By Damilola Grey
Dami: What was your first introduction to music?
TOVA: My first introduction to music was listening to a bunch of records with my parents when I was much younger. They’d always play their favorite songs around the house and from then, I started to associate music with home and warmth.
Dami: What then inspired you to become an artist?
TOVA: Prior to making my own music, I worked a lot behind the scenes as a writer and vocal producer for other artists. One day, in the studio, I lost a bet with a friend and the forfeit was that I had to put out my own music.
Dami: How’d that go? What was your first drop like?
TOVA: It was a new experience, but I did it with friends and I was happy to have done it that way. Learned a lot of things from that time also.
Dami: How would you describe your sound?
TOVA: In a broader sense, I’m making urban R&B, but you can tell that there are other influences like gospel, neo-soul, soft rock, and Afrofusion that give colour to my work. Just as integral, in my opinion, is that with every song- the choices are always in service of the story that I’m trying to tell. That influences the production, and every other thing that goes on.
Dami: Who are your biggest inspirations?
TOVA: Frank Ocean, Daniel Caesar, Zweii, Oboise, Adeoluwa and SZA are some people that are doing some very cool things and I often listen and try to learn from the things they’re doing.
Dami: What’s your creative process like?
TOVA: There’s equal parts, spontaneity and intentionality, to how I create things. But at all times, I’m thinking about what the story is; and that allows me to make the best choices as to how to convey that across to the listeners.
Dami: When making music, where do you grab inspiration from?
TOVA: I’m of the opinion that inspiration exists all around us; there’s compelling stories that are begging to be told everywhere; and if we allow ourselves to exist in the moment, we might be able to tap in to them and feel sufficiently inspired to create. A lot of my music is the product of internalizing things that I’ve seen, heard, and experienced. The songs are my way of processing these experiences.
Dami: You just dropped a single titled “7 Days”. Tell us about it.
TOVA: “7 Days” is a song from my upcoming EP, “Care PKG”. On 7 Days, I talk about how my work ethic is a product of watching my parents work so hard to set me up for success, how I’ve seen my mum work weeks on end without taking a break, and how now that I’m where I’m at, I’m working 6 out of 7 days because if they didn’t take breaks, I can’t take breaks until I’ve paid off the struggle and made my family proud. I feel like wanting to do well, to bring pride and joy to you family, and to satisfy the dreams of your inner child is something that a lot of people can relate and emphasize with. This song also saw me try my hand at Afrofusion; something I hadn’t done before. It was fitting because, in the song that I talk a bit about how I grew up, I was able to incorporate- to some extent- the sounds of my youth.
Dami: What should we expect from “Care PKG”?
TOVA: Care PKG is the best thing I’ve made so far. I was fortunate to be able to work with super talented people that helped me refine the ideas; as always, it includes heartfelt, honest storytelling.
Dami: Any features on it?
TOVA: There’s no features on this project, no.
Dami: What do you want listeners to take away after listening to your
TOVA: I’m hoping that with every song, people who listen feel like they know who TOVA is a little better, and that in some of these songs, they learn things about themselves also. In some way, the songs are a testament, a memorialization of me passing through and experiencing life, and some of these experiences are ones that other people would hopefully be able to relate with.
Dami: How do you deal with writer’s block?
TOVA: It might sound basic but you have to write through it. I see creativity like a pipeline, and to get to the grand ideas, you have to get to the great ideas- you have to let all the not so good ideas flow first, and then analyze what about them didn’t work. It is a teachable moment, and gets you closer to the great ideas.
Dami: What you tryna achieve before the year ends?
TOVA: I want to play more live shows; and connect with more people on stage.
Dami: How is it balancing music and a full time job at the same time?
TOVA: There’s a few things as disorienting as playing a show; doing very well and having to go back to your 9-5 the next day. But for right now, I have to do the work to fund my passion, until one day- hopefully soon, the passion becomes my work.
Pre-save “Care PKG” by TOVA HERE.
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