Artist: Romel + Sweet Billy Boy
Release: Mind Blown
Label: Grafton Recordings
“Romel is an artist who has a unique approach to his sound”
Band Camp Diaries
Having played to sold-out clubs in Coventry, whooped up the crowds on the floats at Notting Hill Carnival, and recently supported Burna Boy, the UK-based Grafton Entertainment afro-pop artist Romel comes with his latest release, Mind Blown featuring Sweet Billy Boy.
Produced by Slic Vic (currently producing Tinie Tempah and signed to Tinie’s Imhotep/Sony ATV label), plus Kansas City-based Matthew Boda (part of the US music production house JTL Group), new single Mind Blown originally came about as a freestyle jam when working with Slic Vic at Pirate Studios – a place where many top artists have worked including BRIT & NME Award winner Kate Nash. Once the track was bangin’
Romel invited a friend and fellow singer Sweet Billy Boy (who’s been enjoying support for his own work recently from BBC Three Counties DJ Edward Adoo) to spit some verses to complete the production.
On the making of the track, Romel says “I was not meaning to write a song like Mind Blown but it just poured out of me in a wave of positivity. This was after spending a fair few years of not working with the right teams, but then things started to go well, and working with Slic Vic was part of that transition.
The spontaneity is really infectious, and at this point in time I’m in a perfect space with the songs flowing nicely”.
Mind Blown is Romel’s fifth single release and follows three singles from last year: Tonight, Summertime, and Paradise, which between them, picked up strong support on UK regional stations plus rave reviews in Flava Mag, Vents, and other online publications.
Raised in London and of Nigerian descent, Romel started his musical journey rapping at various open-mics and studio sessions, until a producer heard his voice and suggested he sing instead, changing the course of his style completely.
Taking inspiration from the likes of Khalid and Pharrell Williams, Romel eventually started working with Grafton Entertainment and toured Nigeria with Grafton & MTV Base Africa alongside artists Mr 2Kay, Ill Bliss, Tha Suspect, and Jaywon plus MTV Base presenter Ehiz.
Otherwise, Romel has also featured in videos for Davido’s hit song IF (which won Best Pop Single and Song Of The Year at Nigeria’s Headies Awards), Wondering by Mo ft. Chip plus Chicken Curry by Mr. Eazi ft. Sneakbo & Just Sul.
Outside of music, Romel appeared in the Bengali movie Bhaijaan Elo Re, which was the fastest Bengali movie soundtrack to hit a million views in 24 hours. He’s also had cameo appearances in the short film Lucid, plus the BBC comedy show Famalam.
The year 2020 looks to be the best one yet for upcoming afro-pop artist Romel…
Raised in London, Romel grew up listening to an eclectic mix of music, before taking his first steps into performing, originally as a rapper.
One producer advised him to move into singing after hearing his voice, changing the course of his style completely.
Romel got his first taste of touring with Grafton Entertainment and MTV Base Africa in 2014, before releasing his debut single ‘Good Guy’ in mid-2016.
Tell us how you develop your sound and style to make it different from other musicians.
I don’t know but for some reason, songs come to my head and I just try to develop the song in a way that it appeals to me. And when I try to make it, I just do it my way.
Tell us your opinion on the way new artists are coming up and the frequent release of songs.
It is interesting; it gives everyone a chance, but good songs also get forgotten easily. And you can easily get lost in the crowd these days.
Tell us about your experience as a musician/artist.
It has been a journey of failures and Triumph, I had to learn everything myself, which means I had to make a lot of mistakes.
I’ve performed everywhere from pubs to bars when I started out. I remember going out to beg DJs to play my song and all. And I would never take those days back because they helped me value where I am today.
It was even when I met my Grafton records years ago that helped put me in the right direction and taking me on the first tour that changed a lot for me.
One of my funniest experiences was when my dad threatened to kick me off stage when I told him I was performing because he wanted me to go to the University ha-ha, but when he got there he saw me performing and I had the club dancing and screaming. So, he changed his mind and started telling people around me that he was my dad ha-ha.
Tell us your opinion on streaming and digital download of songs.
If you’ve ever given out CDs before you will appreciate the digital streaming side of things. I think it’s good, but I think streaming is more effective because plays still count even years later, unlike downloads.
Tell us your goals and plans.
Like what I call myself “The Prince of Pop” I want to live up to that name. I want to create my own lane where I can’t be compared with anyone. Awards are not really my things but if it comes it comes.
Tell us five current artists that are your favorite.
Ha-ha, Easy! Burna Boy, Calvin Harris, Jax Jones, Mark Ronson, Dua Lipa.
Tell us your favorite song up to date and share the link.
At this moment I have “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa on repeat, can’t get enough of it. It is even the soundtrack of my dreams ha-ha.
Tell us your dream and hope for the future.
I have always had this dream of performing in one of the biggest award shows and giving them the best performance, they have ever seen, and it’s going to happen. I just don’t hope but know that in the nearest future I would be given the recognition I deserve.
Tell us what has changed in the music industry.
I think the music industry is more business than art now. So, people focus on what’s trending other than trying to make something original.
An example is sometimes you meet a producer or Record Label and they say they want a song like this or that, so you go into the studio thinking about what you want the song to sound like rather than just letting it flow.
Tell us your opinion on television/radio stations playing the same songs from established artists and giving little chances to independent artists.
It still falls to what I said about the business side of the industry taking over.
It’s a food chain so you must work extra hard to be seen which is better so whenever you get your chance you can value it more than when it is handed over to you easily because of your talent.
Tell us the challenges independent artists are facing and how to tackle them.
I think it’s all about funds to run the best campaign to get noticed, but sometimes it’s not all about the funds it’s also knowing the right place to spend the funds to get good results.
We’ve all lost money trying to get noticed which is not too bad because labels too have lost money investing in the wrong artist and songs too, so it is fair, but just harder since for an independent artist, funds are limited, and before you can raise the money to try again people would have moved on from you since it is a fast industry.
Share your press releases and reviews with us.
BBC Northampton Hit, Miss, Maybe
Tell us your opinion on using social media to promote music online.
I think it doesn’t only give artists the chance to promote their music but also gives you the opportunity to create how you want to be seen.
Tell us about your music career.
I have just been riding the wave. Everything is all progressing; I just let my music lead the way.
Tell us what still motivates you to go on with your music career.
To be very honest, I know I am good at what I do, so I believe very soon I would get what I deserve.
Tell us about you as a person.
I am a very weird person who likes weird things ha-ha.
Elaborate on the story behind the song.
I was just telling a story of having enough of being played and being told what to do, but that I’m doing fine by doing things my way.
Tell us the process involved in making this song.
I never had a song like Mind Blown in mind when I started making the song. I just got to the studio that day with the producer Slic Vic (who is the producer of Top Winners by Tinie and Not3s) and I just told him I wanted a pop-funk song and he just started working on it and I just came with the “Oh I can’t deny it, Tanana Tanana…” and that was it. I just put everything together and in less than two hours we were done.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
I go by the name Romel, which is my actual first name because I tried to go for something cooler than Romel. But there’s nothing cooler than Romel.
State the title of the song and the meaning.
The title of the song is ‘Mind Blown’ and it simply means something surprising that your brain can’t understand. Which is what I’m about to do.
State the title of your upcoming album and the reason for choosing the title.
I haven’t chosen a title yet which I would like to keep a secret until then.