100% Obongjayar: the artist everyone wants a piece of
His latest single Still Sun drops today. Listen to find out what the hype is all about.
Words: Amy Francombe
Photography: Duncan Loudon
Styling: Lea Federmann
Styling Assistant: Avery Krafka
Building a reputation for his authentically unique sound that blends afrobeat, soul and nu-jazz, Obongjayar seamlessly weaves his Nigerian heritage with contemporary London influences. Singing about spirituality, identity and self empowerment Obongjayar’s distinctively low, gravelly voice croons over percussive beats and trance melodies.
And it’s earned him fans in high places. XL label boss Richard Russell tapped the musician for his Mercury nominated album Everything Is Recorded, acclaimed jazz drummer Yussef Dayes regularly collaborates with him on the popular Peckham club night Sugarcane while Danny Brown featured him on his track uknowhatimsaying¿. Not bad considering the British-Nigerian singer has so far only released two EPs.
Ahead of his forthcoming record Which Way Is Forward, Obongjayar has just dropped the lead single Still Sun. Listen to the sun-soaked, titillating track below before getting your 100% fill.
10%: Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?
I was born in Lagos, Nigeria. I was raised in Calabar Nigeria. And I now live in London.
20%: At what point did you realise you’d be able to do what you love for a living?
When I released Creeping, my first single, I realised, you know, let’s get it. Everything just fell into place around that time. I had completed my first EP and it felt real. It wasn’t necessarily a tangible thing, it was more like a feeling.
30%: What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
Nothing’s really changed my life. I’ve always been quite driven. I’ve always had an idea of what I wanted to do. I think just do unto others what you want done unto yourself. That’s a Christian bible thing, I’m not religious but that’s one thing I still take from that whole spiel.
40%: What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
Just life. Day-to-day life. My personal life experiences. I went through a phase where I used to watch magic and random stand-up comedy. It can be anything, as long as it’s well done. If I can see something and be mind blown by it will inspire me. My work is a representation of how I see the world.
50%: What can you tell us about your next project?
My next project is called Which Way is Forward and in a nutshell it’s about self empowerment and self belief, and also love and family. It’s like being able to look inside yourself and clean house, essentially.
60%: Break down your typical day at work…
I wake up at 5am in the morning. Drink a glass of water, do some push-ups. Make myself a black Americano and then sit at my computer until I’ve got nothing else to write. And then my day actually starts and I’m out and about.
70%: What can artists do to help save the world?
Actually get out into the world and getting their hands dirty. It’s one thing to talk about doing something and another to actually do it.
80%: Love, Like, Hate?
I love my freedom, I love my time to myself. I like people, I like a good conversation and anything that I learn something from. Anything I can take away something from, I’m into. I hate noise and crowds of people I don’t know. I like playing shows, but things like fireworks shows. I’ve never been to carnival, there’s just too much going on.
90%: Describe your 7 minutes in heaven…
Probably just sleep. Sleep with no consequence. Sleeping and not feeling guilty. Nothing to think about, nothing to worry about, just be at peace. Quiet – my seven minutes of heaven is nothing, just quiet.
100%: Biggest pet peeve?
You know when you’re having a conversation with someone, and you know they’ve said a wrong a fact. Like, you know it’s wrong and you know they don’t know what they’re talking about is wrong. And you’re trying to tell them that they’re wrong but they’re not willing to listen, they’re just very adamant they’re right. People who talk shit, basically.