Holding nothing back, the singer bares all on her soul-stirring EP “The Hard Way Around The Sun”.
It goes without saying that this past year has been challenging for the majority of us. With never-ending lockdowns and the fear of the unknown brimming at the surface, we’ve been trying to find solace in an array of things, and MEI’s latest EP “The Hard Way Around The Sun” is currently the answer. From the detailing of the breakdown of her relationship to battling racial injustices, the London-hailed singer bares all on her latest project, documentary each journey intricately using slow-burning productions and warming settings.
Kicking off the project with the atmospheric “See Us”, the singer-songwriter pours out every inch of emotion on the kaleidoscopic production, while weaving in elements of contemporary soul and subtle electro. Entering a late-night vibe for “Write to You”, MEI easily oscillates between the likes of Aluna and Lionbabe, as she shifts tonally between the soothing verses and punching choruses.
“I remember thinking that I wanted to document everything that was going on,” the singer revealed. “Life felt completely out of control, and I was forgetting things all the time, which I later learned was a trauma response. I wanted people to be able to listen to the project in 10 years and be able to have a glimpse into what this time was like.”
With the world opening its doors again to the prospect of live shows and festivals, the rising artist is due to return to the stage this year while continuing her songwriting story. With her EP out now, the artist took us through the most challenging aspects of her life so far, being so honest in her music and how truly healing it was to put out the project.
Check out the interview below now…
How has this past year been for you? Has it affected your creativity in anyway?
This sounds dramatic but 2020 was definitely the worst year of my life so far! I’m probably not alone in that. I had severe covid 19 last March and then developed long covid symptoms, which meant complete bed rest for 3 months. This was all on top of other personal issues, so not a great time! But those experiences kind of kicked the door down in terms of limiting my art. Things I might have been scared to share or do, don’t scare me anymore.
What is one thing you’ve learnt about yourself during the lockdowns? Did you pick up any unusual skills?
I learnt that I gain energy from being around people so being isolated was really difficult but after you get over the talking to yourself out loud phase, the alone time was super peaceful and reflective. One skill I picked up was how to cook and dance! Kitchen raves saved me.
How did you first get into music? What sparked the interest?
I grew up with lots of music being played in the house including Jazz, Gospel and Ghanaian Highlife, plus I was in choirs at school and church and that’s where I found my voice. A very last-minute decision to do a music degree changed everything for me and since then I haven’t looked back.
And you’re from London, which has a huge music scene! Do you think growing up here impacted your sound?
London has definitely impacted my sound. As a kid, I was listening to everything from UK Garage, Grime to Brit Pop as well as R&B and Hip Hop. I bought my first CD from Sainsbury’s and it was Dizzee Rascal’s Boy in da Corner. It made me so proud to be from London, it was so gritty but creative and unlike anything I’d ever heard. I like to think my sound is quite unique and blends all the genres I grew up with.
Congrats on your EP! How was the production process? Did you face any challenges?
Thanks so much! The process itself was a journey. I co-produced 3 of the tracks with production duo A Good Friend and it went from the studio, to Zoom to home studio to Zoom to studio etc.. Jaleesa and Teresa were also sometimes in their home countries, The Netherlands and Italy, during the lockdowns, but we kept focused and got really good at file sharing! Particularly when it came to editing the stems from final recordings. It’s not for the faint-hearted! Write to You I actually produced while I was on bed rest with long covid. Once I was in less pain, I made a mini set up on my coffee table and demoed the whole thing while lying flat on my sofa.
What was your mindset approaching the project?
I remember thinking that I wanted to document everything that was going on. Life felt completely out of control, and I was forgetting things all the time, which I later learnt was a trauma response. I wanted people to be able to listen to the project in 10 years and be able to have a glimpse into what this time was like.
It really touches on some sensitive and intimate topics, what was it like tapping into this and being so honest?
I think it was truly healing. I can look back now and the process of writing and creating this EP was super important to my recovery, so it’s a massive blessing that I was able to make it, with the help of an all-female crew. It felt important to have this project written, produced and performed entirely by women and that probably allowed me to feel comfortable enough to be this honest. I’m definitely freaking out about sharing something so personal, but I think that’s also my job, as the type of artist I want to be.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I would love them to take away the fact that there is life after setbacks. Sometimes the most growth happens in the darkest places.
What is next for you? What are you most excited for?
Writing! And hopefully a lot more shows! That’s definitely what I’m most excited for. Performing and connecting with my supporters inspires me. How the audience connects with the music, brings it to life almost, so I cannot wait to get back on stage very soon.