Interview – S.O. finds his roots

We spoke to S.O. about his journey through Covid, his musical journey and his new EP, Larry Ginni Cresent.

We went to your Homecoming Show at the start of last year. That was our last gig before lockdown. What’s it been like spending so long without gigs?

One thing I realised about the Homecoming show is that I want all my shows to be like that but you can’t duplicate that everywhere. We put a lot of money into that concert. We didn’t even know Covid was going to be a thing like that. If that was the last concert you went to before Covid, that was a good concert to go to.

Recently, I’ve been able to do things I wouldn’t have been able to do before, like writing for other people. Covid allowed me to be home more with my wife and my daughter, but it also allowed me to create more music that I’m now starting to roll out to people.

So your creativity helped bring you through lockdown?

Initially, the assumption was that if you’re in lockdown, you’ll be at home and write a hundred songs. But the truth is that when the pandemic first hit, the creativity wasn’t there. You was looking out in the world and seeing people passing away and you didn’t know if it was going to come for you next. That beginning stage was difficult.

If you’re an artist and your primary way of making money is through concerts and shows, and you’re not able to do shows anymore, you don’t want to think about creating. I was thinking about how I can provide for my family and how I can make sure that the ship doesn’t stop sailing.

The S.O. Homecoming concert was our last gig before lockdown.

How did you get your creative mojo back?

I’m not sure. I just wanted to plough through. Even if I didn’t want to do a session, I create in my house so I would still try to do sessions. I ended up getting a lot of junk out; songs that will never see the light of day. Then I was like: I can start a project now. Another thing I did in lockdown was start an indie band – Our Future Glory. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I had more time to do it. So I reached out to Dan Stirling, who’s produced for people like Rivers and Robots, and we built a friendship. It helped me to do something else, something different.

Looking back through some of our early pictures from when the Sound Doctrine first started in 2010, we see you a lot in the pictures. Do you see yourself as an elder statesman now?

I have no choice! I came through with New Direction maybe 2007 and put out my first project maybe 2012. My role now is to empower those who are coming up. I want them to know the things that we weren’t ever taught, so they can know them from the start. Things like licensing and publishing are important and some of these young cats, I’m honoured to teach them some things around that.

Tell me about the new EP – Larry Ginni Crescent – what does the title mean first of all?

Larry Ginni Crescent is the road that I grew up on in Nigeria. I always knew that if I was going to make a project that was predominately afrobeats, it would have to be rooted in history – in my history – so that when my daughter asks, I can say, I can take you to the house where I grew up right now. I can show you the road, I can show you the fence, I can show you where that picture was taken. Some of the pictures for the EP artwork, I took them with my sister. This is my Nigerian history that I haven’t shown to the world before. The title, Larry Ginni Crescent, might seem random to people but it really means something to me.

When I look back at the pictures, I remember the happy times back in Nigeria.

Why was it important to you to go back to your African roots? Was it more for nostalgia, or was it for the legacy that you leave, particularly for your daughter?

It’s definitely legacy. If you ask a black friend in the UK where they’re from, they might say Brixton. But then you say where are you from and they’ll say I’m from Nigeria or Ghana, or wherever. If you ask the same question in America, they’ll say, I’m from Boston. For me, it’s about legacy and knowing where we’re from. I want people to learn about African culture that they didn’t know before.

The quickest ways to find out about a culture is through food and music. I don’t own a restaurant, but I know how to write rhymes. I want people to learn more about African culture through the music.

We have to talk videos. Your video for Goals was the best thing we’ve seen in years. You’ve got the video coming out for Kinda Love. What’s the premise?

Kinda Love is a song for my wife and it’s about love from a biblical perspective. I wanted to say that the kind of love we have, it perseveres, it keeps no record of wrongs, and the video is a continuation of that. My wife is in the video and we’re not acting. I didn’t have to get an actor for the video because my wife is pretty. If you know the movie Love and Basketball, you’ll recognise the inspiration from some of the scenes in the video. I’m really excited about the video.

God knew what he was doing when he brought me and my wife together. I had a life back in London but so did she. But she was willing to move to the States with me. I didn’t even have a full plan. I had half a plan, the other half I didn’t know. But I said we’re going to make it work, and my wife trusted that.

What do you want people to take away when listening to your music – especially this new EP?

I want people to keep the main thing the main thing. God transformed my life and I want people to know Him. I want them to know of Him, I want people to know who He is, and I want people to know that He can transform their life. It doesn’t mean their life will be perfect; I had people close to me pass away while making this project. But God is still good to me.

Larry Ginni Cresent by S.O. is out now. Listen here

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