A shorter version of this interview was originally published in BE. CURIOUS — CULTURE MAG edition #01. Image of Remi Kolawole photographed by Nynno Bel-Air for BE. CURIOUS. Creative direction by Grace Dlabik.
How would you describe your connection with your culture?
I guess I’d have to say loose. My connection to language, the land, the people—it’s loose. I’m much more connected to family, like the Nigerian cats I grew up with through my pops. But as far as my connection to the birthplace of my dad, it’s very separated. I’ve only been there one time. I can’t speak Yoruba. I definitely feel it; there’s stuff you can’t explain, certain music that you may like, things you’re drawn to, ways you may act. All of a sudden, that’s something Nigerian that’s just buried. But that’s as close as I get.
It’s said that music influences culture and culture influences music. Do you think that your work as an artist plays into that dynamic?
It’s really hard to say. If it does play into that, I think it’s subconscious and intergenerational for sure. I definitely gravitate towards trying to find as much Yoruba music as possible, listening to that, hearing what people like Fela Kuti may have heard when they were coming up. But my family influences my music more than culture really does. Hopefully that’s something that will change as I grow. I hope to reconnect with it more for sure. But at this point in time I think it’s my immediate community, my family and my environment that inspires what comes out.