Tony Njoku today (Friday, 19th June) releases his new EP, 'Justine', via Silent Kid Records. The follow-up to last year's ‘Your Psyche’s Rainbow Panorama’ - and arriving ahead of a European support tour with Ghostpoet this October and November - it's a collection of four expansive tracks influenced by relationships, introspection, and some feedback from his mum. "This EP really is just me focusing on writing love songs more than anything," he explains. Here, Tony talks us through the release, track by track.
I'm trying to recall how the idea for this song came about. I was having a conversation with my mum and dad (who are incredibly supportive of my art), and they were giving some critique on my last album 'Your Psyche's Rainbow Panorama'. They mentioned how moody and weird it was (paraphrasing) and though they loved it, they mentioned how there wasn't much on that album that they could dance and sing along to. My mum also pointed out that the songs felt so personal to me, and though she could relate to some of it, she felt that I should try talking about more general topics. Her words were, "you should try something more uplifting, something that the average person can relate to."
I don't know if accomplished that, but that conversation certainly gave impetus to the making of this track.
At the end of the song, there's a recording of me responding to my mum saying, "so yeah like mum, being uplifting is cool, and I've tried that, but my head's just not right sometimes innit."
So this whole songs came as a response to those conversations. It's a track about trusting your instincts. Having faith in yourself and about taking action on that self-belief. An uplifting song about overcoming adversity and all that wonderful motivational stuff. To my mother's point, it's important to share that sort of energy, we all want to be inspired right?
This track takes on a much darker narrative than 'Justine'. It's about a relationship going bad. I'm touching on themes of emotional unavailability, regret, fear and heartbreak. I think we all know how the story goes with these things. The rap part lyrically kind of acts as a prelude to 100% 4 BEAUTY. It's touching on themes of inner turmoil and confusion. There's also a small reference to the term 'life script'. Which has to do with the experiences had as a child affecting the decisions we make and the person we become as an adult.
100% 4 Beauty
I often cringe at myself when I'm giving explanations about what my music is about. Like for fuck sake Tony, you're so moist and uncool. Which is true, but I know it's my insecurities playing out. It really doesn't fucking matter what anyone else thinks, but I'm trying to battle against that and attempting to focus all my energy on embracing the stuff that gets me feeling hopeful and optimistic.
This was the first song I recorded for this EP, out of like nine tracks I think. It's a very earnest ode to the life-long journey of self-examination, triumph and my dedication to self-discovery. The song helps document an unearthing of some of my flaws and inner turmoil (lack of courage, low self-esteem, etc.), and my discovery of what gets me going despite that turmoil, which is 'art and beauty'.
In the press release, I called it "an ode to beauty, to finding your 'why'. I suppose you could call this a love song directed at the self. A 'self love song'." And in addition to that statement I'd say it's also a song about the metamorphic transformation art undergoes from the bellowing of an artist's plights, becoming a materialised manifestation of their pains, which then translates into catharsis for their audience (and them as well to be fair). There's a telekinetic conversation that happens between the spirit -> artist -> art and audience; and I believe that convo is also in a loop.
The final track is another love song about heartache. It's about that heavy heartbreaking feeling of having your trust and love broken. When someone doesn't know how to love or be loved, they will often sabotage that situation. Despite the sort of uplifting instrumental and melody in the verse the heaviness comes in the breakdown / chorus part. It all goes back to the life script. Why do we make certain decisions that don't benefit us in life? What stories do we tell ourselves about who we are? How do those stories play out and how aware are we about them?
Tony Njoku's 'Justine' EP is out now.