Highsnobiety

The journey to the top looks different for everybody, especially in today’s musical landscape. Though talent and hard work are no doubt two crucial elements for anyone who claims star power, the industry remains difficult to navigate and almost impossible to stay relevant from one project to the next.

For artists like Rema, however, that moment is never strained – the spotlight seems to follow him wherever he moves. From popping up on Obama’s Summer ‘19 Playlist to his most recent album “Rave & Roses”, which contains No. 1 Billboard Global single “Calm Down” with Selena Gomez, Rema has staked his claim as the “It Boy” in Afrobeats music. One of his most outstanding features as an artist? His dynamic style, both sonically and written.

The 22-year-old has a distinct sound utilizing qualities of jazz, dancehall, and R&B throughout his music. Rema also incorporates unique slang from his hometown of Benin City, which makes him identifiable on any track within the first few seconds of listening.

This sort of effortless style is a direct result of Rema’s authenticity, a trait that he cognizably nurtures. In an interview with Complex the artist revealed, “I feel like as a young person, I should be allowed to grow. I don’t want others putting their expectations on me—I want to create my own path, my own journey, and talk about what I like to talk about.”

Picking up on Rema’s natural ability to create, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Abbey Road Studios called on him for their initiative “Center Stage”. Center Stage is the duo’s effort to pair emerging and established musicians to foster authentic collaborations amongst talented artists while empowering their writing process. Offering artists 1,000 hours of studio time, along with 1,000 hours of suite time, this initiative provides one-of-a-kind support to a wide range of musical talent to ensure our generation’s talent has the resources they need to succeed.

In celebration of the launch of Center Stage, Rema shared a special performance at the legendary Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, a Fairmont Managed Hotel in London. With an opening set by up-and-coming soul singer Debbie, attendees got a firsthand look into the rewards of a program that highlights and uplifts today’s musical talents at all levels.

In an attempt to grasp the zeitgeist which surrounds a rising movement he is spearheading, we spoke to Rema about his unique process, the influence that environment has on songwriting, and what his future legacy looks like.

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How does your environment influence your writing?

My environment needs to be right to put me in the best frame of mind to be free when I create, I’m not an artist who can make music anywhere and everywhere. I also pull inspiration from the places I write in, so there needs to be something special about the space that allows me to be creative and try new things. I need to feel that comfort as I write and record to let my ideas really flow from my head to the track. A good space can truly make a song come to life.

What types of spaces enhance your writing process most?

Sometimes I like to be alone, and other times I need to be surrounded by good people and energy and let whatever I have just come out. A space that has good vibes is what is most important to me. Different spaces help me create different music. When I’m surrounded by people and the energy is right, I use that to create songs that make people want to dance. When I’m writing alone, I usually work on more personal songs that show everyone who I am and what I’m feeling.

What practices pull you out of writer’s block?

Time alone really helps. Sometimes life is a bit chaotic, so time alone in my room helps. Taking a step back from my hectic day-to-day life helps me to re-center myself and focus on what means the most to me, my music. Once I have that in perspective, everything else falls into place. Also, staying humble, respect my craft, and enjoy what I do. I am young and have a lot of responsibility for my age, but I just want to enjoy life. So it’s a balance between personal time, and making sure I am enjoying this life the best I can.

What role does community play in your musical success?

My community of supporters means everything to me. They have been there for me every step of the way from the beginning and I will never forget that. Now, when I see my music traveling across the world and crossing border after border, I am so grateful. Like when I go to play a concert in a new city I have never been to and see fans sing along with me, it’s one of the best feelings. I just want my music to make people happy.

What do you think of Fairmont’s new mission through Center Stage to support up-and-coming artists?

It is amazing that a global brand wants to champion the next wave of artists. Music is everything to me, and to see people supporting the scene only makes me happy. There are a lot of artists who try so hard at music and just need a little help. Center Stage is a program that can actually help artists with what they need to grow – a place to sleep and a place to make music. It seems simple but sometimes that’s all we really need, some help from people who can. I know this program will help a lot of artists achieve their dreams, and that makes me very happy to be a part of it.

How do you envision your musical legacy?

We have one mission, and that is to take Afrobeats to the world. Nigeria is finally getting respect for being the musical capital of the world. Some great artists are coming out of Nigeria and Africa right now and making it on the world stage. The world has always wanted this music in their lives, but now they realize they need it and they can’t get enough of it. I’m just glad to be a part of this moment for Afrobeats and music.

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