Interview: Atueyii on Music, Childhood, Musical Inspirations & ‘Love & War’

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Atueyii may be a newbie in the UK music scene but he already has incredible wins under his belt. Emerging on the scene in 2018 with his first single Go, Atueyii brings an exciting blend of Afrobeats and R&B. This self-taught producer has dedicated many years to perfecting his craft by constantly embracing core elements of Dancehall, Soul as well as Afrobeats into his music. In this sit-down conversation, we talk about music, his childhood in Nigeria, musical inspirations and his latest body of work – Love & War, while getting to know the man himself. 

You are fairly new to the scene so, for the people who don’t know you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

I guess the simplest way to say it is that I’m Nigerian – born in Lagos. I grew up in Tottenham, North London and I’ve been making music for as long as I can remember. I’ve been producing since I was 15 years old and I started releasing music in 2018. 

You mentioned that you were born in Nigeria and then moved over to North London. What was your life like in Lagos?

It was interesting. Obviously, Nigeria isn’t the easiest place to grow up or survive in but Nigeria was fun. I had a family that liked suburban life, so we lived on the outskirts of Lagos – near Badagry. The music in Lagos at the time was interesting because you had people like Daddy Showkey, Baba Fryo, The Danfo Drivers, early P – Square, Plantation Boyz – they were the main guys in the scene at the time so it was interesting to get some early influence that way. I grew up in an era where there were no phones so you had to use the radio to listen to music which I loved doing.

How did you feel about moving to London and then finding out that you were going to be staying? 

You know what, it wasn’t the easiest, it literally just happened. You know how immigrant parents are, they just make plans without telling you! It was nice though. It was interesting to see the difference in culture, the difference in diasporans and actually becoming a diasporan. It was hard to adjust because back then, Africans were not necessarily the coolest so school was hard because people would make fun of me initially. When everyone found out that I was a singer, I guess it kind of dropped and everyone started to respect me. It wasn’t the easiest to just do but we made it happen.

What impact do you feel living in Nigeria had on you as a person? What did that do for you in terms of morals and values?

It’s humbling to grow up where I did, go through life that way and then coming over here and seeing life in a different kind of way. It basically shaped me and it gave me a level of respect for life and people. It made me see the world in a different way. I guess immigrants who are born here don’t necessarily get to experience the shift in life. They may experience it when they’re older but now you’re too old for your mind to be renewed. It happened to me at a young age and made me realize that not everything is as it looks. You have to give people time to change or learn and just be humble. Recognize that you might have it all but, some people are really going through serious life issues. My mind has really been set on that mindset. I really give God all the glory every single day because my life could be totally different. 

Moving onto your musical influences and inspiration. What artists inspire you?

At the moment, I’m inspired by Burna Boy – his style, his swag, the fact that he loves to perform! I could go on! He absolutely loves performing and that motivates me even more because I feel like I come to my musical best when I’m performing. That is something we share and that’s why he means a lot to me. I like Davido as well. I feel like in the scene maybe he’s not shown as much respect as he should be shown because he’s literally a pioneer of new sounds and it’s quite interesting that people have mixed views about him. Obviously Wizkid’s in there as well – he’s a big one! Definitely heavily influenced by these guys. 

Atueyii

As well as being an artist, you are a producer! Where did your interest in production come from?

I never had an interest in production before I got to Year 9 in secondary school. I had no care for it at all but my teacher Mr Osmond (who I owe a lot to) really pushed me. He started teaching me how to play the Guitar and he got the school to get a Guitar teacher to give me private lessons. He saw my potential. He also got the school to fund the Music department by getting music production equipment. Now, this was in the late 2000s so, thinking about that time, not a lot of schools cared about Music but, he made it happen. He got me Logic and taught me how to construct a track. He sat me down and showed me how to record the instruments and my voice on Logic. He literally gave me a key to the studio so I could go in there and literally play around with Logic. I think in the process, I started to copy Timberland and Dr Dre and I naturally grew a love for it. It really helped me to improve as an artist. I ended up picking Music as one of my choices (GCSEs) and things literally went from there. 

So we’re going to talk about your EP Love & War – how would you explain this EP to someone who hasn’t even listened to it yet?

My story is one that has a lot of hard-to-swallow realities. I’ve had to struggle and mentally fight to be where I am right now as a person, as an artist and as a man. I wanted people to hear me without me speaking but rather using my way of expression to let people get to know me. That’s why this EP is called Love & War because my life has been a battle – a lot of fighting both emotionally, physically, life-threatening situations, illnesses. A Lot of things have boxed me up but I’m still here standing and striving because through all of that, I’ve had the love of God and family around me constantly supporting me. 

Why did you think now was the best time to release this project – especially because it’s your debut project and you’ve decided to not feature anyone?

I’m a huge fan of people who are a huge fan of me and I’m the kind of person that likes to create in their own space. When I was making the songs, I did feel like I could reach out and put someone on some of them but, I thought if I was really going to express the things that I wanted people to know, I wasn’t sure if having another person on the song that couldn’t relate to me or my lived experiences would send out the best message. Music in this day and age (most times) is just for business. No one really thinks about how it makes me feel. People only want to know if the song is a banger. I’m an old soul – I’m the kind of person that listens to vinyl music because I understand that those guys wrote their songs for a reason. There were things happening in their lives that made them write those songs and if someone else wasn’t part of that process, why get them involved? That’s kind of how my mind works. I don’t care too much for “bangers”, music is something I do without thinking about it. I don’t have to force myself to do music. For me, it’s the love of it and the expression. I can tell you a story in 3 or 4 minutes and that’s it. In the end, this EP is my story and I wanted to be the person telling it. 

If you look back on your journey so far, what have been your best and worst moments?

I have not necessarily had a worst moment because I believe in learning and I believe life is a process. The best experiences I’ve had in music have been on stage. The worst moments are when I have to deal with the business side of the industry. That part of it is awful! Performing and the making of the music is where it’s at for me! I’ve been on stage with Mr Eazi. I was on tour with him 2 years ago at his Lagos to London Tour. He actually asked me to come on that tour with him. I think it was Manchester, Birmingham and then London so that was amazing. My EP launch kind of topped that because I performed with a full band behind me and I got to experience what it’s like to hear me perform. That was probably my best moment. 

So you’ve got your Love & War EP out, what is next for you?

I’m going to take a quick breather to rest but that doesn’t mean I won’t be making music during that time. More music, more shows, more live performances – just more of everything! I’ve got a lot coming!

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