Josephine Oniyama released her well received debut album Portrait in 2012. It brought the Manchester based singer songwriter to the attention of the musical world and rightly so. Tracks from that debut managed to fuse a type of folk, pop sensibility with an essence of simplicity that was hard to ignore.
Since that debut one might have thought that Josephine Oniyama had been quiet since a follow-up album had not materialised. In the five years since her debut however, she has been active from a personal and musical perspective. While achieving a MA in English Literature-musically she has performed at the Zimbabwean festival HIFA and collaborated with names like the Scottish 90s band Travis.
Following on from those rather sterling collaborative projects and her personal endeavours, in 2017 she released the lead single Till You from her sophomore album. It’s a warming folk inspired single with a gorgeous video directed by Will Nash. Inturn, the single re-affirms Josephine Oniyama’s ability to make simplicity, simply engaging.
Over the past 4-5 years I’ve made a lot of music.
So, the obvious question first-5 years what have you been doing?
Since the previous album, I wrote some tracks on Matthew Halsall’s album Into Forever (2015). His work is brass and harp-‐lead jazz, so it was something a bit different. I did a lot of shows with them to promote the album. I also wrote two live film scores, commissioned by HOME in Manchester, which was an amazing experience. One was more acoustic and song based, the other was more electro and had a huge set up. I’ve performed them both in varied places over the past couple of years. Then I featured on the recent Travis album, so I did some touring with them as well. I also spent that time working on tracks towards the next album.
Could that gap have been part of a re-assessment of your life in and outside of music-what did you learn?
My re-assessments tend to happen daily, rather than on a 5-year cycle. I see what comes up, then I deal with it. I have a life where things tend to come out of the blue. When things happen, I assess how they will impact on me now and maybe in future, as far as you can ever tell. If it seems right, then I’m good to go.
Do you think that getting such success on your debut was in hindsight difficult and if so how?
The album was well received I think, but I wouldn’t say it was a difficult level of success. It reached a lot of people and that has been wonderful. It seems to have reached a small crop of warm-hearted music loving people.
What was the catalyst for moving towards your sophomore album since your debut?
It’s funny cause I have never stopped making music. Over the past 4-5 years I’ve made a lot of music. Not all towards an album (strictly speaking) but it’s been a continual process. It never feels like there’s a catalyst though. You just continue making music until something takes shape.
Let’s talk personnel behind the coming album your debut had names like Leo Abrahams.
I wrote a lot of tracks with the fellas from Brixton Boogie, a Hamburg based outfit, and I’ve also done some stuff with Carey Willets from Athlete and Crispin Hunt, who I collaborated with on the first album. But things are still coming together on the production front- people are still coming on board.
Talk about the themes you explore in the album.
The songs are coming from many years, different sessions, varied times in my, so I tend to be writing about what I’ve experienced or what the world is experiencing at that given point in time. You’ll find songs about love and hope, but also about the messed-‐up times we live in.
How is this album different to your debut and what did you learn from that first album that you employed on this sophomore project?
I think the writing is more mature and from a different perspective. I’ve learnt how to really collaborate with other musicians and writers and producers to get the best out of myself and the best from them. It was a steep learning curve on the last album, but now the creative journey is a bit more bedded in.
The lead single talk, a bit about that and why this was the perfect lead single?
Til You, is a love song with a dark undertone. It’s a fairly easy-going track to kick things off. It’s got a pop-folk character to it and I think that’s going to be a good way to lead into some of the other tracks.
Where can we see you live?
Starting to schedule in events for 2018, so watch this space.