Musician: Soji Otuyelu, 28
What brought you to the area? I wanted to move close to ... friends I have in Baltimore, but I didn't want to live in Baltimore. I used to live in Pottsville. I decided York was a good balance.
I feel like there's a music scene everywhere. Even when I lived in Pottsville, where there isn't much, I'd be out in open mikes and trying to play shows and stuff. Eventually, you meet people who have those interests. It just depends on the size of the scene, but there's always a scene if you try hard enough. In the past, people would say, "You're music is cool, but people really like covers." But I've been able to get away with ...
How did you get into music? I guess it's something I kind of grew up with. My mom gave us piano lessons ... and my dad has a pretty extensive record collection that we were exposed to. If we weren't listening to it, we were trying to play it somehow.
My sister really pushed, like, early '90s R&B on everyone. It was between typical Nigerian music ... and R&B and then Motown and blues and stuff.
How is Nigerian music different from American music? The big difference is the rhythm and the timing of the music. It's more heavily percussion-based. The instruments are the same, (they're) just played differently. I think I play my guitar a little differently than some others do. I kind of try to make beats out of my strumming patterns.
Describe your sound and style: I definitely have a lot of Nigerian influences ... in my music. Inflections in my voice and in my melodies subconsciously are kind of from songs that I've listened to that are Nigerian from my childhood.
Who are your musical
influences? I would say with regard to my songwriting and performances ... it's heavily influenced by Motown and jazz. So, my stage presence is more Motown, and my singing is more jazz.
Do you normally perform solo? I perform maybe about 70 percent of my shows solo and others ... I have these friends in the area (who) I've met over the past eight months or so who will step in and jam with me. It's never really anything rehearsed; we just kind of have fun and play. So, sometimes the show is practice.
Where in the area have you played? I've played Maewyn's (Irish Pub and Restaurant), Bistro (19) and First Cap(itol Dispensing Co.) and The Boulevard (Sports Garden). I'm shooting to play at the Boulevard a couple of times a month, so I'd say that's where I've played the most. Luckily for me, I live near there. I've played at Liquid Hero (Brewery). That's a fun place to play.
Have you been in the studio? I have four albums on iTunes and that I sell at shows.
The most recent one, I kind of did on the fly. The one I spent the most time on is called "A Complete Guide Through Heartbreak." It's songs I wrote maybe over a four- or five-month period. It was just kind of an experience after a relationship. It's a very honest album, and I'm very proud of it. It's got 21 songs - almost like a journal of my experience. It's very personal, and it's fun for me to listen to now.
I bet it was difficult to write during that time. Was making the album like
therapy? It was therapy then, and it's more fun now because it turns out it's therapy for a lot of other people.
I didn't think that would be the case because a lot of the songs are very descriptive (and) very specific about certain things that happened at a certain time.
For someone else to have the same parallels in that ... is odd. Some people can just relate, and it helps.
Are you working on any songs now? I'm working on an album, which will turn out to be "The Singles." It's about being single. I've written pretty much all the songs for it. I'm just kind of like experimenting with it in my head.
Sometimes, (what I write is) very honest, and it's exactly what happened. Other times, it's just an exaggeration of what I'm feeling or something I've felt before. And I just kind of make it really dramatic because I get that way sometimes.
What local musicians do you jam with? I've been lucky enough to meet some pretty cool people. There's this guy, Andrew Gobel. We jam out a lot. He's really talented. He's an awesome singer, and he produces his own beats and stuff. Together, I think we're hoping to sort of add an element of upbeat-ness to my folk music.
Another friend of mine that ... lives about half a mile from me (is) Aaron Wiest. He's a percussionist, and he's adding some of those elements to my music as well.
Right now, I'm trying to get a big push to get a band out ... because I really want to be able to (share) creativity with other musicians on a more regular basis.
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