Nigerian singer and songwriter Tamaraebi combines velvety vocals with electrifying production to craft geniuine messages of the human experience. His sound is inspired by Nina Simone, Prince and Bob Dylan. His project Heaven’s Gate, conceptualizes philosphical themes of vice, virtue and human punishment told through a realist lens.
Both videos for singles “Hey Hey Hey” and “Heaven’s Gate” bring these themes to light while serving as an introduction to the R&B torchbearer. Yo! That Slaps had the opportunity to interview Tamaraebi to see how his nomadic upbringing shaped the sound and thought process behind this EP. Check out the interview and videos below!
Where were you born in Nigeria? Discuss some details of your upbringing.
I was born in a town in East Nigeria called Owerri, my parents were working there at the time. And then we moved to a city called Calabar in the south and then Lagos the commercial capital. So it was a lot of moving. My upbringing in Nigeria was exciting. There’s a unique buzz of life I’ve never experienced anywhere else.
As a fellow Nigerian, I have to ask: what’s your favorite Nigerian dish and aspect of Nigerian culture?
My favourite food has to be party jollof rice.
And my favourite aspect of Nigerian culture is the sense of community. Everyone is your cousin or aunty so weddings and birthdays are huge events.
How has your childhood experience of living in various places like Nairobi, India and Sudan shaped your worldview? Do you think it has had a profound effect and influence on your music?
Neither my parents are from where I was born so from birth we’ve kinda been a nomadic family. Living in different countries made me open to different sounds so languages /music, fashion, mindsets, cultures, food and people. I’ve always kinda been an outsider so I observe a lot and it’s made my music and personality quite free flowing.
As an artist, where do you think your biggest improvement has been musically?
My writing is something I started consciously working on a few years ago and it’s improved loads.
What was it like being scouted by Tinie Tempah and how do you think this has impacted your approach to music?
Still doesn’t even seem real! It was at a perfect moment as well. It’s really helped with exposing me to a lot of different creatives and musicians which only makes for more productive sessions.
“Heaven’s Gate” is a track centered around human dichotomy of vice and virtue with heaven as the focal point. Why did you decide to center the track around sin, redemption and the concept of heaven?
Wow you literally summarised the song nicely. I feel like every one is fighting some kind of battle and we all want to make something out of our lives and be someone or be loved by someone but more time nothing makes sense or goes as planned. So when I get to heaven’s gate I just have bare questions for God.
Your most recent release, “Hey Hey Hey” on the other hand, brings robust vocals and a realist approach to understanding that the world is less forgiving and motivated by personal gain. What was the creative process behind this song?
Yeah you’re right. Not every day tears, sometimes gangsta vibes. The creative process was quite simple. The producer played the beat and it reminded me of early 90s, big drums, old school hip hop Rick Rubin ‘Against the system vibes’ and we just went with the feeling.
Both “Heaven’s Gate” and “Hey Hey Hey” incorporate electrifying production and genuine messages of the human experience. What can listeners expect from your EP “Heaven’s Gate”? Thank you! Heaven’s Gate is an introduction to parts of me as an artist and I just wanted to be as honest as I could, exploring sounds and concepts I was into at the time.
Follow Tamaraebi on Instagram and Twitter @IamTamaraebi and check out his most recent single Innocence.