Friday, December 21, 2012

We Saved The Best For Last- Sadie's Favorite Album Of The Year

Describing Tunde Olaniran has become the bane of my existence. When I am promoting one of his shows, people always want me to describe him and I truly cannot put this man in a box, or in the words of Patrick Swayze, “Nobody puts baby in the corner.” He is one hundred percent original product completely, free of auto tuned bullshit and bad samples. Tunde has no genre, he has no description that can fit his talent, and his music relates to me in a way that I haven't related to music since I was younger. 

I have over-listened to his new album and embarrassed myself dancing around my gym and dropping it likes it's hot in the mirror at home. My favorite tracks off the new EP are "Autonomous" and "Kill or be Killed." You can purchase the new EP here starting today!
Tunde let me pick his brain and learn a little more about him, his videos, and The Second Transgression.

hip in detroit- This album, The Second Transgression feels a little darker than The First Transgression. The music also feels a little heavier and more dance-y. Was this on purpose? How do you feel the first EP and the second EP differ from each other?

Tunde- I felt like The Second Transgression needed to be more coherent if people were going to see this as an evolution. I guess I don’t see the music as particularly heavier! That’s an interesting observation. I definitely agree that it has more ... “danceability”..? Some of the rhythms draw from different wells, and the samples got a little more airtime and spotlight this go round. So you’ll hear more nods to Afro-Latin, Bmore Club, and 80's arena rock. I think there’s more melody in some ways and more singing. I’m hardly rapping at all.

hip in detroit- My favorite thing about your music is it is not made over typical hip hop or pop beats, but is instead a mix of pop, hip-hop and electronic. Do you arrange and produce your own music? How would you describe your music? Do you write lyrics or music first?

Tunde- Thank you! I feel like it’s definitely me throwing up everything that influences me. My music is really like... primitive sci-fi... it’s not too complex, but still a weird image of the future. I kind of make music that I’d be very excited to perform, and imagine how it will look when we’re on stage. I arrange and produce all the music and vocals. I brought in two friends from my first band to lay down live guitar and bass, and basically wrote their parts, so I’m hoping to have even more live aspects in the next EP.

I don’t really write lyrics in a traditional way, and it’s rare that I’ll write any lyrics before the music. With Autonomous, the lyrics were something I’d written with my band but they didn’t like the song we did so I just used them on this EP. I’m so happy I had a chance to do that because I love the lyrics for that song! 2.0 was very stream-of-consciousness and I remember writing that out in a few minutes after the music was done.

hip in detroit- If I had to classify this album to someone that has never heard you before, I’d call it “Michael Jackson, meets Robyn, meets Gaga, meets disco.” Would that be a fair description? Why or why not?

Tunde- I have no idea! I’d be really flattered if people thought that, and to be honest, I didn’t see
the disco influence until another journalist pointed it out. I guess it might be like those artists in that I try to sing passionately and let the vocals be vulnerable. I don’t ever want to sound too plastic or “perfect,” and sometimes Lady Gaga sounds too robotic and harsh. I love Robyn and MJ because even though they have amazingly perfect voices, they manage to wring out some real emotion in their delivery and inflection.

hip in detroit- Your new video "The Second Transgression" is different from anything else you have ever put out; it’s more interpretive and has more free style dancing then we have seen before, and masks, we love the masks! How did you come up with this concept for the video and did you make the masks?

The Second Transgression is the next installment in the series, so that is the overall concept. I usually start with a collection of images I’ve found that create an energy and mood I want to establish. I didn’t make the masks, our amazing makeup and special FX director SaRyne Byers did. She made special face molds of each dancer so they fit them perfectly. Although, there was no mouth opening! So Emma and Symone were really troopers shooting all day in the summer with those masks on. She also did all the body paint and the “monster (played by Michael Charles Patrick, Jr from Jesus Chainsaw Massacre/Ferndale Acid Scene)” makeup.

hip in detroit- "Brown Boy" is a fun song with a dance that we can all join along in and have a good time with, but it is also a serious song. Can you tell me a little about that song and the significance of growing up a “brown boy" (with the prettiest hair in the world)?

Tunde- That song is so much fun; I love everything about it. The song isn’t about just being “brown,” but just being The Other. It’s about being on the margins. I think whether it’s undocumented immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves, the trans kid who is bullied and can’t use the restroom in public without fear, the loner kid with mental health issues and violent outbursts, or the “lactivist” mom who breastfeeds in the Boardroom, we’re all human and deserve to be seen and honored for our humanity and existence. I decided to embrace all the stereotypes about my body, my clothing, my zip code, my skin color, and use them to create who I wanted to be as an artist and
performer. Playing on the margins is fun, and I hope people decide to join me and the other amazing people I’ve met here.

hip in detroit- When did you first realize that you could sing; did you have any formal training? Also, we want to personally thank you for not having to correct your voice or use auto-tune, because your voice is from heaven and you sing like an angel.

Tunde- How can anyone live up to that kind of adulation?! Thank you so much; I had some formal training through being in choir in school, but I don’t have the technical training professional singers have. I think I learned from emulating people I liked, and then having to play. so. many. shows. with my band. I feel like I paid my dues in that regard, gigging for years and singing 3-hour shows at bars, etc. I still don’t think I’m that great of a singer, so it’s nice to hear you enjoy my voice. I’d love to get some formal training at some point!

But f*ck auto-tune, seriously. I know it’s what a lot of folks use, but I’d rather just have some mistakes in my recording. We’re human beings! Our voices are amazing; just let them do their thing, you know?

hip in detroit- We heard that you have a dance studio, how long have you been dancing? Do you
choreograph all the dances that your dancers preform? How do you think the dancers add to your performance when people see you live? Would you ever perform without the dancers?

Tunde- The funniest part of shows is before I go on, someone (maybe in another band on that night or the sound engineer) will say “no dancers tonight?” They always have a little sadness in their eyes. I’m like “um they are backstage getting dressed, don’t get it twisted.” I love my dancers so much. They are an integral part of the show. I choreograph and stage everything. They help to interpret the music and lyrics for the audience. If you look at me, I’m *clearly* not a dancer, but I love to dance! I keep saying I need to lose 100 pounds so I can do backflips and stuff onstage. Maybe in 2013 haha.

I have done acoustic shows without them, and I will definitely have some interesting performances planned for next year where we switch it up. The songs actually sound really dope when they’re acoustic and stripped down, so there will be some shows were that happens ;)

hip in detroit- I have never seen you or a dancer wear the same stage clothes twice. How do you come up with the new outfit concepts for every show? Do you make all of these "looks" yourself? Can I get a one-of-a-kind “Tunde” piece anywhere or will I just have to admire them on stage?

Tunde- Well, I *will* be developing some custom accessories in 2013, so stay tuned. I also do styling so I can help you for your next event or photoshoot! We definitely repeat pieces but I try to mix them in ways that are fresh, and every season we will rotate in a lot of new stuff. I mostly buy and alter or customize items myself, but Christina Tomlinson does a lot of custom work for me. She’s incredible! Every band in Detroit needs to be working with her.



  1. Amazing love love his voice and the Second Transgression video is truly dope...I also wonder where 'Tunde gets his lyrical inspiration, they always seem so deep, socially and politically conscious...I wonder how much of that he picked up from his homelife?

    1. Mom is that you??? lol just kidding. Hey "anonymous," I think the roots were planted in my childhood, but the tree grew from drinking in the light from artists and activists I've met as an adult (like people in Allied Media Projects, Raise it Up!, and working for Planned Parenthood).

      But the other part comes from be being bored with song subjects and how they're presented, so I feel a need to "keep it weird" lyrically and say things in ways I haven't heard before.