The Kenyan Artist, Xenia Manasseh, has been a unique representation of R&B music to her fans and many households, performing and penning down songs for some of the industry’s big names, making her a prolific purveyor of soulful tunes. For Imullar, we had a conversation with Xenia about her craft, writing skills, and music background.
Hey Xenia, congratulations on the release of your project. Coming from an R&B fan, that’s one of the most soothing projects I’ve heard all year. How important is this project to you personally? From your view, considering the level of emotions there, your recording process and all, and you finding yourself in your “I can do anything era”, how special is Love/Hate to you?
Xenia Manasseh: Aww, Thank you!!! I’d say every project feels just as special to me as the last. Love/Hate at the moment is special to me because it shows me how much I have grown as a person from when I wrote it to now. I feel like as it continues to find its space in the world I’m going to find more things about it that make it even more special to me but I am more than happy to listen to the project now and know that I am not in the space that I was in when I wrote most of that project. Save for songs like Soul Lovers or Temporary Love that are more hopeful. I am glad I can listen to all my music that has come out and see the change in the way I see and value myself.
Your music background is a rich one, a graduate of Berkley College of Music, majoring in Music Business and Management, and feeding on heavy Neo-Soul sounds. Ideally, you are the perfect embodiment of artistry. How has the journey been for you? And most importantly, how supportive has your family been with these decisions that have shaped your life? I have interviewed many artists, and it’s mostly them being “rebellious” to chase their dreams, without the support of family, what was yours like?
Xenia Manasseh: Haha, I wouldn’t use the word rebellious however I seem to have always leaned into what I thought was best for me and done it. As I think about it now I don’t know how much of a choice or how much room I’ve given them to not be in support of my journey lol However, they have come with me for the entire ride and I would like to believe they are enjoying it just as much as I do. It’s been incredible and the less expectations I have the better it gets.
I admire your writing skills a lot, you ink down your emotions with more vulnerability, a trademark that dwells in every top R&B artiste, what is your recording process like? Your approach toward a writing/recording session?
Xenia Manasseh: Thank you so much! My process is different depending on the day. Sometimes I just get in the booth and freestyle, sometimes I pick from my journal, all things that I’ve noticed rely on my first instinct because the thoughts and words that come out are 99% of the time my raw unfiltered emotions. Any time I find myself getting stuck during my writing process I always return to my first instinct and can always move forward. I do try to have my voice memos on most of the time just in case because every now and then (but not often) I forget, but I don’t know hey, I just like to be in the moment and whatever happens happens as long as I allow myself to release.
Speaking of penning skills, you’ve penned down songs for top acts like Burna Boy, Teyana Taylor, and Mr. Eazi, amongst them, which was more challenging, and how did you see it through?
Xenia Manasseh: Writing has always been fun! Did all of it with no idea where it would end up except for Mr. Eazi which was intentional.
Love/Hate is an expansive debut, a showcase of everything impressive about the music you’ve been making that has historically made your work feel so vital. It has all types of feelings listeners can relate to, is there anything specific about the album you want people to know?
Xenia Manasseh: I keep saying this and won’t stop, acceptance of self is paramount. Be kind to yourself and learn from your experiences, there’s so much to learn.
My favorite guest feature verse on the album is Shalom’s verse on “Late Night Check Up”. What was your first impression after hearing it?
Xenia Manasseh: I cried! We were recording it in the studio together in Lagos and I cried 😀
Are we ever going to witness a Xenia live show in Ghana?
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