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  • Writer's pictureShenead Poroosotum

Nonso Amadi Delivers a Bouquet Of Beautiful Music On 'When It Blooms'

Seated side by side, Nonso Amadi and I share a moment, his hands resting calmly in his lap, whilst his warm smile hints at an exciting tale that he’s about to unfold – the journey behind his most captivating creation to date: When It Blooms. In this musical masterpiece, Amadi orchestrates a symphony of collaborations, enlisting the talents of BEAM, Majid Jordan, Tamera and Tay Iwar to name a few, resulting in an opus that transcends mere entertainment and becomes an embodiment of personal growth.

With each resounding note, When It Blooms showcases Amadi’s own metamorphosis, serving as a sonic testament to his evolution to both as an artist and as an individual. Spanning across fifteen meticulously crafted tracks, the album represents a monumental milestone – a comprehensive body of work finally unleashed upon the world.

And his accolades further punctuate Amadi’s rise to prominence. As one of the esteemed 'VEVO DSCVR Artists to Watch 2023', he embraces the spotlight. He has also been featured as a Spotify Radar artist and recipient of the prestigious SiriusXM Black Canadian Music Award, as well as amassing well over 50 million streams from his five singles that came in the run up towards the new album. Such recognition firmly establishes him as a trailblazer among the next generation of artists, effortlessly captivating international audiences with his unique blend of Alte and Afro-R&B.

During our enlightening conversation, Nonso Amadi delved into the profound influence of location on the sonic landscapes he created, his admiration for the UK’s wholehearted embrace of afrobeats, and his unwavering commitment to staying humble — an essential virtue that has guided his artistic journey thus far.

Creative Direction: Derrick Odafi

Photographer Jack Chipper

Art Director Annie Alvin

Stylist Chanel Baker

Production Assistants Ayo Ahmed, Olawale Lipede

New Wave: Around when was it that you started creating music?

Nonso Amadi: I started making music while I was in high school and friend of mine brought his laptop to school illegally [laughs] I mean like we weren’t meant to, but he brought his laptop, and he introduced me to the possibility of recording on a software on a laptop. And it was just so cool because before that, I had been freestyling at home and just making music with my family and my friends. That was the first time I actually recorded my voice and heard it back. So, just doing that and then playing it for the girls in school, I'd see the reaction was just so excited. That was like the first exposure for me.

NW: Did recording back then and making music come have any challenges along the way apart from obviously learning a whole new skill?

NA: Making music, obviously, while you're in school itself is pretty problematic. Because it takes your attention away from what you're meant to be doing, which is studying your books. And I won’t lie, because I was so infatuated with the idea of creating music myself, I spent a lot of time doing it. And it kind of affected my grades initially. So, I had to learn how to balance music and medication at the same time. But that was the main challenge because my parents would say “Wait, what's happening here? Why is he suddenly dropping in his schoolwork?” That was the main challenge for me.

NW: With your single ‘Lock Up’ up with Zinoleesky, how did the connection between you two come around, spurring you to collaborate?

NA: I actually met his manager first. I managed to play a bunch of songs along with a producer that she works with and after I played ‘Lock Up’ she was like “Yo, Zino would love this record!”. Next thing you know I get a video call with Zino vibing to a verse and that’s how we got connected. I’ve always really liked his style; it’s so raw and authentic. I think he works perfectly with the song that we were trying to create because it’s a drum heavy song which is far from what I usually do. So, it was just the right person for it.

NW: So, your album, When It Blooms coming on 26th of May. You've got a very nice floral, naturistic theme around it as well. What's the significance with flowers alongside the whole identity of the album?

NA: With When It Blooms, I spent a lot of time thinking about the project name because I wanted to be super reflective of my own musical journey. When I first started making music, I was super shy and insecure. So, I just compared that to a seed that has to grow and after going into the ground it breaks apart and germinates. And then towards the end of its life process, it's a flower and it opens up. Its bloomed petals are beautiful to look at. I think it's a similar situation with me that I've learned to accept and be thankful for. And it is a journey, there's a lot of things that you go through along the way. But When It Blooms is just like, given the list and the anticipation that something is about to happen to this guy, you know, from the start of the album to the end, there is a narrative. I feel like people, when they listen to it, will get the symbols that I was trying to play around with.

NW: That’s really lovely. You’ve actually been creating music for quite a while now as well. How does it feel to finally start getting this recognition? Considering that you've been on the scene for a couple of years.

NA: It’s amazing! But I’m very careful with how I receive attention just because I’ve seen how when it comes to musicians, it’s very easy to get in our heads. We’re already very much in our heads a lot so, instead of just sitting on that idea of “I deserve it” or whatever, I’m just more thankful for it and looking forward to actually growing more. But keeping a level head is where I’m at. I’m constantly reminding myself like bro, you have a lot more work to do and you have to just keep going. And when the love comes, I just say thank you and I keep it fresh.

When I first started making music, I was super shy and insecure. So, I just compared that to a seed that has to grow and after going into the ground it breaks apart and germinates

NW: Yes, staying humble is key! I also heard that you recorded in so many different locations during the creation of When It Blooms. How did this inspire the album? And did you pick up anything along the way?

NA: Yeah, I’ve recorded in a lot of different places. I recorded in Lagos, London, a lot of songs in London, Kingston in Jamaica… Just different parts of the world. And I think it’s reflective in the music I listened to growing up like reggae, dancehall and R&B. The project itself has a lot of flavours and those styles embedded into what I’m trying to achieve, but not in the way that that it feels all over the place. I just wanted to make sure that people could tell that I’m a diverse artist. And as much as I love R&B and afrobeats, I’m still able to make a hip-hop track. It was just part of the process for it, and it wasn’t intentional it was just what happened along the way and we just happened to get into that sort of music.

NW: How do you feel about the Nigerian music scene right now and the reception that it receives in the UK?

NA: Honestly, I feel like it’s been a long time in the making. There have been a lot of amazing artists that have come before to open the doors, shout out to D’Banj, 2face Idibia (2Baba), Tiwa Savage, Wizkid… the usual suspects. It’s been a lot of work and I was watching a documentary the other day and it shows how afrobeats crossed over to the other side of the world and how the community grew over time. I think the love is very clear and for a lot of Nigerian artists, we see this as a rite of passage. Once you’re good in Nigeria, you come to the UK, then you can go to the States. It’s beautiful to see that we have such a welcoming audience over here

The project itself has a lot of flavours and those styles embedded into what I’m trying to achieve, but not in the way that that it feels all over the place. I just wanted to make sure that people could tell that I’m a diverse artist.

NW: That’s lovely, and we’re happy to have you! Considering that with afrobeats and its popularity in the UK, how do you think you stand out amongst the crowd of all the other afrobeat artists?

NA: I think I’m very much about creating a name for myself. And I don’t just pick from African music and my influences. Earlier when I about how I recorded music in different parts in the world and we incorporated those sounds into the album, it’s quite a unique thing to find in this genre. A big part for me is just storytelling because I like to be as vulnerable as possible… and this album is very vulnerable. And I’m feeling pretty nervous to put it out there because it speaks on my journey. There’s spoken word from my mum on there and these are things you can easily find in the afrobeat space but I take a lot of inspiration from Kendrick Lamar and Drake and they make very honest and vulnerable projects. So, I wanted to see how I could put that into my own work. And I feel like a lot of people appreciate that uniqueness and it’s just like a breath of fresh air. When you’re done listening to a lot of hype stuff, you can listen to something that’s still familiar but a bit easier to connect with.

NW: So, what’s next for Nonso Amadi?

NA: The project is out on the 26th of May and we’re hoping to do as much touring as possible. In the UK, Europe, America and of course in Africa and Canada, everywhere we can attach. But basically the point is to bring life to a lot of the themes of the album as well as the honesty of the project; we want to bring that to life as well as the arc. For the show, the beginning will dark and insecure but towards the end it’ll be a beautiful close and with the theme of flowers. I just want to bring life to everything we see and create a cinematic experience to everyone who comes out. So, I’m going to put in a lot of work and I’m super excited.


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