When it comes to African talent, the top of the food chain has been well documented. From the long-standing runs of Tiwa Savage, Burna Boy and Wizkid to the recent surge in popularity of artists like Rema and Tems. However, there is a brief gap in the documentation of the story of the African musical renaissance. The story of artists who have to take a bit longer to reach a level of the ascension of the aforementioned artists. Please don’t misconstrue what I mean by the above statement. The African musical renaissance is a deep funnel of supremely gifted artists from various regions around the country. One such artist is Ghanaian-born artist Gyakie. Despite being in the infancy of her career, she already boasts 2 worldwide hits in ‘Forever’, from her debut Seed – EP, and “SOMETHING”, which was the single from her sophomore effort MY DIARY – EP.
As a self-proclaimed servant of African music, I noticed a clear distinction between the two EPs. MY DIARY – EP is significantly more downtempo in comparison to Seed – EP Whereas the latter felt like it was built for the hyper-streaming age of music consumption, the former could be considered a push against the wave she generated for herself. Although this may seem like a negative assessment of musical output, I assure you it isn’t. I expressed this to her in our interview and she told me, “I wanted to show people that I have matured. I wanted people to see the vulnerable side of Gyakie”. Therein lies the traits of an artist with aspirations to have longevity. One that understands the necessity of building a genuine connection between the artist and the fan. At the end of the day, artists say the things that all of us feel and when an artist displays the courage to show us the parts of themselves that they wouldn’t ordinarily share, it builds an unbreakable bond between fan and artist. Without further ado, let’s open the first page of Gyakie’s diary…
WORDS BY LESIBA MANKGA
Please describe your growth between Seed – EP and MY DIARY – EP
I experienced a massive amount of growth during that time. Seed – EP was my first release and it holds a special place in my heart because it has my first major single, ‘Forever’, which went on to perform well around the world. Following the release of Seed – EP, I didn’t release anything for 9 months because I was working on my current EP and when you listen to MY DIARY – EP, you understand why I took my time with it. There is a higher level of maturity in my sound and you get to experience a different version of me.
Why did you choose to go with an intimate title like MY DIARY?
Going with the title MY DIARY – EP was purposeful… I am not one to share my innermost feelings with the outside world. The only place where I feel comfortable sharing those thoughts is when I’m creating music. I wanted to let people know the intimate parts of my life; This project is deeply personal to me and that’s why I titled it MY DIARY – EP.
The song ‘Waka Waka’ shows us a completely different side of you. Can you tell us why you chose to include that song on the EP?
As a woman in music, you have to be conscious of the fact that you are in a male-dominated industry. I wanted to make a song that would inspire women of the world irrespective of their field of work. Women run the world; we start the trends. That is the power of being a woman.
As a woman in music, you have to be conscious of the fact that you are in a male-dominated industry.– Gyakie
I’m interested in how much of a role you played in the sound of this soundtrack how much did you work with an executive producer?
I would say that it was a team effort between myself and my manager. We wanted to create a body of work that felt like a story so we spent a lot of time deciding on which songs to include in the EP and how we would structure the EP. If you look at the EP, it’s like it’s building up to this moment of intensity, which is “Waka Waka”. We also understood how strong the visuals would have to be in order to complete this story and a lot of effort went into designing the cover art and directing the music videos.
After giving us songs like ‘Forever’ and ‘SOMETHING’, do you feel pressured to deliver more hits or do you create music freely?
I have so much support around me as an artist and a person, so I never feel pressured to do anything. Those songs were created out of love. You can’t manufacture a hit. You have to be in a place where you are free to experiment and play with any genre of music in order to make those sorts of songs. I just do what feels right to me and something beautiful always comes out of that.
I want people to believe in themselves.– Gyakie
What has been the reception to your exploration into reggae?
I think that most of my fans love me because of my softer side… for songs like ‘SOMETHING’ but there is more to me than that. From the messages I have been receiving, people love my more aggressive side too. Songs like ‘Waka Waka’ make my fans feel like they can conquer anything.
Are you conscious of the fact that you are part of a wave of new artists are you trying to spearhead your own sound?
I am in my own lane… my own path. I love what is happening in the continent but I don’t think about that when I create music. I am here to inspire women around the continent to be the best version of themselves.
I just do what feels right to me and something beautiful always comes out of that.– Gyakie
What would be the biggest challenge you have faced in being a young person in the industry?
It would have to be balancing school and music. There was a time when I wanted to give up on school because of hectic my schedule was but I knew I had to persevere because my studies are important to me. And sometimes I would get unwanted attention when I’m trying to focus because people would recognise me, but ultimately I’m proud of myself.
After listening to MY DIARY, what do you want people to take away?
The purpose of this project is to inspire people. I want people to believe in themselves. I want women to feel empowered after listening to MY DIARY – EP.
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