The buzzing Nigerian singer talks about her latest EP and what it means to stay grounded while leaning out.
Freedom is important to Tems. That titillating state of mind that permits us to be as genuine and true to ourselves as we possibly can is a driving force through which the 25-year-old alt-R&B singer navigates her life and expresses her music.
Her music: a gently gritty, yet completely tender sound fitted amply beside a highly-thoughtful and accomplished lyricism. Remarkable for someone who has been on the Nigerian music scene only for a short while, but unsurprising for Tems (real name Temilade Openiyi) whose approach to music-making is as much a spiritual experience and a constant return to her own experiences, as it is a connective bridge to listeners who can relate.
On the For Broken Ears EP, which she started writing and compiling in March during the lockdown, Tems is not only being free and coming to terms with some of the events in her life, she's also urging listeners into a cleanse. It's an auditory occasion for healing featuring eight tracks and promising perspective, lightness and rejuvenation.
A prominent feature in the process of putting the EP together was reinspiration and moving back and forth between her past and present. It meant redoing songs she had written as far back as two years ago ("Ice T" and "Damages"), but which hold significance in her life today. It meant seeing old songs through new light and deciding which ones best represented her journey.
Below, we talk about the process behind putting the EP together, the joys of rediscovery, life during lockdown, spirituality, freedom and what it means to stay grounded while leaning out.