Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Loick Essien: Love Loick

Loick Essien
Loick Essien

Unquestionably one of the most promising new talents to emerge from the UK’s thriving urban music scene in 2010, 19-year-old London singer/songwriter Loick Essien this month releases his compulsive, bass-heavy debut single ‘Love Drunk’. 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 mother’s hairdressing clients at the tender age of four (!) before, at just nine years old, having his already-apparent “star quality” spotted by London comedian/singer Richard Blackwood. Who - so impressed with Loick’s performance as a young version of him in his own ‘Mama Who Da Man’ 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 Loick’s vocal talents were first “discovered” by said group’s 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 ‘Black Boys’; plus ‘When the Sky Falls’, the theme from the recent gritty UK urban flick ‘Shank’) and Chipmunk (‘Beast’), 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 London’s Naughty Boy (Chipmunk/Wiley ); LA’s 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 Music’s Kensington HQ.

His new, debut single ‘Love Drunk’

“It 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 I’m quite loud, bubbly, always smiling... You know, everybody knows that I laugh a lot! So in that way ‘Love Drunk’ definitely fits how I’d 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 I’m from, and I’m PROUD to be where I’m from!”

Working with currently-red-hot UK urban producer Labrinth (of Tinie Tempah fame) on ‘Love Drunk’

“Well, the guy is crazy-talented, plus he’s very much like myself. So us working together is always very easy - it’s 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 Cowell’s Sony-affiliated label) SYCO, the timing of everything is just great and everybody’s happy! It’s like HE’S coming out, I’M coming out - and everybody’s 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 it’s turned into a great working relationship.”

What we can expect from Loick’s forthcoming debut album

“I 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 there’s 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 I’d probably say R&B-meets-Coldplay - you know, guitars mixed with R&B. Because it’s not straight-down-the middle R&B. There’s like pop songs on there where the vocal style gives it bit of an R&B edge; there’s songs that have a slight rock edge - and then you also have your uptempo club-bangers… So definitely, from front-to-back I’m really happy with the work that’s been created. I think there’s something on there for everyone.”

His early background

“Well, I’m from West London. I’m from the street; I’m 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 didn’t work out - I didn’t 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!”

How Loick’s 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

“That came about through someone I met during my early acting days called Jake Nava - who these days actually does videos like Beyonce’s ‘Dangerously In Love’. He and I first worked together on an advert for Celebrations chocolates. And, because he’d 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 ‘OK’. 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 he’d 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 I’d be able to eventually do my own tracks and be seen in my own right as an artist.”

How his guest features for London rappers Bashy (‘Black Boys’; When The Sky Falls’) and Chipmunk (‘Beast’) helped Loick get his current record-deal with Sony Music

“Bashy and I were friends BEFORE the music. And so my first feature was with him - for Black History Month - on his ‘Black Boys’ track, which was perceived really well. So after that Bashy introduced me to Chipmunk, which is how my collaboration with him on ‘Beast’ came about... Then the next song I featured on was for Bashy again - ‘When The Sky Falls’ for the ‘Shank’ 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 ‘YEAH! The pressure is ON, man!’!.. 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!”

Loick’s single ‘Love Drunk’ is released on September 13 through RCA UK

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