Chioke Is Our Next Muse
Written by Vocalo Radio on February 9, 2022
“To me, at least, the production on my project makes me wanna vibe. The lyrics make me wanna scream. My voice makes me wanna sing along.”-Chioke
Chioke released her refreshing self-titled debut EP on Oct. 19, 2021.
Philadelphia based singer, songwriter and, as of recently, bass player Chioke was featured on Vocalo’s “In Rotation” playlist for January 2022 for her new single “Muse.” The single is the second track on her October 2021 eponymous debut EP. Over a funky electric instrumental, Chioke’s low-toned, honey-sweet vocals embrace lyrics about chemistry and lust while simultaneously focusing on herself.
The other tracks on the self-titled EP feature both the artist’s vulnerable and confident identities. It makes you want to vibe, dance, sing and even scream along. We got a chance to discuss her debut EP, inspirations and love for her cats.
Can you tell us more about the Philly music scene for those who might not be familiar? How has it shaped you as an artist?
The Philly music scene is very small, honestly. We don’t have that many infrastructures to help us past the point of the open mics we have. Over the past year, I’ve watched the live bands take over the scene again, which has been very enjoyable.
The scene has helped shaped me as an artist by showing how impactful I really am, watching how others would get inspired by things I would do. I feel like if I was in a larger music scene, I might not have noticed my impact this early on. The impact of higher quality work, investing into yourself, practicing, live performances, live bands… down to the type of music I make.
What was something that stuck out to you during a performance? Have you had any recent shows?
I haven’t had any recent shows — it’s been hard trying to find a balance in my life recently. Patience. I plan to do way more towards the spring time.
How would you describe your music style to someone who has never heard it?
I would describe my music as cinematic. As short, punchy, but it’s feel-good music. To me, at least, the production on my project makes me wanna vibe. The lyrics make me wanna scream. My voice makes me wanna sing along.
How does your debut EP Chioke represent Chioke? How did you feel once it was released?
My Instagram was deleted, with my 7K following, Oct. 1, and I lost a very close friend of mine, Regg B Visuals, Oct. 4. My project dropped Oct. 19. I have been numb this entire time. It still seems unreal.
This project represents me because it’s vulnerable, and that’s how I am as a person. It spread so organically, especially during a very dark time for me. So it was very uplifting, I guess I would say, once the EP was released. I didn’t know my peers still enjoyed this type of music.
What was it like hearing “Muse” on the radio? Can you tell us more about the meaning behind this song?
It was very confirming. I’m in the middle of taking a drug test for a job, listening on the app on my phone. I’m like, “Man, this is all gonna be worth it. Sooner than later. I have to keep going.”
In your submission bio, you mentioned your friend Jay, who you used to play music with. If you’re comfortable sharing, can you tell us more about him and how he has had an impact on the music you make today?
Jay was a genius. He was limitless in his creations, he was sarcastic and kind all in one. I truly miss my friend.
This is an interesting question. The impact Jay has on the music I make today, I would say, is honestly in a lot of my “practice” music. A lot of my unreleased music has a much darker tone. I feel like on my songs where I express more about my mental health, just having it in me to find a melodic way to express this pain, so to say. That was one of the things Jay loved about my writing. So that’s his impact. To not only share my pain, my story, but own it, be proud of it and let it go.
When did you start playing bass? What sparked your interest in the guitar?
The producer I worked on Chioke with suggested it would be dope if I learned. I immediately remembered this Lil Wayne interview I’ve watched where he talks about the first song he learned on the guitar, “How to Love,” and he’s like, “I had no idea how to play the guitar, I just learned these chords for my performance.” So he’s a great Libra like me! I’m like, “Bet, I’m going to learn to how play the bass to be a better performer.” My first song I learned was “Rushing In,” my title track to my EP. It was amazing, because I’m naturally athletic, pretty smart, so this is one of the first things in my life I’ve had to practice at to get better. It was a challenge. It’s been a very enjoyable process learning and getting better.
“So that’s his impact. To not only share my pain, my story, but own it, be proud of it and let it go.“-Chioke
What is your favorite part about being a cat mom?
My favorite part about being a cat mom… this is the most adorable question ever. My cats have shown me how nurturing, how compassionate, how kind I truly can be. I knew these things about myself but, you know, we go through enough traumatic things, we begin to question what we deserve and are worthy of in this life. Throughout my entire life I’ve had this connection with cats. Outside cats, my pets, other people’s cats… it’s like love. So that’s my favorite part. I’m a human, and they’re cats, but we communicate to each other with love.
Who are your favorite musicians and why?
Gil Scott-Heron, Knxwledge, Jill Scott, Steve Lacy — I don’t know, I’m very random. I listen to whatever lifts my spirits and speaks to me at the moment. Gil Scott-Heron has had an impact on my life since a child. He’s been with me growing up. His music, the same songs, hitting different the older I got. In example, “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” — growing up as a child, I related on the aspect of wanting to run away from home. As a teenager, realizing he was talking about substance abuse and relating. As a young adult, understanding the vulnerability it took and relating to that. Being vulnerable enough to express what I felt was a common pain. Knxwledge I’ve grown to love as I realized I am more of a production-based listener. I want to feel good. Knxwledge helps me with my anxiety. I would play his projects through every morning as I would start my day and clean my crib. Recently, I’ve been listening to Lancey Foux. “I KNOW” and “Over Me !¡” are just speaking to my life right now.
Are you working on any projects currently?
Currently, I’m working on finding a new studio home. I have been working on bass lines for my music, getting more into the production side of things. I definitely am working on dropping singles this year, but I want to fully flush out my Chioke EP as well visually.
What are you most hoping to achieve in 2022?
My goal is to grow my fan base, my die-hard Chioke fans. Give them merch, shows, more about me. More for them to fall in love with. My goal is to have a show this summer, lock in some brand partnerships for modeling opportunities, continue to learn more about producing my own tracks and definitely get more bookings.
Interviewed and edited for length and clarity by Milo Keranen
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