….”There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, there are no limits.”
“Good music is timeless.” A short & simple statement from Tolani; the latest rising Nigerian-born musical star in the making. The self-described musical unicorn has spent much of, if not all of her early life preparing for this moment; the very beginnings of her burgeoning musical career. From the early days of singing in her local church choir to now creating, crafting and perfecting her own unique Afropop sound, everything has led to this point. And quite simply, this is her M.O; create good music.
Tolani was born in Nigeria and attended school in her early years before moving over to the UK to continue her studies in London. Throughout her time at school – in Nigeria and London – she found a place in the school’s choir as well as a place in the church choir, which, as a devout follower of faith, she visited frequently with her family. However, she always knew that she wanted singing to be more than just a hobby. With a wide variety of sounds from Fela Kuti and Patra through to Snoop Dogg filling the home as a child, the idea of becoming a musician full time was still just an idea to a young Tolani.
“Everyone knows that when you grow up in a Nigerian household, music isn’t the preferred career choice for parents. It’s not really the career they’d like you to pursue.”
Still, Tolani pushed on with her dream and continued to express herself musically, even after relocating to the UK. By this time, her parents allowed her to attend a music school in west London to continue to perfect her passion.
“I always used to write music to the best of my abilities. I picked up the violin and the keys a little bit when I was in school and with the little I knew, I was writing… what you would call poetry.”
These short stories soon developed over the years and by the time she reached the age of 20, she had a full arsenal of songs that she had written.
Amongst her new surroundings, Tolani developed a passion for music & sounds previously unheard of in her home country;
“When I went to school in the UK, I fell in love with Aerosmith and even started a soft rock band at the time! We liked the music of Skunk Anansie and I was always trying to push them to make more… singer/songwriter music, similar to bands like The Fray.”
During her two years at music school, the band continued to evolve and discover new sounds while creating their own brand of soft rock-meets-singer/songwriter music. But as Tolani’s band members were from varying parts of the world, it proved a challenge to keep them together once their studies ended. Collectively, they amicably decided to part ways, grateful for the musical experiences.
“I was left by myself to write and I couldn’t write band music solo.”
Influenced by her love for the likes of Sade and Tracey Chapman, Tolani continued to venture down the singer/songwriter path, accompanied by a guitarist she found herself and continue growing.
“I tried to involve my roots as much as possible and there’s a fantastic Nigerian singer called Asa who blended more traditional sounds in her music; she became a great influence.”
With an added desire to further showcase her heritage and the ever growing Afrobeat sound becoming even more commonplace on an international scale, Tolani soon connected with producer Anthony Marshall after a chance meeting while working with another producer. Together, the pair worked together to create Tolani’s now signature “Afropop” sound and has quickly become her go-to producer.
“We had a shared vision for how I could grow as an artist. Marshall is a master hitmaker and we both thought he could take what I’m doing and make it more accessible to the rest of the world.”
With a fine-tuned musical ear, Tolani, along with Marshall soon discovered the more experimental spectrum of the singer/songwriter genre in the likes of Banks and Ibeyi, while continuing to thrive in the local rising Afrobeats scene with the likes of 2-Face & D’Banj.
“I try to keep my ear to the ground and take my influences wherever they come.”
An example of her efforts and her take on the Afropop genre is evident in her debut release ‘Tenderoni’ which effortlessly combines a variety of genres. Elements of R&B, Hip-Hop, Pop, Soul and Dance are merged together with a steady foundation of Afrobeats. With the addition of popular Nigerian artist Skales, it’s an effortless collaboration that yearns to be embraced by the world. It’s merely a taster of things to come; Tolani has worked with a variety of musicians and producers for more music, which will be released soon.
Outside of her musical endeavours, Tolani’s talents continue to thrive with her love for fashion. Much has been made of Nigeria’s growing fashion industry and it’s an exciting time to be a part of this ever-growing industry. In fact, Tolani was invited to perform at an event as part of the Lagos Fashion & Design week.
“Fashion & music are growing in tandem in Lagos. It’s nice to see it growing in front of our eyes.”
One passion she’s also hoping to return to is art (“I used to paint a lot, I really want to get back to that.”) and one she’s hoping to explore more is travelling (“If this goes the way I want it to, then I’ll have the opportunity to do more of it.”) But what’s immediately evident with Tolani is her passion and hunger to succeed and ultimately give back to the place that plays such a large part in her being.
“In 10 years time, I want there to be many more African artists because I helped open that door for the west to appreciate what Africa as a continent has to offer in music. I want to be synonymous with the Sade’s, the Fela Kuti’s; I want to push the boundaries in African music.”
Tolaní is a young female singer/ songwriter based in the UK who is geared up to set the music scene alight. Born in Nigeria, yet raised in London. both of these colorful nations provided Tolaní with the opportunity to soak up two rich cultures which are evident in her music.
She has teamed up with some of the music industry’s most accomplished songwriters and producers, including Ali Tencent (Jessie J, David guetta, Westlife) Afrobeat hitmaker Ekelly and Anthony Marshall of Hitroom recordings; His credits include Britney Spears, JLo, Nelly Furtado, Craig David.
Tolaní’s debut single Tenderoni ft
Skales Produced by Anthony
Marshall is a blend of soulful
harmonies and infectious African
Rhythms that offers listeners a
summer time Feel good factor.
Tolaní is set to be the soundTrack
of 2018 and beyond….!