Real Talk – Hemai

Heami, from Birmingham England, has a modern initiative like no other. The young aspiring musician has managed to truly embrace and master the art of blending sounds and combing textures to create a fantastic modern display of art. This can be heard in his whole body of work and even more prominently on his latest single entitled "Noa Noa". Hemai has continued to improve his craft on this track and has proved once again why the anticipation behind him is truly deserved. 

How would you describe yourself as a musician?

Messy, in a very specific sense! Music, to me, is just pure emotive expression. So just breathing out whatever I have clogged inside my head and heart outwards to the instruments I would naturally gravitate towards! So no regimented way of creating. I do have a soft spot for the Fender Rhodes though. And shakers.

When did you first become involved with music and when did the passion for creativity become a strong presence in your life?

Early on man! I’ve been humbled and honored to be surrounded by music since birth. The songwriting and production, composing, and arranging arose when I started looking into production when I was a little teen. Earlier on though, having my brother as a backbone and an insane drummer also passively has influenced the way I prioritize my involvement in music. And my attitude towards it. Treating instruments as people, and playing as our language.

How was the recording process for your latest single “Noa Noa”?

Beautiful…it came together so lovingly. There is so much of my heart and soul in there, as well as the other collaborators on it I believe. My study and interest in the philosophies and practices of Buddhism had a lot to play in the music, with the natural earthy percussive section and synthesis choices. You know, the passion shines out of all involved as well which makes it such a joy to work on all sides. With Sam, my bro on the kit, the vocalist Emilia and Jim in the mix. It’s like an infinite amount of energy, every single time. A bunch of recording studios, some home development and just adapting the tune constantly to current environments. It was quite emotional to pull the plug on this one, but I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to pass it to people like yourself with a mutual enthusiasm towards it.

How does “Noa Noa” reflect your growth as an artist?

Every single thing that I ping out has the same amount of love in it as one another. And yet, as cliche as it is, they are like little pets. This side of it has always remained the same. But, my ability to express myself in different musical and verbal ways is evergrowing, everchanging.

Why do you feel “Noa Noa” turned out to be the final product it is? Why was now an ideal time for you to release it also?

I think music unfolds the way it is supposed to. Sometimes a lot better if there is no formula, playlist, compilation motive as such involved. I truly believe when a piece is derived out of love and passion it just…happens. Releasing it now just feels like it’s the right time and place. I think it just flows with the tide of the universal pace right now, especially where the world is currently at. Upbeat and dance vibrations can always help to sprinkle a little bit of happiness, at least to someone!

Your sound blends many genres together, what are the difficulties that come with blending a wide variety of sounds and how do you overcome them in the writing process?

Thanks mate! Honestly, I don’t even know that I do it sometimes. It’s a fusion of what I listen to, how I produce, and experimentation. The electronic side comes from how I produce, and how I envision things to sound. You know, if something needs emphasis on it or something. The actual musicality of things comes from my listening and experimentation. For example, my previous single “Relight” has had the chorus described by some as drum and bass influenced, but I wouldn’t say so. I just felt like it needed a shift in tempo at that point in the music like many other jazz fusion records from the likes of Jamiroquai and The Rebirth. Naturally, I get how some music falls into certain boxes, but I really respect the idea of just doing. This is a difficulty for me. Having that alter-ego in your head saying “ah yeah but if you do this then you’ll become a drum and bass producer or a beatmaker or something”. As beautiful and creatively niche as they are, I quite like having the option of making whatever comes to the mind and being present with what is being created, there and then, no boxes.

Describe your sound and why you feel you will stand out in the modern market? What approaches and techniques have you done differently to others that you feel will propel you to success?

I guess it’s whether or not the people resonate with the soul of the records or not. The music is quite eclectic some would and have said, full to the brim of little pieces and layers of the mind, body, and soul. Everyone has a different perception of the music though, and measure success differently right? Even the interest that yourself has shown towards the creation of the music, is a success to me. Honestly. I’m lost for words for the universal love that has been shown already. And that’s just by doing what I love. What we love. That’s the ultimate approach and technique I have and pursue in every song that’s created. Letting the music be and do what it is and does.

Were there other musicians involved in the creative and recording process for “Noa Noa”? Did you bring any sessions players in to play live instruments?

100%! Firstly, my brother Sam Hemus plays the kit and congas on the record. Without him, there would be no Noa Noa, full stop! I can only give so much from programming the drums. But, there is a certain spark and piece of my brother’s heart that comes out every time he shells. It what makes and glues the rhythm section together. Emilia the guest vocalist is also just a ray of sunshine. Such a lovely voice and just peaks the song for me. Fifi, who helped co-write the chorus was also beautifully invested and intertwined in the making of this and being a superwoman every step of the song. Jim Macrae was in the mix, and the man is truly a wizard. He brought all of the components to life and had such a positive overlook on the song itself. The energy when we were in the room was just sick. Eternally grateful for each and every one of these humans.

Would you ever consider doing a physical release? Also, why do you feel vinyl has made such a successful comeback in recent times?

100%! I am a vinyl head! It would be a dream come true to have a physical pressing of a project. And to the other point, I think it’s consumption value. There is honestly so much new music every single week, that music sadly just gets lost in the pond. It’s so easy to listen to an intro, not be invested in the first 3 seconds, and just press skip. We are all guilty of it. With vinyl, there is a whole process to go through to listen. It takes you on a blissful journey. The sound is literally pressed into grooves in a physical format. It takes more than just your ears to consume the music. Very magical.

Has your musical journey had a deliberate direction or did it simply gradually evolve in whatever direction it found?

Hit the nail on the head mate! Experimentation naturally gave it it’s nutrients to evolve. Still to this day and till the last of days!

What three records made the biggest impact on you as a person and as an artist?

Headhunters, Herbie Hancock. Joao Gilberto, Amaroso. Jack Johnson, Inbetween Dreams. These all taught me, as a person and an artist, experimentation. Content-ness. Calm. Love. Boundless.

What is your biggest problem with the music industry?

The consumption value of music on a whole, as mentioned back in the vinyl point. But hey, it is what it is! Maybe it will surprise us one day.

What’s next for you?

Keep on making music, always. Working with different vocalists from around the world and here rooted in the UK. And, becoming more content as a human being in general. Blessed to be able to do so as well. Eternally grateful for the interview man.

Interview by Rob Kent

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