American singer/songwriter Wembi has been writing and performing original music for over 20 years. I had the opportunity to listened to his new album “Perspective” on Deezer and I was so moved by his sound, a fantastic blend of soul, pop and R&B with characteristic of performers like John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, Elton John and Paul McCartney, that I contacted him to have a chat.
Wembi, please tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to music.
Sure. I am an American singer/ songwriter and producer whose been performing original songs for many years. My style of music covers many different genres including R&B, Pop, Neo-soul, Ballads, Jazz fusion and EDM and I have just released my 3rd self-produced album called “ Perspective “. Music has always been part of my Life. It started when I taught myself how to play piano at home at a young age, just for fun. But it’s in college that I began to write original songs mainly because it helped me process my thoughts and emotions at the time. My second year in college, I entered a music contest on campus filled with many talented artists and I finished 2nd. It gave me the confidence I needed to keep writing and lit a spark that still burns to this day.
Who are some of your favorite musicians, and how did they influence you?
I was fortunate enough to have been raised in a household where both my parents enjoyed music and sang from time time too. They were both teachers but not music teachers. They owned many different types of music albums from popular artists of the time from Europe, America and Africa. So I grew up listening to anything from The Commodores, Mozart, Michael Jackson, Prince, The Beatles, Bob Marley to Miriam Makeba, Papa Wemba, Daniel Balavoine and the group Kassav to name a few. This helped me appreciate different types of music and musicians. One of my biggest musical influences is the famous French singer/songwriter Jean-Jacques Goldman. I discovered his music when I was a teen and I very much enjoyed the way he combined effortlessly simple melodies with thought provoking lyrics.
Wembi, do you have other sources of inspiration?
To me, the source of inspiration is all around us. Creativity can be triggered by events in my life, in the lives of people I know or current event issues.
What is the meaning behind your music?
It’s mainly about honesty and having an emotional connection with my audience. I touch on issues that I believe need clarity and are universal. Issues related to relationships, racism, immigration, poverty, political corruption, cancer and I attempt to give a perspective that may help some be more aware of these issues or to see them from a different angle. My aim is to show that despite some of our differences, we share more in common than we realize. I believe that this type of awareness is a critical step to solving some of the universal problems we are facing.
My aim is to show that despite some of our differences, we share more in common than we realize.
When you are composing—how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
90% instinct, 10% planned. The first time I am writing a new song, I never know how a song will develop or end until it feels complete. I just instinctively sense what melodies flow for that particular song. If at a point, something doesn’t feel right, I stop and just discard the whole tune and try something else. But when a first draft is done, then I go back to make sense of what I wrote and start polishing the parts that need to flow better either musically or lyrically.
What do you think the most appealing aspect of your new album “Perspective”?
It’s raw, it’s sincere, it’s very personal at times. But it’s also inspiring and I have been told that when people listen to it, they relate to many of aspects very quickly and they end up feeling empowered.
The album is a wonderful collection of original songs in different genres that will appeal to real fans of music. It starts off with a slow rhythmic R&B jam called “ Seductive eyes”. It’s the story of two people in a packed club on a warm night, noticing each other for the first time and feeling an instant and very strong attraction for one another. No words are exchanged. Their entire communications is non verbal and done through the eyes only throughout the night as they find themselves drawn to each other like magnets. “ Hell no!” is an upbeat and exciting song about self-respect, dignity and empowerment. “Birth of a Movement” is an EDM instrumental piece that builds in intensity as the song progresses to mimic the stages of a popular movement from a single outraged voice to a massive crowd. It’s a homage to social and political movements such as the Civil Rights movement in America and the Me2 movement. There are also love songs and ballads such as “ A Promise”, the soulful “ Upendo ( a song I partly wrote in the African language of Swahili. Upendo is the Swahili word for “ Love”), “ I see in you” and the powerful and deeply moving “ Hopes and Lies”.
Your readers should not miss my songs “ Puerto Rico” which is a heart warming song of support for the victims of the recent natural distorter that hit the island of Puerto Rico in 2017 and “ Ring that Bell” which is a song about the universal need to fight cancer. This song was inspired by own personal experience with almost losing a very dear and longtime friend to the terrible disease and watching her amazing fight back. So as I said before, the album is raw, honest and very personal. My hope is that listeners will find inspiration in the messages and enjoy the music too.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you?
State of mind wise, I need to be relaxed to be able to enjoy the creative aspect of songwriting. But when it comes to the creative process itself, it is both exhilarating and excruciating. The experience of writing a song occurs only one time for every song. I once described it to someone as going on a road trip to a place you have never been before, for the very first time. Everything feels new on the way but you also look forward to arriving to your destination. You also know that next time you are traveling down that same road, you will have an idea of what the scenery looks like and it won’t be as new. So the only time you are really able to experience the scenery is on that first trip. So you try to capture every aspect of that moment and enjoy it.
What are your future projects?
Right now, I will continue to promote songs off the “ Perspective “ album. I’d love to plan a big concert tour if only to say “ Thank you” to old and new fans of my music for connecting to my music. I would love to come to Europe if the opportunity presents itself and the listeners are open to it. I am also working on great new materials and I have several upcoming collaborations with great artists. I will be involved in events of a social activism nature too. The future looks bright, so subscribe to my site to find out more.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Treat others the way you’d like to be treated
And finally, where to go to meet you and hear you?
Subscribe to my site and I’ll make sure to let you know when I’ll be performing to a place near you. I also post at times, exclusive music and videos on upcoming projects too. I am fairly active on social media and I am planning to hold a couple of Facebook Live events as well. Hope you’ll join me and we can have a great time.