Afro-fusion superstar Tem in a conversation with Teen Vogue let us in on her career journey, from finding her voice, her favourite own song, her latest body of work “If Orange Was a Place“, collaborating with Grammy award-winning Wizkid on “Essence” and Canadian music star Drake on his “Certified Lover Boy” album.
Describing Tems, Teen Vogue writes:
Tems, whose full name is Temilade Openiyi, has been singing for as long as she can remember. As a child growing up in Nigeria, Tems spent time coming up with her own sonnets that she then turned into songs. She joined her school choir to continue her singing, and met her music teacher, who she says helped her grow musically.
The thirst-quenching Afropop tempo of her single ( “Mr Rebel”), marked by her fine-textured ad-libbing and a signature emotive lyricism that her listeners easily identified with, helped skyrocket her music career into greater heights.
Tems chart-busting songs have travelled transcended borders, topping charts, winning both nominations and awards, even landing a coveted spot on former US President Barack Obama’s 30 favorite tracks playlist in 2020.
Read excerpts from the interview below:
How did you find your voice? And when did you know that it has to be music over a career in marketing?
I had always loved music, singing, I’ve always loved writing songs. I just wasn’t sure of whether I should take it to another level. [My light bulb moment] was three years ago. I didn’t really talk to people about music. It was something … I did for myself because it made me feel good.
The question was whether I wanted to share that, because I never had before. Then I got a confirmation, a message, and I just was sure that this is what I need to do right now. If you don’t share your story then it is wasted, you’ve basically gone through life for nothing if nobody can see you and [learn] something from that. If you can’t share your experiences, struggles, and your story then what’s the point?
I like to crack jokes a lot so in a way, I was joking [when I called it Spirit] but also I wasn’t. What I mean is that’s where my songs come from. They come from my spirit. [Music is] a very spiritual experience for me and that’s why I call it Spirit. It makes you feel and for me, it comes from a very pure place.
What does a typical day in life look like for Tems?
I’m not even trying to be funny right now but I don’t actually have normal days so I can’t say what that would be. I don’t do the same things every day. But what I do try to do is to live in the moment. I try to remain present and enjoy every moment and experience. That’s what a normal day looks like for me.
There’s certainly a story behind your new EP. What would you say that is? And what was the creative process that went into this new body of work?
There’s always a story behind my songs. They’re mostly my thoughts. The process is really just me experiencing things and then me expressing how I feel about these experiences. And that’s mostly what I’ve done for this EP.
Among all your songs, which would you say is your favorite?
Honestly, I really don’t know. But the one that I would say is closest to my heart is Mr Rebel because it’s my first song.
Congratulations on your Wizkid and Justin Bieber collaboration, and the feature on Drake’s Certified Lover Boy album. Why do these collaborations mean so much to you?
Everything is really just amazing, I think it’s great to work with really, really gifted people and pure people. It’s always an honor and I’m grateful.
Read the complete article on TeenVogue.
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