In the September edition of Interview Magazine, a captivating dialogue unfolds as Grammy-winning songstress Tems engages in a conversation with American rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Within the pages, Tems delves into a myriad of topics with Kendrick, encompassing the realm of music, the pivotal individuals who ground her, the profound significance of melodies in her life, and the unwavering commitment she maintains to her artistic essence. The discourse traverses the landscapes of songwriting, while also exploring her distinctive position as an R&B virtuoso.
Throughout the interview, Tems candidly shares her sources of inspiration, highlighting the influence of Celine Dion on her creative journey. She articulates her aspiration for her music to evoke a perpetual emotional resonance, describing the pursuit of a certain frequency that propels her artistic endeavors. The dialogue extends across an array of captivating subjects, illuminating the multifaceted essence of Tems’ musical odyssey.
Grammy-winning singer Tems sat down with American rapper Kendrick Lamar for an interview in Interview Magazine’s September issue.
Tems speaks to Kendrick about music, the important people around her to keep her in check, what melodies mean to her, staying true to her art, songwriting, and positioning herself as an R&B artist.
She also talked about being inspired by Celine Dion, how she wants her music to feel all the time, chasing a frequency, and lots more.
See excerpts below:
On how she got into music:
I was an extreme introvert when I was younger. I didn’t really talk much. My mom’s friends would be like, “Yo, Temi, come take a picture,” and I’d just turn around. I’m not sure when the first time I heard music was, but I found myself loving the radio, and I used to hear Celine Dion. Nigerians love Celine Dion. Her songs are very emotional, jump-off-a-cliff-type songs. They entered my soul. I think that’s where my love for music started.
On how she got into producing and arranging her own music:
When I was in uni I only had songs on the piano and the guitar, I never entered the studio. We didn’t really have access to things like that back home, and I wanted something more. Like, “How do I go to the next level of musicality?” I asked a friend, and they were like, “You need a beat, I’ll get you this producer.” Lots of producers I met back then, it was just Afrobeats, the main genre of Nigeria. Afrobeats is very good, but there’s a frequency I was trying to access that I wasn’t getting from them. The long and short is that I felt like I had to do it myself. Part of it also was, when you struggle to find people that believe in you, you go extra hard.
On how Tems is positioning herself as an R&B artist versus someone who could have been put in a box and just focused on where she’s from:
I believed in myself so much that I didn’t really care if I never became anything or anyone. I just wanted to get a message out. I wanted to get my frequency out. And I was like, “Even if ten people hear this, it’s fine.” But also along the way, I used to listen to a lot of Nigerian music and Iwasn’t getting a lot of spiritual -I love Celine Dion, so, I love that intense feeling of, I’m about to jump off a cliff. That’s how I want my music to feel all the time, and Afrobeats wasn’t necessarily giving me that type of stimulation. Everyone I asked for advice was like, “The only way you can do this is Afrobeats. It’s not that your music is bad, it’s just that it doesn’t fit in Nigeria. Nigerians don’t like this.
On pressure and expectations:
Yeah, you have to remember how you felt when you started as an artist, to understand the reason you’re doing what you’re doing. Yes, it’s to be seen, or to make a name for yourself, but beyond that, why are you doing it? Most of the time it’s because you have a story to share, a message to give. When you become more known or seen, it’s very easy to get caught up in, “What do people expect of me now?” But for me, it’s like, “What do I expect of myself now?” Because you’re the one that has to live with yourself, the one that has to sleep with the decisions that you make. Trusting yourself is so key, and I’m not going to stop trusting my guts just because people can see me now. It’s like being in a zoo. The animals don’t change their behavior just because you’re looking at them. They’re always going to be who they are. So why should I change?
Read the full interview here.