We sit down with British-Nigerian songwriter Moelogo to talk about his new EP 'Ìréti' and his South London influences.
Mohammed Animashaun is bringing a new feel to R&B and afrobeats.
Born in Lagos, the British-Nigerian songwriter, better known by his stage name Moelogo, moved to South London in 2001 and found a love for singing through his school music class.
Not only does Moelogo have a distinctive vocal ability that sets him apart from many acts coming out from both Nigeria and the UK, he’s also got a clear technical understanding of several genres as a whole—which is evident in the jazz, R&B, hip-hop and afrobeats-infused sound he's molded for himself.
Sitting at a living room of an apartment in Wembley, Moelogo tells me he doesn't believe in binding himself to one genre and doesn’t want to be represented as a one-dimensional artist. It's this diverse sound that's gotten him to collaborate with some noteworthy UK artists like Giggs and Mostack, as well as perform across Africa, Europe and the US.
Moelogo first broke out in 2013 with “Pangolo,” a synth-heavy track made for the dance floor. He recently came out with Ìréti, a 5-song EP created with producer P2J. "Ìréti" translates to “Hope” in his native Yoruyba language Yoruba.
His buzz is rising as the the likes of Davido and Sarkodie have remixed his Ìréti's standout “Penkele."
We got a chance to sit down with Moelogo to talk in-depth about growing up in South London and the new EP.
South London has a very rich musical history. Has your environment had a major influence on your sound?
I feel like South London has impacted a lot of my music. I feel like my experience is relatable to other people as well, not just those from South London. They can be from a different country, but they can actually picture the same kind of situations I have experienced.
So you worked really closely with P2J for your most recent EP Ìréti. How did you guys meet and what’s your working relationship like?
We met through some other producers, SOS, Mikey and Mo. It was just good vibes and we come from the same area as well, so things happened naturally.
We clicked and I said, "you know what? let's do a project together." It was meant to be just one song. But then we made the first song from the EP ("Plenty Plenty") and it was just amazing vibes from there, so we ended up making a full body of work. We didn't really know how people were going to take to it. But people just loved the outcome.
Is there a difference between working with producers in Nigeria and producers in London?
I don't believe in that. I just feel like if both sides know about the music and have some kind of mutual ground of understanding... I can work with any producer as long as they are passionate about the music. I'm not really picky but I need the person to be musical and spiritual. Energy is very important. Once the energy is right, anything can happen. Music will flow. You start thinking of things you were not thinking of before and you start bouncing off each other’s energy and ideas.
Do you feel like you have a different experience in the industry being an afrobeats artist that grew up in London compared to an artist that maybe grew up Nigeria?
I think it's still the same thing because music is music. Everyone feels the same thing when they listen to music, but maybe their particular situation is different. Obviously what others go through in Nigeria, or a different country, is different from what I am going through here.
So we do have different stories to tell and sometimes maybe it’s the same thing, but the way we tell it is different. I never compare myself to anyone. With music, with my life, with what I do. I just focus on what I do. Find your own lane, and make sure no one can do what you can do.
Davido and Sarkodie remixed “Penkele” recently, how did that come about and have you guys been able to link up since then?
Sarkodie was the first one to actually reach out because he'd spoken in London with DJ Abrantee from Capital XTRA. Abrantee gave me a call being like, "guess who I'm with?" I spoke to Sarkodie and he said he wanted to jump on "Penkele." So I sent him the track and he did it. The next day my producer was in Atlanta working with Davido on his album, so he said "you know I got Davido, give me a call." That’s how everything came about. It was very organic.
So, obviously afrobeats music is becoming really popular worldwide with some major artists—the likes of Drake, Rihanna—using the sound. How do you feel about this transition in its popularity?
I think it has always been there, man. It just took the right person to make it what it is. People have been using the sound from early on, from before I was even born.
It just took obviously the likes of Drake and other artists to actually make it shown to non-Africans. So, it's always been there, and it will only get bigger and bigger. We just need to keep pushing it and pushing our culture, because they want to know about our culture.
If we don't embrace ourselves, they won't embrace us. Same way we like watching Hollywood movies and Bollywood movies because we're interested in them, and because Indians are very passionate about what they do, which makes you interested.
You can play Wizkid's songs to someone who's white or Albanian or something and they will move to it. They may not understand what you're saying but it's the feeling the music brings.
What can we expect from you in the next year?
I have got a new song coming out real soon, before the end of the year. Next year I am ready man. I don't want to say too much, but I am prepared definitely.