Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Bisola find out more about her…
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I was originally born in London and have lived in London for many years but I also spent a lot of my childhood in Nigeria where my parents are originally from. I started writing songs regularly from when I was about 13 as the relationship with my parents got rocky around about then so I’d lock myself up in my room for hours and writing in my journal and coming up with song ideas which I guess was a form of therapy for me! Most of those songs were completely rubbish to be honest – either they sounded too much like a song on the radio or the lyrics and song structure just didn’t flow. Also a lot of the songs I wrote back then were quite depressing – even I wouldn’t want to listen to them now lol. But as with most things in life, the more you do it, the better you get at it. When I came back to London years later I joined a choir, ‘found my voice’ and started recording demos of some of my songs. I started getting positive feedback from total strangers on my songs and my singing it gave me the confidence to take the plunge to do it more seriously.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
Ultimately I'm a singer first then songwriter second and so for me when I was growing up vocal powerhouses like Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey were people I desperately tried to emulate. From a songwriting point of view people liked Babyface back then as it was quite impressive how he managed to write for such a wide cross section of artists and in a great range of styles when he was in his prime. In recent times singer songwriters like Adele and Ed Sheeran have certainly made an impact on me. I think ultimately I'm always listening out for people who try to bring a fresh and original approach to what they do. Also the lyrics to a song are so important it's got to make sense or use interesting lyrics or tell a compelling story.
How would you describe your sound?
I call it Soul Pop, I think of people like Adele and Emeli when I'm trying to explain my sound to people. Whilst it's not too RnB or Deep Soul you can certainly hear touches in there but the Pop feel to a lot of my music arrangement and style I think makes my music more accessible to a diverse range of people. Of course it also means I don't fit squarely into one box - and who wants to be in box anyway?
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
My latest single is called 'Be Yourself' which is one of those songs that does exactly what it says on the tin. It's encouraging you, me and everyone to be the best and most authentic expression of who they were created to be and live it out with freedom instead of worrying about what people say or trying live up to someone else's standards. Life's too short to waste time doing that as one thing I've learned in life is you can't please everyone anyway. There's always going to be someone who doesn't like this or that about you plus if you keep thinking by doing x or y for someone they'll do the same in return you might just get a bit of a shock when they don't come through for you... I'm sure some of those reading this will know exactly what I'm talking about!
What’s your local music scene like?
I live just outside London but I still go into London for pretty much all my gigs as I'm more used to the vibe and know what to expect which can be a wide spectrum from those who really appreciate music and want to take in every moment of your performance and go with you on the ride to those who just want to hear you in the background as they're out enjoying their drinks or dinner. Clearly the former experience is way better for any artist. Overall London as everyone knows is so diverse and vibrant, you're spoilt for choice with the range of talent and styles of music out there. It's really a melting pot.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
I'm hoping to release at least 2 more new tracks this year and currently trying to see which festivals I can play at over the summer so stay tuned for more details.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Great question I'm going to go a little on a limb and say Major Lazer. I'm really up for doing something with a DJ that could bring some interesting arrangements to the table and make it into something people want to dance to. That'd be interesting.
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
Yeah I turned up with my band for a performance once when I was still a bit green around the ears when it came to live performances. I hadn't thought to check with the venue if they had a keyboard available. I recall the night before the event at rehearsals the guy playing keys asked if there would be one at the venue and I naively said yes as I assumed that as it was a live performance venue they'd have all that stuff on hand. Of course we turned up and shock, horror there was none available... at that point panic set in 'cos they keyboard player lived hours away and it was too late in the day to hire one we could use. I was literally staring disaster in the face! Thankfully the keyboard player managed to track down a friend who lived not too far away from the venue that was willing to lend us a keyboard for the event. This story could have definitely ended badly. Phew!
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
Everyone of my songs has a message, be it of hope, joy, motivation to do better or be better and so on. So it's worth listening closely to the lyrics to figure it out what that message is and when you do hopefully you'll enjoy listening to it even more next time round.