2019 was quite the whirlwind year for R&B newcomer Emiko, arguably sparked by a nod from international artist Maseago back in late 2018 which led to the release of his first single ‘R U Down’.
Stepping into the BBC 1Xtra studio with Nadia Jae accelerated this momentum seeing the R&B singer go on to be the opening act for the Screen Nation Award Ceremony and take on his first festival at the Great Escape.
Emiko didn’t stop there. After a number of gigs across the country, the R&B singer sat down with Jazmine Dotiwala for an interview on BBC London ‘The Scene’ before closing the year with the Global Soul mini-tour performing in Birmingham, Manchester, and the London Jazz Café,
With an array of accolades under his belt, the question on everybody’s lips was simple what now?
On March 3rd Emiko gave his answer with the release of his first EP ‘Piece of Mind’.
Better times are coming is what Emiko sings and if this latest project offering is anything to go by the promising R&B singer may just be right!
As listeners peak into the windows of his soul, they are met with messages of encouragement and positivity. When someone intends to give you a piece of their mind it’s usually filled with angst and pent up frustration, Emiko, however, opted for a much more mellow form of expression.
I sat down with Emiko to learn a little bit more about the makings of ‘Piece Of Mind’
The first two tracks for me very much feel like an internal monologue, tell me more about the conversation you were having?
I would say so too, but more so for the first track Youth (Of Better Times).
I wanted to delve into my mind as a child, all the thoughts I had that I never really dealt with as a youth. When I looked back at my childhood I realised that for the vast majority of it I was pretty sad. However, despite the sadness, there was always a glimmer of hope, a reason to smile, due to my genuine belief that better times were coming.
In some ways writing the track was therapeutic, sharing all the lessons I learned and the importance of the continual belief in oneself despite the challenges.
If you listen attentively to the instrumental you can hear a sound similar to that of a penny dropping. And for me the penny had dropped, I realised that to wallow in your past, will never result in you moving forward, for better times are coming.
What are your 3 top tips for staying positive?
- In any dire situation, always look for the humour in it. It can help lift the weight of the burden
- Be your own best friend, that way you are dependent on no-one and do not need to find happiness through the other people’s validation of you.
- Keep like-minded people around you, a lot of the times people can project their own fears or negativity onto you. Be sure to keep close those that lift you up and you lift them up!
I like that…Okay so imagine that you are formulating a pick me up playlist. Which two songs have to be on there?
Michael Jackson Remember The Time or Stevie Wonder – As
Starting to see where the musical inspiration is coming from, which is a perfect segway into track 2 of your EP. It really gave me gospel vibes, what were the main influences behind this song?
The influence behind this song was from the teachings of my dad, he often spoke to me about the importance of a man to be able to let go of his pride. Pride is a recurring theme biblically, my dad is religious, also he is Nigerian, which means anything that comes out of his mouth is finessed with a proverbial flair. Whilst it was not intentional, it was a no-brainer that Pride would turn out gospel-like. Which is ironic because I’ve never sung in church.
As someone who is known to be an energetic performer this EP is surprisingly mellow, what made you go in this direction?
I wanted to give an honest portrayal of my journey pursuing music. I think for a lot of artists, our characteristics are heavily judged by the energy we bring onto the stage, however, it does not always encapsulate our full narrative.
Yes, I am an energetic person now and tend to be always high energy, but the process of becoming who I am now was not smooth. I have struggled mentally, been at conflict with the idea of God, fallen in love, I have been heartbroken and I have lost myself only to find myself again.
There is so much that happens in between an artist’s life. I wanted my body of work to be a reflection of that, pieces of my journey.
Is the story on old school lovin’ written from a personal place?
It is [and] it’s probably the fastest song I wrote on the EP.
How did the person you were writing about react when she heard it?
I am not sure if they have heard it if I’m being honest. It’s in the past now I guess but surprisingly it is the track a lot of people have been resonating with the most, I love performing it.
Production-wise ‘Great Big World’ sounds very different from the previous tracks was a specific reason for this?
No not really, it’s quite an emotional song and producer Nekomura did a great job of having the instrumental replicate that of a heartbeat to emphasise the emotion in the track
For sure. Staying on the subject of ‘Great Big World’ let’s talk about the spoken word. Where did that come from?
Spoken word came because I felt like I could articulate my thoughts better that way. I spent a lot of my time during my darkest moments writing thoughts, stories, quotes into my journal as a way of communicating my thoughts into the universe. It is something that later developed into ‘spoken word’ just thoughts really. I had never explored that element before so I challenged myself.
Is that something you hope to do more of?
I’m definitely not going to force it, it felt right then for the overall message I was trying to convey in my EP. I don’t know. I think my next body of work will be more upbeat so may not be fitting at all!
The EP itself didn’t have many features but I presume you have plans to do some in the future?
Yeah no features besides my collaboration track with Baker Aaron, I guess I was more focused on my pen game and making the words 100% me for the sake of the EP being my debut. But yes features are in the pipeline.
And finally, who are three artists from the UK you’d love to collaborate with right now?
Mahalia, Benjiflow, Nao