video premiere: london newcomer oyinda channels beyoncé in 'never enough'
Meet the female vocalist whose dark, emotive music has been likened to Sade, Lauryn Hill, and FKA twigs — and watch her brand new, self-directed video.
photography eric white
In the new video for her track "Never Enough," singer, songwriter and producer Oyinda lies on the ground and vogues in a circle of flickering television sets. She wears a sheer black bodysuit, her hair pulled back into a thick fishtail braid, as she crawls on the floor, arches her back like a cat, and stares at the camera. "You can never get enough of a good thing," the London-raised Nigerian singer taunts in deep, smoky vocals. "Watch me move like I'm up on a big screen." The beat pulsates, the synths scatter, and Oyinda changes into a metallic trench coat and a silver mesh dress that glitters against her smooth skin. "The biggest inspiration was Beyoncé's 'Single Ladies' video," explains Oyinda, 24, who directed the video herself. "The strength of that performance made me want to do a seamless piece too, but in my own way — a little imperfect with a hint of sci-fi." There are hints of sci-fi in both her video and her sound, which is imaginative and futuristic — think an early FKA twigs. Following her first record, Before the Fall (2014), Oyinda will release her next EP, Restless Minds, this June. In her first-ever interview, here, Oyinda discusses her musical influences as we premiere "Never Enough."
Do you remember when you first fell in love with music?
I don't think there was ever something specific that made me fall in love with music. I just was. As a child I always loved to sing, and I think that's because music was in everything — from going to church to what I watched. But when it comes to wanting to be an artist, everything truly started for me after listening to Aaliyah's self-titled record. I gravitated to the darkness of it, and still do. There's so much to love and learn from that album, from the production to the way her voice weaved within the arrangements. I love the way that even in its most vulnerable moments conviction could just barge back in.
When did you start making your own music?
I taught myself how to sing when I was three by belting out Disney songs in an empty room at home. As I got older, I learned from my mom's CDs — she loved singers like Luther Vandross, Celine Dion, and Whitney Houston. Writing and producing came much later. I didn't start making my own music till a couple of years ago, after I graduated from university. I started writing while I was there, and now I make music in bed or in my home studio. I started teaching myself how to produce by fumbling through different programs and being hyper analytical of the music I listened to. I've also learned a lot about production from my friends, especially Rafferty Swink, aka Low Noon — he's the synth god I make music with and he also plays in my band.
You've been likened to Sade, Lauryn Hill, and FKA twigs. What do you think about being compared to them?
It's very humbling. It makes me realize how much of a gap there is between us, and how much work it's going to take to shorten it.
What themes do you find yourself returning to in your songwriting?
It may be too early to tell, but I've noticed there's always a line about running out of time or shaking something off. I think that's probably because of my suppressed anxiety and minor OCD, so I won't be surprised if it sticks.
What's something people might not know about you (but you'd like them to know)?
If I hadn't started my career as a performing artist, I would have probably worked in film scoring or music supervision. Both focus on conveying the mood behind what's portrayed on the screen, and that has always been my main goal when writing.
What is your new single "Never Enough" about?
"Never Enough" is about reaping the benefits of self-validation, but it unfolds in a much darker scenario. In reality, I wrote it after I had just booked my first show, which was Lollapalooza. I was freaking out because I literally only had three songs so I had to get writing, and I of course was extremely excited for such an incredible opportunity. The song was built around the chorus, which I wrote to pump myself up. It's nothing but wishful thinking really.
What was the concept and inspiration for the video?
Rather than a concept, there was an image: me lying in a circle of TVs. That just flashed into my mind while I was watching Netflix with Raff one night and I fell in love with it just as quickly. I started creating a treatment on Tumblr and I filled it with photos from my mood board in my studio.
Why do you prefer darkened black-and-white imagery for your photos and videos?
I like the way black and white seems to manipulate time in my eyes; it appears to be so distant and cold at one glance, then warm and yearning at another. In that way, I've been using it to encapsulate the mood I'm trying to convey within a song. However, I don't plan on that being my "thing." I just want my transition into color to have meaning.
Text Zio Barreaux
Photography Eric White