In preparation for her new EP, I caught up with Princess Okoh—the 19-year old singer who officially debuted in 2015 with the soulful hit “Heartless” and then launched her well received EP Dear Cupid—to get to know more about the person behind the music, the girl behind the words, the woman behind the voice. We spoke about a variety of topics, ranging from the deeply personal, to the somewhat irrelevant.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Princess Onyinye Okoh. I am a 19 year old Nigerian singer and writer from Delta State but I grew up in Lagos. I am a law student at the University of Nottingham in my final year.
Who is your life inspiration?
How would you describe the relationship of your parents with your music?
My dad was extremely supportive of my music and I’m sure he’d have been so proud of what I’m doing now. My mum has always been a bit reluctant because she didn’t want me to be distracted or lose focus, but she’s slowly catching on.
Who is your music inspiration?
I have SO many, like the list is endless. But I’d say Whitney Houston, Rihanna, Omawumi, Luther Vandross, Alicia Keys, Banky W, and Emeli Sande.
Your last compilation was Dear Cupid, tell us a bit about that.
Dear Cupid was a collaborative EP with Moyo Fuga. It was made up of 3 songs which were about different things relating to love and relationships, hence the title. We literally recorded the whole thing in a weekend, it was absolutely amazing to create and I really enjoyed working with Moyo. Even though the reception wasn’t like what I had hoped, I was really happy that people enjoyed it.
In what ways have you grown since then?
I’ve grown immensely since then, in terms of my sound and lyrics. I’ve become very experimental with the music I make and I’m really excited for you guys to hear it!
Tell us about the forthcoming project, and how this growth ties in.
“Woman” is my first solo EP and I’ve been working on it for about two years. It’s been the most wonderful, stressful, exhausting and hands down hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life but I’m certain it’ll be worth it. Woman has been a personal stretch for me, I’ve had to explore genres and speak on issues I usually wouldn’t but it’s been an enjoyable process and I’m very sure the listeners will appreciate the growth and the effort put into it.
What do you aim to achieve with this project, both musically and commercially?
Really and truly, at the very top of my list, I aim to inspire someone. Putting out “Woman” is such a bold step for me, it’s almost like giving people a preview to my life and my experiences, so I really want people to be able to relate to the songs and feel what I was feeling when I created it. I also hope that the EP will bring my highest number of plays, but as long as people are inspired, I’m fulfilled.
What are your thoughts on the new age of Nigerian creatives? How do you think we can rise from a catchphrase to the main event?
I’m a huge supporter of the “New Age” movement. Although I feel the phrase is used a bit too much and mostly out of place, but I’m 100% here for supporting creatives of all sort. To be honest, nothing comes easy and overnight, creatives just need to keep doing what they do, one day it’ll be their turn to be in the limelight.
You have the power to change one thing about the music industry, to make it better, what change would you consider the most effective to make?
The pressure put on artistes by labels and fans to release music ever so often. I really hate that and it’s one of my biggest fears for when I “blow”. I know how inconsistent my creative process and how hard it’ll be for me to put out “quality” music ever so often, and the truth is, a lot of the big artistes out there are just like me.
Now for the big question, did you like Daddy Yo? and bigger still, Davido or Wizkid?
Daddy Yo didn’t really catch on me at first, but after a few listens – Issa JAM!. Wizkid all the way, I’m offended you’d even compare.
50 years from now, you look back at your life, what’s your greatest achievement?
50 years, wow. I want to be a living legend. I want to be one of the biggest people in the entertainment industry, reaping the fruits of my labour and receiving lifetime accomplishment awards.
What’s been your greatest achievement so far?
I actually haven’t thought about this, probably having my song starred on the Nigerian series “My Best Friend’s Wedding”.
What’s been your lowest moment?
I’ve had many, but losing my dad was probably the lowest one.
On those bad days where the strength to carry on making music is almost nonexistent? How do you get through it.
Days like that are horrible. I always get through it by reminding myself why I started and how therapeutic it is for me to express myself through my music. Talking to friends and supporters of my music also helps me.
If your life was a movie, which would it be?
I actually can’t say. I’m not really a movie person.
In high school, where did you fit in?
I had different stages to be honest. Most of junior secondary school, I was just loud and bitter, so I wasn’t really part of the “popular” people. But moving schools towards the end of my senior year, I began to care less about being ‘popular’ or ‘cool’ and I started to really discover myself and, ironically, that’s when I started getting popular.
If there was no applause, no criticism, no fear of poverty, who would you be?
Honestly, I would just keep being who I am and doing the things I do.
I’m looking forward to the Woman EP which drops soon.
Below are visuals which give a little more insight on what to expect from Princess’ EP, please check it out: