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Singer Viv May is the one to watch

BRIGHT LIGHT: Viv May’s EP promises some interesting collaborations

Q: How did you get into music?

VM: My earliest memory of being into music was listening to The Bodyguard soundtrack on repeat. I put my poor older brothers and parents through mini-concerts where I’d sing along to each song! As I got older, I started writing my own songs and performing in schools and at youth clubs and I’ve just continued ever since.

Q: What was your upbringing like?

VM: I am the youngest child in the family, and the only girl, so I had the best upbringing with my three older brothers. Most of my time was spent playing football, netball and taking part in athletics. I’m actually the only singer in my family but there was always music playing in my house and it’s been a huge part of all our lives.

Q: How does your culture and upbringing influence your taste in music?

VM: Well, I’m Nigerian so I love afrobeats and old school African songs. My memories of most family gatherings are filled with lively music and a lot of dancing. Also, being born and raised in east London, has had a massive influence on me as where I’m from, everyone listened to 90s R&B, hip-hop, pop, dance and old school garage – and of course legends like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.

Q: How would you describe your sound?

VM: I’d say my sound is soulful vocal, infectious melodies and lots of energy.

Q: What made you decide to develop the remix competition for Don’t’ Make Me Say It where producers could submit different beats for that particular song?

VM: I wanted people to come to me and I knew for a fact that there are a lot of talented producers out there who could take the song to the next level. However, it’s not always easy to get their attention without an incentive so I created one.

I reached out to Pointblank, an awarding-winning music production school, and got the backing of SynthMaster and Samplephonics who all agreed to sponsor a remix competition. Instead of chasing down producers, a pool of talented people came to me.

Q: Social media has arguably made it easier for people to connect. How do you continue to utilise it as a means to progress your own career?

VM: Speaking from the perspective of a creative, I think social media has really put the power back into the individual’s hands. For example, I remember going around to record labels with my friends and handing out demos as a teen, meeting producers was by word of mouth only and hearing about competitions was all through the grapevine.

It was so hard to be seen and heard back then but now it’s a click away. I find Instagram, Twitter and Soundcloud really useful for finding musicians, producers, writers and other artists, and a number of people have found me via social media.

Q: There was a time where black British singers dominated (Jamelia, Shola Ama, Gabrielle, Emeli Sande, Corrine Bailey Rae etc.) but that has seemingly dwindled. Why do you think that is?

VM: I think those artists all have a very unique style, which is why everyone remembers them. In music, there are always waves where different sounds and artists are at the forefront and I think those artists mentioned really stand out.

I also think those amazing soulful black British singers like Beverly Knight, Sade and Des’ree had a massive influence on female artists who came later and they paved the way for the people you hear on the radio today. I personally have been massively influenced by their powerful voices and them being British too – it was great to know that you didn’t have to look outside of the country to be inspired.

Q: Image versus talent. These days, artists sometimes rely heavily more on one than the other. What is your approach to your image and how does it tie in with your music?

VM: For me, music is king. There is no substitute for quality music so this always comes first. However, there’s no denying that music and image go hand in hand so for me image is important. As an artist, how you feel has a lot to do with what you wear.

I want to feel strong, confident and at my best when I’m on stage, in the studio or even when I attend meetings so I style myself in a way that makes me feel all of those things. Usually with heels and lipstick and then we figure out the rest depending on the day and my mood!

Q: What can we expect from you this year?

VM: My debut EP an online project that fuses music and acting and some very exciting collaborations.

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