Interviews

Kemuel: Nigeria’s Pop Wonderkid 

An interview with Kemuel provides an eye-opener into the artistic intricacies, professional mindset, and overall doggedness...

Kemuel
Kemuel [Instagram/@kemuelthekid]

On the verge of a national election that had been unfortunately characterized by economic pandemonium and incessant government policies- that had held the nation at bay- simultaneously, over a scheduled online interview, 23-year-old Kemuel Emmanuel carried a swagger reminiscent of an A-list superstar yet amiable enough for his current status; a fast and rising singer. 

In only a short while, Kemuel had received laudable appraisals for his unique talent from some of the biggest pacesetters in the Nigerian music industry, such as DJ Spinall, and Olamide. The Rivers State nurtured act is a singer-songwriter and music producer currently signed to Apollo Records. An interview with Kemuel provides an eye-opener into the artistic intricacies, professional mindset, and overall doggedness that have made him a beneficiary of a promising musical career.

Ethereal Influences

2022 posed as a near breakthrough year for the singer- for one, his Extended play titled, ‘Escape’ was gaining buzz amongst the music community; Artists and repertoire personnel applauded it as genius whilst bloggers, fellow music acts and music listeners thought the project to be riveting emphasizing on Kemuel’s melodies, vocal texture and in particular, lyricism. Kemuel however credits his songwriting talents to some of the artists he heard growing up.

 “I listened to a lot of Jon Bellion, Tu Face Idibia, and even Burna Boy whilst growing up, these are a few of the artists that have inspired my songwriting process,” he says.

A true artist knows how to turn adversity into art, and Kemuel knows this. When asked if there was a song on the project that was difficult to pen down due to the pain attached to the song, Kemuel affirms:

” I was in a bit of a jam while recording some of the songs on the E.P, and I took the opportunity of using the pain felt into my music, I recorded a song like ‘Away’ while I was going through a tough time, and as you can see, it paid off, of course not every song on the project was inspired by a sad event, there are also songs inspired by better times too”

Kemuel believes his music to be deeper than the surface; citing the source of his sound to come from the spiritual, “The kind of sound I make comes from an ethereal space, I don’t just make music out of vibes, I am intentional with it, every sound I make has a spiritual synergy attached to it, even when I am vibing,” he assures. 

The music industry thrives on categorization, and sometimes this keeps certain artists limited. Putting them in a long queue of creatives who are stifled and aren’t allowed to explore other music niches other than the one they are profoundly known for, however, Kemuel begs to differ: 

“There is a level of adeptness to my music. I am not necessarily keen on boxing my sound, but if I were to classify it, a big If, I would classify it as ‘Afro-centric, but ultimately, I don’t subscribe to that school of thought, as an artist, I believe there should be a certain level of creative liberty I am entitled to, if not, it gets boring”.

The kind of sound I make comes from an ethereal space, I don’t just make music out of vibes, I am intentional with it, every sound I make has a spiritual synergy attached to it, even when I am vibing.

Kemuel, 2023.

Bunda

Like many other musical acts, Kemuel first garnered affection for music through religion. His instincts had led him to play the drums in church as a kid, he emphatically seized this opportunity while church services were concluded. It was in those little moments that he knowingly or unknowingly developed a consuming love for music which had now metamorphosed into the burgeoning musical career he currently enjoys. 

Kemuel isn’t shy to divulge an account of his quite privileged upbringing; if anything the singer owns it proudly, saying:

Growing up was fun for me, I grew up In a simple and loving environment. I had a decent childhood, My parents raised me right in a Christian home. I guess I was lucky.

One of the ultimate dreams of a plethora of fast and rising musical acts is to get that much-revered co-sign or recognition from an established musical act- to them, it is a perfect motivation and Kemuel’s would come through a song called ‘Bunda’. 

“First of all, a big shout out to Ozedikus, he was the one who introduced me to DJ Spinall” he acknowledges before going further.

“Yeah, I mean, I have always tried to hold myself in high esteem, but being featured on ‘Bunda’ alongside legends like Olamide and DJ Spinall was next level, it made me realize how valued I was as a creative, In my mind I could only go up from there”

The Revolution 

In a tweet by popular Nigerian disc jockey and fellow collaborator, DJ Spinall, he praises Kemuel,  hailing him, as “the hardest new artist worldwide”. Such a comment could make some feel braggadocious, but Kemuel instead, feels gratitude.

Kemuel
Kemuel [Instagram/@kemuelthekid]

‘Big respect to DJ Spinall, I am forever grateful for his support, I mean, he could have chosen not to but he did, and that will always stick with me. Seeing that tweet reminded me that I was doing something right, and it keeps me going to be very honest.

One interesting aspect about Kemuel is the place he comes from; Rivers State, Port Harcourt. What’s so intriguing about Port-Harcourt is that in recent years there has been a large inflow of genre-defining mainstream and promising acts to hail from the city with the likes of Ajebo Hustlers, Omah Lay, Burna Boy, Dan Dizzy, and 1da Banton.

There are so many talents in Port Harcourt still to be seen, and I am truly excited about the future, trust me, the revolution will be televised someday

Kemuel, 2023.

Certainly, something had changed significantly throughout the years that led to the positive outbreak, and according to Kemuel, he believed the only thing that changed was the hands of time, as he says it was bound to happen:

“I think it was only a matter of time, with the effort and consistency that were invested, it was only bound to happen. I am only happy that my city is beginning to get the recognition that it so richly deserves. There are so many talents in Port Harcourt still to be seen, and I am truly excited about the future, trust me, the revolution will be televised someday”.

Pre-Show Rituals 

With the singer’s newfound disposition, the year 2023 should be more promising and busy than the previous, and Kemuel affirms, saying:

“There are so many plans my team and I are trying to put into motion. I plan on dropping more music shortly, and have other big plans that I can’t divulge for now”.

Kemuel prides himself on being an ethereal being; one with an understanding of the power of manifestation- a perk that comes with meditation. Kemuel says Meditation and words of affirmation help calm his raging nerves before a show performance,

“I am a very spiritual guy. I believe in meditation a lot. Before a gig, I meditate. It helps filter the intrusive voices, and it’s a practice I think everyone should imbibe.

I am a very spiritual guy. I believe in meditation a lot. Before a gig, I meditate.

Kemuel, 2023.

Food For Thought

When asked about the best advice he had ever gotten from anyone in the industry, Kemuel had this to say, “The best advice someone in the industry ever gave to me was to always differentiate the music from the music business”.

Kemuel shows a passion for longevity rather than the ephemeral. To Kemuel, his ultimate goal means creating something formidable that is devoid of material compensation. “My ultimate goal as an artist is to create timeless art, not money or fame because at the end of the day, leaving behind gems that people will talk about for a very long time is what it’s all about,” he says profoundly.

The best advice someone in the industry ever gave to me was to always differentiate the music from the music business

Kemuel, 2023.

Finally, Kemuel proceeds to share his two cents with struggling artists seeking to find a voice in a congested music industry, saying: “My advice is to never stop putting yourself out there, and never let the noise dampen your voice. If you believe in an idea, a project whatever it is, don’t let anyone deter you”.

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