With venues shut for the best part of this year, Coronavirus has left the world trying to muster up an ounce of creativity while we remain indoors. Singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Steven Bamidele is a master of making music from home. “It’s funny, now that I have a decent home setup, I find myself wanting to move outward and collaborate more, and work with instruments or sounds that I don’t have,” Steven says. His home studio is well equipped for recording electronic, soul and hip-hop beats, but he hopes to utilise professional studio spaces more when it’s safe to do so.
Since the release of his debut EP A Sense of Belonging back in January, Steven has spent a great deal of this year producing other artists. “The biggest challenge has been explaining what I hear in my head to an artist who isn’t thinking that far ahead or has a different vision,” he admits. But he affirms that overcoming this hurdle has improved his production abilities greatly, working hard to translate his ideas. He attributes his foresight early on in the songwriting process to his love of layering different sounds and instruments together.
Turning his focus to his own music, his new single ‘This Won’t Happen a Second Time’ marks a shift towards a more alternative R&B sound. It has the comforting warmth of early 90s British R&B and is a reassuring hand-hold for these uncertain times. Steven says he’s not tied to a particular genre, as his music is often influenced by what he’s listening to at the time. Over the past few years, his curiosity in London’s jazz and soul scene has infused into his solo work, daring to experiment more with rhythm in his writing.
Recording and writing have never separate for Steven. Lyrically, he says: “I’m a seriously scatter-brained person. I like having a lot going on so I tend not to process big stuff straight away, and it ends up bottling up.” He says he usually teases the lyrics out of his songs after the instrumental is fixed. But this new single comes from a clear place of purpose, unpacking the days immediately after the passing of his father. Written in February, ‘This Won’t Happen a Second Time’ helped Steven make sense of that turbulent time in his life.
Reflecting on his youth, songs you could expect to hear in his family home mostly consisted of what Steven defines as “middle of the road, white people music”. His formative music memories, however, are centred in his time in church. “When the congregation was singing hymns or songs, my mum would always harmonise with them, and then has definitely stuck with me and influenced my sense of harmony.” His aptitude for blending harmonies is striking on ‘It Won’t Happen a Second Time’, as his beautifully-crafted backing vocals merge effortlessly with his silky falsetto. He adds that performing in numerous worship bands also had a big effect on his playing. The melody carrying the new single nods to this, evocative of an old electronic organ.
Like many artists over lockdown, Steven tried his hand at live streaming from home. He joined the line-up for Brighton’s Head In The Clouds Festival and performed alongside Gig Buddies for Mental Health, sometimes showcasing snippets of his new single. “At first it felt novel and fun, but to be honest I think everyone’s real eager to have live shows back. I took them for granted because I was playing regularly live, as a session musician for others too.” Although it is difficult to look to the future right now, Steven is content focusing on his writing. “I’ve been forming a set of new songs. I want to get them to a really good place.” He hopes to be releasing more of his own music in 2021 and he readily awaits live venues reopening to audiences again.
‘This Won’t Happen a Second Time’ by Steven Bamidele is out now released by QM Records. Available on all major digital platforms.