This article was previously published on Audiomack World.
Emerging as one of the undisputed stars of post-lockdown 2021, Nigerian FAVE has captured the attention of music lovers and tastemakers globally with his must-have hit “Baby Riddim” – such a worm-like earworm that it burrows into your brain after the first listen. “I didn’t really think it would be ‘the song’ for the jump, but we played it for a few people to test the waters and they just couldn’t get rid of it. I didn’t need to be more convinced after that,” FAVE told Audiomack World.
Now based in Lagos, FAVE grew up in southern Nigeria, with a childhood marked by gospel music and singing in choirs alongside her parents and siblings. She would fully unleash her distinct sound during her college years, recording songs and embarking on the arduous task of self-promotion as an independent artist. Unashamed to show off, FAVE’s perseverance paid off as their singles “DAL,” “NBU,” and “Beautifully” captured mainstream attention in 2019 and 2020.
How do you top a hit with the magnitude of “Baby Riddim?” Signal Riddim 5, FAVE’s debut EP released in January. The project finds the “genderless” artist exploring the most delicate yet complex emotion: love. Her vulnerability and her romantic aspirations create an enveloping atmosphere, anchored by her voice.
“I discovered who I am as an artist and it’s simple: you can’t confine me to one genre”, explains FAVE. “As I make music over the years, it becomes increasingly clear that I want to keep experimenting with my sound. I’m into different genres and I need my fans to know that even though they’ll never expect rhythm or genre, my voice will always be distinct enough for them to know it’s me.
Your song “Baby Riddim” became a hit at the end of 2021. What was the creative process behind this song?
“Baby Riddim” was probably the hardest song for me to record because it took a long time to develop and I didn’t write it all at once. I remember Dami [producer] had sent out some beats, so I listened to the beat for what would become “Baby Riddim” and just started vibing on it. The words came then, and although I was able to write most of the song, I just couldn’t finish it. I played the track I had for a friend who kind of told me that I had to end the song, but again I was afraid to be rigid with her – I wanted her to come to me. A few weeks later, the chorus came to me randomly. I fixed a session with Dami and we recorded the song.
Recording the song was only half the work required. I had finished this process when I realized that we needed more work on rhythm and melodies. I don’t know much about production, but I like to be involved in the process as much as possible. We did that for about two months because we didn’t feel compelled to release the song. It wasn’t until we were done that we realized that “Baby Riddim” was to be our next single.
As someone new to the industry, how does having such a massive record influence how you view yourself as an artist.
It’s really good to do something and see the type of result that I got with “Baby Riddim”.
This can be particularly difficult as an upcoming artist in Nigeria. I’ve had so many times where I felt like music might not be for me, and in a time when you can post your work online and have no commitments, I don’t care. wasn’t expecting much from this song. The success that dragged on pushed me to push myself further. It also boosted my self-confidence enough to know that this music, I take it globally.
You appeared on two songs of Olamide11th studio album, UY Scuti. How did it happen?
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I had participated in this viral freestyle challenge during the 2020 lockdown, and I don’t know how, but the next thing I knew I woke up to a DM from Olamide said I was “killing” him.
He invited me to Lagos and after some scheduling issues, we finally ended up in the studio. I met him preparing some songs and he asked me if I wanted to jump on one. I put down my voice, but since we had so much free time, he asked me to do another one.
Artists change the direction of their albums all the time, so I tried not to get too excited about the possibility. It wasn’t until I saw the tracklist for the album that I thought, “Yo, I’ve got two songs on this record!” It was amazing.
Let’s talk about your first EP, Riddim 5. You have five songs on this disc. Does it mean anything in particular?
I figured I’d start with a small EP because I didn’t think I was in a position where it would have been wise to release a lot of songs at once. I don’t feel like I’ve amassed a fan base that would listen to 10 or 15 songs. I want people to know me as an artist and identify my sound, but it has to be a gradual process.
Did “Baby Riddim” inspire the creation of the EP?
You would think so, but the songs on the EP had been recorded at different times, spread over the years. I was never able to sit down with a producer for the sole purpose of recording for this project. I had recorded so much that when it was time to release an EP, my team and I sat down and selected the songs that suited us. We didn’t want songs with the same tempo or emotion, so we were very intentional about the direction each song had. But as far as recording new songs for the EP, I didn’t do that at all.
We see you exploring different facets of love on this EP, which begs the question: why is this a theme you like to explore in your work?
I like to write about love because it’s the sweetest thing to sing about. Even if you haven’t experienced love in a romantic way, chances are you have experienced it in another way. I don’t need to have a direct relationship with what I sing because I know friends who have been through these things before. You sing about love, people listen and immediately relate to what you sing.
Now that FAVE is in the limelight, what does success look like to you?
Become a superstar, simple. I see artists like Adele and Drake as superstars, and that’s what I want. I want to sell out shows, have an unlimited budget to create whatever I want, and just check things off my list. Being a superstar is what success looks like to me.
When you think about your artistic heritage, how would you like people to remember the name FAVE?
I want people to remember me as the artist who never disappointed or influenced. I don’t want them to say, “She was like that, but then she changed. I want them to know that I used my talent well and stayed true to who I was from the start.
By Conrad Johnson-Omodiagbe for Audiomack