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Interview

Princess Okoh Talks Life, Music, And #WomanEP + Visuals

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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?

My mother.

 

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:

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The Escape with Ose Adeniyi

Ose for #GraphicLemons

I’m really blessed to be doing what I’m doing.
I doubted if my articles or interviews were enough or if they mattered but something can’t be explained they just need you to act.
I’ve been around the culture and I’ll always praise it cause Africa is changing and we’re the ones making it happen. This is God’s dream, we’re becoming better than we’ve ever, we all have to keep the faith.
These articles are about exposing minds, some friends of mine, some random people I’ve met on social media or around me cause they are proof that we are gradually becoming our own nation with our own culture.

The arts document change, that’s what they were created for, to artistically express what we are, how we’re reacting, what’s in our mind. Artists bring them demons and angles into reality, they paint a heaven or hell. We’ve taken them up a notch and they’ve become “graphic designers”, digital age Picassos creating from tools provided by the internet. They are bringing their piece together using manipulation, skill, creativity and maximum expression.
They are so many of them in the new age, they need to be free to show what they see and art was created for just that.

The GraphicLemons series means a lot to me, it’s something that’s needed to show more beauty through our new artists creating for our time. This edition was with Ose Adeniyi, a young chap I met in college who’s become a close friend. He’s the C/O of Creative & Innovative Hub/Foundation, Codelo and he’s a product designer at the conglomerate “Baroque Age”. Being one of the most distinct minds I’ve met, he creates with a view of broken distinctions.
He’s taking whatever and making them show meaning. A need he feels to bring things together to become perfect in their destruction, a feeling we can relate to creating in Africa. We push the limits in the new age with our own will, faith, hard work and exposure from the internet, maybe Ose’s art is that. A rendition of something not really understood but yet you feel it make sense. Our discussion was brief as Ose hit the guns hard with his words as usual, disjointed but articulate. It’s incredible having this job, taking us on each journey through the arts of different minds. We see reflections of ourselves in their words and craft, it draws us nearer to the history we’re creating for ourselves.

AL: Explain art in your perspective and why you create?

Ose Adeniyi: Art in my perspective is everything, the embodiment of an idea/skill. A channeling of the universe to create another universe if you will. “A viewpoint; whether yours, one you’d like to have, how you see another person’s viewpoint, and other infinite combinations of viewpoints; taking that and expressing it”. I create cause it’s the only thing I can do, the only thing I know how to do; no matter what I’m doing, I’m creating, constantly. And because I want to create other things, and get inspired while creating; I just keep going, guess I forgot where the brakes are.

AL: Your art is quite abstract and has layers to it with a lot of forms, is that your world? Break down your art view to us.

Ose Adeniyi: Tough to explain, but let’s just say I tend to get lost in it, in the message, the details; I’m very particular about detail. I fuck with a lot of geometry cause that’s the basis of everything visual, there are shapes in everything with physical form, even “formless” things. And a lot of times, those basic shapes and lines really stand out when I’m looking at stuff. And colors too, I don’t use a lot most times cause too many colors tend to be distracting for me, especially when they’re conflicting. Like how light and bright things make my eyes hurt after a while; I prefer working with darker palettes.

Song Art for Tonero

AL: What would you say is an element of your art that surrounds what you see in the world?

Ose Adeniyi: Geometry and Colors.

AL: How do the lines and geometry help give your art a narrative?

Ose Adeniyi: That’s a result of my viewpoint, how I see it, is how I can tell it; that’s how we as humans know to communicate; how we perceive it from our viewpoint, the same viewpoints are what our interpretations operate on and what we then express from that. The art I produce is just a function of that.

AL: What impact do you think art has had on the new age of Africa?
And how do you reflect this in your art?

Ose Adeniyi: Art has always been a driving force, inspiration, communication across the earth, it’s just time for another era, a better one we’d like to build and everyone that wants that better world is using whatever medium they can, art is one out of many. I think that things can always be better, even in the best case possible, I think that better state is what we should all work to achieve; that what I put into a lot of the art I put out.

AL: What stands unique to the African art scene which is growing and gaining more recognition?

Ose Adeniyi: Well, truly I don’t believe in borders, we’ve always been speaking, they’re just listening to us more now cause we have the internet now, infinity.

AL: You’re the creative director of a brand called Codelo, tell us about that?

Ose Adeniyi: For someone who wants to create through multiple mediums and an architectural firm doesn’t cut it, you want to direct camera angles on videos too, all while developing new technology and writing songs; a place for undefined fields, I think of everyone as a creative director and working together is how we can achieve things. We have to keep building a better existence. That’s what Codelo is about.

Codelo.

AL: You’re centered a lot around freedom to express, to create without borders.
Coming from Nigeria which limits such freedom, how important is it for structures like Codelo, Bantu and others to help change this narrative?

Ose Adeniyi: Everyplace has its limits, you know, I just happen to be in Nigeria. But I’d like to show people those limits aren’t there, you set your own limits.

AL: How do you wanna show this?

Ose Adeniyi: Belief is the first step of making something happen. Then working towards this belief, and we don’t always get to work and get the results we want, not every time. Sometimes, we get different results, those ones we can use to keep working at the result we want. I think to believe in the example and the only things that last are ideas, and the best way to describe an idea most times is by example.

AL: Will this be enough for a change?

Ose Adeniyi: Change always has to happen, it’s inevitable, but the pace and direction we can affect. If I want things to change and I’m not doing anything about it or waiting on someone else who isn’t ready, or I want to change someone’s viewpoint and I’m not showing them how to change or that change even exists; then I’m wasting time and energy.

AL: Does art bring understanding?

Ose Adeniyi: Not necessarily, communication does, at a level the audience can relate/understand. And that’s the difficulty most times, different levels of communication.

AL: So different layers of art bring different forms of conversation?

Ose Adeniyi: Not so, I could use different layers to illustrate the same point.

AL: A few words to the kids creating out there?

Ose Adeniyi: I’ve come to learn more about art through life actually than the other way.
If you’re creating, don’t stop and if you’re not, please start; in any way, you can. And not just copy and paste. A lot of times we have to remember to create to solve problems in our time. We can’t always create the best things on our own, even the best things can be better; that’s why collaborations are important, most people don’t get that, I wouldn’t say especially Nigerians although that’s what I have in mind but that’s stereotyping, I hate that. But I see nothing wrong in 2/3 filmmakers or directors coming together; but ego is a big problem we all still have, no matter how small.

It was a lovely conversation, seemed brief but a lot can be learned in the mind of an artist. I’ve noticed the seem to express less, they’d rather show you but sometimes they explore words too and we capture their pain more precisely, this was a little of that.
It’s magical cause I learned some new things, that’s what these interviews are to me.
A way to help share more of our hearts through a conversion.
The new age can’t stop believing there’s something incredible happening, cause there is. This will be a big showcase, it will be the greatest shift in humanity.
Africa is on a journey going forward.

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