Lockdown Soundtrack: Exploring Ojerime’s R&B Introversion

Her excellent new mixtape 'B4 I Breakdown' is out now...

It's been a while since we've heard from Ojerime, and after listening to her new mixtape 'B4 I Breakdown', she's been sorely missed.

The alternative R&B singer effortlessly manages to blend the old school vibes with new electronic sounds. Ojerime is experimental but she takes this to the next level on her new tape. A brave move for someone who’s been out the game as of late.

During the corona lockdown, Clash got on the phone to the singer as she takes us through some highlights on the album and new beginnings…

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Are you happy about how the mixtapes been received by your fans?

A lot of people telling me this is their lockdown music at the moment! But yeah literally in the first 24 hours my DM’s were rammed with people saying they rate it. The reception's been amazing, I’m still getting loads of messages and playlist features.

It was probably the most successful 24 hours I’ve had and the most successful week I’ve had with a project, I hope it keeps building.

Now you’re back, fans might want more music again soon.

Yeah, I remember for my last project, people wanted new music two months after it dropped! But I feel you have to live your life to make the content. I’m not like that with music.

For me, an artist has to be gone for like two or three years for me to be like… okay where have they gone. For example, Isaiah Rashad. He’s been gone for a few years so I’m thinking, is he okay? More thinking is he okay, rather than when he’s dropping music.

The track ‘Empty’ you bring a rapping style into it – could you see yourself bringing into the future?

I think if it naturally comes and I’ll do it. I listen to a lot of rap music and if I feel I can hit those cadences and pockets, I’ll approach a beat different to how I classically might do it.

Do you think listening to that type of music influenced the tape at all?

Yeah definitely, I think taking in the likes of Nipsey (hussle), Kendrick Lamar, Dom Kennedy. Just loads of hip-hop artists and even other R&B singers as well that hit those pockets from the 90’s and early 2000’s. Also “’Turn you off’ works powerfully as an acapella.

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What comes first the lyrics, beat or a mix?

It can be a mix. If the beat's exceptional I would get the first line and then work on the melodies after that, as the first line normally triggers the melody. That track was actually meant to be on a beat, but I couldn’t get it cleared.

So, we took the beat away and kept the lyrics because we didn’t want to waste it. For a long time, I thought that people weren’t going to like it because that’s not of today’s culture, I think. But artists like Faith Evans at the height of her career would have acapellas on their projects. I thought if I did this it wouldn’t be well received, but it has so far.

On an Instagram post after the release of 'B4 I Breakdown', you mentioned you were scared of putting this record out, why was that?

After my breakdown I was just a new person. I had lost my confidence and my rhythm and was out of the loop out of everyday things. My life had changed a lot, so to return to music and try and feel that normality again was super hard.

To normalise to something I used to do again was very strange. When you’ve lost your confidence, you’re going to start questioning yourself more. That was something I’ve never felt in music, in the past if I was putting something out but was confident that I liked it, I would put it out.

I didn’t appreciate the tape, only now it’s come out I appreciate and see the beauty in it. All the reception has been positive, and I’ve not seen any negativity, it’s been lovely.

Do you feel like after the breakdown you’ve changed for the good?

Only in the last couple weeks I feel better. I feel like myself again because I’ve moved into a new space, my family come and visit in my new spot. I’m keeping myself busy and released the tape.

On the day I released the tape I got the keys to my new space. I felt like that was a sign that things are going to be okay. It was on Friday the 13th but this time it was lucky!

I feel good, confident and loved. I’m in a better place than I was two weeks ago.

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'B4 I Breakdown' is out now.

Words: Joe Hale

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