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Zenesoul Is Working To Find The Solution

Written by on November 12, 2021

Photo by Yao, courtesy of the artist.

I love knowing that I’m playing a part in someone’s healing and my music is being used the way I want it to be used.”

– Zenesoul

Soul-inspired contemporary R&B artist Zenesoul explores the role she plays in her own heartbreaks on new single “Same Old Mistake.”

Hailing from Brompton, Canada, Zenesoul dropped single “Same Old Mistake” on Nov. 12, her first release since June 2021’s Brown Sugar EP — which was met with acclaim from sources like Lyrical Lemonade and The House That Soul Built.

Brown Sugar‘s strong positive reception — its lead single “Love and Be Loved,” featuring Toronto singer Aaron Ridge, has more than one million plays on Spotify — left Zenesoul nervous but eager for the release of “Same Old Mistake,” as it switches gears from the love-filled EP to focus on heartbreak.

With an intro reminiscent of Frank Ocean’s “Nights,” Zensoul’s rich vocals blend over the track’s ear-catching instrumentals as she laments on making “the same old mistake” — i.e. returning to a past broken relationship, knowing it won’t work but scared to be alone. She recognizes this pattern is a mistake, and strives to work toward healing.

Vocalo chatted with Zenesoul about the single’s release, the Brown Sugar EP and switching up her style while staying true to herself.

You first started writing when you were 11 years old. How did you get interested in it? Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?

Growing up, I moved a lot. From Nigeria to Toronto to New Jersey. I was so all over the place that my childhood is a blur to me. I know I’ve loved music from when I was in Nigeria because of few memories I have, but the earliest I can remember nurturing my love for it was 11. I don’t recall why I started, I only remember that I loved doing it and I recall doing an assignment in school where I decided to write a song and sung it as my project. I haven’t stopped writing since. The song I wrote for my assignment is the earliest song that I still remember, although I don’t think it’s the first song I wrote, I’ll just say it is. It’s about me wanting to be a pharmacist, because that was my dream back then.

Tell us about the most prominent cultural influences in your music. How have they informed your style?

I would say gospel culture. I grew up listening to a lot of gospel music and I feel it influenced my sound without me realizing. It’s the soul in my sound. Although I didn’t grow up in the church choir, I learned a lot about arrangements and organizing a song from the gospel songs I listened to in my mother’s car. Artists like Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary, mostly.

Who did you look up to while growing up, musician or otherwise?

Other than gospel and Nigerian music, I only listened to songs that were popular on the radio. I wasn’t looking up to anybody. I liked Kelly Clarkson and Fantasia a lot, but I didn’t look up to them. Then I was introduced to Lauryn Hill in high school, and that is when I started looking up to her musically.

Photo by Yao, courtesy of the artist.

Walk us through the meaning of your new single “Same Old Mistake.” What’s the most important thing listeners should take away from it?

“Same Old Mistake” is me understanding myself and recognizing that I’m to blame as well in my own heartbreaks, because I choose to try and fix broken situations to avoid being alone. The most important thing listeners should take away from the song is that the first step to healing is acknowledgment. Recognize the problem in order to find a solution. It’s okay if you don’t have a solution now, but work towards one.

What was it like working on that release?

It was fun but made me anxious because although it’s still my sound, I’m doing something a bit different so I always get nervous. I enjoyed the fact that the song was different and I was able to do something creative with my style and visuals.

Your second EP, Brown Sugar, was released in June and saw a lot of positive feedback. How does it feel having had it out in the world for almost six months? Has this EP influenced the way you approach making music now — and, if so, how? 

The love Brown Sugar received is the exact reason why I’m so nervous about this new release! As an upcoming artist, you try and study your fanbase — and from my observation, my fans really like love songs. This song isn’t a love song, so it had me nervous at first, but I’m more excited than nervous now. I have to show all sides of myself.

What is your favorite song to perform off of Brown Sugar? Why?

My favorite song to perform is “Yourself.” Simply because it speaks to me every single time I sing it. I feel it’s more intimate live than studio recorded.

Tell us what it was like working with singer Aaron Ridge for your single “Love and Be Loved.” How did your two musical styles work together — did you have to overcome many difficulties or was it a fairly smooth process?

It was a pretty smooth process, honestly. I wrote the song and I sent it to him. He loved it, and he wrote his verse. He then came to the studio and recorded his part and yeah, it was very easy and smooth. I already knew it was his voice I wanted on that song after I wrote it.

If you could perform with any artist, who would it be? Why?

It would definitely be Lauryn Hill. She’s the artist that has inspired me and touched me the most. I feel like I can relate to her so much and we’d have a similar audience.

What do you find most rewarding about being a musician, and why?

Being told that a song touched someone. I love knowing that I’m playing a part in someone’s healing and my music is being used the way I want it to be used.

Is there anything you’re working on right now that listeners should look forward to?

I’m working on a lot of music and trying different things while still being true to my sound. Next year is a new slate, and I am excited to share what’s in the works with the world. 

Follow Zenesoul on Twitter and Instagram, and stream “Same Old Mistake” on Spotify below.

Interview conducted by Milo Keranen. Edited for length and clarity and introduction written by Morgan Ciocca.

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