Off the back of their summer hit and what has been an incredible last few months for both artists, I recently caught up with Eugy and Mr Eazi to gain some insight into their journey so far and find out some of the secrets to their success.
Chilling on a sunny Friday morning near Soho, I firstly link up with Eugy, and on initial impressions, I can’t help but be immediately impressed by the spring the slick songwriter has in his step. This certainly isn’t an artist weighed down by the burden of expectation and pressure that comes with delivering a summer banger.
We shake hands, sit down for tea and get the interview under way. (With Mr Eazi out of the country, I was lucky enough to communicate with him and get his responses after, via the wonders of technology.)
Have a read below and enjoy the insight given by both supremely talented artists.
To kick things off, who are your music inspirations?
EugyL “Well to be honest, in my family, my mum and dad are really religious. I have been to church most Sundays in my life, so in my house it was mostly gospel music that we used to play.
It wasn’t until I started secondary school and went to my cousin’s house that I started getting into hip-hop and garage and other genres. My mum used to get hair products called Just For Me and that used to come with instructional cassette tapes. I used to nick the cassette tapes out of the box and record all the baddest songs from radio.
So growing up, we had loads of Gospel singers that I was influenced by, but in terms of more mainstream artists it was probably Usher, Boyz 2 Men, Biggie and Michael Jackson. Ultimately though, I would say most of my singing talent comes from Gospel Music. I played the piano, the drums and the bass guitar at Church and so did my younger brother. So the three of us actually play at Church, where my dad is a pastor.
Mr Eazi: “Dr Alban was my main inspiration growing up!”
To anyone who doesn’t know you both, how would you define your music?
Eugy: “I would say it’s African sauced, but British polished… does that make sense? So the heart of the music is African but because I’ve grown up here, I would say I’m more British than I am Ghanaian. It’s basically like a fusion of the two.
Mr Eazi: “I would say my music is a mix-mash of influences with African roots. I combine influences from different genre’s and deliver a calm Afro interpretation.”
Outside of music, what would you say are your main interests?
Eugy: “Football. I’m obsessed… or used to be anyway! Chelsea were the first team I watched when I came to this country from Ghana, so I support them. I like F1 as well. Big up Nico Rosberg. I used to like Sebastian Vettel a lot too. I follow drivers, more than the actual racing. Other than sport, I’m obsessed with seeing my little Godchildren and spending good quality family time with them.
Mr Eazi: “For me, I’m heavily interested in the news, but also love travel and technology.”
Over the last 12 to 18 months grime has been popping off in the UK after being a niche genre for so long. Do you think Afrobeats (another niche genre in the country), can similarly get to the level that Grime has in terms of its movement and its progression?
Eugy: “I actually started off MC’ing on grime, so I’ve seen its progression and to this day I still think I would’ve been a grime MC, but I wasn’t good enough! African music where it is right now is really positive. You know when we were younger, everyone used to be embarrassed to be African. I had Nigerian friends that would pretend they were Jamaican, I am Ghanaian but I was Bajan to be honest.
“Now all of a suddenly you can say your name is “Kofi”! So I think where it is right now, we have everyone’s attention and I think everyone’s actually appreciating how talented African musicians are. Everything takes time, but I think 100% we can get there. I think the new school of us have to try to bridge the gap; we can’t go on a song and sing completely African and expect people who are not from the continent to get it.
Mr Eazi: “Yeah, I believe the UK could definitely be the venue for Worldwide Afrobeat domination, due to the cultural diversity it has.”
What would you say is the best live show that you have done?
Eugy: “I would say Mr Eazi’s show in O2 Kentish Town. The turn out was crazy, there were like 2000 people there. The reception I got when I walked on stage was when I was just like ‘woah.’
“Also, I did a recent event for freshers’ week at Coventry uni and literally as soon as I said the opening words of our song, the crowd were screaming! I think the more I perform, the more confident I’m getting and the more I’m enjoying it.
Mr Eazi: “Agreed. Definitely the “Life is Eazi” London show.”
Who would you say you would like collaborate with worldwide?
Eugy: “Drake, I’ve said to my manager from day one. Drake is the guy I’d want to most collab with.
Mr Eazi: “I would say three people; Drake, Popcaan and Taylor Swift.”
How about UK wise?
Eugy: “I’d say Stormzy. I’d say Mist too, he is sick.
Mr Eazi: “For me, I’d say Adele, Ed Sheeran and Stormzy too.”
Over the last few months, we have seen both of you rise up. To those that don’t realise the hard work you put in and think that this is all easy, can you talk through some of the obstacles you have found and how long you have been doing music for?
Eugy: “Firstly, I’ve been writing and recording songs since I was 14 and at the time my parents weren’t really backing it like that, mostly because they are African!
“Obviously there’s other more obvious routes to go down, whether it be Law, or being a doctor etc. On top of this, being a Christian as well, they didn’t like the thought of me going into an industry that may take me off route. So I would say one of the biggest obstacles for me was convincing my mum and dad that I should do music. My dad tried to take me off doing music so much, but I fought and I fought so much to the point that I think he realised “this kid isn’t going to stop” and now my dad is my number one fan. Every morning he sends me stat updates – telling me how many views I have and how many plays.
“The other thing that’s worth mentioning is that I have put so much money into music, I don’t think I’ve made back 1% of what I’ve put in. But people don’t get that. They see you on TV once and just think, ‘ra…this guy has come from nowhere.’ But it has been like 13/14 years of going to the studio, spending sleepless nights there, while sometimes using my last piece of uni money.
Mr Eazi: “I’d say the challenge is still there really, which is basically getting the music as far as it should go, through different structures and markets.”
In terms of your control over your music – are you signed? Or independent?
Eugy: “I’m not signed in terms of a record deal, but the song “Dance With Me” is signed to AATW (All Around The World). They’ve given us a team there and they’ve let me bring my team on board as well. So the good thing is the team they’ve provided is not just for the song, but to also put me in the right places and to set up the right interviews.
My manager – (who I would like to plug real quick – shout out to Chop Daily!) His social presence is big. He uses this page to post African dances and generally new African talent; I think that page is what helped me blow in the beginning. I started doing English freestyles and my following grew from there… that’s how I linked up with people like Mr Eazi.
Mr Eazi: “Yeah and I control 100% of my music too with the help of my team, manager, producers and a few in house DJ’s and senior artist colleagues that act as A&R.”
It’s interesting because we are now getting to a point where more than ever before, people are discussing the pros and cons of being independent compared to being signed. From what you have just said, are you quite happy remaining independent?
Eugy: “The only thing a label can offer us now is money. Nowadays we have access to everything. It’s the same Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts we are building up ourselves. If you can build that core fan-base yourself, what more could you be offered?
I hear you there, but let’s say you were offered an advance on a record deal. Surely it would be tricky seeing X amount of zeros and saying “no”?
Eugy: “To be honest, because of how long I’ve been grinding for, it means I don’t really look at the money anymore. I kind of got over the money factor a long time ago, because if it was really all about that I would have quit time ago. I don’t think there’s any joy in just doing it for money. I couldn’t let someone give me a million pounds and take control over everything I’m doing.
“Right now we are going to the studio and dictating our own moves, I couldn’t let anyone come over and dictate how we record things – because that messes with your originality and authenticity of what we are doing.”
To anyone now following you and supporting you, what have you got planned for the next 12–18 months?
Eugy: “Simple… I am looking to put Africa on the map. You know they call me the African Drake yea?! (Laughs). I think a lot of people will be shocked. Some people don’t know that I rap the way I do, some people don’t know I can sing the way I do. I am literally just going to be firing shots at all corners and giving everyone quality music.”
Mr Eazi: “Putting out the mixtape Life Is Eazi: Accra To Lagos on 1st December, which is basically a West African road trip soundtrack and a collection of music that won’t be making it to my album. Once this drops I expect to start a world tour which should last until late next year, before I drop the album Africa To the World.
Thank you guys, best of luck in the future and I look forward to following both of your careers closely.