In Conversation With: Bryann
Despite being in the early stages of his career, Bryann is a promising talent within the ever-expansive genre that is Afrobeats. Not only does the young Lagosian push the boundaries of how the sound is perceived - he is also growing and evolving alongside Afrobeats itself. Longé, Bryann’s first single, stands as testament to just how boundless the genre is - with production and lyrical elements drawing from House music to Dancehall. In comparison to earlier releases like Need Luvin’, Bryann’s maturity and refinement is astounding, especially considering the short time frame he has developed under.
Mixing my curiosity about his growth with the task at hand, we found common ground in our love for Nigerian music.
The Floor: If you had to pick your favorite project from last year that came out of Nigeria, what would it be?
Bryann: That's hard.
It's a tough question.
Yeah. That's, that's actually a very tough question. Because there were a lot of wonderful projects but I would say Made in Lagos.
What stood out to you about Made In Lagos?
The cohesiveness of the body of work. I'm an album artist, I like bodies of work. I still like to put out singles but, I like to put out singles, but I also like for people to know where my head is at that point in time and I feel like a single is enough for listeners to understand fully where you’re at as a creative, you know? So listening to Made in Lagos, I could definitely see where Wizkid’s head was at. It was a very calm body of work so I like it.
Hmm. I agree. I think it was perfect for being at home and not being able to go to these events or these shows. I think it was the perfect album for them. You said that you're very much an album guy, but you like releasing signals. I wanted to ask, you released Need Luvin first but claim Longé as your first single?
Longé is my first official single. Yeah. But Need Luvin was mostly me testing the waters. So you can tell,I just started putting out music properly.
Was it testing the waters for listeners or was it a tester for yourself? As in, what sound do you want to put out?
It was more for myself. When I make music, I do not think about what people will like. I believe in energies and things like that. So I feel like as an artist and a creative, when you decide to create it it's like you are capturing part of your energy into that thing. And that is infectious in a way. Let me give you an example. So if me, as an artist, makes a song, there is a particular way it makes me feel. And if that feeling is strong enough, I believe it's infectious. I believe the next person that hears it will be able to tap into that feeling. It's the same way you see a painting and it strikes you because that's what the painter intended. When the painter stood up to paint that thing they were moved by a feeling. And when you see the painting, that feeling resonates, if you get what I mean.
I'm following and that’s really interesting. Let’s talk albums. One thing that really stands out to me is a lot of the features that you've done are quite versatile, so I can pull out different genres where you’ve been a feature. So when it comes to pushing out your debut project, will it have all those different flavours from your features or is it going to be very much like one genre?
I would say I don't really like to classify my music into one genre per se. It's more about how I'm feeling in the moment. Also, a lot of my music is inspired by so many genres that I kind of don’t feel right giving credit to just one genre of music, you know? So I'm inspired by Afrobeats, Jiju, Dancehall, R&B, Reggae, Highlife, Jazz. Giving credit to just one, saying, ‘oh, I strictly do this’ doesn't sit right with me. And especially at a time where there's so much cross-pollination of genres. So moving forward it’s going to get hard, to start defining what is what. But everybody knows the foundation of the sound, but it's evolving so fast.
Very fast and very quickly. It's exciting to see as well, especially as someone who's not in Nigeria at the moment. There's a big buzz around Nigeria and Nigerian music.
Yeah. True, true, true. That's true. Not too long ago we just had our first Grammy for an Afropop album with Burna Boy. So that's opening the door to so many things, you know, like it could be anybody next year. It could be Rema, it could be me. It could be, you know, it could be literally anyone, it opens the door for so much more. So now there's a lot of eyes on Africa, you know, the African scene.
I think people have varying opinions when it comes to how to share Nigerian music. So there are a lot of people that want to keep it very much like ‘this is Nigerian and this is for Nigeria. I'm making it because I'm inspired by Nigeria’. And then others want to broadcast what's been made in Nigeria, out towards the world. So where do you think you stand?
I'm very, very much Nigerian. But me making music is not trying to get the music out to the world but bringing the world to my music. I don’t know if that makes sense. I don't see myself watering down my sound or whatnot to appease another audience because I don't think others did that for me to like their music so it doesn’t overwhelm me. I still believe in the idea that music is a feeling. Art is a feeling, and you don't need to understand the language I'm speaking in, you just need to feel it. You know, I don't know any of the lyrics to Despacito, but you know, if they play I will be there. See, if I want to make a song and I feel that that song should be in my native language- if that’s what my spirit tells me to do, or pushes me to, that's what I will do. I don't make music thinking, ‘oh will people like this sound?’ Instead, I’m like how does this make me feel, ‘cause if you feel strong enough then that feeling is infectious, people would get infected by it, you know? So I don't see the need to water down my sound to appeal to Western audiences.
I also wanted to ask about your involvement or the role that you take on within your music. The song that made me curious is Dreams of Yesterday (an instrumental track). Do you do a lot of production when it comes to music as well?
I offer ideas. Well most of my tape I didn't produce but I know how to produce. That’s because there was a place I was trying to reach and I felt like I couldn't reach it by myself. So I had to reach out to people that I felt were more musically inclined than I am. So the type of music I'm doing right now is very rhythmic. It can be free to me at times. A lot of pop songs water down the musicality and whatnot, but I would say I still like my stuff ‘musical’. So, you know, It wasn't produced by me but I had ideas. Like I offered ideas.
It's refreshing actually to hear someone say that to get to where they wanted to be, they needed help. Because there's nothing wrong with admitting that I think a lot more artists should really admit that instead of struggling. Does that mean that there is a tape coming up?
Yeah. So Longé is part of a body of work. It’s titled Ilẹkẹ. I have another single coming up and then probably after that single, you’ll probably get the project.
Is there anything else that you could tell me about the project? Maybe the name?
So when you look at Ilẹkẹ in any native language in Nigeria, which is Yoruba, ilẹkẹ means waistbeads. At the time that I made these songs I had this kind of situationship going on and I was really infatuated with the person. And I just wanted to make a body of work that showed how I felt in terms of the infatuation and the sensuality. There’s a lot going on on the tape, you know. Even in Longé - it’s a rhythmic song but if you listen to the lyrics I’m still trying to get the girl to talk to me, dance with me. I'm trying to get her to open up in the song.
My last question is going to be, what's the main thing that you want to achieve in your music career?
Hmm, that's a wonderful question. The main thing I want to achieve in my music career is to recreate the same thing or the same feeling I felt when I listened to people that inspired me to start music. I feel like I have a bundle of talent and I’m Christian so I’m going to use the Parable of the guy that was given talents and then didn’t make use of it and multiply it. So I feel like if I'm given this bundle of talent, it’s somewhat my duty and obligation to put myself out there so that I can inspire the next generation. So 10 years from now, I want to listen to the radio and hear young kids be like, ‘oh, this guy, this guy is thinking of something, or he's singing the melody that sounds like what I used to do back in my days, like back when I was starting’. That is literally why I do this. Because 10, 15 years from now, I want to hear someone say, ‘these kids, they sound like Bryann’. It’s like how Drake has inspired a whole load of artists. Even the Kanye sound, you know, like you can hear the effect of Kanye, like it’s evident in some of Travis Scott’s music, even though they don't make the exact same type of music. He branched out but you can still hear the Kanye influence going on in the music. I think that is the greatest joy for any artist. It’s like being a parent, like you see your kids doing things because you built that foundation for them and guided them through it, even though they can branch out to do their own thing because they are their own person at the end of the day, that foundation is still there. So that would be the greatest thing for me.