\\ Interview with multi-talented Cameroonian artist T’Neeya
T’Neeya is a multitalented artist and a dreamer whose inflexible views on life, art, empowerment and music reflect the audacity of youth with the confident wisdom of an artist.
Talk of validity and few artists would make it to the list, however long. But there’s a crop of artists from around Africa who have chosen to remain true to their character, music and their art in general. T’Neeya is such a personality, the budding Cameroonian singer and songwriter, born in Douala, fully embraces herself and her past, flaws and all that comes with life. She evokes the substance of an artist; making music around her personal life experiences and all other topics which seem boundless.
We caught up with the artist who is currently in Ghana, though under the weather, she was kind enough to grant us an interview. She speaks on her music, family, inspirations, future plans, dreams and the fun singer’s outlook on life and music, as it were, the potential of what she does looks infinite.
Afroway: Hey Tee, thanks for taking time
T’Neeya: Naaa thank u for having me
Afroway: Hope you feeling better now?
T’Neeya: So-so, baby steps, thanks for asking
Afroway: Great stuff…So what you up to on that part of the world? Some new stuff on the way?
T’Neeya: Making music, that’s literally all I do lately, always
Afroway: We gotta keep the ears open then…
T’Neeya: Working on my debut EP. I have to come to Kenyaa
Afroway: Yey! You got to come this side, we fill up concerts and love diverse sound!
T’Neeya: Yes I’d love to come. My sister has been there twice for conferences, AIESEC, don’t know if you are familiar? That’s for another day…haha
Afroway: Of course, where the leaders do their thing…
T’Neeya: I was a part of AIESEC as well. Taught me a lot
Afroway: Interesting. What got you into AISEC?
T’Neeya: My sister inspired me to, she is amazing. Taught me great leadership skills and taught me a lot about team work
Afroway: That is your big sister, I guess?
T’Neeya: Yes I’m the youngest. We are three. Brother in the middle, sister is the oldest. Hahaa he/she goes
Afroway: Haha, one bro, dude gotta be cheeky
T’Neeya: He’s a doctor, proud of him man, told me to send pictures of my medication and everything. Calm guy u know…calm
Afroway: Oh haha… you sent meds pictures, that’s consultancy on a different level
Afroway: So Tee, tell us about you, who is T’Neeya?
T’Neeya: Who is T’neeya, Mann I’m just a crazy, fun loving, day dreaming, hardworking, proud Cameroonian singer song writer, ready to take over the world with my vibes. By day dreaming I mean I dream BIG you know, pretty scary sometimes but yes, big dreamer.
Afroway: Dreams help you set the bar they say. So how many musicians are in the family?
T’Neeya: Just me, but my brother sings too, as well as my sister.
Afroway: But they are not deep into it as career as you?
T’Neeya: Na just me
Afroway: So where did you grow up? And how has it influence your art?
T’Neeya: I was born in Douala, that’s the industrial capital of Cameroon, we eventually moved to Limbe that’s more at the coast. I was all over the place. Primary school in Limbe, boarding school in Bamenda (North West). I was in my church choir that really influenced me Alot! As well as my father who played a lot of makossa. He loved makossa, ask around all the best base players come from Cameroon, Hahaha. I was in a catholic boarding school and I left the school choir alongside 3 other ladies. That really was the foundation, I just learnt by doing.
Afroway: So you grew up with the makossa sound, basically music that bears the Cameroonian soul, one would say. Do you infuse some of that in your music?
T’Neeya: Yes, the gospel, makossa from the OGs like my dad and the occasional Pop on radio, Michael Jackson etc, I keep talking about boarding school because I spent important years there (age9-17 )
Afroway: Haha got this, so how was the transformation like from gospel to what you are doing now?
T’Neeya: Gospel was a good foundation for me … wouldn’t necessarily call it a transformation. Gospel gave me substance …soul, purpose, I know I want to touch people when I sing. I know I want to send a message, gospel makes me feel stuff …so many people out here just numb, you know.
Afroway: And this is evident in your music, the lyrics kind of give an authentic part of you?
T’Neeya: Thank u
Afroway: What inspires your music or your songwriting?
T’Neeya: Personal experiences, life, everything, no limit, no walls no boundaries
Afroway: That’s great right there, it resonates most with the type of audience we reaching out to, subscribing to what speaks to one’s heart
T’Neeya: Merci 🙂
Afroway: De rien
Afroway: How would you personally define your music?
T’Neeya: I was raised in a multicultural home. Had influences from both worlds, I would define my music as a bridge between them, a bridge between both worlds.
Afroway: Apart from makossa and the Michael Jackson sound that you were exposed to earlier in life, which other acts or sound would you say you connected with most
T’Neeya: Hard to say, I had love for all of them equally, I loved listening to Michael Jackson, I loved Henri Dikongue, I loved 2face, I loved Manu Dibango.
Afroway: Manu Dibango that’s the man right there.
T’Neeya: Ouffff he’s so good
T’Neeya: I know a lot of people who have played with him. They all say he’s amazing.
T’Neeya: Can’t wait to meet him one day
Afroway: He’s a legend, a great player indeed
T’Neeya: A living one!!!
Afroway: And make a record with him
T’Neeya: Speak that shit into existence!!!!, sorry
Afroway: You make that shit happen!
Afroway: ‘Low Battery’… What inspired this song? What was the story behind the song?
T’Neeya: I got tired of giving love to be honest … I just got so tired of feeling sorry for myself
Afroway: So this was an expression your own experiences, and indeed well done.
T’Neeya: This song is about confidence. Yes I got tired and I felt, “you know what, I don’t need this right now, and it’s time to charge the fuck up!”, “oya pass me the charger, Make I charge up my life see I tire”. So this song is about confidence, about loving life, living your dream, breaking the rules, not waiting for anybody to give you permission to live your dream, or to do what you love to do, you know, so it was a wake up call for me as well, my experience you know, and yeah, so charging up getting out there, working out, living healthy whatever, whatever you need to do to get out of that situation, do it yeah that was it for me..
Afroway: The sound is also unique, but it’s the authenticity that makes one feel like they are on the same trance with you… As to confidence I bet many are getting it off the record.
T’Neeya: I definitely felt confident. I hope it made women all over feel confident about themselves.
Afroway: On the video, how was the creative process like?
T’Neeya: The creative process was crazyyyyy, the room was empty!!!! Can you believe it? I have to give it up to my amazing team, Michael Bilson (creative direction) and the production company who shot it @North productions (David Nic Olsey).
Afroway: Wait what? Empty looks filled up and a buzz, a lot is going on there, how did you guys make it happen?
T’Neeya: We had an empty room, my manager as well as my creative directorMichael Bolson had a friend who owns a salon and also had an empty space, he was kind of renovating, and it was an empty space so we were running around town getting props from all over town, I don’t even know how to explain, but we managed to fill up the space and build, in my own opinion, a dope ass set and get it ready in time for the video the next day. All I can say is great, great team work and amazing friends. Big up to the amazing production company we worked with North Productions’ Nic Olsey and yeah man great, great styling and great vibes, that’s it. And the craziest thing is everyone in that video is my friend like everyone is my friend and I hang out with everyone in that video, so its not like I called people to come pose or all that stuff, like I actually hang out with them… Isn’t that dope?
Afroway: You guys got some great videos, even your previous work got some quality juice into it…
T’Neeya: Thank you so much. We are very hands on. It’s fun for us
Afroway: That’s dope right there, friends got your back and you guys were just vibing. That’s some great support there
T’Neeya: This is our high
Afroway: Was it like this with previous work? ‘Love’
T’Neeya: Sammmeee thing, friends hanging out, but at a friend’s apartment, not an empty space‚
Afroway: How have the artists, you’ve worked with including the creative aspect influenced your work?
T’Neeya: With each artist comes a new lesson a new experience. Overall growth, working with all these amazing people has helped me grow, yea, growth 🙂
Afroway: You mentioned that you working on your debut project, tell us about that
T’Neeya: Yes!!! Super exited, can’t say too much yet but this will be my first official body of work. Not sure about the title yet. You will be the first to know 🙂
Afroway: That’s what’s up! Any artists you working with?
T’Neeya: I have features but I haven’t decided which songs will be on the project
Afroway: When are you releasing this debut project?
Afroway: We just can’t wait for the project… Bet you working on some great stuff
T’Neeya: Thank you, I need all the positivity I can get,
Afroway: In your own opinion, what is the state of Cameroonian music industry? Is it working?
T’Neeya: Yes it is alive and active!!!! Can’t you feel the vibrations? 🙂 There is so much talent in Cameroon. Africa to the world.
Afroway: We feel the vibrations as to artists, great talent. What of the industry structures are they solid? Do artists earn what they are working for, how are you artists dealing with vices like piracy?
T’Neeya: Yes sadly we face the same problems like many other countries and could definitely work more towards building stronger foundations. But this with time will grow and get better, I believe in my generation so much, we are very eager to learn and to do better.
Afroway: We got some great talent in Africa especially the young artists and business heads, who will drive this growth. Your sister gotta join the push you know. Leaders with positivity
T’Neeya: She already is. Always on the phone giving me ideas, she is a natural leader. Ps: she can’t know I’m hyping her like this o !! ðŸ˜‚ðŸ˜‚
Afroway: Haha keeping it under. About your other side off music what else are you involved in? Apart from music, that is…
T’Neeya: Fashion. In love with fashion, I love casual street fashion
Afroway: Can see some of that street wear in your videos. So you like in fashion business?
T’Neeya: Definitely see myself in there somewhere as well why not? But my focus is on music now. I studied fashion design in Berlin
Afroway: I see you basically embody creativity
T’Neeya: Hahaha yea man
T’Neeya: I draw, paint, sew, sing and write‚ Jack of all trades… But I want to be the master of music
Afroway: Which school was this in Berlin?
T’Neeya: HTW Berlin, University of Applied Sciences
Afroway: Let’s drift for a bit
Afroway: Which or where is your favorite hangout spot?
T’Neeya: Studio, easy
Afroway: Haha nooo, away from the studio stuff
T’Neeya: I like to party too
Afroway: Where are you based?
T’Neeya: Limbe. But I travel So much. I’m in Accra now
Afroway: Life of an artist, immersed in sound, sight and sound. What’s up in Accra performance? Project in the making?
T’Neeya: I record here as well, I’m based in Accra I would say. I’m here most of the time
Afroway: Are you doing any live performances?
T’Neeya: Like ever? Of course. But at the moment I’m focused on my project.
Afroway: Finally, Aside from music as a voice, what else are you involved in as an African influencer?
T’Neeya: I love to empower women, promote confidence and self-love and I mostly do this through music. This probably doesn’t answer your question, but at the moment this is the start of my journey and I pray it opens many more doors
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