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Producer, Artiste and Alté Culture: A Conversation with Oshunda

Born out of experimentation and fusion of diverse genres of music, Alté music has grown since its early beginnings in Lagos, Nigeria. Now, some African countries can boast of homegrown Alté music acts pushing the sound into its next level of world domination. Among the rich Ghanaian crop of Alté music acts is the enigma, Oshunda. From his first single in 2020 to his latest project titled March Like The Weather, Oshunda has drifted along the expanse of experimental music, blessing his growing fanbase with gems such as Battle Angel, Kiss and Tears, and Joystick. Despite his well-received album titled Lana’s Diary in 2022, which garnered him a lot of attention among alternative music listeners, Oshunda has remained out of the eye of the media and is known for his music alone. He is now ready to step out into the limelight with his latest project. Get to know the man behind the sounds.

What does Oshunda mean and tell me why you go by that name.

I made that name up after listening and biking to Frank Oceans’ Blonde on my phone throughout the summer of 2019 and Oshunda simply means light as my real name or the depth of emotions. To be honest it can mean anything you feel from my music. That’s Oshunda. 

Take us through your past. How did your journey with music begin?

I started producing in 2016 out of curiosity and triumphantly I’m the cat that lived. I loved and still love hip-hop and R&B. They meant everything to me. Having to learn lyrics by hearing them without having Genius and access to that stuff that provided lyrics was me. Eventually, my curiosity led me to ponder on beats and I started to practise. All I did after school was practice beats on my mum’s laptop and still keep up with homework and grades. It made me grow up fast too. I had already been hanging around older people since childhood but this added to that and I had a path and vision of this art form. It brought me so much joy just searching through FL Studio and watching tutorials and out of this came something special that 9 years later is still standing. In addition, I am an artist now with all glory to God. 

Congratulations on the release of your project! Can you share the inspiration behind “March Like The Weather”

Thank you! Eli, my creative manager and the person I talk to almost daily called me just as we were settling into 2024. He just FaceTimed me and we spoke about the past year and where he sees the music going this year. We have so many conversations on everything and he’s like my bigger brother so I take his word on some things he says, he’s like Pharrell and I’m Tyler but it’s interchangeable because we learn a lot from each other. After he shared that I knew where to take it. I dived into my love for R&B. Specifically, the 2000s where it was very much flaunting of wealth and all that as well as love. I aimed at that and built a team around me that I knew would be the vehicle to where this project was going.

How does MLTW differ from your usual in terms of musical style and themes?

Coming off my usual Alté and other experimental music, I needed to step away from what comes naturally to me and challenge myself to make something I would love to hear on the radio. The same way I loved SWV’s “Right Here” as a kid. So I needed to make music that felt very much like that and had a structured story. These songs are thoughts I never said to certain people I had talking stages with. Even though I’ve never been in a relationship, these talking stages involve heightened emotions that easily get displaced. So I channeled that and prior conversations with people about relationships into the project. The production too called for a different Oshunda where I was even more meticulous with everything sound-wise. Also, it was recorded in a recording studio instead of my bedroom so that was also a new experience.

Ghana’s music scene is vibrant and diverse. How do you feel the alternative genre is evolving within the country?

Well, the alternative music scene has always been around within every person, it just depends on how you convey it.  Maybe there is somebody in this world who likes to listen to one genre, but I don’t believe that. I believe we all have a plethora of genres that we listen to and the ones that are bold enough to kind of like go in that direction they go. Ghana is birthing some of the most promising acts in the alternative scene. We have the boss herself, Ria Boss, and Amaarae who are pioneers in this space undeniably being themselves and excelling at it. From SuperJazzClub to 99Phaces, Khalfina, to Cuba, and other amazing artists doing their thing in the space. It is promising and it’s going to spread. I’m just seeing it and I’m like this is very important to the kids who are coming up to know that, “You don’t need to do one genre which is Afrobeats to be heard but Afrobeats is that vehicle being used to take us where we want to get to so that people also discover that we have other sounds” It’s quite exciting to think about.

Can you walk us through your creative process when producing tracks for MLTW?

Well, It depends on how I feel in that moment, and because I was guided by a story I had to make sure I had a song for each emotion in that story. When it comes to producing in general, I’m able to see certain colors in my head that cater to certain feelings that drive the songs. I might even wake up singing a certain melody out of nowhere and I dive straight into it. For this, it wasn’t that different either. I took time to get the songs I felt would fit in the world I was trying to create. Initially, I wanted a lot of people to work on the production of this project but everyone had their own thing going on and waiting wasn’t an option. I am always ready to take it all on my back until God sends someone my way. However, a producer friend, K.Tones, helped with the intro, and that energized me to carry on. I produced all the songs and just wrote to them right after.

Are there any particular artists or experiences that significantly influenced the sound of this project?

Definitely. From The Neptunes in the 2000s, SWV, Aaliyah, Da Bassment, and Brent Faiyaz. Experiences are just what I’ve been through and other situations as well.

As a purely Alte artist, what is your relationship with the Alte community in Nigeria and its pioneers?

I thank God for the relationship I have with most of them and how rewarding it is to have some of them just give me advice, ask my opinion, or even comment on things I post. 2020 was such a pivotal year because  Ientered the scene with no face to my name and they embraced my music from Odunsi to Santi to Mowalola to Gmk and Genio and a whole lot of them who I truly respect and admire. I’ve just been blessed to be known by them and work with them. I’m forever grateful. As for the community that’s my family they are always there to intake the music and ask for more. It’s all so surreal sometimes.

Collaborations can add unique flavors to a project. Which artists or producers did you work with on this project?

So for producers, K. Tones did the intro and MikeMillz worked on the recording and arranging process at his studio. For the artist, I called on my friends. Swan Lingo, who I’ve always admired due to his distinct tone and vibe, Cuba, who was there throughout all the sessions we did for the project and finally BuMan who’s just always a call away and pops up almost every month to let me know what’s up with everything.

How do you balance traditional Ghanaian musical elements with contemporary sounds in your music?

Growing up in Ghana and knowing the history of our music has always been a delight to me. Learning the roots of Afrobeats lies here, pushed me to incorporate and lightly mirror some grooves and feelings they had in the music back then into mine. If you listen closely you can draw them to each other. However, this year I’m working on traditional pieces of music from the Volta region where I’m from. I would also shortly like to work with Jembaa Groove as they keep that raw highlife sound alive and speak the local dialect in the music. I would love to showcase that I can compose for a fashion show when I get the opportunity to handle the sound for one of them. LV call me hahaha! 

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What has been the most challenging aspect of creating and releasing this EP during the current music industry landscape?

When we began, it was all lovely, and I got to bond with so many beautiful people on the team. Shoutout to Eli, Cuba, Mike, Swan, Bu, Robert, Erica, Broks, and Nicole. They all held me at the times I was almost running crazy. The mastering process was very draining mentally and physically. After all, it laid on me to do that and get it to where we envisioned it. Everyone was on me because they knew where we were aiming for. However, we made do with what we had and got it a few centimetres closer to our desired image. Next time we go all out and with an even bigger team with helping hands. This experience also birthed my newfound love for making a creative community which can be seen on the cover art back as HRTS & DMNDS (Hearts and Diamonds) but that’s soon to come so that’s all I can say.

Looking ahead, what are your goals for your music career, and what can fans expect next from you?

With all the work and prayers that went into what we have now and how far I’ve come, I know it’s only up from here. I’m such an introvert and I recently found out I have imposter syndrome but these two things drive me so much as well. it has its other side effects which aren’t rewarding but it gets the job done. In a few years from now, it will be difficult to get away from the name Oshunda. My team and I would be everywhere. The music and our talents will take us places we’ve never even dreamed of. I’m working at being the most versatile and genre-bending creative, the final touch to every piece. The awards will come, the money will come, the credibility will be attached, and the world will be graced with my talent and drive. With all these on their way one thing I know is the world is mine and God blessed me with the light to shine bright enough.

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The iMullar is the voice of emerging African music and the lifestyle that surrounds it, showcasing exceptional talent from all around the globe focused on promoting the most distinctive new artists and original sounds, we are the authority on who is next.