When did you begin making music, and did you ever ponder a different career?
I came to London at 20 to train as an actor. That was my life and obsession since I was a child and for many years. Having gone to a very commercial acting school, I never thought I could make my own on stuff and it was when I discovered music that I felt this autonomy over my own creative expression and realised this is what I truly love to do. There’s an abstract escapism in music, which is hard to find in the other arts (perhaps fine art). I also found this with dance and was dancing for a band in London and choreographing music videos at the same time I found music making. I sang in a 1940s WW2 duo and for someone’s art punk band before I started writing my own stuff. It all change on a solo trip I made out to San Francisco. I thought if I just told everyone I was a musician, then I’d be forced to do it and I wouldn’t necessarily lose anything, other than face. I discovered my voice as a song writer in a three hour sunrise jam session on the top of a pirate ship bus at Burning Man and it went from there. It happened because I threw myself into it completely, taught myself guitar well enough to accompany myself within a year and made it my purpose to learn everything I could and ‘catch up’!
How would you describe your music?
Its a cliche, but its a hard one to categorise and its not only me that says so! Its often very vocal heavy, with lots of intricate, instrumental harmonies that come in and out of dissonance. Someone observed in a solo show recently that my guitar style is very jazz. The rest of the music isn’t really jazz but I got it. I listened to a lot of jazz before I started writing my own music. I’m hitting the guitar harder now, so not sure where that’s going to take us… My band are super creative musicians in their own right and bring things to the music that are always cool and surprising. I always prefer something slightly unusual but also know you have to balance that with what an audience wants to hear. Like bringing people home.
What have you been up to so far and what can we expect over the coming months?
An album! I’ve been working on for quite a while now and so happy to be releasing it. Grizzly, the single, is from that album and there’s a fun, weird, quirky music video ‘Moving Train’ to come, which I made in San Francisco with film maker and friend, Carlos Marulanda. I started that album before playing with a band and now we’ve found each other, I really want to capture the sound we’ve found together through playing live. So we’re recording an EP of 5 songs this summer with producer, Oliver Barton-Wood, who just finished Tom Odell’s latest album. Very exciting. There’s also an EP I’m about to put out too, which is a collaboration under the band name ‘Meji’. This means two in Nigerian. Its got a sort of Massive Attack feel to it.
If you could duet with anybody who would it be and why?
So many. I love collaborating. I get obsessed with musicians, call them musical crushes. I’ll listen to their album on repeat for weeks. Recently, its been Shy Ben Tzur (Junun album), Timbre Timbre, D’angelo, Jon Hopkins, Dirty Projectors, My Brightest Diamond… All these people I’d happily collaborate with.
What’s your desert island disc and why would you take this one album?
Its a toss up, D’Angelo ‘Voodoo’ and Patti Smith ‘Horses’. They’re both animal in different ways.