recorded by me and is an amalgamation of experimental RnB, soul and all the stories I’ve wanted to tell. It’s an ode to the music I grew up on. Even the rock.
The only vocal feature on there is Ego Ella May. I was her first superfan so it makes sense. My best friend of 17 years, Zeemi, plays the trumpet on three songs and she’s only ever recorded for my project. Cyn, the waviest guitarist I know (we’re also two members of London’s best band) plays guitar on two songs. These girls were pretty much the missing pieces of the puzzle.
I can’t give a release date just yet but there will be new singles soon.
Kaepernick kneels to highlight inequality and is punished/blacklisted from his sport?Emmavie
At what ‘dream-event’ do you wish to perform one day?
I would love to play on the same stage as Pharrell Williams and Missy Elliott one day. Perhaps at the VMAs or something. I have a feeling this is more possible than I’m even thinking right now so I’m preparing myself for it.
The UK is known for creating new music styles & genres like; Uk Garage, Grime, Jungle, Dub-Step, etc. How come? And why do you think this is?
We’re a unique culture of people. All the genres you mentioned have origins in black music. England isn’t a black country so for those of us that are second-generation black British kids, whose influences were a mix of Hip Hop coming out of the States and the reggae and Hi-life music our parents played in the kitchen on a Sunday, we were going to create something somewhere in the middle. We’re not Americans so Hip Hop isn’t at the root of our culture but then we’re not in Africa or the Caribbean anymore so we created our own black UK sound from these influences.
If you had to name 2 global artists you’d still wish to work with, who would they be?
Pharrell Williams and Missy Elliott.
You once said in an interview you wanted to be a sort of Puff Daddy to the UK scene.. What do you mean by this? And Who would you want to put on?
Puffy was the plug. If Diddy put you on, you had a guaranteed hit, your life was changed and you were a global superstar practically overnight. I want to be that kind of shot caller.
If you had to name one great talent(outside your own team)who would that be?
Where do you see yourself and your music in 5 years ?
My sound will be as recognizable as The Neptunes’ sound, most famously known for being the soundtrack to a box office smash. I will be traveling all over the world but settling somewhere warm and quaint with my girlfriend, making music in treehouses with superstars and flying out to perform in front of thousands of people. Nothing much..
Do you have any other specific goals set for the future?
I have to open a live music venue/restaurant with a world-class menu and cocktails sourced from around the world.
Trump’s an ignorant buffoon who is single-handedly opening up the gates to hell..Emmavie
Do you have any skills or passions outside of music?
I have a particularly special talent for seasoning food. I’m just as good at cooking as I am making music.
Do you believe in global warming?
Do you believe you have a responsibility to contribute to a more durable/sustainable earth?
I do believe so but I’m guilty of not seeing the world beyond my lifetime and I don’t do nearly as much as I can.
What are things you’re already doing to contribute?
I recycle at home. That’s about it.
Do you know where you were when you first heard the news that Trump became the US president?
I don’t remember. The time difference between the UK and the US probably meant I read it on twitter the following morning.
What are your thoughts on his presidency till now?
He’s an ignorant buffoon who is single-handedly opening up the gates to hell. I’m thankful I don’t live in America (as is every non-American, non-white person on the planet right now). I’m awaiting his impeachment.
Have you heard about Collin Kaepernick’s kneeling for the national anthem because of police brutality against mostly black people in the US and now no longer being able to play in the NFL? What are your thoughts on his actions and the repercussions?
I’m with him. Police brutality is rife in America. Black people are treated as second-class citizens. Kaepernick kneels to highlight inequality and is punished/blacklisted from his sport? It’s outrageous. I’ve always understood America to be a place built on the blood of black people. It’s simply swept its horrific history under a small rug so it doesn’t take much to show it for what it really is.
What are your thoughts on Brexit? Do you think it’ll have any effect on you personally/professionally?
I haven’t heard one benefit of Brexit yet. I’m still yet to hear how it isn’t going to ruin us as a country lol! I’m at the point in my career where I’m traveling to Europe more consistently and that’s probably going to be made a lot harder and more expensive. It’s sad but I don’t plan on staying in England too much longer so hopefully, I won’t see too much of the negative effects.
What are things you’d like to see change for the better in the world?
I would like to see Africa trade on an equal footing with the West instead of being robbed for its resources in exchange for “aid”. Can you imagine white people coming into your country and saying we’re going to take all your natural resources, create products and make millions and then give you an allowance in exchange that you can just about get by on? It’s ludicrous. Africa is the richest land on Earth in terms of the resources that come out of the ground. It is literally a gold mine. Why is it not the richest, most powerful continent?
What are things you’d like to see change for the better in music?
- For mainstream music to be a bit more soulful
- Men and women considered as equals in all areas of music
- Even more black female superstars
As you know we’re situated in Holland and you told us you’ll be visiting Amsterdam in October. Can we maybe expect a performance @ ADE somewhere? And what are your thoughts on Amsterdam?
I’ll be featuring on Masego’s European tour and will be live in Amsterdam on the 28th of October! I absolutely love Amsterdam. My family used to travel to Holland every year for our annual family trip so I saw it a lot as a child. Obviously, as an adult, I visit Dam for very different reasons lol! I can’t wait to be there again.
We’re currently working with Red Bull Studios Amsterdam on a project for talented artists, what would you tell a younger and talented artist trying to make it as an artist?
Listen to as much of a variety of music as you can and surround yourself with the people you aspire to be like. Practice and experiment all the time, learning to do as much in your field as you are capable of doing. Have a really clear vision of what it is you want to achieve and where your happiness comes from. Figure out who you are. Ask yourself questions you’re afraid to know the answers to and embrace your weaknesses.
Singing /or/ Producing?
Rapping /or/ Producing?
Kendrick Lamar /or/ Drake?
I’m an introvert /or/ extravert?
Major /or/ Independent label?
Wine / Beer / or a / Cocktail?
Have a listen to all the ‘Cool Bounce‘ Emmavie has been creating or check her out live @ the Masego World Tour coming to a hood near you..!
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