“Afrodisiac” is the debut album by London born soul singer and producer Teni who is influenced by Sade, Marvin Gaye and Fela Kuti and creates an eclectic fusion of afrobeat, jazz, funk and soul. Afrodisiac is a timeless, soulful, sensual inspired piece with sultry vocals, dirty bass lines and hypnotic afro guitars by this innovative singer-songwriter who explores new genres in her compositions. Her message of unity and upliftment and powerfully sensual live performance are sure to help her take the music world by storm. Industry insiders have said “Sade, watch out,” however Teni makes it clear that while she is inspired by her, and other torch singers like Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, she is very much forging her own unique path with a more afrobeat inspired sound and sound.
Entertwine: How did you get your start into music?
Teni: I started making music about twelve years ago after being an avid listener of all genres of music since my early teens. I started writing poems and making beats that would go with them. I learned to compose and produce my own music by listening to Fela Kuti, the afrobeat maestro and spent years in Lagos Nigeria working with bands developing my own sound.
ET: Why did you choose the soul genre, was it always a genre you wanted to pursue?
T: I wanted to make music that was an eclectic fusion of all the genres I loved, from afrobeat, to jazz and the blues and create a unique alternative soul sound that expressed who I am as an artist, my West African roots as well as my London experience. Music that was universal and influenced by my favourite musicians who happened to be soul singers like Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Sade.
ET: What is your favorite part of growing up and performing in an awesome place like London? How has it influenced your music career?
T: London is an incredibly multi-cultural, dynamic city that produced amazing musicians like Amy Winehouse and Adele. There is a great love for classic music like jazz and the blues as well as African music and other genres from all over the world so it’s a great melting-pot to draw inspiration from as well as an amazing live music scene. I grew up in Camden Town which is like the rock capital of London with great venues and concerts. The whole neo-soul movement coming out of London has been a huge influence on my career.
ET: How did you settle on the album name, “Afrodisiac?” What is the meaning behind it?
T: “Afrodisiac” means for me, something from Africa that is going to turn the world on! That is the essence behind the music I created for this album, African inspired yet universal, sensual and sultry, truly an aphrodisiac. It’s also about showing a side of Africa people rarely see in the media which I do through my music videos in particular which so far have all been shot in Africa.
ET: Besides performing, you also produce. How did you get into producing, and is it something you see yourself doing into the future? Maybe writing for other artists too?
T: I started producing because I had a very clear vision of what I wanted my music to sound like and at the time I was the only person who could bring it to life. I didn’t know many producers and even if I did it was a challenge for me and I wanted to prove I could do it, especially since it’s such a male-dominated field. I love producing, I believe it comes naturally to me and it’s something I will always do. Maybe one day I will write for other artists but for now I am focusing on my own projects.
ET: Who are your biggest influences. and how do you think they have impacted your career and future in music?
T: Fela Kuti, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Sade, Kate Bush have all made great impact on my music because of the level of musicianship, uniqueness and their ability to touch millions of people. Bob Marley and Fela’s social consciousness and spirituality, Marvin Gaye’s timelessness, Nina Simone’s depth, Sade’s sensuality, Kate Bush’s strangeness are all influences that I will have throughout my career in music. They have definitely inspired me to forge my own unique path and make classic music that stands the test of time.