Sudanese singer-songwriter Obai released his debut EP, Svnteen. The EP consists of a nine-song tracklist. His single “The River” was featured in season 19 of Grey's Anatomy.
What keeps you motivated to keep creating and putting out music in a world where so many artists and songs are trying to push to the top?
Obai: I really genuinely love making music. It's funny the label I’m signed to, Geffen, there's a JV under Geffen and they are based in Miami. It's a big place and every time I go I've never experienced it, I've only ever been in the studio. The label will tell me to get out of the studio and try to get me out. I'd rather be making music. I think I genuinely love making songs and I like trying to tell stories with music or trying to relate to people. So I don't think it's a fear of mine seeing more people make music.
Your song “The River” was featured on season 19 of Grey's Anatomy, are sync opportunities something you think about when creating music?
Obai: Honestly no, but I will tell you this when I'm making songs and if I'm making a certain hook or verse I'll be like, "Okay, this would be dope with Spiderman swinging in the background." It doesn't come to mind like, "Oh, I should make a song for this song or this." But sometimes after I write a song I think it would be cool for a doctor show or a lawyer show.
What is your favorite song off the EP?
Obai: Probably “Journals” because it's the most personal to me. I talk about my mom, where I come from, the people who weren't so much on the page at the time when I first started making music and they come back. It's not just that I'm really speaking from the heart in that song.
How has it been to see your EP go from start to finish? What role does it play in your larger body of work?
Obai: Seeing it from the beginning to the end has been a beautiful ride. This is just the introduction for sure. Everything is kinda just brick by brick, I've been so excited to just get music out in general. I have a lot of music I've been working on and a lot of music I'm excited about. I'm just excited to get stuff going. I have been doing a lot of shows recently so I have been really hype -this is just an introduction for sure.
How did you come up with the title for the EP?
Obai: At first it was going to be "Daydream" or "Svnteen." The reason for that was because for me specifically, seventeen was my worst year, greatest year and mid-year so I felt all types of emotions that year. I lost my uncle in the war earlier this year when I was seventeen. I was working on a project but I was also experiencing a bunch of stuff I've never experienced before because of the position that I'm blessed to be in. I got to be in a bunch of rooms and see people I haven't seen in years and they switch up their ways of how they thought of me and how they love me. I get to see things and talk about it in my music but a lot of the time wasn't able to capture everything. That's why I was going to call it "Daydream" because I felt like everything felt like a daydream. I had no idea what was going on. I think seventeen hit harder because it was that year. I feel like when people think of the year seventeen they can be like, "Oh, I remember that was a good year or a mid-year." Either way, they can go back and listen to Svnteen and relate to something in this project.
What kind of universe can we expect to see from this EP?
Obai: You're gonna see Arizona, where I come from, [and] the moments that I've been able to capture with the music. With every song, you'll see a good visualizer and an amazing rollout with it. I've been posting on Instagram a lot and I'm trying to post extended visuals for every clip that I post. On YouTube, I want to post all those extended clips. I want to do a website and this whole thing. I have a lot of plans. What kind of environments were you in when you wrote and recorded the songs? How long did it take you to compose the project from start to finish?
Obai: I was all over the place for the making of it. I think it started of course in my room with the ideas and the thoughts of trying to execute certain songs with voice memos and everything. Then I would go to Miami and meet up with my people out there that I always make music with. We just started creating and after that, they said we should go on a trip to Atlanta. Started working with Tricky Stewart and we made “Dance Floor” and then more songs just kind of kept going and going. Then we got to this point, the entire thing was a cool experience.
Do you plan on doing any live shows this year?
Obai: Yeah, I actually have a show next month. I'm excited for that. I'm trying to do more, I'd love to tour and go through the U.S. or the West or something.
If you had the chance to play your music anywhere in any stadium or place where would you want it to be played?
Obai: Madison Square Garden, of course. That's the biggest, I have too.
Listen to Svnteen: HERE