If you haven’t yet discovered the soul-electronica vibes of OFEI, now is your time to tune in. In what has been a whirlwind of a year, OFEI has supported the likes of Kendrick Lamar and musical wizard, Shuggie Otis, off the back of two video releases.
It was his debut EP, London, and his rich, distinctive vocals, that put him on the map – so much so, in fact, that his Bandcamp site crashed with hours, due to popular demand. There are few contemporary artists that we can say with confidence evoke such raw emotion. His euphoric sound is remniscent of old school soul and gospel that musicians have forgotten to retain over the decades. His newly released track WOW is yet another burst of power, paradoxically melancholic and uplifting. OFEI may be shrouded with anonymity with no biography online, but the heartfelt autobiographical lyrics seem to provide insight into the man behind the music. Schӧn! sat down to uncover the unpredictable enigma that is OFEI.
What instigated your love of music and musical experimentation?
As far back as I can remember music has dominated my life. To this day, I know every lick from soundtracks, to my favourite childhood films or computer games. Festival De Ritmo by Dave Weckl was definitely one of the first songs that inspired me to seek more from music creation… I had to know what was going on in that piece! Every time I listened to it, it gave me everything!
How does your anonymity play a part in the way you want your music to be understood?
All the answers a listener would seek are in the music – there’ll be plenty of time to better understand the HOW’s and WHO’s.
Where do you seek lyrical inspiration?
The good and bad in all of life’s trials. I rarely write when on trial…I just make notes and wait. And just before I become at ease with the subject, I expel it through song.
What does the single WOW represent for you?
Have you ever been hurt by someone you love? Sat in a room on your own, thinking…WOW! Have you ever been in a situation where someone does something so ridiculous, so thoughtless, but equally so human, and you think WOW! That moment you’re so blown away with the stupidity of the situation…Only…WOW could be said…
What feeling do you wish to evoke among your listeners?
What are your thoughts on the popular music currently emerging out of the UK?
It’s exciting. The world is changing fast and fascinating things are frequenting its inhabitants; I feel it in the music…I see it on the roads and when my team call. I hear it on the phone.
When you kick back and relax, what is the go to genre of music that relaxes you?
I don’t have one. I’m currently pretty relaxed writing this and I’m sat outside a rehearsal room listening to Annotations of an Autopsy, who are lively, to say the least. I normally have tracks of the week, which I blare throughout that week under all circumstances!! This week it’s Go West, Don’t Look Down and L’A Capone x RondoNumbaNine – Play for Keeps. Last week it was Souad Massi – Raoui and Chick Corea – My Spanish fantasy Part 2.
How did it feel to support the likes of Shuggie Otis and Kendrick Lamar? Can you tell us how those collaborations came about?
I was a real late comer finding Shuggie Otis, a family friend had put me onto Strawberry Letter 23. After he heard London, I immediately fell in love – 3 months later I had an email asking if I would support him… No words can explain irony! The same thing happened with Kendrick – only difference is I’ve been following him from day one! We had an email from TopDawgEnt showing love and asking us to support. All so unbelievably humbling!
How has this year panned out for you so far, has there been a highlight?
A close friend building a huge studio in the middle of nowhere, which has become my new spiritual retreat!
Where do you wish for your career to progress, from this point on?
Up! Being the best version of yourself is all you can ask for, right?
Words / India van Spall