Yinka Bernie and his incredible art.
- Who is Yinka Bernie?
- Getting into music & inspirations.
- Why we love his art.
- Doing it his way: Maverick in the making.
On the fringes of the big business of Nigeria’s music industry, comes the pure art of Yinka Bernie, a name to keep note of in the grand ocean of artists Nigeria incubates. Self-assured, strikingly matured, and thoughtful, Yinka Bernie has quietly (but with critical approval) risen through the noise of Afrobeat and Afropop, crafting a sound all his own. His first tape, “Fela Obsessions”, an inspired homage to the genius of Fela Khuti, was an avantgarde assemblage of samples from speeches by the icon himself. His highly anticipated debut, “19 & Over”, in 2017, was a psychoanalytic investigation into the bridge from adolescence to adulthood. Currently, he is obsessively crafting & developing his sound design catalogue, executing the final flourishes on a forth coming project called “Your Canvas” and enjoying the acclaim of ”Something New”, which he released last year.
Who is Yinka Bernie?
25-year-old Yinka Reuben Onaduja is a producer, recording artist, and sound engineer. His style veers off into what is fast becoming a genre itself in Nigera, called Alte’ (or alternate), although not in the Americanised understanding of alternative music with its peppery garage band, unplugged sound. Rather, Yinka produces nostalgic melodies, deconstructed for 21st century angst, and serves emotional writing as confessional narratives, all showcased on his aptly titled EP, “Something New”. Culturally accessing the freshness of youth, Yinka is also a web and app developer and runs Egwu, one of Lagos’ best record shops.
Yinka was born and raised in the storied city of Ibadan, further north in Oyo State, well away from the frenetic energy of Lagos. He describes Ibadan as “Super calm. Like the complete opposite of Lagos. Everyone is calm, the environment is very serene. It’s a very calm city.” His art appears to be a product of his environment, psychically laying the foundations for his music. “I think it really translates into my sound. I think my sound is also calm and serene.”
Getting into music.
Understanding the nuts and bolts of music would lead \ to whet his appetite and production skills before a deeper commitment.
The physicality of records and their textural component would ignite a 16-year-old Yinka’s passion, leading to a later, deeper commitment. “I think it’s when I started buying CDs in, like, junior high school. Once I started owning CDs, music just fascinated me: the making of music, the artists, and watching music videos … I mean, I didn’t particularly know I was going to be an artist, but I knew I wanted to do something around that because like I said, I started as a producer.”
From Fela Kuti’s speeches, music compositions and soundscapes to other trans-Atlantic influences like the UK Jazz scene and modern artists Tom Misch, Masego and FKJ, Bernie’s taste is eclectic, just like modern youth and their ready access to all genres today. His music interpolates anything influenced by jazz and soul music. His Nigerian heritage and tonality, as well as beat sensibilities are informed by cultural heroes like Lagbaja, Sunny Ade and other percussive driven work.
Why we love his art.
Seamlessly fusing smooth vocals to emotional writing, blending with nostalgic melodies is no small feat. This is clear intellectual distillation of heritage and cultural signifiers floating into contemporary soundscapes. Yinka’s narratives and moods weave intimately to elevate his compositions into more conceptual works like Art, as opposed to generic Afropop songs.
Doing it his way: Maverick in the making.
Yinka only releases music when he wants to. It is the attention to quality and the authentic connection with his audience that has them rapt. “There are other mediums: I produce for people, I share music a lot, I share resources, I share a lot of my day-to-day. So, there is some kind of connection. Even if you think ‘oh, he hasn’t released music in a while’, there is still some form of expression that my supporters connect with. I’m mostly present and they are present with me. I have a mailing list, I have intimate shows, I go online. That helps bridge the gap so I have a healthy relationship with my fanbase. They don’t just expect music.”
C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.
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