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‘Music makes me feel truly at home’



With singles Looku Looku, Mr. Rebel, and the viral hit Try Me, singer, songwriter and producer, Temilade Openiyi, better known as Tems, has cemented her place as one to watch this year.

The singer, who is redefining the Nigerian music scene with one musical note at a time, wants to take on the world. The de facto leader of the Rebel Gang, as her fans call themselves, is determined to remain true to herself by consistently keeping things light while pursuing her undying love for music.

She said, “I’m literally just trying to chill. Music is my happy place. Music is the only thing that makes me feel truly at home. If I’m sad, it’s the only thing I can run to. It is like my second water.”

“If someone says to me here’s a billion dollars, just chill I would still do music. I mean, I’d collect the billion dollars and then do music. That’s how bad it is. That’s how much I love it,” she added.

According to her, “Everyone needs to be on a hundred. Right now, I’m in a space where I need to be super real with myself. This also applies to the people around me. I’m just trying to be 100 per cent focused on my work. No distractions, no sentiments, no pretense.”

Though her love for music began from age 11, a time where she describes as having a very quiet childhood, it didn’t stop her from wanting to harness it.

“I didn’t like to do so many things but I loved music a lot and I knew early that I wanted to develop myself in it. When I was 13, I thought to myself I’m kinda good at this thing; it’s the only thing that comes naturally to me. “I could make a song about Cornflakes if I wanted to, or I could just wake up and see a bird eating a worm and make a song out of that. It was just very easy; it wasn’t something I had to try for. So I understood music to be my thing and no matter what it was going to take, I had to end up in it,” she says.

Asked what was the story behind Try Me? The fast rising producer said, “I was actually freestyling when it came to me. Freestyling for me feels like a release. A lot of things I feel, I can’t explain; I just sing it. So it was one of those days when it was just inside me. I don’t know where it came from. By the time I finished, I knew I had something special.”

On whether she envisioned its popularity, Tems said, “Not at all; even now, it’s still hard to process. But I do remember praying on the release day and saying to God that it doesn’t matter how many people like the song as long as it reaches someone, somewhere.

“After I record a song, I listen to it a thousand times. When it’s released, I don’t go back to listen to it again. So when everybody was going crazy over it, I was like ‘Huh is this the same song? Is it that great?’

“I really didn’t expect any of it. We didn’t spend anything on promotion. Everything happened organically. The fact that so many people resonate with it makes me feel really good. I’m happy they can feel it,” she stated.

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