World In Need Of Encouragement, Support – Jidé Kuti

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Jidé Kuti

Based in London, the British-Nigerian singer/songwriter has spent years refining his quirky pop/soul sound into something that he feels represents him not just as an artiste, but as a person. This consists of quirky lyricism, a combination of honest, soulful and charismatic vocals, catchy melodies and an inexplicable je ne sais quoi.
Jidé, a self-taught guitarist, with acoustic guitar, the centre of all his writing and music. His music taste is quite diverse, so he has a wide range of influences and inspirations musically. These include Mahalia, Taylor Swift, Jon Bellion, Olivia Dean, Ed Sheeran and many more. The main thing for this artiste is developing music that is authentic to him in every sense and this is also what he is drawn to most when it comes to music as a whole.
Whilst the upcoming project will be Jidé’s debut EP, he is no stranger to the music world – especially the live music world. He started performing and working on his craft from the age of 16 and has many years of performance experience. Credits include: Roundhouse Rising Festival, Camberwell Fair, Lambeth Country Show, Gigs: Big Busk and many more.
With his first single “Rooftop” recently released, Jidé is looking forward to releasing his debut EP, “The Open-Heart EP” which he describes as the culmination of his heart’s deepest desires. He dreams of appearing on Colours or NPR’s tiny desk one day, as well as featuring in a Disney film and an Anime one day. Safe to say, Jidé is excited to take what he feels is the next step in his musical journey and has a lot of very big goals.
In this interview, Jidé tells it all.

Introduce yourself – what’s your story?

Hey I’m Jidé Kuti. I’m a 25-year-old Singer/songwriter from North London (UK). I’ve played acoustic guitar for nearly nine years now and have sung for pretty much as long too. I hardly remember a time where music wasn’t such a massive part of me. I think I make music that feels like me… that is me. It’s hard to describe. I also absolutely love Disney, anime, and gaming to the point they often inspire some of my songs.

When did you start writing songs?

Ooh good question! I used to write my own lyrics over already made songs to start off. I used to do that when I was about 13. I wrote my own version of “New Classic” from Another Cinderella Story (the one with Selena Gomez and Drew Seeley). However, the first “good” song I wrote was a song called “From Me to You” and I was 17.

At what point did you know you could sing?

I don’t know if I’ve reached that point yet! Haha all jokes aside, when I was 12, we were testing our ranges in music class. My voice had just broken and no one else’s had so I was feeling pretty insecure about it. My music teacher told me “You can sing… a bit” and I took that and ran with it. So I started singing all the time, but I think I made a major leap in my singing ability when I was 16 in Sixth Form. I feel this is when I really taught myself to sing and harmonise and could call myself a singer.

What gave you the confidence to be an artiste and release your original music?

As someone who always struggled with confidence, I always felt like my music wasn’t good enough. I think a part of that insecurity became this idea that I needed to be signed to a label before I release original music. That in a sense I wasn’t good enough until someone had believed in me. I sang covers for a long time and really worked on my craft. I performed so much – I played at the Roundhouse Rising Festival once upon a time, I busked a lot and I did Weddings and proposals. I got to a level one day where I knew I’d improved so much but didn’t really feel like it. One day though, I realised that people (friends and strangers alike) liked my music more, the more original it was. If I had completely revamped a song to cover it was always better received. If I performed an original, it was always one of my most liked and requested songs and I think that really inspired me. I’ve always wanted to encourage people to be themselves and I feel like me doing that with my music encourages me to want to perform and want to release music. I’m also quite lucky that people often tend to support me even if they don’t really know me. That encourages me quite a bit.

Who was the first person to ever believe in you?

In a musical sense, probably my friends. Wanting to become an artiste came quite late in my life compared to others I feel. I was about 14 when I decided I really wanted to do it. My friends all thought I could do it (mainly my friends Fiyin and Tofarati at the time) and a lot of my friends genuinely believe in me.

Rooftopis your debut single – how’s it like to release your first single ever?

Absolutely amazing. It is a bit overwhelming in a sense, but the support has been amazing and I’m so excited!

Could you describe the songwriting/production process for this particular single; Who helped you create?

Rooftop actually had a completely different process from what I usually do. I was watching the music video for Jeremy Zucker’s ‘Come Thru’ which is shot on a rooftop. I said to myself “I want to write a song that makes me feel like that.” I just got the feeling of something so serene but also deep. I grabbed my guitar and began to figure out chords that “sounded like a Rooftop”.

Jidé Kuti

Once the chords were finalised, the melody came out shortly after. The chorus came quite quick too, but the verses took ages. The last lines I wrote for the first funny enough – “counting down my days but never dazing, sometimes I feel like all my lights are fading”.
After writing it, I took it to the producers I’m working on my EP with – Maverick Quest and RJ Belo – and they loved it. We also called in a friend, Charlotte Marshall and she does all the string arrangements for Rooftop (and my whole EP). I do write all my songs, but Rooftop wouldn’t be Rooftop without these guys.

What did you feel when writing this song?

The first verse in particular is very self-reflective, and I think writing it was very therapeutic for me as a result. I felt very proud when finishing off Rooftop.

What’s your favourite thing about this song?

Definitely the lyrics. It has some of my favourite lyrics of any song I’ve written.

What made you want to release “Rooftop” as your first single?

Funny enough, I actually had another song in mind as my first single initially. That song is going to be my second single now. When working on the song Mav and RJ suggested I make it for the first single, but I wasn’t convinced. When we finished the song, my mind completely changed, and I feel like Rooftop is a good introduction to me as an artiste. The next single is great too though and I’m excited for that.

What is your goal for this first single?

A part of it is being bold and putting myself out there. I see it as taking a risk and really diving deep into the music world. I want people to hear this and want to hear more. I also want to connect with others through my music and I feel like this is a great starting point. On a semi-separate note, I would love for this to be in advert or movie somewhere.

What can you say about your upcoming EP “The Open Heart EP”?

Originally, it was called “The Open EP”, but I had an epiphany one day and changed it to “The Open Heart EP”. I don’t wanna give too much away but the idea of The Open Heart EP is that I’m opening up through my music. I’m being open, honest and vulnerable with music. It’s kinda like open-heart surgery. It’s got five songs on it – Rooftop being one of them – and I plan to release it next year.

What are your thoughts on today’s music industry; If you could change one thing, what would it be?

I hate how cut-throat and overly competitive it is. As much as music is a business, music is so much more than that. Music is healing, music is passion, music is light. I feel like that gets lost sometimes.
However, I like where the music industry is going in some sense. It’s a lot more transparent and I think because of this, fans feel more connected to the artiste. I never liked the idea of being on a pedestal because I’m famous. No matter how famous I get, I would love to still be approachable and connect with my “fans”. I want to be able to help them in any way I can because in a way they would’ve helped me.

What biggest life lessons have you learnt so far?

I currently work as a trainee PWP (meaning I’m training to provide low-intensity interventions for people with depression and anxiety) and I’ve worked in mental health in different roles for the last two years. This has taught me a lot.
One, Don’t wait until you’re burnt out or fatigued to take a break.
Two, Communication and transparency make all the difference.
Three, Kindness can really change the world. It may just take some time.

In your opinion, what would make the world a better place?

I think the world is quite heavily obsessed with labels. In a sense this is to promote diversity and it is helpful in identifying and understanding different ways of life or just understanding someone’s needs. However, I think one thing the world needs is the encouragement and support of individuality. I think everyone should be encouraged and supported to be the best versions of themselves.

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