Talks style, music and relationships

Phootgrapher: Seye Isikalu // @seyeisikalu
Stylist: Jennifer Eleto // @jenelectro
Styling Assistant: Kemi Anna //
Interview: Gracey Mae // @_graceymae
Special Thanks: The Stratford // website

“If everyone is doing something, don’t feel so pressured to go to do it. Find your space and try to be consistent in your space.”

Set: Bethany Williams via Browns

Odunsi is here! Welcome. Now your full name is Odunsi the Engine; most people think that it’s because you mix, master, write and sing, but a little birdie told me you were christened by your classmates. Is that true?

Yeah, so basically it was just like a nickname that some of my friends used to call me, you know those days when we had Blackberry Messenger? I had it as my display name, and, it was also my Twitter handle. I don’t think I had an Instagram yet, but like it was my Twitter handle. When I started making music, it was still my handle so some people started calling me the full thing, and it just stuck from there.

You credit social media as one of the main ways you were able to create a buzz about yourself. What’s the secret to popping online?

There’s no secret [laughs]. I’m telling you!

Is there a formula?

There definitely isn’t a formula because it will always change but I feel like the main thing may just be like consistency and just finding a space. If everyone is doing something, don’t feel so pressured to go to do it. Find your space and try to be consistent in your space. I think that always kind of works for people that do it well enough.

You’re the Chairman of the Alte scene, but you’re also a big R’n’B head. I hear that you love Sade, Donell Jones and Bobby Brown. Give me your Top 5 R’n’B tracks!

Off top? Erm! Obviously This Luv, Donell Jones. So Into You, Tamia. Can You Stand the Rain, New Edition. Every Step, Bobby Brown…and…Kiss of Life, Sade Adu.

On the topic of music, your first track dropped in January 2016. You released Time of Our Lives, your 7-track EP in the summer of the same year, but, how did you get into music?

How did I get into music? I was just always around it when I was a kid. My older siblings used to play music around me when I was really young so when I got to high school I had friends that were rapping, so I just used to join them and I would rap to. And after school, I would have like rap battles and stuff. So after a while, they started going to the studio and I would just go there and sit around, and just watch things happen, and I watch people make music or produce music – that was how I got familiar with it.

It’s been a year since you released your #1 album, Rare. How is still being received?

It’s great man. Funny enough, I was just saying, it’s crazy. Life is weird cos like the closer it gets to one year, the more people are sharing it, and saying “I just re-listened to it today.” So I guess everyone is getting that feel again, the same feel they had last year. It feels great that it aged really well. I mean some of the songs, a lot of people just discovered some of the songs this year, like Star Signs and co. So, yeah it’s great. It’s good to see your music age well.

You’ve got tracks with Raye, Sona, Juls, and of course Davido, what the most unexpected collab that you’d like to do?

Erm, I don’t know man. It’s not unexpected. Playboy Carti. Do you mean unexpected as in “Oh! He’s big?” or like you wouldn’t imagine it? Cos this is very imaginable man.

…And why?

Cos he’s the GOAT (greatest of all time) man. I like his style. He’s like one of my favourite rappers. One. Two, I also feel like he’s the kinda artist that like stays in his space that he’s familiar but it’s very easy for him to go through any other space. Like he’s featured on songs with Solange, and Tyler (the Creator) other artists and on songs that aren’t necessarily like the songs he puts out himself but just blends in and kinda outshines them. I feel like he’s definitely one of the best artist we have right now in the world.

Keeping with the topic of collaborations, you mentioned your track Star Signs with Runtown. Are you into astrology? What is your star sign?

Yeah, I’m definitely into astrology. I don’t know if I’m deep into it but I’m a Gemini. I don’t know [if] I’m a typical Gemini though. You know you never know, that’s what they say about Geminis. You have to just take what you get.

Okay, we’ll take that. In your recent release, ‘Better Days’, you call this girl a Cold Margarita, and you also have a huge hit with Raye called ‘Tipsy’. If I was going to order you a drink at the bar, what would it be?

Orange Juice. Apple Juice. But if you wanted to order me an alcoholic drink? It would be a Henny (Henessy) Chapman.

A standard Lagosian drink. I like that. One of my favourite tracks of yours is ‘Situationship’ because it’s a messy subject…

A lot of people say that you know. A lot of people in the UK say that to me. Because it’s so not popular among my like core fans but people who just only know like 4 of my songs, that’s their favourite songs which is a strange dynamic. I don’t know how to explain it.

Shots and shade but we move! How do you know when you’re in a situationship?

[laughs] How do you know? Wow. You just know you’re avoiding a lot of questions, that’s how you know.

That’s your final answer? There’s no other indicators? Like you don’t want to be seen with them in the daytime?

Nooo. I don’t think you don’t want to be seen with them in the day time, because I feel like everyone’s descriptions are different. So like for me, a situationship might just be someone you’re not ready to even find out if you’re moving forward or stopping with, you just don’t wanna ask that question. You know it’s just fun not asking the questions. Let’s just not ask, let’s just act like we don’t know that we have to make a decision about something. That’s more of what I would describe. Some people say situationships are like people who they only want to have sex with or something, for me, it’s just like, at some point when you see someone regularly, you might have to make some decisions or decide like are we seeing [each other] or not. For me, it’s like not getting to that stage. That’s the ideal relationship, even if it’s like 6 years, 7 years, let’s just go with the flow.

Wow. Years! Good to know. Let’s change gears a little bit, on the intro of your Alte Cruise you hear a female say ‘He takes pictures. He’s like the male version of Rihanna’. Presumably this is about you, how important is appearance to you?

It is quite important. Maybe too important. It’s like, okay I care about it more some days. I care about it less some days. It’s not like my whole world but some days I’m very like particular about it – depends on my mood or how I feel. But I like looking at things a lot so sometimes l project that on myself and on other people so, because I like things that look good, I feel like everyone else feels that way. Meanwhile, some people just like the bare minimum and I might be overthinking thing sometimes.

You love silver, you love pearls…

Yeah, I like silver. I like pearls. Pearls are my gem stone so I wear them a lot because I feel more powerful with them.

Jumper: J. Lindenberg, Shoes: Birkenstock

Top: ASOS, Sunglasses: Goods Agency

Is it important to accessorise? You do a lot of rings.

So I used to do a lot of necklaces and stuff like that, I just stopped doing that because, for me, accessorising is not about number, it’s just like taking attention away from things. I used to wear a lot of chains before, that way I felt better then. A lot of people, especially guys, used to stay away from that so I felt nicer when I did that because I knew people would look at it. But like now, a lot of guys do it so I don’t wear anything on my neck anymore. I just have some rings but the kind of way the rings are, I wear them in a way where you just like, you may not see them but they do a lot to the outfit.

What would you say inspires your look? Cos I’m sure you know pearls is not the norm. Most guys are after the diamonds – the shiny stuff.

I mean diamonds are nice but I think the problem with diamonds, for me, are sometimes when I look at them, they’re like…it depends on what you wear so if I was going to wear a diamond, I would wear something really like plain. I might just wear all black and the diamonds would be like the main thing. It’s just like when you wear diamonds and you wear something like this, everything just…[clashes]. You’re trying to get attention from someone’s eyes. Yeah but I like silver a lot because it just goes. First of all it goes with my skin undertone, like I don’t really look good with gold. And…yeah, it also never looks too much or too little. It just sits right there.

The braids are a new look for you. Are they a fan favourite?

Are they new? Like a month. Yeah – it’s new. In terms of public appearances, they’re new. No one’s really seen me with it.

So are you saying that people haven’t made up their minds since they haven’t seen you?

Nope, they’ve only seen a picture…except if you know me personally…and they liked it. They love it.

Jacket & Jeans: Faith Connexion via Browns

Would you say you switch up your look for live shows? You’ve been quoted as saying you want your live shows to be a “healing experience, does that ever translate to how you dress or is that more around the production?

I think it’s everything. I feel like it’s just my personality, I do things to self-destruct like a lot of times. Just so that, I change. I always change something so I just feel better. I don’t know if it’s a good or a bad thing but that’s what I do. I do it with the music, I do it with my shows, how I dress, my hair cut, just everything. I just decide…this is new. This is what I wanna do for the next month until I get tired of it, and then I switch it again. I do it for me but then, in that process, I guess people kind of relate. [They] also feel inspired to get out of a situation or move on from something. That’s the whole point. You never want to get too attached to anything cos it could be taken from you at any time so it’s just like…is it your hair? Your jewellery? Your clothes? Always be ready to move on from it so you’re not a slave to it or anything in particular.

That’s pretty deep. Let’s lighten the mood, you say that your biggest fan base in the States. Are you planning a show there anytime soon?


Any details you can give us?

Nope [laughs]

Any cities that should look out for an announcement?

New York is gonna be lit [laughs]

Okay, we got something out of you! You dropped two tracks at the same time. What was the inspiration behind giving us Better Days and Wetin Day as a double release?

I liked both songs [laughs]. Everytime I sent both songs to people, the opinions varied so much – it had never been like that for me. I wonder if it’s been like that for anyone at all in their whole life. I wonder if the disparity that I got for the two songs, I wonder if anyone else has experienced that cos it was so interesting to me. How many people like… usually there’s always one that is obviously the one that everyone is like… ’this is the one I like more’ but I couldn’t just get it. I was looking for it. It just always varied every time so I was like I’m just going to put out two songs and see which one people like more, and the same thing happened when I put it out. It was still tight. Still close…

Is there a reason why they are listed on Apple Music as Afro-Pop?

Erm…I mean like they are kinda like Afro Pop songs. In fact, they are Afro-Pop songs if you think about it.

As opposed to Alte which is what you’re known for?

Alte isn’t a genre of music so there isn’t any song that is sonically Alte.

What can we expect from you in the coming months?

I’m working on my new album. That’s all I can say. That’s where I’ve been. Just working on it. Staying low.

Your last project took you two years to create, do we have to wait that long for the next one?

I don’t think you’ll have to wait that long [laughs] I’m experiencing like 5 years with what I’m going through. What I’ve gone through in the last year is worth like three years. The last album I was always inside so I was probably going out like once every two months so maybe that one time I will go out, I’ll have like an experience and see a girl or spoke to someone that give me inspiration but I’ve been through so much this year it’s enough to make two albums.

Wow – well we look forward to the album (or two!) If we want to find out more about your music, where we can find you online?

Follow my social media @odunsitheengine – that’s Twitter and Instagram. I’m not going to be as active as my previous years but if you love me, follow it and you might see some signs for somethings. I always put some little little clues for things that add up later, you know. Everything just always adds up. It’s fun cos I like looking at some of my favourite artists that way too. They just drop things and then we put it together. It’s fun!

That’s it – thanks Odunsi

Follow ODUNSI on Instagram

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