Omoghéné , Nigerian-American singer, songwriter, and poet is known to blend music styles of R&B, pop, and neo-soul to create riveting music that soothes and serenades her listeners. Through her music, we experience an intoxicating mix of hope and heartbreak as she guides us through the ups and downs of the human experience, with the aid of new technologies in artificial intelligence as evident in her recently released first full-length album, “Love is a Symphony” (released on January 17th 2024).
Her wide variety influences come together to produce a truly potent mix. The eclectic artiste weaves her songs with intricate poetry while somehow remaining greatly relatable. On Love is A Symphony, she explores various expressions of love to reveal love in all its wholeness. We had a conversation with the singer about the new release.
Can you share the motivation behind ‘Love is a Symphony’?
Overall, it was a culmination of several experiences. At first, when I started writing, I wasn’t intentional about creating a project. I just was going to the studio a lot and writing a lot and found myself writing around the subject of love… it was everything from dating to the complexities of the talking stage to experiencing heartbreak as well as self-love and being open to new love and being afraid of new love as well.
And of course love from the father and so when I had all these collections of songs I decided I’d narrow it down to the nine that I wanted to share at this time in my life. That’s how we came up with ‘Love is a Symphony’. It’s an exploration of the different parts of love and how similar it is to the many parts of a symphony or an orchestra. Love is a symphony.
Can you tell me about your background getting into music? What was it like?
Yes. I’ve been singing since I was seven years old and I would always sing around the house. I remember telling my mum about it, she didn’t believe me at first until I sang for her and my dad and they were really impressed. The first performance I ever had was in the fifth grade. I remember closing my eyes at that moment and singing the first couple of words and it felt just right. I felt so comfortable and at home and I remember thinking that I would love to do this for the rest of my life.
As for my creative process and studio sessions, sometimes I come to the studio with lyrics already written and I already know how I want at least two tracks on a particular project to sound like; the lyrics and melody are usually already available before I come in. I know this can sometimes be very difficult for producers to navigate but my producers had no problem.
That’s usually the first flow. And then there are other times where my producers come up with beats, sometimes a simple guitar line and then they send it to me and I write around that or I just pop up in the studio and do it like that.
Specifically for ‘Already mine’ I remember telling my producers the day before that I didn’t have a lot of upbeat songs and I wanted to do an upbeat song, they agreed, we worked on it and it just came out beautifully.
Having people that encourage and support your creative process can be really encouraging for a creative; your producers being able to come through every time, even when you had your own idea is a beautiful thing. I commend that.
Thank you. I am grateful for my producers, God bless them, I’ve been working with them for quite some time now. I used to be the person that thought I could do everything by myself but now I have realised that two or three heads or more are better than one as long as the vibe is awesome; you get to create beautiful and timeless work that way.
During the making of this project, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
We don’t really realise how many projects don’t come to life because of one thing or another from artists. Maybe sometimes the fans just think, oh, this person fell off. There’s so many variables in a project that can cause an artist not to finish. And I would say I have an amazing support system.
Someone specifically I want to really shout out is my engineer, William Binderup, who really stood by me to make sure that I finished this project. It takes a lot of patience. Unless you have an engineer that is that detail oriented, that patient and can do that with you for nine tracks. It’s actually more than nine tracks. It’s a lot. That person really has to love their job and be committed to artists in order to walk with an artist to finish a project and get it over the finish line.
Shout out to him. Having people being able to be there with you is beautiful…how do you see Love In Symphony contributing to the broader music landscape and what impact do you hope it will have, on the music industry and people in general?
This particular project, it’s interesting because I have nine AI pieces attached to each song that was inspired by each song. The reason why I did that was because I wanted in a way to create a unique experience around my music and to help people understand and take them to the symphony and understand the subjects of love that I’m discussing.
AI in particular is really going to change the music landscape in a lot of ways. It’s really going to change the music landscape in the next couple of years. Number one, there is AI that will help artists through their music ideas. There is AI that helps you to create visuals around your product. Visuals have always, always always partnered with music and so now the…
I love something that Torrey Hargrow said at a conference last year. He said that AI is shortening the distance between idea to execution and I strongly believe that now that it’s available for everybody and artists are learning how to use it, it’s really going to make a difference and those that are willing to take hold of it and of course seeing the example that I presented here with Love is a Symphony; those that are willing to use it are going to see exponential growth in their career as well as a lot less moving a lot of the monotony of artwork.
There’s that part.
There’s also the fact that this is a very eclectic project musically. As an eclectic person myself, I’ve listened to everything from R&B to Neo soul to Hip hop to Gospel to Afrobeats to Nigerian-Based music and that’s just how I grew up, and a lot of those things really just come out of the music. In this particular project I found a way to just be authentically myself and express those different influences.
Ultimately I hope that my music can bridge a gap between genres and I’m finding that society is more interested in just hearing good music other than the genre.
That’s very true. However as an African creator, what do you think would be the future of Africa and African music with emerging technologies?
I see a lot of opportunities here for Africa. I’m going to speak to Nigeria specifically.
Nigerians have always been able to capitalise on opportunities, not just in the music industry… There are a lot of Nigerian tech professionals that I know that are coming up with ideas, running their own businesses and so I do see a lot of growth. Of course we do have the electricity crisis that we have to deal with but if we can tackle that… the ambition and the intelligence of Nigeria is only going to help us go farther.
One thing I know is that Nigerians are coming to other parts of the world and they are using their intelligence and their education to make an impact around the world. I just hope that we would take those same opportunities and ideas to impact Nigeria and all of Africa. And I just believe the same thing in terms of the music industry.
Technology, AI, is going to help us execute ideas a lot faster. It’s going to bridge a gap and I hope that Africa would like to be and should be a part of the data training models for the development of AI. It’s very important, it’s very crucial that our voices are heard.
What influences your style in music and fashion?
I think it’s all the people that came before me honestly. Growing up, my mom played a lot of music for me. My biggest influences are Lauryn Hill and Indy Amarie, they really influenced my eclectic style and of course a lot of gaffa music, a lot of Nigerian praise music and it’s just the way it comes out.
You kind of want to put it into a box when you hear my music. Because you’re like what is that? It’s like you want to say something but it’s not just one thing and it’s just an accumulation of people that I’ve been listening to honestly.
Can you highlight how your roots were able to influence your music style?
Yes. So, being Nigerian American there’s a lot of Afrobeats music to listen to, as well as Nigerian praise. A lot of us go to church and the drum instrumentation is unmatched and that’s the thing that people around the world are unable to replicate because it’s something that is just within us. It’s in our DNA and for you to try and copy that – because a lot of people try to replicate the sound but they just can’t do it because it’s missing that— should we call it soul? Should we call it flavour?
Like the essence of the whole music. I get you.
That’s the right word. Yes. And it’s really hard to replicate. It’s really unmatched. I’ve seen a lot of people in the industry try to copy Afrobeats or try to you know Americanize it but it’s like it is what it is. You can’t just copy and that’s why I believe Africa is really coming out at this time because they have something that is very special, and it’s unreplicable.
If you had to pick one song that encapsulates the essence of the EP what would it be and why?
That’s a hard one. That’s a really really hard one. Can you give me top three?
Alright lets do the top three then.
Okay, so Love’s Overture, the intro is very special because it’s a classical piece but if you listen very closely, the guitar melodies in there actually are inspired by the vocal melodies that I have on the EP. So that I would say is like a perfect intro to that whole project.
In terms of who I am, I will definitely say He Said (Naija Queen) because it’s R&B, it’s Neo-soul, it’s Gospel, it’s Afrobeats. The way the harmony formed just like the vocal stacks is very influenced by my upbringing and of course the Afrobeat drum instrumentation and then of course I’m speaking Pidgin English with an American accent. I feel like it’s a very authentic expression of me.
So, I’ll say that’s number two and then, Already Mine which is kind of the same, there’s a lot of Afrobeat influences in there a lot of R&B feels it’s a true example of my vocal range… So yeah, I would say those are my top three.
I picked a slower song plus two upbeat songs because I’m a very happy person which is very interesting because I have a lot of sad songs on the project, but in terms of my natural personality I feel like He Said and Already Mine really capture who I am as a person.
- Interview by Favour Edozie
- Article written and Edited by Tamilore Osho, Moyosola Olowokure
- Photographs of Omoghéné captured by Gaury Verma