Tems is ready to conquer the neo-soul/R&B world. She tells HL EXCLUSIVELY why she called her EP ‘For Broken Ears,’ her reaction to being included on Barack Obama’s summer playlist, and more.
There’s a simple explanation behind For Broken Ears, the title of the new 6-track EP from Nigerian R&B/neo-soul singer Tems: she thinks nobody is really listening. “I feel like people listen to music without really taking away much from what they’ve heard,” she shares EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife. “I wanted to give an alternative to the way people listen and feel music by giving them something they aren’t used to.”
Clearly, someone is listening, and they like what they hear. Tems first established herself as a force of nature in the Nigerian music scene with her song, “Try Me.” The 2019 track became a major hit in her home country and helped her build a buzz within the U.S. She continued to build momentum with “These Days,” before getting a major mainstream boost, courtesy of former President Barack Obama. Obama included “Know Your Worth,” Tems’ collab with Khalid and Disclosure, on his 2020 Summer Playlist, introducing her to a whole new audience.
With a soulful voice that blends power and vulnerability, Tems shows on For Broken Ears that she’s a singer that you should keep your eyes on. You don’t want to be caught sleeping on this fresh new talent, and For Broken Ears is a perfect introductory wake-up call. Tems, in her interview with HollywoodLife, shares that this EP is “me in my totality,” which artists also deserve your attention, and which song of hers she thinks Michelle Obama would like best.
HollywoodLife: You wrote For Broken Ears and produced four of the six tracks. In a music industry where songs have five different co-writers and twice as many producers, why did you go this solo route on this project?
Tems: For one, because I could, but mainly because I wanted to show the range in my ability. I want whoever is listening to my debut EP to know that it is me in my totality.
Why did you call this project For Broken Ears? Just by the title alone, one would think you’re delivering a message for someone who doesn’t listen.
I feel like people listen to music without really taking away much from what they’ve heard. I called my EP For Broken Ears because I wanted to give an alternative to the way people listen and feel music by giving them something they aren’t used to. ‘
While it’s impossible to sum up your sound in a few words, how would you want someone to describe you when they say, ‘hey, check out Tems’ new EP. It’s ….’
Is there a moment or song on For Broken Ears that resonates closer to you than others? I know that’s the equivalent of asking which child is your favorite, but is there a line where fans should listen closely and take it in.’
Yes, this line from “The Key,” which is the final track on the EP: “Seeing the world, living beyond it.”
You’ve been credited with transforming the Nigerian music scene. Are there any artists that you think we should check out after listening to For Broken Ears?
I’d recommend Dami Oniru and Lady Donli.
President Obama included your collab with Khalid on his 2020 Summer Playlist? What was your reaction to that? Do you think he or Michelle Obama would have a favorite track off of For Broken Ears?
For Broken Ears is out now.