Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Feature

Loick Essien: Love Loick

Loick Essien @bluesandsoul.com
Loick Essien @bluesandsoul.com

Unquestionably one of the most promising new talents to emerge from the UKâs thriving urban music scene in 2010, 19-year-old London singer/songwriter Loick Essien this month releases his compulsive, bass-heavy debut single âLove Drunkâ. Whose electronic keyboard-dominated production comes courtesy of chart-topping Tinie Tempah producer Labrinth.

Having been surrounded by music all his life and inspired early on by the music videos of Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown, Loick started out performing to his motherâs hairdressing clients at the tender age of four (!) before, at just nine years old, having his already-apparent âstar qualityâ spotted by London comedian/singer Richard Blackwood. Who - so impressed with Loickâs performance as a young version of him in his own âMama Who Da Manâ video - immediately offered the young Master Essien the opportunity to co-host his MTV Talent show alongside him!

Nevertheless, it was actually just three years later that - while featuring as a dancer in Big Brovaz music video - a then-12-year-old Loickâs vocal talents were first âdiscoveredâ by said groupâs producer Skillz. Who was sufficiently impressed to straightaway invite the youngster to his studio, so he could develop his singing and songwriting skills while simultaneously gaining a taste for recording music.

Meanwhile, with his vocals having since appeared on well-received tracks from London rappers Bashy (the underground classic âBlack Boysâ; plus âWhen the Sky Fallsâ, the theme from the recent gritty UK urban flick âShankâ) and Chipmunk (âBeastâ), Loick has impressively spent the last 15 months recording his debut album for Sony Music in both the UK and US. Working with such proven hit-making producers as Londonâs Naughty Boy (Chipmunk/Wiley ); LAâs The Underdogs (Jordin Sparks/Beyonce/Jennifer Hudson); plus New York-based Norwegians StarGate (Rihanna/Ne-Yo/Beyonce etc) along the way.

Cue for a friendly and ambitious Mr. Essien to enjoy a breezy introductory chat with Pete Lewis at Sony Musicâs Kensington HQ.

His new, debut single âLove Drunkâ

âIt was definitely one of the most fun songs to make for my album. Plus I just think it represents me very well as an artist, because Iâm quite loud, bubbly, always smiling... You know, everybody knows that I laugh a lot! So in that way âLove Drunkâ definitely fits how Iâd like to be perceived for my first song! And also, while I think it is strong enough to happen in America, at the same time it still has that British sound to it. Which to me is very important. You know, I definitely want to keep my heritage as a UK singer. Because this is where Iâm from, and Iâm PROUD to be where Iâm from!â

Working with currently-red-hot UK urban producer Labrinth (of Tinie Tempah fame) on âLove Drunkâ

âWell, the guy is crazy-talented, plus heâs very much like myself. So us working together is always very easy - itâs just laughs and jokes all day! You know, he does the production; I try and figure out the melodies - and then we kinda COMBINE it⦠So yeah, there was a lot of vibing - and none of the song was actually written down! It was just straight-to-the-mic and put-it-down - which was like a really fun process! And obviously, with Labrinth having just been signed to (Simon Cowellâs Sony-affiliated label) SYCO, the timing of everything is just great and everybodyâs happy! Itâs like HEâS coming out, IâM coming out - and everybodyâs just trying to SUPPORT each other! Plus he and I are really close now as friends - to where we talk mostly every day, sometimes eat together⦠So itâs turned into a great working relationship.â

What we can expect from Loickâs forthcoming debut album

âI think basically just great songs and great music. Because this album is definitely about the music first and not about anything else. You know, the record has taken about a year-and-bit to make. So thereâs definitely been time and effort put into every detail of the songs. And musically what people can expect is just well-written songs with a twist. I mean, if I were to try to describe the sound I think Iâd probably say R&B-meets-Coldplay - you know, guitars mixed with R&B. Because itâs not straight-down-the middle R&B. Thereâs like pop songs on there where the vocal style gives it bit of an R&B edge; thereâs songs that have a slight rock edge - and then you also have your uptempo club-bangers⦠So definitely, from front-to-back Iâm really happy with the work thatâs been created. I think thereâs something on there for everyone.â

His early background

âWell, Iâm from West London. Iâm from the street; Iâm very streetwise... And as a kid I always had a passion for acting and dancing. You know, I used to love battling at the youth clubs, just competing and doing dances with OTHER dancers from the area. And then I also went to a theatre school called Sylvia Young for a year, but that didnât work out - I didnât really think it was right for me. And it was actually at that point that I started to realise that my real love was music - and that was IT, really! From there on it was onwards and upwards, man!â

How Loickâs vocal talent was first spotted at 12 years old, while he was appearing in a music video for mid-Noughties UK urban hit-makers Big Brovaz

âThat came about through someone I met during my early acting days called Jake Nava - who these days actually does videos like Beyonceâs âDangerously In Loveâ. He and I first worked together on an advert for Celebrations chocolates. And, because heâd seen the potential in me as an artist and dancer, he asked me to come down to the set of the Big Brovaz video for their song âOKâ. So I went down and danced, did my thing⦠And then during the lunch break I had my headphones on, singing away, when Skillz - the producer for Big Brovaz - came up, commented on my vocals, and told me heâd really like to do some stuff with me! So I did my first tracks with him, which made me realise I could take the singing side of things seriously. And from there he basically kinda built me up and prepared me for the music industry. To where Iâd be able to eventually do my own tracks and be seen in my own right as an artist.â

How his guest features for London rappers Bashy (âBlack Boysâ; When The Sky Fallsâ) and Chipmunk (âBeastâ) helped Loick get his current record-deal with Sony Music

âBashy and I were friends BEFORE the music. And so my first feature was with him - for Black History Month - on his âBlack Boysâ track, which was perceived really well. So after that Bashy introduced me to Chipmunk, which is how my collaboration with him on âBeastâ came about... Then the next song I featured on was for Bashy again - âWhen The Sky Fallsâ for the âShankâ soundtrack. Which not only got my NAME further out there, but - because there was a video to it - also helped introduce me to people VISUALLY. So, with me doing shows as well around that time, a lot of A&R people were coming down to see me. And from there - through a guy named Solomon - I eventually ended up doing a showcase here at Sony for my A&R, Johnny Blackburn⦠You know, it was in a room with everybody gathered around. So it was like âYEAH! The pressure is ON, man!â!.. And then, because everybody loved what they saw, the next week I had to come in AGAIN and perform for the MD, Craig Logan - and once again they loved what they SAW!.. And so I got my DEAL!â

Loickâs single âLove Drunkâ is released on September 13 through RCA UK
Words PETE LEWIS

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