Ekyi Quarm Jr, better known as L1TRENDSETTER, is situating his music on a planet of his own. Nurtured and bred in the stormy heights of Airport Hills, this 19 year old Ghanaian is one of the artists to watch from Accra’s most inspiring and creative province – Spintex. His debut album, Earth 2, is a starburst galaxy featuring post-apocalyptic party anthems at every turn.
As West Africa continues to ascend as the heart of Afrobeats, L1TRENDSETTER’s budding career has been a reconciliation between his Ghanian roots and his passion for pioneering alternative music within the region. Quarantine 2020 was a pivotal moment for the young musician when he put pen to paper and rebooted his journey as an artist by refining his sound.
From this, Earth 2’s Rager & Earth 2’s Guide emerged, skyrocketing his creativity and drive, as well as his undeniable urge to rage. His goal? To construct and promote a state of mind which empowers and enables all souls to overcome their fears and chase their dreams.
At just 19, the subject matter in his lyrics are laced with an otherworldly sense of maturity. In songs like Space Cowboy, he juxtaposes feelings of existentialism with a hopeful tempo, sharing, “It’s way too lit for me on God, I got to find my way on Mars”.
Left to the company of his own thoughts, he is the lone-ranger from space championing the sentiment that being alone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lonely.
What is the inspiration behind the album?
The themes behind the album were heavily inspired by favourite artists, namely Kid Cudi, Travis Scott and Kanye West because I was binging their music at that time. I started working on the album during quarantine where I was in a mental state of solitude. In a way, I’d liken the isolation to feeling like I was drifting through space.
When you listen to the album, you’ll notice that I only have one feature to enhance those sentiments of lonerism. There are times when I physically felt like “I didn’t want to be here”, in the confines and limitations of earth as we know it. My intro is intentionally called “welcome to earth 2” because it’s me welcoming my listeners into the musical world I’ve crafted for myself.
What would you say to skeptics who don’t think 19 year olds experience bouts of depression and loneliness?
I would tell them that the reality of life is experience. We all experience stages of happiness, grief, loneliness at different junctures of our lives. So when I’m speaking about taboo topics like loneliness in my music, it comes from a place of authenticity. We’ve all struggled with self-doubt, imposter syndrome and struggled to find direction in life as a result. I also think people should stop assuming we don’t relate to struggle simply because we are young. Experiences are real and the feelings that accompany those are just as valid.
You predominantly sing in English and not Twi. Do you feel pressure to conform to making afrobeats and singing in Twi to be commercially successful and domestically relatable?
I feel that pressure sometimes, but as someone who wears their heart on their sleeve, it’s imperative not to conform to it. I’ve heard some people say that if I want to blow locally I will have to make something people want to hear. However, I know what I want to do and I’m not trying to fake it so people understand the sound I make. That’s not who I am and I want to enjoy and be proud of the music I make. My priority is that I do what is real and I put out what comes from my heart.
Do these feelings of loneliness also come about because you’re making alternative as opposed to mainstream music?
I would agree with that as there’s not really a lot of people in Ghana who make the same music as me so I would kind of feel lonely in that sense. I think it would be hard to collaborate with people who experiment with the alternative genres I dabble in.
What’s the reception been like since the album release?
The reception has been great actually. Before it dropped, I was confident in what I made but I still had my doubts. I guess that’s normal. When it dropped, I was actually asleep and my boy called me and woke me up, hyping it up. After that the messages from friends started pouring in, including messages from people I didn’t even know. It’s been really good stuff. And people really felt like they could relate to some of the songs, especially Asgard, and I was really happy about that.
What can we expect next from you?
I’m working to figure out which songs I should do a music video for so that it will drop in the near future. But you can definitely expect a deluxe version of Earth 2.