Lánre: "There is a variety of what we refer to as the African sound"

Lundi 14 Novembre 2011

Interview with the British Singer Lánre following the release of the album "Pen Voyage Chapter One - Singing for Change". This is the original version of the interview published in French by Yuzu Melodies, a website dedicated to pop music.

Lánre: "There is a variety of what we refer to as the African sound"
You used to sing gospel songs. Do these songs inspire you when you write your own songs?

I have sung in choirs for years and the natural progression was singing as part of a UK gospel collective, GK REAL. Gospel music, the message, the passion is a huge part of my life and yes, it inspires the way I write. “Má Gbàgbé” for example is what I call a travellers song and the core of the song is simple saying “Don’t forget who you are” that was inspired by a message that is in itself a gospel message.

Does the fact that you sing in an African language mean that Africa is a part of you although you were born in the United Kingdom?

Yes. I was born in the UK but spent 20 years living with my parents and siblings in Nigeria, West Africa. So the language (Yoruba) the food, the lifestyle is all a part of me and some of those are reflected in the songs I wrote on this project.

Although some of your songs are in an Yoruba, the music itself doesn't sound particularly African. Was it a deliberate choice?

Africa is a huge continent and some people are sometime familiar with a little bit of African folk music and there is a variety of what we refer to as the African sound. There isn’t just one African sound. Having said that, what I wanted to do with some of the songs is bring an element of the African sound into the songs so some of the songs we used the talking drums, bata drums etc

Your album is entitled « Pen Voyage chapter one - Singing for Change ». What do you want to change with your songs?

I really believe the very famous Mahatma Gandhi quote “be the change that you want to see in the world” so for me when I say “Singing for Change” it’s the change that starts with ME. Some of the songs are observational stories or questions “Love Way” is one of the songs on the album that I wrote about my questions and thoughts on religion and at the end I ask the listener and myself “What are we going to do with Him”

What inspires you to you write a song ?

Every song is different and coming from a different place but mainly I am inspired by strong story telling. My dad and grand fathers are great story tellers. I love and I am inspired by books written by Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Adichie I love the work of singers and songwriters like Regina Specktor, Foy Vance, India Arie, Asa. So I think I am inspired in some way or another by some elements from all of these people.

Why did you choose to use hip hop in the song « Running »?

I like hip hop generally… not all of it. I like the passion and some of the messages that some artists try to tell. With my song “Running” I wrote the song from a child’s point of view (my character is 7 years old) of Civil unrest or war. I love the work of Karl Nova, he is a creative artist and I wanted the song from his perspective.

The final song of the album « Goodnight (Ipadé) » is a very moving song. What is it about? To whom do you say goodbye in the song?

« Goodnight » is a song I wrote for my dad. He is my main inspiration for this album and when he suddenly died two years ago, it was a shocking and traumatic experience. I said “goodnight” because I won’t be able to say “goodbye” and I believe I will see him again.

When will you come to play in France? Do you have scheduled concerts in France?

My music has been received really well in France so Yes! Yes! Yes! For sure I will be doing a few shows soon. The plan is to come before the end of 2011.

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Boris Plantier