SINGER AND SONGWRITER WONYAE PREMIERES HIS NEXT MUSIC VIDEO
Praised by TripleHQ for his “seasoned, smooth vocals” and a tone that “makes it so easy to fall deep into [his] record,” Wonyáe is performing across New England and making an impact. Most notable of these performances is his recent appearance at Everett Art Center’s “Open Stage” as he headlined with a set boasting personality, vocal ability, and choreography. He also performed at Third Eye Festival, where he was recognized by the Standard Times Newspaper. Wonyáe’s 2019 release of “The Art Of Letting Go (EP)” and his listening party to launch it established him as an artist to watch.
Wonyáe is an American singer and songwriter who is influenced by his West African heritage. He was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, but raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He was driven to the desire to write, sing, and perform by some of the greatest musical forces of all time including Kanye West, Michael Jackson, Toni Braxton, Miguel, Destiny’s Child, Beyonce, Frank Ocean, Dawn Richard, and Solange. His songs have a sound that combines the warmth of R&B/Soul with the stimulative tempo of afro/Caribbean, pop, and punk. He is innovative. He is passionate. He is unapologetic. To get a taste of his music check out his recently released singles “Closer”, “Forever” and “Daddy”.
Watch the music video below at the end of his interview.
- Mary Swanson
R&B/SOUL BLEND TOGETHER WITH TEMPOS OF AFRO/CARIBBEAN, POP, AND PUNK
NIE: Thank you for taking your time and having this interview with us. Congratulations on your recent music video entitled ‘Daddy’. What can you tell us about this song? And what is the deep meaning of the song?
Wonyáe: Thank you for having me. Oh boy, “Daddy” is a sexy record, it’s confident, it’s your mojo, it makes you feel dominant and in command. Everyone has someone they consider “Daddy” or that can make them feel like “Daddy”. Although it comes off overly male dominant, the featured artist Asiavu holds it down for the ladies. I felt like we needed a song for that. It’s okay to feel sexy and in control. You know?
NIE: Why did you call the EP ‘The Art Of Letting Go’?
Wonyáe: The EP is titled the “Art Of Letting Go” because while creating the music I was in the process of letting go of a long term relationship. The songs on the EP actually tell a story, a story about romance. It begins with you wanting the person “Closer” and ending with realizing all this individual does is bring you “Down”.
NIE: What does this EP mean to you and how has this experience help shape you as both a singer and a songwriter?
Wonyáe: This EP means a lot to me. It allowed to me to express myself in ways I couldn’t in a conversation, through text or on the phone. As a creative it’s nice to allow yourself to be free and express every side of yourself. Take the good and the bad and throw it on paper. Put it in a melody and sing it at the top of your lungs! It’s refreshing and such a relief.
This experience has shaped me vocally. I’ve learned what I’m capable of, new tricks, how to handle a mic, how to breathe! People don’t realize sometimes you just need to breathe to get it all out. When it comes to writing, “The Art Of Letting Go” has challenged me in many ways. I find myself creating interesting melodies, challenging myself when it comes to word play and I also try to create a mood with my writing. I want you to feel where I’m at, at that very moment.
NIE: What about this EP is different than anything we have heard before?
Wonyáe: I wouldn’t say it’s different than anything you’ve heard before, but more a beautiful fusion of genres, sounds and rhythms that you have heard before. It’s my take on music and artist that have molded me and my sound. You’ll find a bit of dancehall, R&B, punk, afro, pop and soul on this EP.
“Be ready to work. Know your voice. Have a voice!”
NIE: What was your favorite part of recording this EP, and why? What have you learned from this EP that will help transpire you to create more music?
Wonyáe: My favorite part of recording this EP was hands down the creative process. Because my producer and I Iiterally created each song from scratch. I’ve learned discipline and how not to let my fears stop me from releasing my art. Which makes me beyond excited for my next endeavors.
NIE: Where did the desire to be a singer stem from?
Wonyáe: Oh wow, the desire stemmed from listening to music at a young age. My mother loved Bob Marley, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion & Luther Vandross just to name a few. I don’t think she realized what she was doing but being around her while she blasted these artist around the house and in the car really inspired me. I also can’t forget about growing up to my sibling’s music choice since they were older than me I got a dose of Toni Braxton and Destiny’s Child (in which I still love to this day) along with Sisqo and Lil Kim which showed me a sexier side of the industry .
I loved everything about singers, so it was a no brainer for me. I would sing around the house, create groups with children my age, write music and attempt to create choreography. Now that I’m an adult I’m highly grateful for all the talented musicians my family introduced me to at a young age.
NIE: What process and techniques do you use to get to before recording the album? And what songs have been the most challenging for you, and why?
Wonyáe: I usually just start with some vocal warm ups and meditate a bit. I would say the most challenging song would be “Down” and not because it was impossible to sing but because it was an old song that stayed locked away for months until I brought it to the attention of my producer and we were able to revamp and give it new life. It was hard to let it evolve into something new but it was definitely worth it.
“Understand your artistry, understand there is room for everyone!”
NIE: What obstacles did you face with this EP and what do you do to overcome and achieve your goals?
Wonyáe: The biggest obstacle for me while recording this EP was time and money. I work hard to achieve my goals whether it’s putting in extra hours at my 9 to 5 or staying late at the studio after working all day. It’s always a process in the arts. Hard work and dedication have been the main reasons why I’m at this point in my life.
NIE: What do you personally take out of a song as a singer verses a songwriter? And what impact does it have on you that you want to convey to your listeners?
Wonyáe: Great question, as a singer I want to make sure I capture the emotion of the song through my vocals and as a songwriter I want to make sure the lyrics take the listeners for a ride. They both create a space that I and the listener can meet and experience together. It’s more than just pressing play. I want you to get into it and in order for you to do that I need to deliver to the best of my ability.
NIE: How do you prepare yourself before a performance? And what helps you perform to the best of your ability?
Wonyáe: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and rehearse some more! I can’t stress that enough. I also meditate and have group (dancers, band etc) prayers. A good crowd and a well thought out set usually will have me at my best potential.
“Don’t let anyone… dim your light.”
NIE: What would you say is the biggest asset for any performer in the industry to achieve?
Wonyáe: I think the biggest asset would have to be just simply creating your music and getting it out there. Yes, of course a Grammy would be nice, or performing at Coachella would be amazing but you have to make sure the base of it all is secure and you’re happy with who you are and what you bring to the table. That will bring you places.
NIE: What are some of your secret tips that help you in this industry to keep grounded and focused?
Wonyáe: I keep close friends and family in my circle. I don’t take “yes men” to the head. I never let things get personal especially when it has something to do with my music. I tend to have tunnel vision which has allowed me to be able to create and release without too many pointless obstacles.
NIE: Who inspires you to be a better person then who you were yesterday?
Wonyáe: I would say my mother. The hard work and dedication I saw her possess came off heroic to me. She was superwoman, tackling everything that was brought to the table. Once I grew enough confidence to record a track she was more than helpful with making sure I was able to record at the studio of my choice. That was all I needed to keep going. Now I see myself as the male version of her. I use so many of those qualities as an artist and business man. I’m inspired daily.
Musical inspirations would have to go to some of my favorite artist. Kanye West, Beyoncé, Miguel, Frank Ocean, Toni Braxton, Solange, Destiny’s Child and Dawn Richard. Are a few artist that inspire me on a daily basis. Their vocals, performances visuals, lyrics, harmonies, overall sense of self and style allows me to be comfortable with expressing myself. They inspire me.
NIE: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue a career in the field?
Wonyáe: Be ready to work. Know your voice. Have a voice! Understand your artistry, understand there is room for everyone! & be prepared to hear “NO” without letting it effect you.
NIE: What are the most impactful words of wisdom someone told you and who was it?
Wonyáe: “Be prepared to have people you know do their best to bring you down while your on your way up.” – Aunt B.
NIE: What are three things you would say to your younger self that you know now?
Wonyáe: Sheesh that’s tough. Don’t be afraid to express yourself, keep pushing and perfecting your craft and don’t let anyone or any negative experience dim your light.
NIE: What is next for you?
Wonyáe: This is what I’m most excited for to be honest. Collaborations with other talented artist, My team and I have been itching to create and release more visuals, And there is nothing like performing so I’m hoping to have a schedule filled with gigs. Stay tuned because I have a lot up my sleeves.
NIE: Thank you for having this interview with us! Before we go, is there anyone you would like to thank at this time?
Wonyáe: I would like to thank my family and friends, my producer Oph Kiltah, My team which is filled with tons of talents! & last but not least my amazing supporters!