With just two songs out, Bloody Civilian, AKA Emoseh Khamofu, is already making a big splash. Her debut single, How To Kill A Man, is an afro-pop, R&B‑tinged anthem about someone getting their much-needed comeuppance. Then there’s the bouncy, energetic Wake Up, featuring fellow Nigerian artist Rema, which was used in the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack. Not bad for a breakthrough artist.
“I’m so grateful,” she says, Zooming in from her home in Lagos. Although Khamofu describes a “natural inclination” to pursue music from when she was a child, growing up in a musical household didn’t hurt. Her dad, a civil engineer, would tour with his band on weekends, playing bass guitar. “I wrote my first song when I was eight, made my first beat at 14,” she continues. “I’ve always had a hunger for it.”
As a teen, Khamofu took part in school talent shows, making a point of always performing original music – never covers. “People started learning my songs and I became known as the kid who could sing and play guitar,” she says. “Then I started making beats and giving them to rappers at school, trap stuff that was quite easy to make.” Gradually, she started working on more of her own music, and sharpening up her production skills in the process.
On a personal level, How To Kill A Man resonates with her, especially living in Nigeria. “I wanted to speak bluntly and use humour to talk about hard topics and things that make me uncomfortable,” she says. “Let me show you how to kill a man,” she sings on the track, “Proper oh /Got to do it when you strong /Not when you sober oh”.
Above all, the most important thing for Khamofu is for her audience to come away feeling inspired to speak up for themselves, to listen and communicate better with their peers. “I come from a culture of silence and hiding. The only sex education I got was ‘don’t have sex,’” she says. “And Nigerians don’t like losers – losing is something that in itself costs you more than the loss, because of the way people see you. They don’t know how to be there for people who aren’t winning, and that’s what I want to talk about in my music; the stuff nobody else wants to say.”
One thing’s for sure: Khamofu is on a winning streak, but it’s good to know she’s prepared to hold the side up for those who aren’t quite there yet. As for future projects, she remains tight-lipped. “There’s a common thread between everything I’m working on right now. I’m happy to follow that journey.” As we patiently await an EP release, get your 100% fill on Bloody Civilian.
10% Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?
I was born in Abuja, Nigeria and I was raised there as well. I’ve lived in different places but that’s the main one. I’m now based in Lagos.
20% What kinds of emotions and experiences influence your work?
I know a lot of people make music from very solemn, simple perspectives. I do that quite rarely. What usually inspires me to create music is melodrama; things I find very aggravating. Sometimes it’s anger, sometimes it’s extreme happiness, excitement, disappointment. Extremes, basically.
30% If you were cooking food to impress someone, what would you make?
Fried rice and shredded beef. That’s what I make when I’m bragging.
40% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
Stay focused. I tend to get involved in a number of things and then get overwhelmed. I have a very short attention span. I need to be creative and balance that with finishing something that I’ve started, regardless of whether or not the dopamine is there. I learned that from my dad.
50% If you ruled the world for a day, what would go down?
Men! I wouldn’t silence them, but I’d make it impossible for them to no longer hear us. I’m tired of people who are marginalised having to listen to people who are way less marginalised, if that makes sense. I really believe men are in control and have all the power, and that they face problems with that as well. So I’d get them to listen to us, listen to what we’re going through.
60% What’s a bad habit that you wish you could kick?
Starting new things and not finishing old ones. It’s so reminiscent of how I was as a child – I’d pick up one toy, throw it away, pick up another. I’m pretty much still that person now. That’s the main thing I’d fix, but sometimes it has benefits!
70% Love, like, hate?
I love laughter and excitement. I like working out.I hate traffic and feeling stagnant.
80% How did you celebrate your last birthday?
I went to a beach house with my friends and we got drunk. It was great.
90% If you could go back in time and watch a musician perform, who would it be?
Michael Jackson. I’m literally so upset I didn’t make it on time to see him. That’s somebody I wish I could meet. And I would have really loved to hear him say my name just one time.
100% What do you think that artists can do to help save the world?
I think artists need to save themselves. That’s the nature of how art works. If you’re authentically yourself, it will be good for other people. Artists need to be a little more into themselves and not care about other people. Take those risks, be selfish.