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FYI

Five Questions With…Témi

The Toronto singer has come up with a song of the summer contender in new single “Dynamite.” Here he reflects upon his growing maturity as a man and artist and his admiration of Fela Kuti and Eric Clapton.

Five Questions With…Témi

By Jason Schneider

Toronto native Témi (Tay-Me) has staked a claim for song of the summer with his new single “Dynamite,” available now on all digital platforms. “Dynamite” combines a smooth piano intro, coupled with a sexy backbeat, catchy arrangements, and Témi’s distinctive vocals.


In describing the song’s message, he says the aim is to take us back to when a man had to take his time and focus his energy on just one woman to court her with the hopes of being with her. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't, but at least it said to this one woman that she’s special.

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A performer since age five, Témi’s earliest memories include hearing his older brothers’ Motown records, which set him on course to eventually signing with Def Jam Records subsidiary Disturbing Tha Peace, and touring with that label’s founder Ludacris.

Now with his new deal with Canadian indie Arrival Music Group, Témi has been exploring different soul and R&B styles on other recent singles “Where Your Heart Is” and “Love It.” For “Dynamite,” he collaborated with hip-hop artist JD Era and producers Dub J and a.n.g.e.l, offering another taste of a planned album entitled Alternative Soul that will be officially announced soon. Follow Témi on Twitter at @temi_music. 

 

How do you describe the direction your new work is taking?

I would have to say it’s the “real-est” part of me musically that I have ever been able to create. In the past my music was incredibly selfish, meaning it was all about going after the accolades and everything else that comes with being a successful musician. As most soul singers do, I spoke about love, sex, heartbreak, and relationships, but all from a place of how I thought people would perceive it. Now I understand I’m responsible as an artist to be true to my story. No matter how vulnerable it makes me feel or look, it’s necessary that my audience gains knowledge and learns and feels something when they take it in.

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What songs on your upcoming album are you particularly proud of?

If I had to choose one, it would be “Where Your Heart Is.” It was the first song written for the album, and it started me on the path to my new musical direction. I came to tears while recording this song because it told the story of my life through music up to the present. As many people have, I’ve struggled and felt the pain that you get from making choices in life that are sometimes regrettable. That song was my way of saying to myself, “it’s okay,” and more importantly, to trust the process that has put me where I am now—the place I’m meant to be.

What's been the most significant change in your life over the past year?

I reconnected with a longtime friend Charlie, also known as a.n.g.e.l, who has become my manager and signed me to his label, Arrival Music Group/MDC Music. Having one of my best friends and mentors spearheading my career is one of the biggest blessings ever. I’ve also changed a lot of relationships I have around me. I’m realizing that having positive minds and positive energy around me is imperative to one’s success. It’s been a bit lonely at times, but I’m finding that I’m developing more meaningful relationships that I feel will last a long time.

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What are your fondest musical memories as you were growing up?

I didn’t grow up in a musical household. My parents weren’t musically inclined, but I do remember my mother blaring Fela Kuti’s music in the house every weekend morning. My brothers, on the other hand, were smooth operators and would play artists like Whitney Houston and BabyFace. I would say that’s where my love for music started and what I draw from today. The honest message that Fela had in his music along with the styles of the soul singers that I grew to love is secretly what I believe is shaping the person and artist that I’m becoming now.

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What song by another artist do you wish you had written?

There are tons of songs out there that I adore, but I don’t wish I had written any other artists’ songs because I feel like great songs come from a place in a writer that is extremely personal to them. In the same light, my music is very personal to me. I can tell you that one of my favourite songs of all time is “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton. It’s not necessarily the song itself, but the notion of a man being able to make a record about the death of his son. I think it took extreme courage even to get a note out and I admire him for his strength in putting his soul into that song.

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Allison Russell accepting the Billboard Canada Women in Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year award
Marc Thususka Photography

Allison Russell accepting the Billboard Canada Women in Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year award

Music News

Allison Russell Named Billboard Canada Women In Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year

The Nashville-based musician from Montreal has been having a huge year, including her first Grammy and her first Hot 100 appearance. Accepting the award on June 19 at the iHeartRadio Canada studio, she talked about her LGBTQ+ advocacy work and the importance of playing with underrepresented musicians.

It was a special Juneteenth for Allison Russell.

Not only did she serve as the special Toronto opener for Sarah McLachlan on the Canadian icon’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy 30th anniversary tour, but she earned another big honour: Billboard Canada Women In Music Breakthrough Artist of the Year.

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