With over 400,000 monthly Spotify listeners, a string of guest appearances from some of the biggest names in UK rap and a sold-out live show, Odeal is the London-based artist does not disappoint.
Sonically Odeal’s music appeals to many, by fusing R&B with Afrobeats – an idea that he explains to have birthed from a desire to bridge the gap.
Growing up his childhood was spread across the UK, Germany, and Spain and was surrounded by an array of music. However, his journey began after a summer spent in Nigeria and his dad found a local studio which provided the opportunity to not only be in an environment where music was being created but also trial his own sounds - this is when he decided he wanted to pursue music. Following the release of his recent EP – OVMBR: Maybe I’m Best Alone (MIBA),
Bernice sat down with Odeal a day before his shoot to discuss all things music, fashion, and his plans to bring his supporters into his world.
Bernice Acheampong: Hi Odeal, how are you?
Odeal: I’m good how are you doing?
B.A: Not bad thanks, thank you for joining us, I know it’s early in the morning.
O: It’s all good, I had a mad studio session yesterday.
B.A: How was the studio session? Did everything go well?
O: It was nice, I got in with a producer that I hadn’t gotten in with before, so it was interesting, but I was so tired from the session before that so yeh... it was good, it was good.
B.A: I wanted to start off by saying congratulations on your first sold-out headline show! That was great to see. How does it feel getting to this stage in your career?
O: I’m grateful and taking every day as it comes. I feel like my career is something that has been built step by step so even at the point that I am right now, I don’t think I even pay attention too much to where I’m at – I just need to keep going. I am just grateful that I’m still here and able to do my thing, I’m still learning. That’s how I feel, I feel grateful.
B.A: In December last year you released MIBA – tell us a bit about it
O: If you didn’t know already, I release a tape every November and that’s not really a tape - I don’t really aim for any commercial success or anything. It’s something I give to the supporters. Last year’s OVMBR tape was MIBA. That tape was more from an honest place, and I feel like that’s where the music is coming from as I get older. I just want to speak from an honest place and give my supporters an insight into where my mind is at, at certain points. There’s a couple of songs in there where you hear certain lyrics and you’ll be like ‘rah’?’ ‘what?’ - but I want to come from a more honest place, I want the supporters to feel me.
B.A: I’m with you. Could you explain what OVMBR means to our readers?
O: OVMBR is usually in November, and I took the N out of November to make it ‘OVMBR’. O-V-M-B- R is an acronym for Our Variances Make Us Bold and Relentless. It’s a collective and a movement full of creatives, people I’ve grown up with and people I’ve met along the journey that support what I’ve got going on. I’m a big advocate for creatives in general so anyone who is part of it is a creative or doing something of their own, all of us come together to make our dreams a reality. Even for the supporters it’s a space for them to come into, I always like to let my supporters come into my world and feel like home because it's real. I feel like there’s a lot of disconnection between artists and their fans and I’m always tryna bridge that gap. So, with OVMBR we have parties so if you listen to the music – you can be in London and be at one of the parties, or we bring it to Berlin or we bring it to a different city. And that way, I connect with my fans more and we are all on the same level – we can all vibe out. There’s that.
On a creative level, it’s about bridging the gap between the “industry” and the supporters to make them feel a part of it and have their own creative input. That’s what it’s about. But background to that – It actually started in 2017, I was really ill in the hospital, and it was around November. While I was there, I was telling them, if I go at this point, no one is gonna hear my story, I wouldn’t have fulfilled what I was here to do. So, I was like okay cool I’m gonna make this month a month where I just go ham for myself and for my supporters. So, OVMBR originally started as a month where I just give to my supporters - so it will be 4 songs a month (which will be more than necessary). But I just wanted to empty myself during those months and give and it turns out that every time I did that, I hit a new stage in my career – those songs released at that point would take me to a next level of growth every November. So, my friends heard about it, and they were on board, they were really for this OVMBR movement– then it turned into a collective and we’re all doing things in that month. So that’s a bit of a background of where it came from.
B.A: Wow, that’s amazing. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. What was your creative process when you made MIBA?
O: I feel like it was songs that I’ve made over time. With my previous tape it was songs that I sat down and created in a certain time frame and actually put together but with this it was like okay OVMBR is coming up, so this is the feeling that I’m going for. I want people to feel this so here’s a song that I made from this time and this time – like put songs together from years and a few months and they were all cohesive, so I was like this is what it is. So, I put out the tape. My process is different for different songs and different tapes but this time I literally just picked songs from different times that had a different type of feel.
B.A: Tell us a bit about what it’s like being in a studio session with you.
O: *laughs* Do you know what it is? At the start, I liked to record at home because I feel like there, I have my own time and I understand my process. I don’t really like people having to wait for me because I’m very patient with myself and I take time to do things. As time went on, I had studio sessions and obviously people come through but it’s just about having people who respect the process – my process is that I take time with things, sometimes it can be quick and sometimes I may really want to focus on one part and make it perfect. But overall - its vibes, I like to have conversation, I like to get the feeling of the room or bring the room into where my headspace is at. At the session I like to make sure everyone is in the same vibe and the energy is right so that I can go in and do my thing. It’s a vibe, I can’t lie.
B.A: Do you draw on past experiences in your music? If so – how does this influence your writing style?
O: Yes, I do, I do. To be honest, it makes it more honest, and I feel like that’s one of the main things in my music. I like to come from an honest place or build narratives and stories around certain songs. I feel like as an artist its only right to constantly be able to give new contexts and new scenarios. I don’t wanna be rinsing and repeating the same thing so I’ll draw from past experiences, how I’m feeling now and sometimes not even my past experiences but someone else’s past experiences that I can probably relate to and build a narrative off.
B.A: At 14 you decided you were interested in music – what led to that decision?
O: I was hearing a lot of music at the time, I listened to a lot of music growing up and I wanted to make things that I wanted to hear. I felt like there was a gap. It could have been that I probably wasn’t listening to enough music, *laughs* but I just felt like there was a gap. I was like – I wanna make a song that has ‘this element’ and ‘this element’. People need to hear something like ‘this’. I just felt like there was something I hadn’t felt before that I wanted to let people hear as well. Also, I was in Nigeria at 14 and music was all over the place. Being in the UK, Germany and Spain I heard a lot of music from my parents. They’d be driving and there would be Afrobeats in the car, R&B, there’d be lots of different types of music. But when I actually got to Nigeria I was like ‘yo the music here is actually mad’ like I can feel it. So, I told my dad that I wanted to make music and he was like okay cool there’s a studio around, so he took me there. He’d literally take me there, drop me off and go home.
So, I was literally in a studio with people, and my dad told them to show me how it is. I was watching people record and it’s so funny because I would go there and cos of my past influences which were mostly R&B I’d be sat there and say I wanna record and they’d play Afrobeats and I’d go up there and sing R&B over Afrobeats *laughs* and they’d be asking me ‘what are you even doing? This stuff won’t fly over here’. They weren’t tryna hear it. So, I took a back seat and would sit in the sessions and listen to people record and I was like oh these people are making music that I hear on the radio – it’s so similar, this is the type of music you’ve got to make in order to make people move. I just soaked it all up and from there I said okay I’m ready. I spent 2 or 3 months over summer at the studio. Sometimes I’d show my ideas but most of the time I would watch people record. Then I decided – I wanna do this.
B.A: That must’ve been a fun experience. What made you decide to fuse R&B with Afrobeats?
O: I think it all links back to when I said there was something missing in music in general. I felt like I didn’t wanna do what everyone else was doing. I think it kind of came naturally as well because I just wanted to do stuff with Afrobeats, but I wanted people to feel it as well cos at the time not everybody was on Afrobeats like that – people weren’t feeling it. So, I had to bridge the gap. People are really fond of RnB – they love the melody the tone and Afrobeat instrumentals are really infectious so okay why not fuse the two? That’s where it started – just wanting to make something that wasn’t really there before and explore it further really and truly.
B.A: Interesting. Paris is regarded as one of the fashion capitals of the world – I saw on your Instagram that you were there at the end of January – how important is fashion to you?
O: Oh, extremely important. It’s an expression, an expression of who you are and how you are feeling. I was having a conversation with someone the other day and I was like I wonder how it would be if I wore the same thing every day, like not even on same clothes rinsing -literally if I had only the same clothes in my wardrobe what would it be like? And they were like I don’t know. I feel like what I wear reflects how I feel so if I wore the same thing every day, I would feel a bit weird. Then I said, but what if you’re a creative and you wear the same things every day? Wouldn’t that
put you in a certain space/make you focus on one thing? That whole conversation was important because it shows the influence that clothes have on a human being. What you wear can change your confidence throughout the day and it can also show how confident you are (how outgoing you are with fashion). It's so important. In short – it’s an expression of who you are, what you are about, your taste. That’s how important it is to me. It’s very important to me.
B.A: Cool – what word would you use to describe your personal style?
O: Comfortable but at the same time I feel it's... yeh comfortable but expressive... actually no – word: ‘tasteful’, that is it *laughs*.
B.A: Nice, nice, I like that. Can we play a quick game of this or that?
B.A: Trainers or boots?
O: Oooo...I got into boots recently but trainers
B.A: Denim or leather?
O: That’s crazy – denim
B.A: Nike or Adidas?
B.A: Jeans or Cargo’s?
B.A: We’ve spoken about your EP, your musical and fashion inspirations but I think it’s important for our readers to know a bit more about you – when you’re not making music, what can we expect to find you doing?
O: Imma be so real – music consumes my life. It actually consumes my whole life. I like reading as well, which is good for music because as an artist, in order to constantly be able to give people words you have to take in a lot of words as well. Obviously, I’m into fashion so I’ll be designing certain stuff that I wanna make and whatnot. That’s just in my spare time. I like shopping, going out and buying different things, but mostly travelling, it makes all the things I do even better. I like meeting new people. Those are the things I like outside of music, but it all feeds into it.
B.A: Can you tell our readers what we can expect to see from Odeal in 2023?
O: More music for sure. One thing my supporters be on me about is - ‘you need to drop more’ so more music for sure. More features and also bringing people into my world visually – so the videos.
B.A: Sounds good! Are there any release dates in mind that the fans can look out for – any way you can give us an F Word exclusive?
O: I’ve got something dropping in March, can’t give a date but March and we’re here so... yeh. I’ve got another headline show this year as well, which is gonna be very interesting, I hope you lot are gonna come through!
B.A: Oh definitely! Lovely, just to wrap up, keeping in line with our tradition, I’ve got to ask, what is your favourite F- word?
O: My favourite F word is Feeling. I think everything I do revolves around feelings and emotions – so feeling – I’ll put that up as my favourite F-word.
B.A: Thank you so much for talking to me today! Any parting words?
O: I’m glad you had me on here and I can’t wait for you guys to see the rest of the journey – thank you again.