A Sit Down With Jemiyo

Hailing from the streets of South London, Jemiyo enlists influential artists such as Alicia Keys, Nina Simone and Emeli Sandé, merging soulful melodies and cinematic elements of haunting soundscapes.

Nominated for the MOBO Unsung Award, Jemiyo has toured venues including 93 Feet East, Ronnie Scotts Bar, The RAC, and performed at Beach Break Live Festival. She recently appeared on BBC4’s documentary ‘The Secret Science Of Pop’ where her song ‘Dive’ was re-produced by Grammy Award Winner Trevor Horn.

In the wake of the release of her new song ‘Scream’ IndustryMe caught up with singer to discuss her new music.

IM: Why the name change?

J: I realised that I was developing a new sound, one that was more reflective of what I love to create and who I am. I suppose, with that, I wanted a fresh start with a new identity. 

IM: How would you describe your sound? 

J: Others have described my new material as raw, haunting and beautiful. Somewhere between Emeli Sandé and Sia. With Emeli, I’m influenced by her storytelling and melodies; as for Sia, I’m drawn by the rawness of her lyrics and the emotion that she sings with. 

IM: What do you enjoy most about the creative writing process?

J: I use writing to express how I feel and process things that have happened in my life. It’s a therapeutic process for me. I also enjoy working with other musicians and writers, bouncing ideas off other people, creating something amazing and coming together sonically. I’m able to try new things – it pushes you out of your comfort zone. You start off with an idea and then you come out with a song! 

What’s also cool, is that one day you’ll get to share it on stage and other people are moved by what you’ve written.

IM: How do you think you’ve developed as an artist since your song ’round in circles’? 

J: I’ve written so many more songs! While my writing has always been honest I’m able to communicate what is it I’m trying to say in a more interesting way, draw from personal experiences. Describe the way I see the world, through the eyes of a young black woman from South London.

I feel at home and completely myself on stage, telling stories about what inspired each song. Someone came up to me after a gig recently and said they felt my music allows the audience to step away and get lost in my world…I thought that was pretty cool.

IM: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

J: That’s tough to choose!

I put on an intimate gig in my flat; 30 people came over. It was the first listen of my EP Hearts Grow, an acoustic set with the addition of string players. Having all the people that have closely supported me in one room was amazing.

After the release of the EP, we had a sold-out show, around 100 people came – it was the first-time people sang with me, lyric by lyric, whilst I was on stage. Unforgettable. 

IM: What was the inspiration behind your sophomore EP?

J: The title track is called Hearts Grow, and the lead single is called Dive. They’re about coming through to the other side of a breakup and hoping that things will be stronger.

The EP describes how the heart can be broken many times, and appreciates how difficult it can be to choose to love, but iterates that it is still important to try.

IM: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far?

J: Being myself, and being comfortable with that. Musically, artistically, and aesthetically.

It’s so easy to compare yourself to what’s out there, listen to advice and conform to what’s popular now, but I’ve learnt it’s important to stay true to your own sound. I’ve stopped trying to fight the heart-tugging, real-talking lyricist within me.

IM: Made you want to pursue music in the first place?

J: I just love performing. When I was 15, my piano teacher got me this gig in front of 300 people, and I performed on a grand piano. It was the most amazing experience I had ever had, and I wanted to do it, again and again.

 

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