Hailing from Northampton, indie-soul artist Femi Tahiru dropped his latest single ‘Comfortable’ last Friday. We chat to him about the music that’s impacted his indie-soul sound and what’s in store for the future.

Give us a breakdown of ‘Comfortable’, what’s it about and what was the creative process behind it?

So  ‘Comfortable’ was sort of creating a time of my creative career where I had a bit of a block and I was just in a situation where I was like, “What is actually happening with my life? What am I actually doing?” It’s basically a self confession to all of the things that you’re struggling with – whether that’s imposter syndrome [or] people not caring. I was just at a point where I felt like I wasn’t being heard; that obviously made me feel really bad about my art. I was in the studio – I had the beat for so long, but I had a bit of a writer’s block. The first line, “It’s cold outside in my mind and out this bed” just came straight to my mind when I properly sat down and tried to approach it. That was the sort of feeling and emotion that I was going through at the time. 

Are ‘Jussai’ and ‘Comfortable’ part of a bigger project? If so is there anything you can tell us about it, and if not could elaborate on the creative choice to make them stand alone singles.

There is a project coming [but] they aren’t a part of it – the project coming out is its own sort of entity. There was a whole process that I went through making all of those tracks. I was listening to a lot of 70’s style music – like this band called Cortex, a lot of Roy Ayers [and] Lonnie Liston Smith. It has it’s own separate sound and to add those two onto the projects wouldn’t be cohesive, so that’s why these two have their own space so the project can live in its own realm.

Who do you listen to that has an impact on the music you make?

A lot of Steve Lacy, The Internet, Khruangbin, Nick Hakim – mostly American artists. Anything that’s got guitars and live drums – that’s me. I’ve recently discovered Yves Tumour. That’s the sort of area that I’m leaning into. This is why I call my music indie soul because it has relations to the genre of indie punk [and] indie rock, but in terms of soul it’s my own individual interpretation of what I feel all those genres blend into that I listened to. 

What situations have inspired your songwriting?

Obviously heartache and heartbreak. I’ve been dealing with a lot of instant gratification and materialism and the physical, plainer things. I feel like when I was writing the project, I lost touch of my deeper self and what I truly wanted.  I was swayed by all these people online – seeing how they’re living a high life from music and seeing all the numbers that some artists are getting; I was just approaching my whole creative process in the completely wrong way. All my earlier stuff I was literally making it because that was the music I wanted to hear. I’ve wrote a bunch of songs that I thought would get numbers, but I just didn’t connect with it and that’s why I had to scrap it and get on with it again. The body of work that I’ve come out with – I’m so pleased and happy about and excited to be able to share with everyone. 

We’re really excited to hear it. How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist between D.E.M.O.S. and now?

I’ve fully let myself go. I’ve been able to experiment. With D.E.M.O.S and Obsidian, it was a lot of strategic thinking. With this project, I just let the flow guide everything, so it’s very loose. It’s very “ragged ends”, nothing’s cut nicely, and I like that. I like the purity of it and the authenticity of it and I’m sure people will be able to hear a big difference as well compared to my other projects.

How has growing up in Northampton shaped your sound?

I was only really playing guitar in Northampton. When I moved to Manchester and was studying music, I was introduced to all these other musicians and their tastes – that’s when my sound started to really develop. Back in Northampton, I was listening to The Weekend and Drake and all [those] people. Then, I come to Manchester and I discovered The Smiths and Joy Division – all of these crazy bands that people back at home that I know in Northampton wouldn’t even bat an eyelid to. It was nice to be able to be around people that like that music and wouldn’t judge you about it as well.

I saw you open for Amber Mark last year are you planning on doing any live shows of your own anytime soon?

I feel like towards the end of the year there’ll be a little tour that we’ll do around the UK.  I’ve got a festival at Dot to Dot. I’m playing the Nottingham and Bristol dates, and I feel like more will come in once the project starts rolling out. 

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Kat Friar