Some artists craft their musical concoction with research, and study – others play the tune that’s rolling through their heads. Our latest feature however, Mrs. TolumiDE, has gathered her influence by immersing herself in it, traveling the globe to gather the ingredients in her unique Suya Soul sound, a contemporary fusion of Soul, Indie-pop, and African music. Spending her formative years in Lagos, Nigeria, TolumiDE landed in Toronto at York University, where she got her first big break in music as part of the Reggae band, Women Ah Run Tings. After earning several nominations for the Canadian Reggae Music Awards, TolumiDE landed state-side in our backyard of the Baltimore-Washington metro area, and its here that she’s truly made her mark.
- Posted on November 2, 2018
- in Featured Artist
- by Richie Frieman
Aside from her time spent with a non-profit Afropolitan Youth Association and as the entertainment director for FestAfrica, the largest African Festival in the Maryland region, TolumiDE is still making music, including her first album, My Love, and her upcoming projects, Suya Soul and Mama Sunshine. We asked her specifically about her single, “Your Arms (Fun Mi Layo)” – she told us, “Fans can expect to hear a fun song from a girl who’s happy and grateful to be loved and be in love. It truly is a ‘flying like a bird’ experience when it’s coming from a genuine, heartfelt, place.” Click tohttp://www.tolumidemusic.com/ to check out all of this music and TolumiDE’s other passion projects…right after a really good read of all the answers to the XXQs below.
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?
TolumiDE (T): My sound is a contemporary fusion of Soul, Indie-pop, and African music. I’m a unique Nigerian artist that’s been influenced by Classic Soul, Reggae, Zouk, 90’s Hip Hop, Soft Rock, and Afropop. My grilled shish kebab music, which I call “Suya Soul,” is flavored with a wide range of unexpected seasonings such as African Rhythm and Languages that fuse together to make a delicious meal.
PEV: What kind of music were you into growing up?
T: Loads of RNB, Pop, Gospel, and African Music. Artists I love to listen to are Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, Sade, Brandy, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Abba, Boney M, Onyeka Owenu, Sonny Okosun, Shina Peters, and Christy Essien-Igbokwe.
PEV: Do you remember your first concert?
T: I spent most of my formative years in Lagos where I attended University of Lagos – primary staff school and Atlantic Hall secondary school, and then eventually moved to York University in Toronto to study Fine Arts. I don’t recollect attending concerts when I was in Nigeria. Most of the bands I saw like Sunny Ade or Shina Peters performed at local events such as weddings and birthday celebrations. My first ever real concert was Lauryn Hill in Toronto and it was amazing!
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started?
T: I was first introduced into the music scene shortly after I got to Canada. I was working part time in a braiding salon when my Jamaican boss’s sister, Lady Luscious, came in to get her hair done. She had just started the group “Women Ah Run Tings” and said she was looking for a singer. I auditioned right there, she invited me for a rehearsal, and the rest is history. I was the youngest in the group and it was so much fun to sing, perform, and occasionally get paid. I started out as a back up vocalist and then eventually started singing more leads. I learned a lot about show biz during my six years with the group.
I left the band to move to the States to pursue a career in Graphic Design, but I kept thinking about the music world and how to get back in the grind. Getting into the swing of it as a solo artist was challenging in the beginning because a lot of my time was spent trying to figure out how to stand out in a world filled with so many talents. Once I narrowed down my niche I had a clearer path to navigate.
PEV: What was your first show like?
T: My first show was so much fun. I had an instant boost of energy and confidence when I got to sing and hear the audience cheer.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live TolumiDE show?
T: Fans can expect to take an entertaining journey through my Live Love Laugh life, and to learn a thing or two about African culture, rhythm, dance, and language.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
T: The first thing that comes to mind is the audience. I really want them to have a good time and to leave thinking about some of the themes I address in my lyrics about life and living.
PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?
T: Having fun and seeing people in the crowd enjoying my music and smiling along with me.
PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music?
T: A lot of the songs I’ve written are from personal experiences. I love to write about love and relationships, and I also like to inspire both my listeners and myself. I’m my number one fan.
PEV: Nominated for several Canadian Reggae Music Awards, thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
T: Yes I do. I just never thought of music as a career, so it’s quite refreshing to receive recognition for the art.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
T: I can eat cereal with room temperature water if there’s no almond milk in the fridge.
PEV: What happens when you hit a brick wall when writing? What are your methods to get over it?
T: I take a break and come back to it later. Sometimes within the same week and sometimes a year later. It also helps to jot down a few experiences I’ve had or watch television to see if any themes come to mind that I’d like to sing about.
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed since you first started out?
T: The industry has changed a lot. I feel more empowered and am able to get things done myself. I am able to find the producers and musicians I want to work with, and I can brand manage my art in a way that I think is best for my personality and lifestyle. The challenge that comes with that, though, is that there is only so much one individual can do independently to be successful. It’s worth it to have a team in place to help push and sustain the project.
PEV: What can fans expect from your new single called “Your Arms (Fun Mi Layo)”? What was the writing process like for this work?
T: Fans can expect to hear a fun song from a girl who’s happy and grateful to be loved and be in love. It truly is a “flying like a bird” experience when it’s coming from a genuine, heartfelt, place.
PEV: Having lived all over the world, from Toronto to Nigeria to Baltimore, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
T: I would love to travel around Africa a lot more. I’ve been to a few of the countries like Ghana, Togo, Benin, and South Africa, but there are so many more beautiful places there I would love to experience.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
T: They have all been very supportive. My dad is a fine artist and architect and my mum dabbled in fashion design. I got loads of artistic genes from them.
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
T: I like to cook, travel, dance, and attend events in the community. I’m part of a Non-profit Afropolitan Youth Association and I serve as an entertainment director for FestAfrica, the largest African Festival in the Maryland region. It’s a wonderful outlet to showcase African Culture and connect African diaspora.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?
T: A past artist group I would like to collaborate with is Boney M. They were so fun and colourful, and showcased a fusion of their Caribbean culture into pop music. I really loved their music growing up. My family had their Christmas album on repeat during the holidays. A current artist I would love to collaborate with is Lira. She’s a South African songstress that has been a great pioneer in the New African Soul scene with live music and inspiring lyrics.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
T: There are loads of African Female artists that are worth checking out, like Naomi Achu, Aramide, and Anna Mwalagho.
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?
T: Vlogging would have to be another cool career option for me. It’s quite a flexible field, and once you get the right audience in tune with your channel, the major task is to be consistent in sharing interests and educating others.
PEV: So, what is next for TolumiDE?
T: I’m gearing up for the release of my second full length album Suya Soul, and my acoustic project Mama Sunshine. It’s an evolution of me after my first album, My Love and I hope listeners enjoy the new sound. I’m also hopeful for more performance and licensing opportunities.
For more information, click to http://www.tolumidemusic.com/.