R&B soul artist, Témi, is back with his new single “Dynamite”. We recently caught up with Témi to talk about growing up in Nigeria/Toronto, his upcoming album, Alternative Soul, and bringing love back to R&B music.
How would you describe yourself and your style of music?
The tone is definitely soul music, but, over the years of my musical experience, it has morphed into various things. I started off only doing R&B music, however, now, it’s a mix of everything. I don’t want to limit myself, because I find love in all types of music, and my goal with this new project is to be able to relate to as many fans as possible, with all genres to tell my story and hopefully help with their stories.
You were born in Nigeria and then moved to Toronto at age five. What was your childhood like?
With four children running around, it was a busy household. I didn’t really grow up in a musical household. Mom was always cooking, and Dad was hard working to support the family. I was the youngest just looking up to my brothers and sister. Being the youngest, I was kind of spoiled and even remember my mother setting aside my food and even adding extra treats when it was time for meals.
What kind of music did your household listen to while you were growing up?
I remember my mother blaring, Nigerian artist, Fela Kuti’s music throughout our household every weekend morning. My brothers were smooth operators and would play artists like Whitney Houston and Baby Face. Looking up to them, I wanted to be cool with the ladies as well, so I listened and took notes. I would say that’s where my love for music started and what I draw from today. The styles of the soul singers that I grew to love and what I believe shaped the person and artist that I’m becoming now.
At five, you were already interested in music and started entering talent shows and contests. Tell me about those shows.
At a very young age, I had a few friends that I sang with that enjoyed music, and we sang at community center talent shows and pretty much wherever we could. I think that strengthened my love for performance. I sang mostly cover songs from groups like Boyz II Men and other soul groups. As I got older and joined a group with friends, we started to create our own music and began chasing the musical dream more aggressively.
You’ve spent some time in a band (Untitl3d). How did you decide to leave the band and return to making music as a solo artist?
I was in a group for a large part of my musical career and life. We started off in Toronto and after reaching what we felt was a plateau in the music scene here, we ventured off to Atlanta, GA to see where that would take us. We landed a production deal with Ludacris at Disturbing the Peace Records and later a full-fledged recording deal with LA Reid and Island Def Jam Records. It was a good learning experience to be a part of a group and that label. I had high and low moments in my early life/career with these guys who were like family to me. I think it comes to a point in life when not everyone has the same path and want to pursue different things. We went into different directions and that’s okay.
You’ve talked about having a different musical style in the past, one that was more R&B. But you said it felt “contrived” and “over sexualized” at times. Do you feel there are still stereotypes embedded within R&B music?
My new work is the most real part of me musically that I have ever been able to create. I do believe there is a stereotype with the new R&B music. I really want to bring love back into the music. It has been missing, and I’m trying one song at a time to bring back that feeling of being in love.
Could you tell us about your new album?
My new album is called, “Alternative Soul,” and I’m with the label Arrival Music Group /MDC Music. It is a mix of soul and many genres. I’m showing myself in different ways on this new album. My producer a.n.g.e.l of Arrival Music Group and myself, are currently putting final touches on it. I’m extremely proud and terrified at the same time. This is the most vulnerable and the most real I have been. I know many will be able to relate to and feel all emotions with this album.
What type of ideas or themes are you writing about?
Love, joy, happiness, heartache, good vibes, I’m taking you through it all. It has something for everyone.
Do you have a release date?
Mid/late October 2018.
Your latest single, “Dynamite,” is a great song. Super catchy. How did this song come about?
Thank you. I appreciate that. It was a writing collaboration with my producer a.n.g.e.l of Arrival Music Group, artist Joseph Dako Era, and Jonathan Pitman. Most club/dance songs from an urban standpoint nowadays, although musically they are great, tend to be disrespectful towards the opposite sex. We wanted to create a fun song about that special someone and showing them how you feel.
You’ve talked about wanting to make meaningful music that helps people. Could you elaborate on why this is important to you?
I feel like it’s an artist’s responsibility to offer something either mentally or emotionally in the music. Whether they are learning from how I dealt with a situation and how not to make the same mistakes or learn about this musical path, I believe it is important to have relatable music. Everyone is going through something and having music to get you through a tough or happy time in life is pretty special.
You’ve also spent some time mentoring other artists. How did you get involved in that?
I work with mentoring and engineering marginalized youth for the City of Toronto and Native Child. I’m beginning to realize that my life isn’t about me, and we are put on this earth for each other and to spread love in whatever form we have been gifted. I feel blessed that my gift is music and that I’m able to use my talents in other ways. I am humbled when I see youth learning from me because I know that I’m not only making music but changing lives.
What’s next for you?
Everything! I’m staying busy with video shoots, interviews, studio time, and personal growth. I’m very excited about the release of my album, “Alternative Soul,” and can’t wait to share it with all of you.