- Words Solly Warner
- Photography Adam Kelleher
Dublin artist EFÉ is making waves with the release of her debut EP 'What Should We Do This Summer?'. The 20-year-old effortlessly flows through each track with harmonic vocals and soothing chords.
What stands outs in this EP is EFÉ’s exploration of undulating soundscapes interspersed with candid spoken snapshots of her friends, acting as an ode to the transience of summer. With every song, EFÉ allows you to drift away, falling further into her environment as your ears fill with tranquil wind chimes, distant birdsong and hazy reverberations.
On the surface ‘What Should We Do This Summer?’ may appear as just an optimistic title for some chilled-out summer vibes. Whilst EFÉ does live up to this by producing some seriously peaceful and relaxing melodies, the lyrics act as an opposition and question to these themes. The young artist started to write the EP around the end of her first year of college, a time where there are many changes and lots of uncertainty. “Garden” highlights an innocence from EFÉ, speaking of the inevitable experiences we all have of feeling inadequate in life, but also expresses how we still have an underlying desire to challenge these feelings. Whereas on “Table for Two”, topics shift to more recent events whilst continuing ideas of shared feelings. This song looks to reflect on the inescapable nature of time-wasting during lockdown. A feeling I’m sure we can all relate to. The EP’s transition through thoughts and feelings act as an illustration of all the doubts and worries people may have had over this ever-changing period of time.
EFÉ seems to fully celebrate this age of DIY artists. From enlisting her friends to help out, to buying her own equipment to record at home, she has already shown that young, independent artists really can produce something special when they are able to explore their own music. The Dublin girl has proven this, with her songs already featuring in many popular streaming platform playlists. You would struggle to tell that her experimental sound came from cramped recording conditions in a usually rather damp place like Ireland, as the listener is immediately transported to images of blue skies on a summer’s day as soon as the first track starts.
With the heavily distorted, conversational vocals in “Girl 4 U” sharing similarities with the likes of Frank Ocean, and the punchy beats in “Seven” drawing inspiration from Zack Villere, EFÉ sets herself apart with a unique and playful groove, marking her as a definite one to watch.
We spoke with the bedroom pop artist about who her dream collaboration would be with, what it’s like creating music with friends, and how the perfect EFÉ concert would look.
Were there any artists that were typically played around your house when you were growing up?
Yes, for sure. Our playlist consisted of many Nigerian artists like P-Square and D’banj. I didn’t get The Beatles-loving parents, but I just remember how lit their music was and how it would be blared in the car when my mum would drop me and my siblings at school.
How would you describe the music that you create?
I kinda find it hard myself at times to describe my music. I think it has very bedroom pop /alternative pop / lo-fi sounding and quite atmospheric. It’s always super interesting to hear people describe my music. Many people have described it as alternative R&B, even straight-up R&B, some have said chill and others don’t even know how to describe it.
Who’s someone you’d most like to collaborate with?
SZA!!!!!!!! JUST CAUSE SHE’S SZA!! I found out about SZA when I was around 13/14. So the wait for ‘Ctrl’ hurt, but was definitely worth it. I just admire her lyricism and honesty. It would be such an honour to collaborate with her.
What is your favourite song off your debut EP and why?
I think “Girl 4 U” might be my favourite. I feel like it is one of my purest songs and captures my thoughts perfectly in a moment. It was actually a freestyle. I was in my first year of college, and it was made during a time where I first felt a reciprocated type of love, and I literally had no idea how to react to it. I was so confused but in the most innocent way. I was so unfamiliar with the feeling. The song then leads into these lil kids talking about their hopes for summer and it just works so perfectly cause when they speak it holds so much innocence and I think just ties in so perfectly with the freestyle and into the EP as a whole.
How does it feel to be a part of this wave of new artists coming out of Ireland?
It feels really cool to be considered part of this movement of Irish artists. I feel like the support for Irish artists is slowly increasing more and more, In a way, it gives me a drive that I could be THAT artist for someone that looks like me. Some of my favourite Irish artists right now would be April, Yenkee, Salem and Ashley Abbedeen (she produces her own music and it sounds so good, I’m obsesseddddd!!!)
What was your first reaction when you saw ‘Garden’ in Spotify UK’s ‘New Music Friday’ playlist and then in the massive playlist ‘Chill Vibes’?
I had no idea it was added till someone DM’d me on Instagram, saying they heard the song on New Music Friday. I was half asleep but was still very shook and confused. I then saw I was added into the ‘Chill Vibes’ playlist and honestly, was still so confused.. like why me?! It doesn’t make sense but I’m so so so so so happy and feel super lucky that this has all happened.
Do you think it’s important that young artists are now able to create and release music from their bedrooms with more ease rather than having to follow the more traditional route of signing to a contracted label?
YES! OF COURSE!! I think it gives more opportunities to young artists like myself. There’s more freedom to it and a part of me thinks there’s so much more authenticity when you can see how an artist has grown musically. I think it’s been such a cool thing because it feels like it’s becoming easier for artists from not the musical capital to showcase their talents to a larger audience. There’s some negative aspects maybe too, such as trying to navigate making new connections online, or not being able to access equipment, or perhaps like in my case – creating and recording in a noisy house (I know some listeners could probably hear a few Netflix shows or washing machines in the background of my some songs on the EP!!).
What’s the best thing about being an independent artist?
I think my favourite thing is the fact that I have creative control over my music and visuals. It may not be the best of the best yet, but at least I know that It is possible with or without a record label.
We’ve heard some of your friends helped out on this EP, how was that creative process? Had you planned everything already or did it happen quite naturally?
Yes! who.killed.romeo (my best friend Hansel) produced the whole EP. John Mullarkey and Luke Lavelle helped out with the guitar bits (I’m still learning, I swear imma be so good soon) and my boyfriend, Adam Kelleher, filmed and edited many of the things you guys have hopefully seen hehe. There were things that were definitely planned, I knew I wanted who.killed.romeo to produce the EP because he already knew me so well and what sound I wanted. I knew he’d get the production side of things down. I feel like every song on the EP had a different process so it’s hard to confine them into one answer. Sometimes it meant making it at my house, or going to Hansel’s or Adam’s. It was kind of all over the place. We’d constantly have to re-record things, or change things because we weren’t exactly using studio level equipment. At times it was really stressful but definitely worked out in the end. ‘Nineteen (john’s Outro)’ was one of the more fun processes – I asked John to freestyle on his guitar and I remember just how nostalgic the sounds were. For the talking part, I would just randomly pull out more phone when I was around my friends and would ask them those questions and surprisingly got some amazing answers (I love y’all).
When it’s possible again, is touring something you’re looking to do in the future?
TOURING WOULD BE CRAZY COOL… to get to travel everywhere. I know it can get tiring, but your complaints probably sound so cool like “oh nooooo I have to go to Tokyo tomorrow and then LA the next day and omg nooo paris?!.” That sounds like a really cool thing to complain about. I think touring is something I’m seriously looking forward to and hope it happens sometime soon!
What would the perfect EFÉ concert look like?
There would be plants everywhere.. or like a concert in a forest omg that would be cool. With like really cool visuals behind me and everyone’s just having a good time, singing along. Then I go home and see a tweet saying “just got back home from EFÉ’s concert.. HANDS DOWN THE BEST CONCERT I’VE BEEN TO!!!”
With streaming services creating this melting pot for differing music styles, are there any genres or themes you’d like to play around with in the future?
I’d definitely love to explore my sound a little more, maybe dive into more experimental stuff, or even getting into moodier music with soft rock elements. I’m a huge fan of french jazz music, which is lonely cause no one I know listens to that genre! But I think it could be so cool to incorporate that in some way…I don’t know how yet but I feel like something amazing could happen. For my next songs, I’m hoping for my themes to get a little more honest and to translate that into my lyrics
I see you’ve been a fan of BTS for quite a while. Do you have a favourite song or if that’s too difficult, a favourite album?
Oh wow omg hahaha that was a while ago, how did you guys get this information?!
I found out about BTS through YouTube recommended haha and that spiralled into an obsession.. many embarrassing and cringe Instagram and Twitter posts were made.
I don’t really listen to them anymore but I thinnnkkkk “I NEED U” was probably a fav back in my secondary school days. And FYI my bias was J-HOPEEE!