Artist Spotlight: lanaire aderemi shares her experience as an artist making her debut in 2023
Updated: Aug 12
Meet lanaire aderemi, the 23-year-old multi-hyphenate storyteller whose work spans from poetry, to theatre, to music. Being a 23-year-old Ph.D. student, the artist has utilized her beginnings as fuel to propel her along an impressive artistic journey. In 2018, she released 'ancient history (2018),' a genre-bending collaborative EP with rapper King Solomon which saw the pair fuse poetry and music together. She's just released her debut EP, titled 'bless the memory,' a 5-track project which she wrote in two days, We caught up with her to discuss her creative process, her background, and life as a PhD student. She shared with us her experience as an artist making her debut in 2023, the reason why she got into gospel music, and how poetry has helped her to create a sound like nothing we’ve heard before. Read the full interview below:
Hi lanaire! How’re you doing today?
I’m really good! Having a week off so I’ve been relaxing, trying to take things slow, one day at a time.
Apart from music, what do you do?
I’m actually a PhD student, as well as a poet and playwright. I’m generally a writer and a researcher within the creative arts.
A PhD student! May I ask how old you are?
No, its fine, I’m 23.
A 23 year old PhD student, that’s impressive!
Thank you! It’s because I haven’t stopped since I started school. Finished University at 19, masters at 21. So right now I’m in my penultimate year. It shocks me too,
What are you studying?
Did sociology for my undergrad.
My masters was in creative writing: poetry, fiction, non-fiction, essays and so on. My masters dissertation was a play and a portfolio. I had to write 40,000 words about things I’m passionate about, which happens to be mostly women issues. My play was based on the 'Egba women’s revolt,' which took place in Ibadan in the 1940s. The play informed my Ph.D. My Ph.D. is me creating a portfolio of creative work that responds to the topic at hand.
How has it been? Handling school work and music?
I had been creating music for a while but in an introverted state, so it wasn’t hard to balance. The roll-out was difficult because it was out of my comfort zone. Social media was especially hard because normally I would go offline for half the year and be online for the other half. A roll-out requires presence; replying comments, messages, and so on. I had to learn to set boundaries and schedule posts. It was a bit draining.
What prompted you to finally release your music?
I released an EP in 2018 based on black history, very educational. In that experience, I produced spoken word pieces with King Solomon. We also got to open for Odunsi’s Rare Tour in 2018. I enjoyed those two things because I felt free.
In 2022, I wrote a poetry collection I wanted to record. I even asked a friend, Yinka for an underscore for the poems and he was ready, but there was some resistance. In December of the same year, I bought this journal which I named ‘Songbook’ but still nothing. It wasn’t until January that something happened. During a fast in church I heard the word “music”. I didn’t want to accept that it was for me so I told my friend it was for him. After further prayer, I got confirmation that it was for me. I went back to my songbook after the confirmation and in two days I wrote everything on my ‘bless the memory EP.’ I knew I was meant to do music because not only did God give me supernatural speed but it felt as if I depositing gifts I didn’t know I had.
What is the EP, ‘bless the memory’ about?
The EP is a celebration of childlike joy and faith. I draw a lot of inspiration from childhood. I just like to be free and childlike in God’s presence.
You wrote the entire EP in two days!? Please share more about the process.
It was very much a thing of obedience. God told me He would give me a new way of writing and that my music wouldn’t be like anything anyone has heard before. I knew the sound would be distinct because of my poetry background. When I finished the songs, I went back to Yinka and we started working. The first track we worked on was ‘be content.’ And this is what I mean about Divine Timing - normally, Yinka would be so busy, but that January, he was free. We would meet on Zoom for hours to work on the tracks.
I also had to get vocal coaching from and a friend of mine, Tobi. My voice really is not the best but I had to learn that the message God has given me to share is enough to transform hearts. Tobi really helped me with confidence. He showed me my strengths and weaknesses so I knew to rap in some songs and sing in some. With the rollout, God told me to reach out to Michael who did the photography and cover art and he too had never done a music roll-out before but he did such a good job!
What about your poetry background made you feel this way?
In poetry you learn sound and rhythm. A song is a lot more formulaeic. With a poem, there is more liberty to break the rules. My sound is a mix.
What was the hardest part about the decision to start music?
I would say ‘surrender.’ I had planned to travel and pursue a playwright career this year and I had saved up. For all my work I've always had grants. This was the first project I had to fund myself. I’m someone that likes quality so if I’m going to put out something, I have to have a vision. Surrendering finances was the hardest part but it was a matter of urgency.
Surrendering can be quite hard, I’m glad you did. How have you found the UK gospel scene so far?
I wouldn't say I’m in the scene yet. Not all my art-forms are gospel centered, so I would say I’m just an artist that is learning. One community I would say has helped me is a community created by Manny Ade called CHH collective. It’s a WhatsApp group chat for Christian creatives. When I dropped my first single, everyone was really nice, and they share tips. I’m still learning so I’m not quick to call myself a gospel artist.
That makes me curious, how would you classify your sound? Who do you make music for?
Hmmm, that’s such a good question because two weeks ago, I was having a conversation about that. A friend said to me, “some people are called to the Jews and some to the Gentiles. laniare, I think you’re called to the Gentiles.” That liberated me. While surrendered Christians have resonated with my music, the ones that give me the most joy have been unbelievers. I’ve always had a heart for people that are in the middle. I would say my music is for people who may have lost their faith due to a rocky foundation, or hard-hearted people who don’t quite know God. About 25% of the people that attended my live event were non-Christians and they knew the event was very Christian. Many were drawn to the sound (or maybe they were supporting me). Just this morning a friend of mine who is against Christianity messaged me saying, “‘mustard seed’ is stuck in my head. I find myself singing ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’” I really don’t like to be boxed. When it comes to music, it has to be gospel, but the style is very flexible. I draw from different styles.
You mentioned a live event. I saw the recap video and it looked fun. How did it go, and what did you learn?
Yes! In May God told me to have a show, and coincidentally, around that time I had a fellowship with an organization called SOHO House. As part of that fellowship, I had a venue for free! So it was almost like God had planned everything because what are the odds?
I enjoyed working with a band. We rehearsed for three hours, but they were super professional so everything just flowed. I also learned to embrace discomfort. I had to work with in-ears for the first time, but I’m happy I decided to use it.
The event was very intimate, about 60 people but we sold out! It wasn’t just about the music; we conversed, danced, had activations and icebreakers. We learnt about our names and just got to know one another. I would say it was a success!
What message do you aim to spread with your music?
‘bless the memory’ is my seed which God is giving the growth. I spread the truth about God and I don’t dilute the message, but I am passionate about unbelievers. While my mum’s a deaconess, I’ve had my own seasons where I asked questions. I was having a tough time reconciling social injustice with my faith. I deconstructed my faith and questioned why Jesus came to die for us. It was after lock-down that I understood and believed - God’s love is much more powerful than sin. I had to get to the point of intimacy with the Holy Spirit to want to please him; not by someone telling me what and what not to do. As people become more surrendered to God, he’ll change their hearts. God’s love is liberating and simple. The gospel is as simple as this: “show love to all people, whether you agree with them or not.” I believe in love.
What’s next for laniare aderemi?
I’ve just launched a clothing brand. I’m trying to create a community around ‘bless the memory’. To be honest, I don’t see myself making new music anytime soon, but we’ll see. I really want to give myself breaks. People still tweet about the music so I’m happy it’s flowing.
You really are remarkable. It was amazing getting to know you!
Thank you so much for thinking of me!
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