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The creativity, the enigma… Who is Alex Parvenu? Part 1

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I’ve been following up and coming British artist Alex Parvenu’s career since around 2014 when he was the frontman of then college band ‘The Clef Truants’, being managed by the ‘First Lady’ of UK Garage royalty, So Solid Crew’s Lisa Maffia. Fast forward a few years and we both happened to be in New York around the same time, so I agreed to interview him at his current management’s request. I was sent a number of records beforehand that Parvenu has been working on over the last few years, but I was told this was the “old stuff” that would probably never be released. My question was, why make the records to this high standard if they would never be released? His management sighed over the phone and explained how Parvenu has spent a surplus amount bringing in some of the best musicians to play on his records, only to decide a few months down the line, he wants to start over. Apparently this happens often. I ask if this is why it’s taken so long to complete his debut EP, his management hesitates to answer, then quickly changes the subject to discuss the arrangements for the interview day. I’m sat in a little chic coffee shop in Downtown Brooklyn, waiting for Alex to arrive for his interview, when I get a phone call from his manager informing me he’s running a half hour behind schedule. They’re stuck in traffic, enroute to me having just left the studio. I’m excited nonetheless, as I can hear an ‘Alex Parvenu’ record playing in the background, blaring through the car’s sound system. I wonder to myself if this is the “new stuff”. I’m always excited to discover new talent before they become known to the world, and in the case of Alex Parvenu, since I’ve been following his career for the last four or so years, I’ve grown increasingly intrigued by his enigmatic aura. They arrive twenty minutes late (not thirty) and I hit the record button. See Part I of the interview below. Ameyaw​​: Hey you guys finally made it! Alex: ​​Hey nice to meet you man, apologies, I didn’t want to leave the studio ​[laughter]​ you know how it gets bro. Ameyaw:​​ I thought we might have to reschedule, it’s a busy week for me, were you stuck in traffic? Alex: ​​Right, that too…the traffic ​[more laughter] Ameyaw:​​ Anyway, let’s get down to business. Please, take a seat. Your hair…​[laughter]​ it’s incredible! Alex: ​​Thank you, I appreciate that man. It ain’t easy. ​[laughter]

Ameyaw:​​ You do it yourself? Alex:​​ Nah I have a stylist out in Rockaways who created the look. Heirgotti, he’s pretty dope. Ameyaw:​​ Amazing! Alex:​​ Man, it takes like half an hour to style in the morning. I’d rather just put a big hat on to be honest ​[laughter] Ameyaw:​​ It’s a good look, very avant garde. Alex:​​ Cheers bro, we call it ‘The Parvenu’ ​[laughter] Ameyaw:​​ Okay, okay, so what’s happening with the music? When do we get to hear something? Alex:​​ Man, that’s a good question. I think maybe next year? Ameyaw:​​ What! As in 2019? I thought your manager said later this year? Alex:​​ Did I say that? ​[laughter]​ To be honest with you, I think we agreed…something this year. Not a single or anything, just like an introductory song. Ameyaw:​​ That’s what I like to hear. You know those of us who have been following since the Clef Truants have waited like four years. Alex: ​​Yea, I don’t think we’ve agreed on what song yet, but I agree, it’s time to let people hear some of what I’ve been working on. Ameyaw:​​ Right. Would you say you’re a bit of a perfectionist? Alex:​​ I wouldn’t say that, no, but I like things to sound…how I want them to. Ameyaw:​​ The stuff I’ve heard sounds great. Alex:​​ What did you hear? ​[Laughter] [Stretches head to his right to look over at his manager, seated a few tables away on the comfy sofa] Ameyaw:​​ Don’t worry! I only heard the old stuff apparently. But If you don’t release it, I will release it for you myself! ​[Laughter] Alex: ​​[Laughter]​ I appreciate you taking the time out to listen. I tell you what it is. A lot of the time I worry about…little things bother me. It could be how a snare is EQ-ed, or I need tambourines or an egg shaker playing 16ths in the chorus, or I wanna change a lyric or BV arrangements. Little things like that I guess create hold ups. Ameyaw: ​​See, you’re a perfectionist! We might just have to force the art out of your hand. Alex:​​ I don’t know about all of that. Not so much a perfectionist…maybe an experimentalist. Some of the songs have like three or four versions. We play them differently, record them differently, mix them differently. It’s art. You have to experiment with art, before you get the desired result. Ameyaw: ​​I understand. So what are you doing in New York? You’re only here for a few days right? Alex:​​ Yea man we flew in on Sunday night, and getting back to London Wednesday. Working on new music, getting stuff mixed. You know, the usual stuff. Was very last minute this time, I didn’t even get to tell my New York peeps I’m here. Ameyaw: ​​I see. I really like what I’m hearing though! It’s all live instrumentation too? Alex:​​ Thank you brother. I appreciate that. It’s like 90-95% live. I programme some of the drums and the rhythm section, and layer the live drums with samples sometimes, but it’s pretty much mostly live. Got some dope musicians playing on these records. Ameyaw: ​​I could hear. How would you describe your sound? Alex:​​ Definitely motown is the backbone of what I do. Then I guess you have a little bit of everything else, soul, reggae, jazz, funk, hip hop. It’s alternative soul. Ameyaw: ​​What was that animation video I got sent for? Alex:​​ Oh he sent you that too? ​[Shakes head].​ We created that for one of my records ‘It Wasn’t Me’, I think that might be a good one to put out first. ​[Laughter]​ That way I don’t have to be in the video. Ameyaw: ​​Oh you’re camera shy? Alex:​​ Man I hate cameras. I think I’d rather be behind the camera than in front. Ameyaw: ​​Interesting. But yes, the animation was a good watch! You have Kim and Kanye in there, Wayne and Birdman, Eminem, Amy Winehouse ​[Laughter]​ . And the music was very soulful. Reminds me of Curtis Mayfield or Ceelo Green. Alex:​​ Man, I had so much fun creating it with the animator. And there are so many cultural, social, and musical references in there…that’s like a whole other interview to unpick. Ameyaw: ​​I can imagine. Alex:​​ Yea bro, and Curtis and Ceelo are some of my favs, so I’m happy you said that…we definitely trying to make music which transcends time. Ameyaw: ​​I’m going to go off topic for a minute. Alex:​​ Okay? Ameyaw: ​​You recently supported UK Soul pioneer, ‘Hil St Soul’, at ‘Nell’s Jazz and Blues’ in London. I was reading a review online. It mentions you recently broke up with somebody… Alex:​​ Wow. Yea.​ [Pauses to take several sips from tea cup]. W​ hat? What are you asking me? Ameyaw: ​​Can we go there? What happened? Alex:​​ It’s still all very fresh. ​[Blows into teacup]. ​What’d you wanna know? Stay tuned for Part II and Part III of the interview in the coming weeks….]]>

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Comfort Arthur shares more details inside the making of her animated Malaria film, “The Underestimated Villain”

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British-born Ghanaian animator, graphic designer, visual artist and editor, Comfort Arthur, has shared her inspiration behind her new body of work, “The Underestimated Villain” an animated film seeking to provide information on Malaria. (more…)

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Gospel singer QueenLet share how her SOKAAT music genre is making impact on lives

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Rising gospel artist, QueenLet, is gradually making waves on both local and international music scenes with her Soaking and Atmospheric (SOKAAT) music genre. (more…)

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How American tour operator, Rashad McCorey found a creative solution to tourism during COVID-19

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The tourism industry was one of the most affected during the COVID-19 pandemic but for American tour operator, Rashad McCorey it was a blessing in disguise.
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INTERVIEW: From Ghana to Italy and back, Shadowboy Myzic recounts his almost decade-long journey, new single ft. Kelvyn Boy and more

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The Ghanaian-Italian Afrobeat star may not be one you’ve heard enough of, but with his new single ‘Better’ out now, the floodgates are officially open. He’s keen on bridging the gap between Europe and African music; particularly through Afrobeat and his latest release featuring Kelyvn Boy is the plug.
Join us, as Shadowboy Myzic expounds on his enigmatic name and self, all down to a fiery Italian freestyle.
Enjoy.

Thanks for making time for us Shadowboy Myzic. It’s always a joy to host a new face. We can’t help but ask, why Shadowboy Myzic? What’s the story behind such an enigmatic name?
The name Shadowboy Myzic is spiritual blessing from my lovely mother. She used to call me (sunsum) when I was a child simply because my mother is very known in the city of Palermo and a market woman. She owns African shops and restaurants in Palermo. In my childhood, I was the personal assistant to my mother, whenever she goes out of the shop, I assist her until she returns. During that period, being a child growing I need time to play with my friends so as soon as I see my mother returns, I have to vanish to join my friends to play and the old woman will look for me everywhere but will not find me then she will be like you are indeed (sunsum) because you can vanish in a twinkle of an eye. From there I got ‘’sunsum’’ attached to my name.

Looking for a stage name, I felt ‘’sunsum’’ was a blessing from my mother because our shadows follow us everywhere. That’s where I got Shadowboy and Myzic simply means in our own interpretation, (my music). That’s where Shadowboy Myzic was generated.

You featured Kelyvn Boy on your new single, ‘Better’ and some fans may be wondering; “Who’s this new guy?” Mind telling us about yourself and Myzic Empire?
Daniel Kyei is my name, I was born in Ghana and raised in Palermo, Italy. I started writing music at the age of 9 but I got my first opportunity to record at the age of 18 – my first mixtape which then gave me the energy to do more and also set up a record label called Myzic Empire Records. Thanks to my first mixtape that I launched in 2012, I got some attention from my community Palermo where I got lots of compliments but no one was ready to give me a big push so I continued slowly with my friend, Kwamzizy who was the only one who supported me in when I needed to shoot videos for my mixtapes back then. In our little ways we managed to get noticed by some people in our city where we grew up but it wasn’t enough to get to the big platforms.

Despite these difficulties, I continued to push my music 24/7 through the DJ nights and shows I use to play in Palermo. Thank God in 2017 my manager, Mr. Kenneth decided to take me, my music and Myzic Empire to another level. The same year 2017 I released my first single recorded in a professional studio with a music video which revived everything. The single was titled ‘Higher’.

In 2018, I launched an EP titled ‘’Genesis’’. With that EP, the whole Team Myzic Empire and myself went on tour in Ghana for some works and radio tour. In Ghana we managed to connect to some artists and people in the industry where we did some jobs and many other things. In 2019 on our return to Italy, though, we stopped releasing due to studies and some other things, I always continued to work hard for my music and on many other projects that soon the world will witness.

In 2020, I released some freestyles whiles planning on releasing my new projects, all of a sudden Coronavirus shut the world down. The pandemic got me paused, but at the same time got me work harder on many other projects at home. During the pandemic, I was at home with a Ghanaian producer called, Almighty Streetbeatz whom was in my city at that time we worked and created a lot of good music for the world.
This is a little about me and Myzic Empire.

9 years is a long time to be doing music. Any experiences or advice you’d like to share?
Absolutely, yes 9 years is a long time, but as I said in my previous answer the main reason was because, I did not have enough support at that time and I think everything has it’s time and God was still preparing me for the world. My little advice to all my fellow young artist is, do look down on yourself, give you your talent a chance to work though you, be humble and respectful.

Is there any other artist in the diaspora you’re keen on working with soon apart from Kelyvn Boy?

Yes, I would like to collaborate with all the possible artists with whom I can. I’m opened and ready to work with any artist so we can explore the Afro music in Italy, Europe and the globe.

How receptive have Italians been of your music and Afrobeat in general? Enlighten us.

Doing Afro songs in Italy was very difficult back then. The majority of the population of Italians was ignorant about our culture, the rhythm of the Afro songs sounded very wired to their hearing because of the language barrier. Now thank God things are changing, new things are being learnt and the Italians are ready to accept the Afro music in so many ways, that’s why my team and I thought of strategizing the ways of productions by mixing multiple tongues to also make it favorable for everyone to understand my communications with them through my music.

I can gladly say I’m welcomed everywhere I go in Italy especially in my city (Palermo) where this adventure of mine started. The new generation have accepted and embrace Afro music, thanks to our hard work now you can hear Afro music playing in Italian clubs, parties, restaurants, bars, shopping malls etc. I’m so grateful for this day.

We doubt learning Italian was a walk in the park, especially coming from an Anglophone and Asante background. Gist us.

Hehehe :). Oh, frankly speaking, Italian language one of the most beautiful, sexiest and jovial languages I’ve ever known on earth, though it’s difficult to learn, I love and I’m very proud of myself that I can speak, read and write this language. The importance is knowing how to eat and dress Italian will bring your back from the park into an Italian classroom, hahahahahahaa.

Now, the moment everyone’s been waiting for. Mind free styling in Italian for us?

Sputo fuoco come un drago Sono cercato come un ladro Non mi prendi fossi mato Nella moto vado vrom
Con gli amici vroom vroom

Sono il nero siciliano
Suona strano, molto strano Sono il nero siciliano (huh)

Ho visto la morte lo visto sul ponte
Mi ha reso forte c’è scritto sulla fronte

Divina commedia e stato come Dante Non parlo tanto tu sai chi hai di fronte

Haha. That’s a mouthful. Any big plans before 2021 ends? What moves are you making and how can fans keep tabs you?

Yes, I have many projects in progress. I am working on some projects which will be released soon. This one with Kelvyn Boy is one of the first but after that we will fly with lots of other works. Though I still have a long way to go, this does not disempower me because my mind is made up to do good music and my new projects are something new in Italy, Africa and it will be new in the whole universe soon so I invite all my fans and everyone to supporter and fasten their belts, we are about to start.

Listen to Shadowboy Myzic’s new single ‘Better’ featuring Kelvyn Boy here: https://afrisounds.lnk.to/ShadowBetter and watch the video below.

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INTERVIEW: Dove Nicol opens up on her adventure so far, debut single and more

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Dove Nicol, a new and probably the most exciting artist to grace the Ghanaian music scene is confident in winning fans over with her debut single ‘Calm Down’. She’s dedicated to becoming one of Ghana’s most streamed artists and with a voice as authentic as hers, the songbird is all set.

Dove Nicol’s rise from Sierra Leone to Ghana is a unique adventure worthwhile and in this exclusive interview, we take time to explore her very lively character as she updates us on the adventure so far and her debut single, among other gists.

 

Hello Dove and welcome. It’s great to have you around. Like every music fan out there, I’m quite curious. Who is Dove Nicol? Blow our mind.

Dove Nicol is a creative, a pioneer who believes in the power of the African sound, music, culture, heritage and its influence in the world stage. I believe Africa is on the rise and we are living in the era of the African creative industries global domination and worldwide takeover and as a creative blessed by God with the talent of music, I am merely just playing my own part in the fulfillment of this reality.

You’re finally out with your debut single ‘Calm Down’, mind sharing the story behind it?

‘Calm Down’ is a song about love and relationships. The idea behind it places focus on the internal struggles we go through as lovers. It places focus on two sides of a spectrum. On the one hand, you hear the willingness of both partners wanting to love each other and be loved. And on the other, the anxiety and uneasiness that comes with the feelings of mistrust and insecurities that they have both experienced from past relationships which overshadows their ability to fully love and fall in love with each other. The chorus then comes in to serve as a stress reliever telling both parties to calm down, just be at peace and fall into love with each other. The song generally gives a soothing peaceful feeling to the ear.

It seems you were destined to have a career in music growing up. How is it going and what has your greatest challenge since taking it head on been?

Yes, I do believe I was meant for music and it has been the source of my livelihood since I was a child. If I’m been honest, I have received several challenges along the way to getting here. The biggest challenge I believe is getting others to believe in your dreams as much as you do. I can see the vision of where I want to go and who I can become but because I do not have the resources or avenue to get people to see that possibility, it’s hard and sometimes almost impossible to get others to believe in that dream too.

Alot of people only want to be a part of your success, when you have achieved it but are not willing to help you get there. The journey can really be a great struggle for a lot of aspiring artists who have the talent for it but no external backing to let their voices be heard. For me, I was only able to defeat this challenge through perseverance, the Grace of God and my belief in myself to continue going-on no matter the odds.

Are there any Ghanaian artists you admire and hope to work with sometime soon?

There are a lot of Ghanaian artists out there that have really helped shape the future of Ghanaian music and their relentlessness and tireless efforts have paved the way for emerging artists like me to go after our goals. People like Efya, Sarkodie, Shatta Wale, Stonebwoy, Kofi Antwi, Bibie Brew, Wiyalaa, Kwesi Arthur, King Promise and many many more talented souls I will definitely see myself working with during the course of my journey in the industry.

Beyond the world of music, where else does your passion lie?

Beyond music I have always aspired to become a philanthropist and a humanitarian. I want to create charitable organizations and help children that are less privileged to achieve a better future. Africa has the largest youth population and majority of them are multi-talented in areas they themselves are not even aware of. If only we had more institutions that can cater to the needs of less privileged children and our youths growing up, our economy will flourish immensely.

What is a day in your life is like?

A day in the life of Dove is typical – wakeup, pray, shower, eat and eat a lot, do my daily routines, some reading, attend to any business calls or meetings I may have during the course of the day and make time to speak with family before the end of the day. Oh, and go to the gym at least 4 times a week to keep fit.

There’s still a lot of ground to cover in 2021. What are your plans? Should fans expect more?

Yes, definitely. Expect a lot from Dove in 2021 but expect a lot more from Dove in 2022. I want my supporters to know that I’m ready and prepared. ‘Calm Down’ was just the ice breaker. I have a ton of creative content ready to flood the market. It’s just a matter of timing. But in due time they shall receive all that I have to offer and will get to know more and more about me as my story unfolds.

I can’t wait to meet the world and for the world to meet Dove. It’s going to be a productive year definitely.

 

Dove Nicol’s ‘Calm Down’ is available on all digital streaming platforms globally here: https://lnk.to/dovenicol-calmdown/

 

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Onyeka Nwelue captures E.T Mensah’s pioneering role in highlife music in controversial biopic, ‘Other Side of History’

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Nigerian author and filmmaker, Onyeka Nwelue continues production for his upcoming biopic, ‘Other Side of History’, after wrapping up with additional scenes shot in Ghana. (more…)

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