Bri’s Lounge: Dami Oniru Breaks Down the Journey Behind her Debut Project

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Dami Oniru Bri's Lounge

Fast rising singer and songwriter Dami Oniru recently put out a new project, Bri’s Lounge in which she teamed up with talented producer Remi Baggins. Having first caught the attention of many listeners in her early days on SoundCloud, the artist became a recognisable name with songs like Fallin and Iyawo.

Speaking with Dami Oniru, we explore her hiatus, inspirations, growth and journey leading to the creation of Bri’s Lounge. Find below excerpts;

Bri’s Lounge is your first project following your break from music, what would you say Is the difference between Dami Oniru from Cliche EP and Dami Oniru from Bri’s Lounge?

I don’t consider Cliche an EP, the idea was to put out 3 singles that will suffice while I go on a hiatus to complete my degree. But in terms of sound, Cliche was more of a play on African-inspired sounds, so you hear songs like Gold, Every Letter and Duro Na. Duro Na is Afro-RnB-House but Bri’s Lounge is me exploring my RnB side because that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to make purely RnB music but obviously I’m Nigerian so I had to try and infuse a bit of culture into the project, which you hear on See. I think the difference is that I played around with sounds more and you can definitely hear the growth between both in just a 1-year period.

What inspired the title Bri’s Lounge?

Brianna is actually my first name, not Dami so that’s where Bri came from. Lounge because by the end of the project, it felt like something you would listen to in your PJs, something you would listen to when you’re comfortable and where better to listen to than in the space of your own home. Also it kind of describes how comfortable Remy and I were when we were making Bri’s Lounge. He actually came up with the name but that’s what the title means to me.

What were some of your key influences for Bri’s Lounge?

Some of my key influences for Bri’s Lounge were just life experiences really. I didn’t have any specific theme or topic I wanted to explore, I just wanted each song to kind of bloom organically and just be able to express whatever it was I was feeling at the beginning of creating each song. Just life experiences, stuff that happened to me in university, music that I’ve listened to that kind of inspired that. I’d say Brandy definitely influenced the first track, Higher and I’ve always wanted to do an acappella ever since I heard Brandy’s. So that was a dream come true for me… doing my own acappella.

What did you start with and how did you revise these beginnings into the finished work of art? 

When we were creating the project, we started off with each beat from scratch. My creative process is: The producer and I create a beat, I do freestyles to find which melody best fits the song, we arrange different melodies from different ideas that I’ve recorded and we like, and then I start writing. I just really wanted to put out good music and tried explaining what I was feeling, or the ideas in my head I can’t bring out myself, to Remy and he brings those ideas to life. That was our process.

At the early stages of writing Bri’s Lounge, was there any overall mood theme you were trying to capture?

When I decided that I wanted to put out a project, I initially didn’t have any ideas for the kind of songs that I wanted on it, I didn’t know what I wanted it to be about in general but I just knew that every song that I put on there needed to be good. I needed people to listen and be like ‘Damn, okayyy, she’s coming for our necks. She’s serious about this music thing’. But at the same time I needed people to relate to what I was talking about, so every song explores different times in my life where I’m going through something or I’m expressing how I’m feeling about something in the moment. For example, Higher is about how music makes me feel, Running is about how sometimes you kind of know what it is that you want to do but there’s always this voice in your head, saying ‘Are you sure? Is this for you?’, and that’s a similar topic with Alive. Alive is basically me talking to God like, ‘I want this, but do you want this for me?’. Everything came organically, I didn’t want to pre-plan I just wanted whatever to come, come when we created each song and just put whatever I was feeling into the music.

By the end of the project, after all that, I decided that the overall theme would be comfort. I had a listening party and the theme was a silent disco pyjama party. The pyjama bit is how I want people to feel when listening to my EP, when you’re in pyjamas you’re comfortable and in a space where your mind is free (well, for me). When I’m comfortable I’m at peace and that’s how I want people to feel when they’re listening to my music.

An interesting aspect of Bri’s Lounge is your varying experimentation with different musical forms what was the inspiration behind that?

I didn’t want my project to be boring, that’s one and I didn’t want it to be repetitive. I was just exploring different sounds which is something I’ve always wanted to do. So to have all that on one project sometimes can be hard but it depends on how well you tie it together. I just wanted to see what I could do with my voice and with different sounds. It was like me taking on a challenge and thank God it worked out because ah… it would have been bad if it didn’t I would have probably quit music or something. That’s what I was trying to do, I was trying to see what I was capable of so now I know and moving forward I can say “I’ve done this before and maybe I’ll do it again”, or “I’ve done this before and I don’t think it worked out too well for me. I think it’s all about being able to hear your growth in your music and always trying out new things.W

Producer and Singer, Remy Baggins features heavily on the project having also contributed additional vocals and co-writing tracks 3, 4 & 5, what was it like working with him?

It was actually amazing working with him. It was really fun working with him and I consider Remy to be a musical genius and I’ve told him this. Sometimes I want to cut his head open and look inside like how does he come up with all these sounds? I’ve known. Remy for a while and I knew if anyone had to produce my EP it would be him, although I had a few other people in mind but I knew for this project I really wanted it to be Remy. We actually camped out at my house for over 2 weeks, with a 1 week break in between. It was really fun. It was a lot of late nights but we got to know each other well. I think chemistry is important in the studio and that’s what some artistes miss out, they just get into the studio with anybody without building at least some sort of relationship. It doesn’t have to be a deep friendship but you have to vibe. If I don’t vibe with someone in the studio I doubt the music would be to its best standards. This is an experience I’m grateful for and I’m grateful for the fact that we were able to create a project people genuinely enjoy and will keep listening to.

Since its release the EP has enjoyed a lot of positive reviews and charted at number 3 on Apple Music’s top 100, has it’s success been what you envisioned for it so far?

I’d say the success has actually surpassed the vision I had for Bri’s Lounge. Yes, I did want it to be ‘big’ but I definitely wasn’t expecting #3 on the chart so that’s something that still excites me till now. I hope at some point it gets to #1 but if it doesn’t I’m actually content with #3 because the fact that people are now paying attention and listening and they genuinely like and enjoy my music makes me really happy. It’s definitely motivation to keep on doing what I’m doing and making music. I’m really happy about it.

Of the 7 songs on Bri’s Lounge, which did you enjoy making the most?

I think I enjoyed making Higher the most. I put a lot of emotion into the song and apart from that I think my favourite thing about the song is just the voices in the background. The voices are actually Remy and I doing the ‘ooos’ and ‘ahhhs’, and that was really fun to do. Just listening to it, this is definitely my favourite track on the EP because I love gospel music and the fact that I was able to incorporate a gospel feel on that track means a lot to me.

How would you in your own way describe Bri’s Lounge to potential Dami Oniru fans?

To potential Dami Oniru fans… that’s kind of hard. I know there are people that say they enjoy RnB music, I don’t know if we’re talking about the same thing because everyone’s definition is different. But if you’re about Rhythm and Blues, I think Bri’s Lounge is definitely one of the projects they should be listening to. Also it’s quite impressing I would say for a Nigerian-raised artiste to be able to infuse foreign sounds into a project. I don’t think it’s been done before and the fact that I was able to do that, I think is amazing. I don’t see why they shouldn’t be listening to it. I don’t know how else to describe it but Bri’s Lounge should definitely be on your playlist. If it’s not then you need to Ji! Ma sun! That’s all I’m going to say.

What lyric from the project do you strongly resonate with?

Hmm, on the Running in the hook I say, “I’m hurting inside yes I cry you’re my light still. On this rocky road I have doubts but I ride still”. When I say that, I’m expressing the relationship I’m trying to build with God and I’m basically saying that even though sometimes I feel really down and I could just start crying for reasons that are unknown to me, I still strongly believe in Him and I believe that everything will be okay, and even though I know life isn’t as easy as some people make it seem, I know it’s really difficult with a lot of obstacles, but I will continue on this journey to be closer to Him and to have a stronger relationship with Him. Those are lyrics that I strongly resonate with from the project.

You were once affiliated with Chase Music, your front with Jinmi Abduls, do you see yourself returning anytime in the future?

Yes, I actually started Chase Music with Jinmi Abduls but I don’t see myself going back to Chase Music. I’ve explained that the reason I left was because I had a lot going on at the time and I didn’t think I could put 100% into something when I wasn’t 100% myself and everything would have gone downhill. Post my departure though, he’s done an amazing job with helping other upcoming artistes to grow their fanbase with the support of resources that he has. I also think in order for people to grow, you sometimes have to grow apart to grow together and I’ve had a conversation with someone once and even in normal friendships, sometimes you guys have to separate for a while and find each other later on. Jinmi and I are still great friends but I don’t see myself returning to Chase Music at all.

You can check out Dami Oniru in Bri’s Lounge right here or below:

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