Oyinda Is Doing It All

Oyinda Is Doing It All

New York City-based singer Oyinda produces and writes her own music, styles and directs her own videos—but her aesthetic is far from D.I.Y.

New York City-based singer Oyinda produces and writes her own music, styles and directs her own videos—but her aesthetic is far from D.I.Y.

Photography: Jeff Bark

Styling: Lana Jay Lackey

Text: Whitney Mallett

“I had to sit my dad down and be like, ‘This is how it’s going to go. I will show you I can do this,’” says the 24-year-old singer and producer of sultry electronic pop, Oyinda. Her parents were initially resistant to her musical aspirations, but, she says, “My first show was Lollapalooza, so they just shut up after that.”

Since Oyinda broke onto the scene with that performance two years ago, she’s been dubbed a “best-kept secret” by Rolling Stone and had tracks and videos premiered by V, Fader and Billboard. While Oyinda’s early successes speak to her skills as a vocalist and songwriter, her parents’ initial skepticism is a pretty common first-generation experience. Her mother and father fled Nigeria due to political instability in the region during the ’90s. As a result, the family moved around a lot. Oyinda was born in Washington D.C., but grew up in London.

JACKET DIOR  CORSET AGENT PROVOCATEUR  PANTS CALVIN KLEIN COLLECTION   SHOES GIUSEPPE ZANOTTI DESIGN  EARRING BEN-AMUN  PINS CHROME HEARTS  CHAINS STYLIST’S OWN  RINGS OYINDA’S OWN

“Immigrant parents want you to do something like music as a hobby,” she says. “My parents always wanted me to study more.” So she returned stateside to study in New York, before coming to terms with her desire to pursue music seriously. About three years ago, Oyinda started working on the four moody tracks that became her first EP, Before the Fall.

“I like to play with the idea of restraint a lot,” Oyinda notes. It’s true, she has retained a great degree of control over her sound and image, producing music using Logic, Ableton, and GarageBand, and directing some of her own videos, all in black and white. Still, some things stay outside her grip, like the press dubbing her first record a mix of R&B and soul.

“I pulled from Radiohead for my song, ‘Rush Of You.’ It’s not soul. That’s a completely different genre,” explains Oyinda. “Being a black woman, that sort of thing is just the name of the game—until things are less about race.”

While her mom did play Luther Vandross and Whitney Houston at home when Oyinda was growing up, she cites anime as a more developmental inspiration to her early love of music. “I’d sing along to the Pokémon and Sailor Moon theme songs,” she recalls, adding that she’s still a huge fangirl. As for what her mom was listening to, a young Oyinda was less impressed. “When it’s your mom belting in the car, you’re like, ‘Please stop,’” she remembers. “My mom always jokes, ‘God gave you a good voice because he was sick of me singing.’”

Oyinda’s second EP, Restless Minds, just came out this past June. Since starting the record label Blood & Honey to put out this project and her previous one, she has plans to release other artists’ music in the future, maybe starting with some projects her band members Low Noon and Canteen Killa are a part of. “They help me out so much,” Oyinda notes. “It’s just the best having my best friends in my band.”

Credits:

Makeup Lisa Houghton (Tim Howard Management)  Hair Shingo Shibata (The Wall Group)  Photo assistant Chris White and Michael Casker  Stylist assistant Kindall Almond  Makeup assistant Arisa Kawamura  Location Hudson Studios  Catering Guy & Gallard

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