Emmanuel Nwamadi; Manipulating Music is a Sweet Taboo

Emmanuel Nwamadi. I’m sure you’ve heard the name.

I first met him at his single launch party at the legendary Tramp club in Mayfair on a Wednesday night. There was a prestige in the air as I walked down the plush, blue carpeted staircase into the room. The people were seated all around, holding drinks and enjoying the ambience. And a night normally reserved to catch up on sleep, was enhanced by the husky and restrained sound of this talented musician. Currently writing and recording music consistently, this The Voice UK finalist, is quickly becoming our favourite neo-grungestar. His sound will surprise you, startle you even. But that is the exact reaction the Nigerian born, east Londoner wants you to have.

He has an intriguing yet humble personality, initially shocking me when I met up with him on another Wednesday night in a warm and comfortable Costa.

EN:

Haha, what were you expecting me to be like?

H:

You kind of have this bad boy image, and a really strong fan base. So I thought you’d act like someone who has all of that.

EN:

No no. I mean who am I? I’m human, like everyone else.

H:

Who happened to be a finalist on The Voice UK?

EN:

Yes. But I strongly believe that we shouldn’t glorify other human beings. We are all somebody, and all have the power to become greater somebodies.

H:

Wise. And humble.

He smiles shyly, as he drinks from his coffee cup.

H:

How was that experience for you though? Doing The Voice UK.

EN:

It was a good experience, a very good one. One I feel took me through a process of having to develop greater self belief and confidence.

H:

What do you mean?

EN:

Having to perform regularly, meant having to rehearse and practise regularly. All the people around me were really talented and hardworking so I had to step my game up. It taught me a great lesson that I am still utilising.

H:

So what are you doing now?

EN:

Just writing and recording basically.

His sound is unexpected from someone who looks like him, something he acknowledges with joy. Emmanuel draws influence from the likes of Kurt Cobain and Laynes Staley, especially paying tribute to Alice In Chains. He identifies with their sound because they capture his attention in a different way, and encourages him to explore music. He trained himself to play the guitar, whilst developing a musical ear, subsequently making him fall in love with the whole idea of being able to produce music. From there he created his own sound, one he describes as haunting but nice.

H:

Why the word haunting?

EN:

Specifically because I don’t think my music is easily forgotten. I believe it leaves an imprint on you, and you will find yourself in shock that you are actually enjoying it.

H:

Shock is a strong word.

EN:

Only to those who do not wish to make that type of impact. But that’s how I know people are really listening, when they themselves are surprised that they like it, which of course they will. Whenever I play live, I can see the focus in people’s faces, it’s really intense. Almost as if they are trying to figure out what they are listening to but still captivated. 

H:

I get that, because listening to you live was almost trancelike.

EN:

Yes! That is exactly what I was aiming for. It’s because the time signature of my songs encourages that type of response.

H:

Why that response?

He pauses before he replies.

EN:

I feel in that way, listeners will fully take in the songs, the lyrics, the melodies. They will be able to really experience my music this way.

H:

Do people give you that feedback?

EN:

Yes, haha. All the time.

We then speak about how he would define his music, and whether he feels that it fits into any genre. We go back and forth for a while, throwing genres together and pulling them apart. Allowing ourselves to sift through the variance of music, trying to find a comfortable place for him.

EN:

I think I’m going to go with neo-grunge. Grunge because I identify with that type of music more than anything, but I add the ‘neo’ because I’m bringing something new and exciting to it.

H:

Good! Very good… but do you feel that people expect a certain type of music from you?

EN:

Yes, most definitely! I think they expect RnB or Soul mainly, and when they hear the scream like melodies they are surprised.

H:

A good surprise though! When I first listened to your cover of Sade’s The Sweetest Taboo, your take on it was unexpected. But you made it your own and I liked it.

EN:

Thank you.

H:

So how did the new single Six come about?

EN:

Its about a situation I had with a girl, and how she was playing games with me. It was a lot of back and forth between us, ups and downs, until it just imploded. This song is… I guess just my thoughts about what that did to me.

H:

What was the process like creating this song?

EN:

A tough but enjoyable one. I feel no more emotions towards the experience, I’m older now and that was in the past. But even though I know what I want to write, sometimes I find it hard to put it down into words. I’m getting better at songwriting but I really have to work at it. So that was the tough part.

H:

And the enjoyable part?

EN:

Simply because I was creating. I was constantly practising new chords, exploring my vocal range and writing about my experiences. I was doing what I love and working with great, passionate people. Why wouldn’t I enjoy it.

And why shouldn’t he enjoy it? Listen to Emmanuel Nwamadi’s single Six here.

Written by Hannah Olarewaju for acousticlive.co.uk