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  • Paul Riley

Interview: Eri Ife Shares Insights Into Centre(d) EP, Musical Inspirations And Future Plans

Welcome to IGNITE, where we delve into the pulsating beats and soulful melodies of today's music scene. In this exclusive interview, we sit down with Eri Ife, the visionary artist behind the newly released EP, Centre(d). With an earnest desire for connection and a profound narrative woven into each track, Eri Ife opens up about the creative process, inspirations and aspirations behind this captivating musical journey.

From the heartfelt ballad "The Great Romance" to the introspective depths of "Colour", Centre(d) offers a glimpse into Eri Ife's personal journey, reflecting moments of faith, introspection and artistic exploration. In this interview, Eri Ife shares insights into the creative collaborations that brought his vision to life, hints at the possibility of a music video for "The Great Romance" and delves into the profound lyrical landscapes of his compositions.

IGNITE: Tell us a little about your story and background


Eri Ife: My name is Emmanuel Adedamola Akin-Onigbinde. My friends call me Damola, and fans of my music call me Eri Ife. I’m Nigerian, born and raised, and I started music fresh out of secondary school. At home, I was in and out of the choir - could never sit still long enough. In secondary school though, I was part of a band called “R-Rated” – a bit embarrassing looking back, knowing now what R-Rated means. I think the reaction we got from our schoolmates and seeing how much fun we all had, contributed to my decision to start out as a solo artist after school.


I fell in love with music much earlier than secondary, though. My parents introduced my brother and I to the music of Lagbaja, a brilliant Nigerian musician. I started listening to him in the early 2000s. I think my love for music definitively awoke though, when I heard Àṣá for the first time. I can never remember which setting it was, but Àṣá came on, and I remember her song “No one knows” lodging itself into my mind. It’s been almost 20 years, and I still remember the feeling.


IGNITE: Who are your biggest influences?


Eri Ife: Over the years, I would say I’ve been influenced by such a broad range of artists. I have quite a few roots from home; Asa to Beautiful Nubia, Lagbaja, and the Styl Plus Crew from the early 2000s. Broadening the scope a bit, I’d say Jon Bellion, I had a whole Owl City phase as well, haha. BoB, Ed Sheeran, and I find Lewis Capaldi’s writing Phenomenal. I could go on and on tbh. but all of these guys have influenced me in some form over my life so it’s pretty hard to pick.


If I had to, though, I’d say Asa, Jon Bellion, and Ed Sheeran would be my top 3 influences in terms of my songwriting.


IGNITE: How have friends and family reacted to your journey so far in music?


Eri Ife: I think I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by people who love and support my craft. When I started out there WAS a bit of scepticism because I began music as a rapper, LOL. It was super cool to be a rapper when I was a teenager so it was - for me - the easiest way to strike out. I still sang quite a bit, but once I got to learning the guitar, I knew I wouldn't be looking back

IGNITE: Congratulations on the release of your new EP, Centre(d). What are you hoping to achieve with this project?


Eri Ife: Thanks so much! I’m really excited for it. As to what I’m hoping to achieve, in one word, I’d say: Connection. Each of the songs on the project is really personal to me, and has been my “favourite song” at some point in my life, haha. It’s like a patchwork quilt that I’ve been knitting since mid 2017, and I finally was able to bring together and share with the world. What I hope more than anything is that the songs help different people feel seen in their lives. That feeling is what got me enamoured with the artists I love; being able to get lost in their writing.


IGNITE: Our favourite track is “The Great Romance”. Who wrote and produced that song? Are there any plans for a music video?


Eri Ife: Aw, I’m glad to hear that! I wrote “The Great Romance” back in 2021 at a time when I felt a major resurgence in my faith, and that sort of bled into my songwriting. The primary instrument for it used to be the guitar, but when my friend and producer of the record, Ebenezer Adewumi, played the piano lined he’d laid from the voice note I’d sent him, I knew he’d locked in to the spirit of what I was trying to bring to life. From there on out, it was bliss.


Regarding a video, I certainly would like to create & release one for it. I’ll need to work out the imagery in my mind and how to translate that to film with the right director. Also sorting out the logistics of making that happen sooner than later. It’s deffo on my mind, though.

IGNITE: What’s your favourite lyric that you wrote on this project?


Eri Ife: Hm, this is an excellent question. I’ve actually had to rattle off the lyrics in my head just now, LOL. Doesn’t take long though, but my favourite selections are from the third track, actually; “Colour”. The entire first verse of Colour, leading into the chorus? Whew. Let’s just say I pulled from the most personal places that I could, at the time.

IGNITE: We love how you incorporated different sounds and genres on the project. Who are some of your favourite artists to listen to within gospel and Afrobeats?


Eri Ife: Thank you. I find myself uninterested, really, in sticking to a singular genre for very long, and that sort of approach where I kind of meander through the soundscape, I think can be found in my existing discography as well.  Some of my favourites within Gospel right now are Limoblaze, Anendlessocean, and CalledOut. In afrobeats, interestingly enough Limoblaze pops up again, haha. I also really love this guy called Taves from Nigeria - brilliant sound. Ayra Starr, obviously, makes for an awesome time.


IGNITE: If you could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?


Eri Ife: Oof. This one’s a toughie. Okay, idk whether to answer as just a listener or with the intent to draw inspiration from these projects as a creator myself, but here goes:


I would keep one album from Asa: either her debut, “Asa”, or “Bed of Stone”. I probably would eventually pick her debut if pressed hard enough, but I’d certainly try to be allowed to keep both lol.


The Human Condition by Jon Bellion. For me, the writing and soundscape of that project just leaves me with so much to dwell on and mull over. I don’t think I could ever be bored of it.


I think I’d pick one of Lagbaja’s albums as my third. The music, writing, instruments used, all are deeply personal to me. I think between these three, I’ll always have some fresh perspective.


IGNITE: What are your plans for the rest of 2024? What can fans expect?


Eri Ife: I’m still working on doing all I can to get this EP in as many ears as possible (so thank you for having me, haha), so I’ll be focused on that for the next few weeks. I’ve got a couple more singles in me to ease us into the summer, and then maybe a follow up EP later on in the year. Fingers crossed.

Stream Centre(d) in full below:


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