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First Look Friday: Kemi Ade Interview

Photo of Kemi Ade taken by Wunmi Onibudo for Okayplayer.

Afternoon, Okayplayers, we hope that this newest episode of First Look Friday reaches you in blessed spirits and good vibes. With her song “Third” receiving love from our audience on socials, Kemi Ade is building a reputation for being a crafty singer-songwriter who pulls no punches + has experiences we all can relate to. A worshipper at the altar of “alternative neo-soul,” Kemi Ade channels the sounds of Jill ScottErykah Badu and filters it through her own truthful prism. Hailing from Croydon, South London, her music has easily captivated our earholes and her effortless infusion of flavorful sounds will do the same for you.

Blessed with the ability to make the song completely her own (thanks to her otherworldly writing abilities) — Kemi Ade has headlined shows at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, supported Denai Moore (another up-and-coming voice you should keep an eye on) and keeps intrigue around her like a classic Birkin bag. Liberating, sensual, golden and full of all of the keys — Kemi Ade is a name to commit to memory and play her songs on repeat. With all of that in mind, we are proud to present this week’s First Look Friday subject, Kemi Ade, her newest EP O.W.Nesty, which shares a deeper side of the singer than before, and talk about some of the truths she shares in her work.

Listen to the full project below, and check out her thoughts and comments in the interview underneath. Enjoy!

Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in music game are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?

Kemi Ade: Pure great sounds from an honest perspective about how i view the world. Which is so relatable.

OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?

KA: Louis Armstrong forever and always. But recently it’s been a lot of Jazmine Sullivan and Frank Ocean. I love the rhythmic melodies.

OKP: Can you talk about how your life was while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?

KA: I was heartbroken and writing songs to make the pain hurt a bit less. So hearing that people thought it was good. The songs I wrote about this sad time in my life helped me get over it. It also made me feel like I’m actually quite good at this [laughs].

OKP: With incidents involving people of color, police and racist occurring almost on a daily basis around the globe — how can your music (and/or others) help to relieve the trauma that is being experienced by the masses?

KA: It’s a form of escapism really. All music takes you to a place where you feel free.

OKP: What have been the most definitive obstacles that you’ve overcome in your career thus far?

KA: Finding my sound, and that’s not just production. I mean finding my voice amongst these millions of others, and fine-tuning it to make it solely and purely me.

OKP: Can you also talk about the importance of the music industry scene as how you’ve experienced it? How do you see it evolving in the next five years?

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