Tunde Olaniran can make any jaded heart swoon.
If you don’t like the nuanced hip hop/R&B electronics in his latest single “Cobra,” you’ll fall in love with his gritty rock band Taste This!, or his electropop duo Stereoluxx, or his remixes….the man doesn’t sleep.
He also moves a lot. He lived in Germany, England, and Nigeria, eventually settling in the notorious motor town of Flint, Michigan. He has opened for Robyn and Ebony Bones. He’s on the soundtrack for the Queen Latifah flick Just Wright. He’s in the midst of dropping a five-part solo album series.
Not surprisingly, he’s also our Artist of the Week.
Yes, Tunde is very busy. But the Nigerian American honey-voiced singer found the time to chat with us about Flint, family, and keeping his sh** straight. Here’s what he had to say!
You’ve got some very devoted fans voting from you. How does it feel?
I honestly consider them all my family. From Flint to Detroit to Berlin to London to Vancouver and beyond, I’ve made some amazing friendships. They all know how much I love and appreciate them, and that I’d do the same for them.
You’ve been all over the world. What draws you to Flint?
Especially in our current political/economic environment, people can learn a lot from Flint. It’s got an incredible history and there’s something about the way people are here that makes me feel at home. Even though it can be dangerous, everyone has a sense of openness and humor. And with other Flint artists like Jon Connor, Theory, Kinetic Stereokids, etc etc., I am constantly inspired. There really is a Renaissance happening here, socially, artistically, economically.
So many folks are doing the VHS, 80s music video thing. What made you decide to go that route on “Cobra” and “I’m So Trill”?
Well ‘I’m So Trill’ was created by a sick animator named Immo Koenig, so I can’t take credit for that. With ‘Cobra,’ I wanted to make something that looked like a video you’d find on a VHS that you taped in middle school in the late 90s of just stuff that was on TV. I was also inspired by Peaches’ video for “Serpentine,” as well as several classic Bollywood films for the way they framed and zoomed on subjects.
What’s going on in the Queen Latifah film Just Wright when your song “Insatiable” comes on? Do you have a dream soundtrack scene?
This is going to sound ridiculous, but I haven’t seen it! I get really busy sometimes and never got around to seeing it in the theater. I don’t have TV/cable, so I’ll just have to wait until someone gets me the DVD as a gift or something. I think you get to see something sexy like Paula Patton’s backside in a tight dress, but I’m not sure.
I just saw Hanna, and I would love the chance to score a retro action/thriller like that. Or maybe something like Labyrinth.
How do you divide your time between Stereoluxxx and solo work?
I started out and still am also in a rock band, so splitting my time is nothing new, really. Who needs sleep when you’ve got music, right?
Congrats on opening for Robyn! How was it?
That actually happened last summer, and it was probably one of the happiest moments of my life. I’m in love with Robyn and was really tempted to hide in her tour bus when she left Michigan that night! She’s really sweet and one of the best performers. I aspire to be like that; not a ton of backup dancers and spinning day-glo unicorns or whatever…just great music and onstage energy.
Growing up, did your Nigerian background influence your music?
I think having family all over the world and living in different places gives you a different perspective on life and that affects anything you create or produce afterwards, so yes totally. Nigerians (specifically Yoruba) are also really musical by nature, I think.
How have you grown musically since Infinite Modulation?God, I hope I have. I’ve managed to suppress my obsession with sitars and tablas (although I couldn’t resist sneaking a little tabla into “Cobra”), and have pretty much given in to synth and more abrasive percussion. I think touring and performing live has changed the way I go back and make music, too. But I’ll always have a place in my heart for that first solo project.
What’s Ebony Bones like in person? We’re megafans.
As am I! I only met her briefly backstage, but after playing Transmusicales (Rennes, FR) a few years back, the shuttle I was going back to the hotel in with all of her backing singers/players (one being the amazing Angie Ironlungs from the UK) got hit by a cab, so we spent some time singing and freestyling about wigs, insomnia, 2 girls 1 cup…classy stuff like that. They’re definitely a wild bunch.
Is it true you’re releasing a five part album? Don’t you ever run out of juice?
It’s better this way! I get burned out in the studio trying to mix an entire album. This way, I can do a few songs at a time and release them right away with some great remixes. The First Transgression will drop in late spring/early summer on Exchange Bureau in Detroit, with features from Miz Korona (Detroit) and a Cobra remix from Chris De Luca (Berlin). I’m beyond geeked.
Here’s Tunde Olaniran’s VHS-style video for “Cobra,” off The First Transgression, out soon!
Photo Credit: Juan Beltran