Tems, whose full name is Temilade Openiyi, has been singing for as long as she can remember. As a child growing up in Nigeria, Terms time spent future with her own sonnets which she then transformed into songs. She joined her school choral to continue singing, and met her music teacher, whom she said helped her grow musically.
This is how we, the audience, got the gift of Terms. After keeping it music to herself when she was young, her calming chords were put in the spotlight with the release of her single “Mr. Rebelin 2018, when she decided to take her call on the microphone and quit her day job as a digital marketing manager. She was 23 when her single was released.
The thirst-quencher Afropop The tempo of his single, marked by its fine-textured ad-libbing and a characteristic moving lyricism with which his listeners easily identified, helped propel his musical career to greater heights. By the time she released her second singles “Looku Looku” and “Try Me” in 2019, Tems had already built a worldwide cult called “Rebel Gang”, alluding to her first hit single.
The rise of the genre nigerian Musical sensation has produced numerous hit songs and two EPs, despite his little time in musical circles. Tems’ songs have crossed borders, topping the charts, winning both nominations and awards, even landing a coveted spot on former US President Barack Obama’s 30 Favorite Songs playlist of 2020.
With the release of his new EP Â»If Orange was a placeThe Nigerian songwriter, producer and singer of âSpiritâ takes his âRebel Gangâ on another sentimental cruise that almost feels like a meditation exploring his various feelings on different themes from the five-track EP.
Below, we caught up with Tems to discuss his debut, life, career, and new EP.
How did you find your voice? And when did you know it had to be music before a career in marketing?
I have always loved music, singing, I have always loved writing songs. I wasn’t sure if I should take it to another level. [My light bulb moment] It was three years ago. I didn’t really talk to people about music. It was somethingâ¦ that I did for myself because it made me feel good. The question was whether I wanted to share this, because I had never done so before. Then I got a confirmation, a message, and I was just sure that was what I needed to do now. If you don’t share your story it’s a waste, you’ve practically lived life for nothing if no one can see you and [learn] something like that. If you can’t share your experiences, your struggles, and your story, what’s the point?
Your style of music is quite distinct – a mix of genres with their own Afro undertones. You call it “Spirit”. What would you say what kind “Spirit” is and what are the influences that make it up?
I really like to make jokes so in a way I was joking [when I called it Spirit] but neither was I. What I mean is where my songs come from. They come from my mind. [Music is] a very spiritual experience for me and that’s why I call it Spirit. It makes you feel and to me it comes from a very pure place.
What does a typical day look like for Tems?
I’m not even trying to be funny right now but I don’t have normal days so I can’t say what that would be. I don’t do the same things every day. But what I’m trying to do is live in the moment. I try to stay present and enjoy every moment and every experience. This is what a normal day looks like for me.
There is definitely a story behind your new EP. What would you say it is? And what was the creative process that went into this new body of work?
There is always a story behind my songs. These are mostly my thoughts. The process is really just me experiencing things and then expressing how I feel about those experiences. And that’s mostly what I did for this EP.
Out of all your songs, which would you say is your favorite?
Honestly, I really don’t know. But the one that I would say that is closest to my heart is Mr Rebel because it is my first song.
Congratulations on your Wizkid and Justin Bieber collaboration, and reporting on Drake’s Boy in love certified album. Why are these collaborations so important to you?
Everything is really amazing, I think it’s great to work with really, really good people and pure people. It is always an honor and I am grateful.
And are we expecting more collaborations? Are there any artists on the continent that you would like to work with in the future?
It won’t be the last collaboration of my life. i want to work with [African artists] because I am constantly intrigued and amazed by the wealth of talents that there is especially [on our continent] and I am open.
What does success mean to you?
For me, success means freedom of the self.
You have often spoken of the difficulties faced by women in music. If you had the power and could change anything in the industry that affects women, what would be the top three things you would change first and why?
If I had the power, I would just open everyone’s eyes and they themselves would realize the differences that will occur when women have more opportunities. And the magic will be done.
We are delighted with what the future holds. What is that thing you would say to someone who is trying to find their own voice right now?
First of all, it’s your life. The first thing to do is find out who you are. And once you know who you are, then you know what you want and you can move forward with full focus on it. And you will be fine because you have reached a level of self-awareness that cannot be shaken.
Letâs slip into your DMs. Subscribe to Vogue teens daily email.
You want more Vogue teens? Check this out:
Originally appeared on Vogue teens