‘Coming with my own vibe,’ Tiwa Savage speaks
Tiwa Savage’s expectations for her first London concert as headliner is simple and straightforward: “I’m just expecting for God’s will to be done.
I want the people to have fun. I want my fans and supporters, my friends and family to come and feel Tiwa’s Vibe.”
The concert at Indigo O2 on the 24th of August is followed, the next day, by another in Northampton in the East Midlands of England. Both dates are part of “The Savage Tour” and draws from her many hit singles, as well as two albums – “Once Upon A Time” (2013) and “R.E.D” (2015) – and an EP “Sugarcane” (2017).
The afropop star was speaking during press rounds which took place at her lodgings in leafy Soho which historically has been a chief entertainment center in London, an uncommon choice for Nigerian pop artists, a good number of whom opt for the tall rises of London Docklands. Surrounded by an attentive team that includes a press manager, hair stylists and cameraman, Ms Savage carries a quiet grace that is evident in her small talk with her team, as it is in the demure way she eats her lunch, though she excused herself perhaps to finish eating in private – and away from waiting journalists – after which she was ready to be interviewed.
In speech, Ms Savage’s accent betrays the formative years she spent in London where she moved to, from Nigeria, when she was 11 years old. She has performed many a concert in the city over the years she has been an active musician. Why then is she only now headlining her own concert on what could well be hometurf? “I had to delay it purposely because I wanted my repertoire to be much larger. I think it’s just about timing. I feel like I’m (now) comfortable as a woman and as an artist”.
Ms Savage has released well-received singles in 2018 that include “Labalaba”, “Tiwa’s Vibe” and “Lova Lova” which features the resurgent Duncan Mighty whose near-perfect verse was apparently recorded in less than 20 minutes. “ I think the song chose him really because he came down to the studio, heard a bunch of records and that was the one he loved.”
She had planned to record a remix of “Obianuju”, one of Mr Mighty’s big hits but by chance (or right timing), they were both in Lagos when she invited him to the studio “and it was the right time.”
Doing things at the right or appointed time comes up at least thrice during the interview and on different topics which could, overall, suggest Ms Savage has arrived at a new level of confidence in her thinking and decisions for her music and career, but is fully accepting of the role forces beyond her immediate control has in her life.
The singer had had to “cut off” songs while rehearsing for her big London date as they were too many. She plans to do the same for her forthcoming album, the title and release date for which are yet to be announced. Ms Savage will only say she doesn’t plan for the project to exceed ten songs because “I think in this day and age people can’t consume too much all at once. I think it gets lost. And you also have to think of budgeting-wise, you also have to shoot the videos for them. If you have 15 records, realistically are you going to shoot 15 videos for it?”
The release of “Sugarcane EP” in 2017 came after a tumultuous period for Ms Savage during which stories of her marital strife was the subject of news headlines and gossip. Little of her personal life was apparent in the EP or singles she put out afterwards, when another listener would have hoped for a confessional in the vein of Marvin Gaye’s “Here, My Dear” (1978) or Beyonce’s “Lemonade” (2016) or even the great make-up album “Everything Is Love” (2018) which she made with her husband Jay Z.
“I think that’s a personal decision by each artist,” she says, insisting that, “I draw from personal experiences. When I say personal experiences, I mean I might have a friend who is going through that or is in a specific space in their lives and it’s something that works well with a certain beat or track that I have”.
Asked what she could share about her next album, she is as open as she is vague: “I think it’s going to show growth for me as an artist, my sound and me experimenting with different things and being bold with my approach to making music”.
Earlier before the interview, on hearing on how impressed this writer was by her lodgings in Soho, the press manager’s response was: “you’re now in a different league.” I rephrase this as a question for Ms Savage asking just how different and in what league her first concert as headliner in London will be: “I mean everyone comes with different flavours. Everyone has a unique selling point. I’m just coming with my own vibe”.
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