We Chat To Musician Okenyo!
By Kat Dopper
First up, serious question.
If you were actually 10 feet tall, what would you do about this potential plebescite?”
I’ve always sung from an early age but never trained as a singer. My voice has changed a lot over the years and that is due to the different styles I’ve had to sing in theatre productions. Spanish, French, ballad, soprano, harmonies, belting, et cetera, all these different techniques really challenged and opened up my range in a major way. I really believe everyone can sing, you just have to find your voice.Was there a musical persona developing before OKENYO? At what point did you realise OKENYO was meant to be?
I always wrote little bits and pieces but it wasn’t until I got the iMaschine app on my phone that I really started putting whole songs together. Having access to making beats was easily a gateway to being more intuitive. I then went on to work more extensively with iMaschine on my laptop. When I toured with Jinja Safari a few years ago, I had more of a persona. I think that was natural for me because of my acting background. These days I’m leaning towards being closer to who I actually am, which is exhilarating but also confronting putting yourself out there. I feel like in the end people will connect more with me if I give them the true me.
Mysterious! I’ll take that. I’m glad I don’t prescribe to one particular genre, it’s certainly not intentional. I remember early conversations with some musicians I was working with who were classically trained and they kept saying to me before we’d tried an idea I’d had: “This won’t work because A doesn’t fit with B.” It was really frustrating because I just don’t think there are rules. I write from an instinctual place and am still very much learning. It’s important to remain the student even when you get to the top of your game.
How would you describe your approach/attitude to music (both production and writing)? What’s motivating you as an artist? Is it the opportunity to push the boundaries, is it about finding yourself, is it about using your voice to the fullest potential?
It’s all those things. I think definitely there is a current focus on finding myself and that is with the greater need to then be clearer about what I want to say about the world. I’m probably more political than I was in my 20’s and I’m focussing on how to put that into my music in a way that is not token but can have the capacity to make social change. Aim big!