“My Music Is A Reflection Of My Experiences, Emotions, And The Colorful Tapestry Of My Life.” – In Conversation With Teni

“My Music Is A Reflection Of My Experiences, Emotions, And The Colorful Tapestry Of My Life.” – In Conversation With Teni

Written By Frederick Adjavon

Since her emergence into the music scene in 2016, Teniola Apata has maintained a consistent streak of releasing good, quality songs for her fans and casual listeners alike, building a solid and loyal community for herself. She gained popularity with her breakthrough single “Fargin” which was released in 2017, setting her on a path to winning “Rookie Of the Year’, “Most Promising Artist To Watch” and “Best New Artist” at the 2018 Headies Awards, Nigeria Entertainment Awards and SoundCity MVP Awards respectively. Building on the momentum from the previous year, she released “Askmaya”, “Case” and “Uyo Meyo” in 2018, gradually making her a household name in the African music scene. “Uyo Meyo” established her as one of the best vocalists from West Africa earning her BET award nomination in 2019.

In 2021, five years after her debut, she officially released her first studio album, “Wondaland”, a 17-track album which had only one feature; Grammy-nominatedgrammy-nominated artist, Davido. With Wondaland, Teni delivered a solid project that explored all the different elements that defined her music and artistry. In 2023, she released her second studio album, “Tears Of The Sun”, which showcased a slightly different side of her but maintained the same, if not better, quality of music that only Teni can deliver.

For OurEasternChild’s conversation with Teni, Frederick Adjavon caught up with her to discuss her journey so far, her artistry and the message behind her newly released studio album, “Tears Of The Sun”

Teni on set for the music video for "Lanke"

Q: Our readers would like to know more about the person behind the artistry so in your own words, Who is Teni?
I believe I am someone who wants to bring light into any place I step in. This could be through friendships, music, travelling, social media, and more.

Q: What inspires your artistry?
The world around me. I am quite an observant person and I love to listen to people and their experiences.

Q: More often than not, artists like to separate the person from the artist. Create a different persona from their usual self to break out of their shell and bring forth their artistry. How much of Teniola is retained in Teni?

Maintaining authenticity is paramount to me as an artist. Teniola and Teni are not two separate entities; they are different facets of the same individual. I believe in being true to myself and my roots, and that sincerity resonates in my music. While Teni, the artist, might be a bit more expressive and vibrant on stage, the essence of who I am as Teniola is never lost. My music is a reflection of my experiences, emotions, and the colourful tapestry of my life. So, whether I’m performing on stage or having a personal moment, you’ll always find a genuine piece of me in every note and lyric. It’s essential for me to connect with my audience on a real and relatable level, and that authenticity is what sets my artistry apart.

Q: You were featured along with Oxlade on the reimagined version of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and The Wailers. What was it like being part of the legacy of such an iconic band?

Being part of the reimagined version of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and The Wailers alongside Oxlade was an incredible experience for me. Bob Marley is a musical legend whose impact transcends generations, and being able to contribute to the legacy of such an iconic band is truly an honour.

Q: You released your sophomore album recently. Congratulations on that. How has the album reception been so far?
I’m truly grateful for the positive reception the album has been receiving. It’s been an incredible journey to see how fans and critics alike have embraced the music. I’m thrilled that listeners have connected with that vision. The support has been overwhelming, and I feel blessed to have fans who appreciate the essence of the album.

Teni on set for the music video for "Lanke"

Q: How long did it take you to record the songs on the album? Were some of the songs recorded before or after Wondaland?

Creating this album was truly a labour of love and creativity. It took me several months to curate and record the songs, as I wanted to ensure that each track had its own unique flavour while contributing to the cohesive sound of the entire album. In terms of the timeline, some of the songs were in the making before Wondaland, while others came to life during the creative process for the album.
Each song holds a special place in my heart, and the diversity in their origins adds a dynamic layer to the overall narrative of the project. It was essential for me to capture the essence of my musical evolution and share that growth with my fans.

Q: Before the release of an album, we believe there’s a lot of work that goes into it. The number of songs, the ones that get included, and the ones that don’t get on it? The team’s preparation behind the scenes and everything. How hectic was it?

Preparing for the album was an exhilarating yet demanding process. The journey involved meticulous planning, countless hours in the studio, and collaboration with an amazing team. Selecting the right mix of songs was a challenging task, considering the diverse stories and emotions I wanted to convey. We went through an extensive curation process to ensure that each track resonates with who I am, and where I am and connects with my fans on a deeper level. The team played a pivotal role in shaping the album, from the talented producers who brought my vision to life, to the dedicated individuals handling marketing, promotion, and logistics. It was a true team effort, and I am grateful for the collective energy and creativity that everyone brought to the table.

Q:Wondaland” and “Tears of the Sun” are two totally different albums. Are the listeners getting to meet another side of Teni? What was the approach towards both of them? Which side of Teni was showcased in the sophomore album?

Absolutely, Wondaland and Tears of the Sun really do represent different facets of my artistic journey. With Wondaland, I wanted to create a vibrant and eclectic sonic experience, exploring various musical influences and showcasing the diverse elements that make up my artistry. It was about celebrating joy, energy, and the magic of music. With Tears of The Sun, I wanted to share a more personal and reflective side of me with my listeners. The approach towards Tears of the Sun was to create a deeper connection through my music, allowing people to see the layers beyond the upbeat and energetic persona they might be familiar with. Tears of the Sun is a glimpse into the soul of Teni, a side that may not have been as prominently featured in Wondaland. It’s an exciting step forward in my direction, and I’m happy my fans resonate with the authenticity and sincerity embedded in this album.

Nigerian Artist, Teni on set for the music video for "Lanke"

Q: Tears of the Sun is a lovely paradox as we know how hot the sun can be. Is there a hidden meaning behind the title of the album?

The sun is often associated with warmth, vitality, and brightness, representing the positive aspects of life – moments of joy, love, and growth. On the flip side, tears symbolize vulnerability, challenges, and the inevitable sorrows that come with our journey. In essence, “Tears of the Sun” shows life is a beautiful contradiction.

Q: With a song like “No Days Off” off the album, we got to see you make Alternative music. What inspired that move?

I wanted to bring something fresh to the table. Something different that’s undeniable and connects to the younger audience so that they feel seen and can relate to it. I wanted to talk about how much work I was putting into this album and I needed something unique that’ll help me express myself.

Q: Most often, with a solid body of work, artists like to pass across a message to their listeners. What is the message that you’re trying to pass in “Tears Of The Sun”?

It’s okay to be scared, cry, and feel human but don’t allow it to weigh you down and make you give up. There is more to life than anyone’s opinion. Be true to yourself and your journey in life.

Q: What should we expect from Teni in 2024?
Everything and more.

If you haven’t yet, listen to Teni’s latest release, Tears of The Sun, a 16-track project released in November 2023 that shows off Teni’s uniqueness and versatility across genres: Tears Of The Sun

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