El'vee Talks Background, Meeting Kelly Rowland, Their Legacy & Lots More - AfroGbedu | Appreciating African Music

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Monday, 11 March 2019

El'vee Talks Background, Meeting Kelly Rowland, Their Legacy & Lots More

El'Vee are an Afropop duo, which consists of twin sisters Lilian and Vivian Nwaneho. They were born in Lagos, Nigeria and grew up in Reading, UK. Their love for music, drew them back and forth to Nigeria, and as independent artists, they have been opportune to work with renowned musicians like Don Jazzy, Sarz, Tiwezi just to name a few.

El'Vee worked as part of the entertainment company Coko Bar London, who were instrumental in putting Afrobeats music and artists on the map in the diaspora. Their love and passion for music brought them to the London Entertainment scene and working with A List African Artists such as 2Face, Wizkid, Don Jazzy and the now defunct Mo’Hits. They also auditioned for XFactor UK in 2008 and 2011 where they met Kelly Rowland, Gary Barlow, etc. Although it didn't work out on XFactor, that did not deter them as they took the plunge to explore music, whilst developing their sound in Africa.

El'Vee released their debut single Oga Pata Pata in 2013, which was produced by Sarz featuring Don Jazzy. Subsequently they took a hiatus from the music industry and returned to music in 2016, where they released Agenda, produced by Selebobo in January 2017 and also skillfully released the Afrobeats version of Dj Khaled's Wild Thoughts, to great acclaim.

Now the sisters release their new single ‘My Butter’: an up-tempo inspirational record which embodies strength in positivity, hope and belief in oneself and I was able to interview the duo, discussing number of topics ranging from what inspired "My Butter", to their wardrobe staple, right down to their influences and as well as learn more about what's next for them. Check it out below.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on?
Viv: Lil and I are twins, so having grown up singing in church, forming a group together was inevitable. Our group names are prefixes of our names so, that came naturally.

What was growing up like?
Lil: We grew up in Nigeria, and moved to the UK at age 14. Growing up in both countries has its up and downs, however we definitely had the best of both worlds, in values and expressions.

How were you able to convince your parents that you wanted to go into circular music?
Viv: Our dad initially wanted us to do something else, typical African parents, so they weren't keen on it at first, however now they are our biggest fans.

Which artist inspired the group  the most growing up?
Viv: Lil and I listened to a lot of groups growing up. Destiny's Child (who didn't), we also loved West Life, Back Street Boys, blue and Plantashun boiz.

Did you both set out to become musicians?
Viv: For the longest Lil and I have loved to sing, from singing in church, secondary school. We just love harmonising, so yes, I think it was inevitable we did it professionally.
What moment made music the way forward for this group?
Lil: There isn't a particular moment I would say. However we always did things in the creative industry, like pioneering Afrobeats music in the UK, auditioning for XFactor, because we knew music was what we wanted to do.

Why is it difficult getting into the music industry?
Viv: For the industry we're in, the Afrobeats industry, its especially difficult. I can only say this because its an extremely patriarchal industry. I guess they have a conception that women are made for one thing, and can't work as hard as men, which is utterly ridiculous.

What’s something you learned early on in your career that made you better artists?
Viv: Record, record, record. You definitely get better with time.

Lil: Belief in oneself and consistency, that would definitely get you a long way.

Who are the next big female artists you’re currently obsessed with? 
Lil: Teni the entertainer, Niniola, Busiswa, Moonchild.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Lil: Structure and definitely Eliminating payola.

Have you experienced situations where you feel you were treated as a lesser artists simply because of your gender?
Lil: Yes definitely, especially in times of shows when you're not considered.

Viv: Yes, situations where we're not given the same opportunities and respect accorded to men.
What’s a wardrobe staple for you girls at the moment?
Viv: Anything trended, colourful and fierce.

Lil: Tracksuits and Trainers.

What musicians would you love to work with in the future? 
Lil: Patoranking, Burnaboy, Cardi B.

In 10-20 years time, what do you want the legacy of El'Vee to be remembered for?
Lil: That we relentlessly pursed our passion, despite the difficulties, and we used our platform to effect change.

Viv: That we never gave up.

How would you describe your own style and how do you separate yourself from other artists?
Lil: Were definitely eclectic, classy and unique, and we separate ourselves by staying through to ourselves.

I love your recently released "My Butter", can you tell us more about the song and what inspired you ladies to write it?
Lil: The beat really inspired us, we co-wrote the record with a really good song writer friend of ours, and the theme of prosperity and hope was developed.

Viv: The vibe of the beat was infectious, after we heard it, we intuitively knew we wanted to inspire people with the record, to keep going on.


What challenges did you face whilst recording "My Butter" and how did you overcome them?
Lil: Apart from driving a really long distance in the most crazy part of the mainland, in Lagos Nigeria, it was all worth it as soon as we got to do what we love. 
                      

Tell us about the process of song-writing and music-making together - do you do everything collaboratively? Do you have any special rituals?
Lil: We definitely work collaboratively, with our producer, putting across our ideas, depending on how the beat makes us feel.

Viv: No rituals really, apart from always coming into the studio with our A-game and having a drink or two.

Do you think African female musicians need to work harder than their male counterparts for the same recognition?
Viv: I don't think so, because women already do work as hard as men, sometimes even harder and don't get the same recognition. We just hope we continue to put in the work, more women supporting each other, and we would get that breakthrough. 

What’s next for this duo? What do you want out of 2019?
Viv: Definitely more releases, being more consistent and reaching for the top. 

Lil: Hopefully a lot more people knowing about the El'Vee brand and our music.
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Cover StoryToyo Rudeboi
Cover ArtTiminaija

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