Ex-JLS band member, Oritsé Williams, has dropped ‘Language’, a celebration of love languages crafted around the singer’s new genre: “Afro-Island.” VIPER caught up with him to chat through his solo journey as an Independent musician, love, and how ‘Language’ came to life.

Many people know you from JLS, but who is Oritsé Williams?

Oritsé Williams is everything that you get to experience in the record ‘Language’. Creatively and artistically, I have a rich cultural history as I have lived in the Caribbean, Nigeria as a teenager, and West London – where there is a massive Afro-Caribbean community that emigrated from the 70s and 80s. Born and bred in that culture, my musical influences combine soulful R&B, Reggae and the UK London sound; so all combined builds Oritsé.

This is the beginning of your journey as an independent artist – which unknown version of Oritsé are you planning to share through your music in this new era?

I have found a music genre for myself: Afro-island, a fusion of all of my cultural backgrounds and experiences in one. All my new music will have nuances of this genre, which will be featured in some great records on which I currently work.

Your announcement of ‘Language’ got a great response on social media. What’s the story behind this single?

In relationships, we all go through learning. My wife taught me about the notion of love languages, which are: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifting, quality time and physical touch. “Now you’re talking my language.” I travelled to Sweden and did two writing camps for my projects, which is where I met John Alexis [producer of ‘Language’]. At the studio, I found difficulties in immediately reaching the creative I was striving for. After a long day of trying – from 9am to 7pm, I took the mic and headphones and started freestyling to a mix of Amapiano and Tropical House. Mumbling through the freestyle and following the beat, I found an assertive way to hit the melody, using a form of spoken word through which I managed to put my love experience with my special and wonderful wife into a melody. I have learned that using a common phrase within a song can lead up to something very special, and used this by making the popular expression, “now you’re talking my language” – a globally relatable expression that in this case was tied to love experiences.

What’s your take on using social media as a tool to share music, from an artist’s POV?

I have seen a great response on social media through my cover videos across Instagram and TikTok. Taking existing songs and adding my own vibe to showcase how it can be turned into an ‘Afro-Island’ Oritsé Williams song has allowed me to share my sound before the launch of ‘Language’, and I now have some great work lined up in which the genre will be incorporated.

Who has been your biggest support throughout the development of ‘Language’ and your kickstart towards a solo career?

My family, my friends, my Queen, my sister and my closest friends. This is a journey of self-discovery, and I have been lucky enough to have people with knowledge around me to identify when I am hitting that creative excellence that I am striving for with my music and new genre. They all want me to be authentically myself, and after a long time of working for the band, I needed to find out what my solo journey would look like. In fact, Beyoncé was one of the first people who encouraged me to put focus on what Oritsé as an individual will want to creatively express as a solo artist.

Who is your biggest creative inspiration, and why?

My wife and my personal experiences, added to Lauryn Hill with her poetry and spoken word elements, mixed with Hip Hop. You can see this reflected in the second verse of ‘Language’, which has changed, in comparison to the traditional way of keeping the same melody across both verses.

What’s your advice for anyone planning to break into the music industry independently?

Being an independent artist is extremely freeing. Creatively, it means that there is no one telling you what to sing or who to collaborate with. If I want to mix pidgin and patois in a song, I can do that without having any chains. It comes with a list of challenges, but if you have a vision of what you ultimately want to achieve, it is a rewarding route. We have great examples of musicians who have shown that the independent journey can lead to success, such as Chance The Rapper and Raye. I pray that we can look back to this interview at one point and realise “he did it!”

‘Showdown’, ‘Language’… Is there more music coming?

Absolutely. I have been working on several records. So much so, that if I wanted to, I could drop an album per month for the next ten years! There are some very exciting collaborations in the pipeline, including Davido, Ivorian Doll, Stylo G, and Ayo Beatz. Stay tuned!

Interview by Chris Maho 

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