Tems is the Lagos musician on a mission to help you find yourself

The innovative alté scene star breaks down her debut EP ‘For Broken Ears’ and everything else you should know about her music.

by Frankie Dunn
11 February 2021, 5:47pm

Growing up in Lagos taught 25-year-old Tems an important lesson. An urban sprawl with an official population of 14 million people, it’s the most populous city in Nigeria, and Africa, and one swimming in culture. “I learnt to live in the chaos and I’m stronger for it,” the alt-R&B singer, songwriter and producer tells us. “Growing up there was cool.”

After an unusual route into the music industry -- one via two degrees and a job in marketing -- Tems found herself following her passion and harnessing her rich vocal for collaborations with DRB, Wizkid, Khalid and Davido. Her chart-topping debut EP For Broken Ears came out in October 2020.

“The aim is for the EP is to bring healing, hope and courage to its listeners,” Tems tells us. “And I believe it has done. I hear things about how it is therapeutic, so it makes me feel like it’s doing just that.”

The soulful lead single “The Key” comes with an otherworldly music video that dropped two weeks ago. Fast approaching half a million views on YouTube, it’s a beautiful project that was inspired, she tells us, “by overcoming the darkness by letting the light shine within. That’s what the video stands for.” With a sword strapped to her back, Tems is surrounded by fire and mysterious hooded figures under a bright full moon as she embraces the magical powers bestowed upon her. Talk about epic! 

Convinced she’ll continue to lead both her rebel gang and the alté scene into a bright and positive future, we thought it was about time we caught up with Tems. Here’s what you should know about her via 10 interesting facts

1. Tems’ earliest memory is of listening to music in her mum’s car
“I was about six, and we were listening to some gospel mixed in with some Celine Dion.”

2. Her music career was meant to happen
“I realised that’s what I was best at… and it just made me love music more.” 

3. Ask what kind of music she makes and she’s got a big claim
“It’s spiritual.”

4. Tems is hanging out in Ghana right now
“The mood in Ghana is very chill. I’m really just chilling and recording. It’s very peaceful here.” 

5. Her fandom call themselves her ‘rebel gang’
“It’s just me and the rebel gang! I believe they chose that name because that’s how my music makes them feel.”

6. Somebody once told her that her melodies on “Essence” (her collaboration with Wizkid) are the highest level any human could ever achieve
“One of the greatest artists of all time told me that. I can’t say who, but it meant a lot to me.”

7. As such, she wouldn’t want to switch voices with anybody else
“No, nobody. I can’t even imagine that.”

8. She seriously loves tea, of the drink variety
“People don’t know how much I love tea. I like my tea with lots of honey.”

9. Tems has a great plan for 2021
“Continuous growth and no holding back. We call it ‘pouring’ in my team. Pouring came from one of my managers, Muyiwa Awoniyi aka Donawon. And pouring, according to him, is letting your ‘oil’ flow into all you do. Oil in this context is basically God’s anointing.” 

10. And a truly epic wider mission
“I want to make a positive impact on the world. I’d love to impact the world in a way that encourages more people to find themselves.” 

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