|On episode two of Leading Vibe Radio, Tems, Tunji and Muyiwa explore ‘The Other Side’ of humanity as they talk self-awareness, fear, celebrity, therapy and empathy. The Nigerian artist shares her motivations for making music, more stories from her childhood and advice for creatives on remaining honest and authentic with their work.|
Key quotes from the episode and image below. If you’re able to use, please credit to Leading Vibe Radio with Tems on Apple Music 1.
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Tems On The Theme Of This Week’s Episode – ‘The Other Side
’Everybody has anxieties. Everybody has issues. Why are we here? To share them. So that other people can maybe find something that would help them by just knowing that they’re not alone and that it can be overcome. And that there is a better life. And amongst all this misery, amongst all this chaos, there can be joy that can be found actually in life, just by you sharing your truth. And that’s why it’s important for you to share it.
Not think about what you think people want to hear, but what is actually real because somebody needs that real and the real cannot be replaced, there’s only one truth. That’s the most precious thing you can ever do, is to be completely honest. Not for you. I mean for you, but also for, most importantly, for others, for the next generation, for other people to make life better.
That’s what the other side is about. Things are never as they seem and… I feel like a lot of times people want to be distracted from their own lives. I challenge you to not be distracted from your life. I challenge you to look at yourself in the mirror, look at yourself, think about yourself, find yourself, love yourself, take care of yourself. I challenge you to do that. Don’t idolize anybody’s… You don’t have to think about what you are not doing or what you are afraid of. Face that fear and know that on the other side, there’s something amazing for you.
What is your understanding of fear, and how would you differentiate between being a ‘Doer’ and A ‘Viewer’?
I think the difference between a doer and a viewer is fear. I think the only difference between me and somebody that can also sing, that nobody knows right now, that has never released any kind of music at all, is fear.
Just putting yourself out there is fear that separates us, and a lot of people that do view other people really speak and judge based on how they see themselves. And a lot of the things that people say, a lot of the opinions that people have, are really based on a kind of low key jealousy that they’re not really able to put themselves out there. And they find confidence in being invisible. And the challenge is overcoming fear. The first challenge to becoming a doer is overcoming fear.
And then when you are now a doer, I feel like you are watching other people… judge what you are doing, even though they’re not doing anything at all. And the challenge is reminding yourself that their opinion doesn’t matter actually. And if they knew anything about life, they won’t be online speaking, they’ll be doing too.
What is it that people seem to misunderstand about the time you take between releasing music and what you focus on in your perceived silence?
People imagine themselves to be in your position, but don’t actually understand the actual work that goes into it. So everything that they say is based off of their imagination. One thing that a lot of people never notice until now is that the first half of every single year, since I ever released music is my time to work on myself, work on my music, do everything I need to do. And in that time it seems like, “Oh my God, what’s going on?” Nothing is going on. And people start talking because everybody is scared. It looks like they have something important to say, or they have something reasonable to say, but really it’s fear.
Do you think about how people will receive your music?
Honestly, I don’t. Maybe on the day that we’re releasing it, the day of, I’ll start looking for everything. Every reason why this song, this project should not be out. I’ll start thinking, oh my gosh, what have I done? I’ll start having last minute anxiety. And when I know I can’t do anything about it, it’s already something that is gone. Even if I said, oh, let’s not do it, I can’t actually stop it, but I just always decide all the time to have that last minute bout of drama. I just have some drama going on just before the 12 midnight, I’ll start acting dramatic. Just because it is my, “oh, it’s finally out” way of celebrating. It’s a ritual.
And they’re scared for me in quotes, but if you go to the roots of that, it’s really because they’re afraid of doing what they really want to do. And they feel like, “Oh, how can this person just be chilling? What is she doing?” But you actually don’t know what I do on a daily basis. You actually don’t know how my life actually is in real life; you can’t even fathom it. And if you were me, do you know whether you’d be alive? Do you know whether you wouldn’t have done something by now? Do you know whether you would’ve handled it better than me? Because you don’t know what I’ve seen or what I’ve gone through. And a lot of this is really self-projection. Just projecting your own fears.
How do you overcome fear?
Everybody has their personal… what they feel fear, what the result of fear is in their lives and how they see something. Or how they react to something that they’re afraid of. And I believe it’s really looking at yourself and asking yourself if this is something to be afraid of.
It really is just about looking at what it is and being honest with yourself. And a lot of times, what we think are afraid of is really not what it seems like on the surface. A lot of times there’s a root to that fear. There’s a, “oh, I’m afraid of getting fat. Am I afraid of getting fat? Or am I just afraid of not looking…” Or “do I just not believe in myself? Do I just not think I’m good enough?” Or “do I not just think that I will ever be good enough?” There’s always a deeper question. And then when you find that deeper question, you start to see yourself a bit more clearly. You start to see things a bit more clearly.
Apart from that, I really don’t. Do you think Picasso ever thought, “Hmm, I wonder if the way people think right now will stop them from understanding this art. Maybe I should draw something that people can receive well.” I don’t. I mean, imagine if he did that, and we probably would not know his name, which real artist thinks about how people would receive something? Even if you took the formula, the reason why everybody should like something, you still find people that absolutely hate it and absolutely cannot digest it and absolutely dislike it.
Even if I decided I’m going to do a project that’s hits only. According to what I think people think is a hit, I would do a project that’s hits only. Hits only. Hits only. It sounds mad. It sounds like a great idea. But when it comes out, there’ll be something that doesn’t quite gel. And it’s not just because I have become a slave to people’s opinions. It’s also that there’s nobody in this life that everybody likes.
There’s nobody. Art is an extension of you. Everybody cannot like your art because everybody cannot understand you. Everybody cannot receive what you’re trying to send. And what you’re really just trying to send is the truth from your eyes. How you see life, everybody can’t see how life, the way you see life. So why worry about whether they’ll see it from your perspective. If you don’t, you don’t, I’ll be fine either way. I’m still alive.
Do you actively make songs that will empower your listeners?
No. I don’t think that because you don’t think. Art is not something that is created out of thinking, it’s created out of doing. You just open your mouth and sing. When I freestyle, when I make things, when I made “Replay,” I literally just opened my mouth and I just started singing. I didn’t think about, “Oh, this is empowering.”
Even when I made “Free Mind,” I was dealing with a lot in my mind. And me, I was just releasing. I was just like, oh God. I was just feeling it deeply. I wasn’t thinking about anything. It’s not a thought process. You don’t think about breathing.
I would never regret anything I released because I know that came from my soul and that’s what is important. Every single song came from a true place. So the only way I can ever regret is if I do think, “Hmm, what would people like?” And then I release it and realize, that’s not me at all. Why did I do this? I don’t even believe the things I’m saying, why did I do this? And then I’m unhappy, while everybody’s happy. And everybody is feeling great with that song. And there’ll still be haters on that song too. But if that song now went up, now I know that I hate that song with my life.
Every time I perform it, I know it’s not me. And then I’ve trapped myself into a marriage with this song that I know I don’t really believe in. So who loses, who wins? Because the people that are listening to it, is it a win for them? Do they actually get anything tangible from that thing that isn’t true, from that song that isn’t your real life? So what was the point?
Some people’s way of creating is thinking about the masses. That’s perfectly fine. But for me and for any real artist, if you want to be happy, because you can have all the money in the world, you can have all the hits in the world and you’ll be miserable and you’ll be trapped because you now start feeling like you can’t express the real you after making so many hits. Then you can’t, you’re afraid to show people who you actually are. Because you feel they won’t accept you. And then you trap yourself in your mind and you live your life continuously miserable.
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