Oyèmi Noize: At the heart of it all

There are few Berlin musicians more versatile than singer-songwriter Oyèmi Hessou. We caught up to find out about her new solo project.

Photo: Lemmy Fischer

It’s hard to imagine the Berlin music scene without Oyèmi Hessou. Bass player and singer for Jaguwar, guitarist for Yeahrs, concert photographer, and co-founder of festival and collective network Decolonoize. With all these projects on the go, it’s hard to think the versatile musician would have time for more.

Yet, confounding our expectations, the singer-songwriter has launched a new musical, solo project, channeling her personal struggles into a beautiful, acoustic record. We caught up with the ambidextrous artist to find out what this solo project is all about.

Why did you decide to do a solo record?

I started to work on this solo project during the pandemic when I felt isolated and had little possibility to approach music with my band Jaguwar the way we used to. I was going through a lot emotionally not only dealing with the loneliness that the pandemic brought to all of us but also violence against migrant and BIPoC communities in Germany and all over the world and personal struggles. I wanted to go back to what music always meant to me: being able to express my feelings through it and find comfort. So I grabbed my acoustic guitar and started to write, released two singles in 2021 and it all led to this EP.

Was it frightening to do something on your own?

In the beginning yes. I haven’t been doing music completely on my own in a long time but it also brought me closer to myself again and helped me to evolve a lot as a songwriter. 

How does this differ from all the other bands you’re involved in?

It gives me the possibility to just do what I want without any limitations. I’m also able to work on new things whenever I want and feel the inspiration. I don’t have to consult anyone about the direction I wanna go to but also makes it hard sometimes because it’s all on me. I enjoy it and it challenges me. Musically so far it’s been maybe more reduced than my other projects specifically in terms of sound but that’s exactly what I wanted.

What are the main themes you’re covering on this record?

It’s a heartbreak record. How I said earlier I was going through a lot and wanted to have an outlet for it. Romantic love is only one theme. I’m also talking about how life can really suck sometimes and how we all feel alone at times. It’s a reminder that there are people out there who feel like us and some pain is individual but most of the times we do suffer as a collective.

Will there be more from you solo-wise?

Yes! I’m already working on new songs. It’s gonna be different than what I’ve released so far tho. So stay curious. 

if you could book your ideal lineup for the record-release show, who would be on it?

A dream would be to perform alongside Berlin-based artist Lyhre and my best friend White Hand Gibbon who’s on a break right now but hope he’ll come back to a stage one day.

  • I Know It Hurts But Trust Me We Will Be Ok was released July 21.