This incredible project recorded over a lockdown is a mellow and seductive diary entry like listen that sees Akemi explore love – inspired by her own life and experiences and those of her friends. In a Modèle interview with Akemi below, we chat about her latest body of work.
Manchester-born and raised, Akemi Fox is a sincere and ardent story-teller who makes honey-smooth alternative R&B, nodding to the nostalgic 90s/00s sound in a way that feels contemporary and fresh. 'Colour You In' features recent singles including her release ‘Lemon Tea’ in early 2020 that was supported by Tidal on their Rising R&B playlist, by Jamz Supernova on 1Xtra as well as the most recent instalment ‘Your Love’ which has been given the nod by i-D, The Independent and Fred Perry.
Citing Erykah Badu, Frank Ocean and Beyoncé as some of Akemi's key influences, the Mancunian praises the many soulful artists from the 90s and early 2000s who inspired her to stay true to herself and her artistry. Her discography including tracks like 'Weightless’, ‘Disposable’ and 'Virginia’ is one filled with raw emotion, divine spiritual energy and nostalgia that enthrals you upon first listen.
What song do you always find yourself singing in the shower?
If I’m honest I don’t sing in the shower very much! But I would definitely belt out anything by Rihanna.
Describe the music scene in Manchester?
It's soooo cool!!! It's really great to be a part of, everyone knows each other and is so supportive. There is so much good music coming out of Manchester at the moment it's so exciting to see my music friends do so well!
You have been described as a "sincere and ardent storyteller", do you agree? and why?
I'd like to say so. I think it's a skill I have always enjoyed and it would be nice to think of myself like that. I don't know how good I would be at telling you an actual story but I guess I can definitely put it into a song.
Your latest EP “Colour You In” is all about your personal exploration of love, how does this translate itself in your latest body of work?
I guess I am quite young and treat my songs as a diary-like thing for me, I express how I'm feeling at that time or what story I want to tell even if it's not 100% accurate. With 'Colour You In' it allows you into my teen and early 20s, expressing how confusing the world and love is. My goal is for the listener to be in their feelings really thinking of love or helping them get over one.
It's said your EP is inspired by your "own life and experiences and those of your friends", is there specific moment/experience that inspired one of the EP's tracks?
My current relationship is always an inspiration to my exploration and opinions of love. I find a lot of inspiration in objects too… and nature. I try to capture feelings of friend's breakups or how their explanations of love. I think I just draw things from life really and when it comes to writing whatever pops into my head I just go with.
What is the one message you would give to your following?
Ermm I would probably tell this to myself too…. but stress less and don't be too hard on yourself. This year, of course, hasn't been what we all hoped for but I definitely would say to give yourself lots of self-care because we all need it.
You recorded the EP during lock-down, how did this impact the release?
If I'm honest it wasn't too different from my usual setup as I'm always in a home studio. It was a bit more difficult to write and stay motivated when there was very little inspiration due to being inside all the time. Overall I enjoyed it I had finished uni work the year so I had a lot of time to focus on finishing it.
Which out of the 5 tracks in the EP is your favourite? Why?
'So High' is my favourite. I know it's really short but I have always really loved those lyrics and it's nice to see it on a project finally. What I tell myself is if I still like the lyrics after a year or two I know they're decent and I have to release them when the time is right. The song is just a bit of a representation of my teen years, being confused, being in love and all of that good stuff. As I said before I treat my songs as a type of diary everyone just knows all my inner thoughts haha.
What were your inspirations behind your most well-known track 'Lemon Tea'?
It's all based on a lemon tea drink, the empty carton was in the studio one day and I said to myself I wonder if I can make a song about this and then it sort of just happened. It was such a quick studio session I had the writing and recording done in one sitting, it feels so good when it's a quick process. I very nearly never released the song but I am glad I did and that people are still listening to it.
What is the best advice you've ever given anybody?
I'd like to say I give my friends good advice but I'm not sure, I usually always say do what you want to do and do whatever makes you happy.
Photography by Morgan Roberts