THERE are very few who put the same…
level of passion and commitment into their music as my featured artist. Cape Town-born Wyntèr tells me about her progression into music and the story behind her new song, P.L.A.Y (released shortly) – and, what we can expect next from her.
She tells me working with producer Jay Picasso; why she decided to move from collaborations to a solo venture; how she spends time away from music; what is coming next, in terms of gigs; artists and sounds that inspire her – Wyntèr gives advice to fellow songwriters embarking on a career.
Hi, Wyntér. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, Sam. I’m great - thank you so much for asking. It has been an extremely busy week; doing lots of different things - working on new material and the exciting release of my new single, P.L.A.Y.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Of course. My name is Wyntèr and I’m an independent artist and singer-songwriter, originally from Cape Town, South Africa and currently living in Surrey. My sound is a combination of Trap/Pop/Hip-Hop and R&B: a few different flavours, inspired by so many of my role models in music.
P.L.A.Y is your new single. It is edgy, full-bloodied and soulful. What is the story behind the song?
Well, firstly, thank you very much - I really do appreciate your words. Yes, P.L.A.Y is my baby and I’ve had so much fun creating this piece of music.
This song is extremely personal to me, but I feel it affects so many independent artists alike in today’s music industry. It’s taken me such a long time to get to a place where I am confident in the music I write and the person that I am. But, I made a decision to go hard. This song is about not having to adhere to anyone’s rules or be bound by ‘the industry box’ - or even listening to the restrictive comments that people may make that, subconsciously, dictate the artists we ‘re striving to be.
On P.L.A.Y; I make a comparison to being intoxicated. Having a sense of freedom and courage that you begin to see yourself as a different person, with an ability to do anything - everything or nothing at all. Simply put: I wanted to highlight that we have the power to decide who is in control and the type of artist/person we want to be.
How did all the strands and sounds come together? Was it a fun song to see through and watch it grow?
Oh my goodness, yeah; so much fun. I’m quite a formulated writer and have a certain way of doing things but, to make reference to my response to your previous question, I only really used to write this way because it was such a common format or ‘commercial format’, which made me feel as though, if I did it that way, I be right for radio.
But, with P.L.A.Y; I kinda just said ‘F*** it!’ I broke every rule I ever adhered to and, actually, had some serious fun building a piece that fell into a category of its own.
What was it like working alongside producer, Jay Picasso? Did he bring a lot to the song? Did you both work together on the development of the song?
I have been working with Picasso for a number of years now on various projects - and it has always a pleasure and such a journey going through the motions of creating a piece together. When I wrote P.L.A.Y, it was in a completely skeletal state: an a capella track consisting of backing vocals and lead; oohs and ahhs with a different take on the chorus as to what it is now. I had taken this skeleton of an idea to Jay and we began to build around it. I knew what I wanted it to sound like, but Picasso added all the ingredients that made it the masterpiece it is today.
He has always been really intuitive with selecting appropriate sounds that, not only compliment my voice, but also the piece as a whole. Bringing a flavour that can only be produced by him; Picasso has definitely exceeded my every expectation for P.L.A.Y.
I know there will be a video for P.L.A.Y. Can you tell me about its concept and what it was like filming it?
Yes, there is. Coming very soon, actually, and I’m very excited to share this video. It was an amazing experience shooting this song but, simultaneously, an absolute challenge to film, due to the below-zero-degree weather - as the majority of it was shot outdoors and the various elements that were required of me and the characters I played.
I wanted this to be as cinematic as possible and, working with Cedavision and LewiLondon, my every expectation was met - and so much more.
The overall concept of the song is being bound by the constraints of whatever you decide is a limitation and breaking free from that inhibition. Recognising you have all the tools to manage it yourself, to make it yourself and take off the personalities of who people tell (you) you’re supposed to be and just be yourself.
Is there going to be more material coming after the single?
Definitely! Bubbles & Smoke was the first single of many this year.
I have a couple in the pipeline - and a few features on other artist's tracks. I don’t think I will release an E.P./album this year: just explore the ‘single’ world.
You have collaborated with other artists in the past. What was the reason behind stepping out there as Wyntér?
There is no better time to step out and embrace this industry.
I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with so many talented independent artists that my hunger just grew. I wanted a taste. I released an E.P. years ago and didn’t really give it the push it deserved for the time and effort I put into it. But now, I’m gonna give it my absolute all.
Throughout my career, I’ve always been told that only one-third of what you do as an independent artist is the music. The other two-thirds is grind, grind and more grind. You have to put your business-head on and work every angle that is so readily available at our fingertips - and I intend to use every resource as I venture out as Wyntér.
I feel I have something to say - and I want to share it.
Which artists were you raised on? Did music enter your life quite early? How does the music of South Africa, where you were raised, compare to that of the U.K.?
I was raised on R&B, Soul; Hip-Hop, Pop etc. Listening to artists like Michael Jackson, Brandy; SWV, Jagged Edge; 112, Earth Wind & Fire; Marvin Gaye, oh…the list goes on. My love for music started at a very young age, constantly surrounded by it, and I was raised in church and learned to read music playing the recorder (ha, I know) as part of the church orchestra, which still makes me chuckle…but it all stemmed from there.
A lot of the music in South Africa, whilst I was growing up, was American artists with very few home-grown talent. However, the Capetonian sound was always summer vibes, with a Deep-House/Dance music kinda feel - very similar to the U.K. House sound, if I were to compare. Nowadays, 90% of the music on Cape Town radio is home-grown which is very exciting for many unsigned independent artists, as they now have a platform that is circulated widely around the country.
Garage and Grime is probably the biggest differentiation between Cape Town and U.K. sound - which has really influenced my writing, overall, including melodic choruses, phrasing; overall feel and the energetic nature.
PHOTO CREDIT: Tomodo Photography
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
Nothing at the moment, but currently working with a trio to perform live sessions around London and on independent YouTube channels, local radio stations - and any opportunity I am blessed with.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Where do I begin?! In 2018, I hope to release multiple singles and collaborate with as many talented artists as possible, including rappers, cross-genre singers and producers. There is no better time than the present to explore and share with like-minded people. I’d love to perform my music live, acoustically, with a D.J., a band; at festivals and various independent channels.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I’d love to have the opportunity to feature on a BBC introducing playlist and build the foundation for 2019.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Such a tricky question...
I’ve been blessed to have so many amazing experiences. But, one that sticks out the most would have to be when I was about like eleven-years-old, back in South Africa. I entered these shopping mall competitions that my nan used to drive me to. Literally, in the centre of a shopping mall, this used to happen for, like, a season every Saturday. In this particular competition, I was performing in the Gospel category singing Glory, Hallelujah…I think.
After I had sung; I walked off stage and, standing next to my nan, was this gentlemen. This shaggy-looking man approached me with tears streaming down his face and said to me: “That truly blessed me; thank you for your singing’. It was then that I realised I wanted to make and perform music that moved people the way that song had moved this man.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
As cheesy as it sounds, just be yourself. This industry is big enough for all of us. Everyone is blessed with different tastes, skillset and different abilities. I watched an Amy Winehouse interview once and the interviewer asked her: “Did you know that the song, Rehab, was going to be such a huge hit?”. She responded, in true Amy fashion, saying something like: “I don’t care if people like it or not – I wasn’t thinking about people when I wrote the song; I was simply writing music that I love to listen to”.
Honestly; I can say that this was a massive hiccup for me: it took me a long time to just accept, well, me. So…do what you love; write what you love; be the artist you’d love to listen to.
IN THIS PHOTO: Jessie Reyez
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Yeah. I’m a huge fan of Jessie Reyez. Her song, Gatekeeper, is massive. Bishop Briggs, too. I had The Way I Do on-repeat for, like, a month. Also, Russ. His flow is wavy. My new fave, Sinéad Harnett, leaves me weak with her sultry tones.
It’s (just) amazing to see independent artists (just) doing their thing.
IN THIS PHOTO: Bishop Briggs
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Not really. In-between teaching and working on my own original stuff, there is hardly enough hours for free time. But, I do enjoy pole dancing, a good series or five-hundred; oh…and a good puzzle - I’ve been working on the Impossible Minions for the past year and it has driven me crazy trying to solve this bloody thing.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I’m Better – Missy Elliott (ft. Lamb)