Tuesday, March 5, 2024

“The methods and hows of therapeutic”: Inside Joshua Idehen’s Spoken Phrase Dance Album, ‘Study To Swim, A Mixtape’

Joshua Idehen dives into his energizing and galvanizing spoken phrase dance album, ‘Study to Swim, A Mixtape,’ a powerful and deeply human triumph into which he pours his coronary heart, his soul, his physique, and his thoughts.
Stream: “Study to Swim” – Joshua Idehen

I sing, I kinda sorta rap, I do poetry. I inform tales, I’m often totally and sometimes darkish, and none of those sides battle.

Intimate, insightful, and exhilarating, Joshua Idehen’s debut solo document is a wide ranging, soul-stirring journey.

In some ways, the 36-minute mixtape seems like a TED Discuss because of the sheer depth and thought-provoking nature of Idehen’s writing, however to name it that might be a disservice to his personal efficiency, in addition to to producer Ludvig Parment’s unimaginable craft; collectively, the 2 artists create a fascinating world of heat and surprise, into which Idehen spills his coronary heart, his soul, his physique, and his thoughts. An energizing and galvanizing spoken phrase dance album, Joshua Idehen’s Study to Swim, A Mixtape is a powerful and deeply human triumph.

Learn to Swim, A Mixtape - Joshua Idehen
Study to Swim, A Mixtape – Joshua Idehen
Keep cool, be taught to swim
I solely began studying final 12 months
and now I’m forty two
And when you already know the way to swim?
Good for you
That is for all of the folks behind you
Keep cool, be taught to swim
Nah, mate, you’re not too heavy
Your bones should not too dense
Pennywise was proper
Ultimately, everybody floats

Launched April 21, 2023, Study to Swim is an immersive expertise that guarantees to maneuver its viewers in additional methods than one. Joshua Idehen’s debut solo mixtape is a surprising introduction to the British-born, Sweden-based spoken phrase artist and musician, whose decade-long oeuvre already precedes him: Lively for over a decade now, Idehen has contributed poems to Mercury-nominated albums Channel The Spirits by The Comet Is Coming, Your Queen Is A Reptile and the MOBO Award successful Black Is The Future, each by British jazz group Sons of Kemet. Idehen has additionally been a founding member of a number of bands in Benin Metropolis, Nigeria – Hugh (whom Atwood Journal featured in 2016) and Calabashed – and he collaborated with American producer Daedelus on the acclaimed 2021 album, Holy Water Over Sons.

Whereas his collaborative discography is huge and intensive, Idehen’s standalone solo artistry continues to be very a lot in its nascence: He launched the EP Maintain Up Your Chin in November 2022, mixing poetry with soul and lo-fi home music over three soul-stirring unique tracks and three extra further remixes. Study to Swim, A Mixtape is Idehen’s first longform inventive assertion; he holds nothing again throughout its ten tracks, carving out his personal breathtaking (and breath-giving) house over the course of thirty-six fascinating minutes of poetry and musical magic.

The methods and hows of therapeutic
Requested me how I’m feeling?
Mentioned I’m high-quality, say I’m nice, smiles in place
The masks is peeling, life’s a sport of playing cards
Everybody’s dealing feet agency
Eyes to the ceiling
Maintain it sealed in, no revealing
All hid, how I learnt to behave a person
By no means ask for serving to hand
Lonely soldier, world on shoulders
That’s how this altas stands
And but, and but, and but
Unhealthy man is performing out
Lashing out, unanswered textual content
What’s that each one about?
Various traces crossed
Various grenades tossed
And identical to that
Decade outdated bonds crumble into mud
However maintain it there, my breh
Palms up, I’ve been a mare
Basket tried to carry his tears
My disgrace an excessive amount of to bear
Responded to like with worry
However I swear…
I’m getting myself into gear
The sign is beginning to clear
Your mate continues to be right here beneath the layers
Don’t you quit on me, don’t you dare.
Don’t you quit on me, don’t you dare.
Nonetheless right here beneath the layers, mate, swear
– “Don’t You Give Up On Me,” Joshua Idehen

Joshua Idehen © Agatha Powa
Joshua Idehen © Agatha Powa

The roots of this mixtape started to take maintain shortly after Idehen accomplished his challenge with Daedalus. “That was an actual milestone second for me,” he tells Atwood Journal. “They’re certainly one of my inventive heroes and it was an honor to work with them. I’d mined numerous my private and political angst to make that document, and on the finish of it, I felt form of exhausted. I believe I used to be carried out feeling unhappy about myself and the world, writing songs that couldn’t ever attain anybody outdoors my viewpoint.”

“With the beginning of my daughter, I started to see the teachings and the positives from all of the earlier trauma main as much as the place I’m now, and having made an album with my idol, I used to be like ‘Effectively, if I may do that, I could make that spoken phrase/dance album I at all times wished to. I may be as cringy as I need, nothing issues!’” he laughs.

To deliver his phrases to life, Idehen collaborated together with his longtime musical associate and shut buddy Ludvig Parment, whom he describes as “the beats equation – aka Josh Simply Fear About The Phrases I do know What I’m Doing.

“I instructed Ludvig I wished to make a spoken phrase dance album, and Ludvig stated, ‘Yeah let’s add some Motown influences and some fine details,’ and we’ve by no means seemed again!” Idehen remembers. “About midway by writing, I realised numerous the tracks – particularly with the choir – jogged my memory of numerous Nigerian tele-evangelists again after I was younger. And I embraced that, and watched numerous Stromae and Speaking Heads.”

Joshua Idehen © Agatha Powa
Joshua Idehen © Agatha Powa

The ensuing manufacturing proves a really singular sonic and emotional journey – one which Idehen personally describes as redemptive, reminiscing, and full of affection.

It’s additionally Idehen’s most definitive work so far – the closest we are able to get to assembly the person himself by music.

“As somebody who’s been in a number of bands current in a number of completely different genres, Study to Swim is an opportunity for all the pieces I’ve learnt as an artist to exist in a single house,” he smiles. “I sing, I kinda sorta rap, I do poetry. I inform tales, I’m often totally and sometimes darkish, and none of those sides battle.”

The title Study to Swim is kind of literal, as Idehen was studying to swim whereas making this document.

“One thing concerning the denseness of my bones meant it’s actually laborious for me to swim in a single spot,” he explains. “I’d satisfied myself my bones had been too dense to drift, and really, they’re, so I’d given up for many years. My Swedish instructor, upon listening to that, spoke in damaged English, ‘Effectively, then, you shark. Maintain shifting or die.’ This mixtape represents a journey for me.”

“Nonetheless can’t float, however I’m nonetheless studying.”

Joshua Idehen © Agatha Powa
Joshua Idehen © Agatha Powa

Study to Swim combines the three originals from Idehen’s 2022 EP with seven extra gorgeous songs that span a big selection of genres and types, influences and inspirations. Highlights embrace the emotive, scene-setting opening monitor “Don’t You Give Up On Me,” the harmony-rich, soul-soaked “This World’s a Insanity,” that includes British vocalist Sharlene Hector, and the propulsive, achingly visceral “Final Time,” that includes London-based singer/songwriter Katie Dove Dixon. The breakneck “Finish of the Line” is a uncooked, rave-ready fever dream reminding us that life is valuable, and to maintain our family members shut, “Greatest Type Of Misplaced” is a imaginative and prescient of picturesque love (Idehen calls it “an ideal day with my associate”):

breadcrumbs littering the counter
lingering considered her bedside method
on the cliffs of my thoughts
Lemme make the tea, lemme make it again to you in time
night solar turned grondal gold this
imaginative and prescient is a kind of wealth
Your fingers rummaging and sweating in mine
this sense is the one kind of wealth
I kiss the summer season off your lips
and identical to that the sorrow lifts
we’re carried out with strolling so we journey the one scooter
up above, the chubby clouds gobble up the moon
I’ve by no means been this wavy in my life
apart from yesterday however yesterday was peak on the time

Arriving about midway by the mixtape, title monitor “Study to Swim Pt 2” is an indeniable spotlight.

A delicate, muted, brooding piano (courtesy of producer Ludvig Parment) accompanies Idehen on his five-minute journey by perception and (comedian) incitement; “Keep cool, be taught to swim. I solely began studying final 12 months, and now I’m forty two,” he admits. “And when you already know the way to swim? Good for you. That is for all of the folks behind you.” So begins a wondrous, inspirational soliloquy of kinds – one that’s positive to end in a couple of laughs, a couple of smiles, and some lyrics plastered on folks’s partitions.

Whereas most motivational quotes are corny and horrible, Joshua Idehen seemingly, in only one track, revives a useless artwork type. He has loads of phrases of knowledge for these keen to hear: “There are not any options on the backside of a doomscroll.” “Embrace your cringe.” “If you happen to love doing a factor, and also you’re not hurting anybody or your self, do the factor.” “Recognise the distinction between alone and lonely.” “Don’t be afraid to decorate like an fool a minimum of as soon as in your life.” And certainly one of my private favorites, “Don’t swim within the River Thames.” But much more highly effective than every of those nuggets on their very own, is their mixed influence all collectively in a single track. Idehen channels his interior “uncle giving unsolicited recommendation” persona on the fantastically intimate “Study to Swim, Pt 2,” mixing humor with the guts to create a second of uncooked human connection.

Keep cool, be taught to swim
Your pores and skin will thanks
Your thoughts will thanks
And if there’s blood within the water
sharks will thanks
Don’t swim within the River Thames
no one requested you to try this
Some issues will at all times be true
The solar at all times units within the west
Proper now will at all times be pretty much as good because it will get
Romeo and Juliet is tragic
Time is wasted on fear
And everyone seems to be manufactured from pure, unadulterated magic
apart from Boris Johnson
Trans males are males
Trans ladies are ladies
Some issues by now needs to be a given
It appears to be like worse when it’s on-line
Fb is just not analysis
regardless of the hours you spent on it
There are not any options on the backside of a doomscroll
and also you’re by no means at your greatest when
you’re looking at another person’s spotlight reel
Time heals all wounds and makes new ones however
a scorching bathe will treatment 99% of unhealthy vibes, belief me
Try to be good to your self
Try to be good to folks apart from Nazis.
Nobody ought to by no means be good to Nazis.

“Study to Swim” is a private favourite for Idehen as properly. “It was the best one to trace, simply me and Ludvig’s beat,” he remembers. “The response from this one monitor has been so actual and immense, and… sudden? We truthfully simply caught it on as a result of we had been bullish about maintaining a spoken phrase monitor on, solely to have the primary spherical of suggestions decide that track one. It’s my favorite to carry out.”

Whereas “Study to Swim” has any variety of memorable quips and quotes, the mixtape’s different songs comprise loads of nice lyrics as properly. Three of Idehen’s private favorites embrace:

Saturday evening and we meet within the queue
pleasant however removed from the identical crew
– “Finish of the Line
She stated she virtually fell in love
and I swear I virtually caught her
– “All of the Identical
I kiss the summer season off your lips
and identical to that the sorrow lifts
– “Greatest Type of Misplaced
Joshua Idehen © Agatha Powa
Joshua Idehen © Agatha Powa

A compelling roller-coaster for the ears, thoughts, and coronary heart alike, Study to Swim, A Mixtape is a really unparalleled masterpiece of unfiltered, intimate humanity.

“I hope listeners really feel understood and seen,” Idehen concludes. “I hope they see there’s at all times an opportunity. I hope this information helps them see the love of their lives, as I see in mine. What I’ve taken from it?  What the hell was I so fearful of, not doing a factor like this earlier?”

Expertise the total document by way of our under stream, and peek inside Joshua Idehen’s phenomenal Study to Swim, A Mixtape with Atwood Journal as he goes track-by-track by the music and lyrics of his gorgeous new launch!

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:: join with Joshua Idehen right here ::
:: stream/buy Study to Swim: A Mixtape right here ::
Stream: ‘Study to Swim, A Mixtape’ – Joshua Idehen

:: Inside Study to Swim, A Mixtape ::

Learn to Swim, A Mixtape - Joshua Idehen

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Don’t You Give Up On Me

This was the very first monitor I wrote with Ludvig. I’d instructed him every week prior that I wished to make a home and spoken phrase track and when he despatched me this demo, my first thought was “that is it. That is precisely what I need.” Pondering of themes: I knew I wished to do some self reflection…  I saved coming again to this mate I used to have in London, who’d typically disappear for ages for some cause or one other. Final time I noticed him, I teased him about it, calling him “stranger” and all that, and he stated one thing like “I do know bro, I swear we are going to hyperlink up correctly quickly, ay! don’t quit on me” I constructed up from that line.

This World’s A Insanity

“How did you find yourself so removed from your individual blessings” I’m not non secular however I grew up in that house; the imagery resonates with me. Right here, the blessings symbolize all of the necessary issues in life: friendships, loves, household – all issues I’ve personally sacrificed indirectly or one other on the altar of my artwork. I wrote this monitor attempting to discover how a lifetime of attempting to justify myself as an artist has saved me from all of the issues and individuals who may have supplied the achievement I used to be in search of in life. Huge bless to Sharlene Hector for completely one-take-ing the refrain.

Greatest Type Of Misplaced

I  did this poem as a problem, to jot down a few single day. On this case, it was a day with my associate, Julia. We’d had a day of strolling round Stockholm, ending at an unlawful forest rave and realising the key behind laborious trance was molly: it’s higher with molly. I used to be such a nuisance at  that rave. I screamed “I like you stunning strangers!” at a passing prepare, did the robotic for what should have been thirty minutes, after which when the cops got here I sobered up actual quick and we bolted. The beat behind this was initially meant to be an interlude, however I urged to Ludvig to stay a garage-y beat behind it and it clicked.

What We’re Doing Tonight

I’m at all times writing unhappy love songs. It’s a style I wish to spend my life in, lol: that place the place issues may go both means and feelings are murky, wishes drenched. When Ludvig first made this beat it was waaaaay extra funkier,and pop: it extra of a ooompa ooompa bass line, and it made me consider a rom com montage the place all the pieces was heading in direction of a breakup. Ludvig didn’t prefer it although, so it went by a couple of extra adjustments.and it got here out significantly better and becoming for the challenge.

Study To Swim Half 2

Ylva, Ludvig’s spouse, and possibly our greatest fan, was insistent we write a “poem-poem, one thing straight, no refrain, no rhyming or no matter.” This was the final monitor we wrote, and I wished it to be a listing of all of the issues I wished to say to my daughter. I acquired the thought watching her applauding as I made to the sting of the pool for the primary time, Began with the road “I hope while you’re my age, compassion is cool once more” however then as I saved writing, I saved developing with traces I’d instantly reply to,  like “Billionaires are boring, don’t let their pr idiot you” , “Your idols will allow you to down… apart from Keanu Reeves” and “be good to folks, however not nazis”. One 8 minute track later, we felt the primary half had a extra private power to it, and we determined to separate it into two.

Final Time

After I was youthful, I used to play Halo with some outdated bartender-friends of mine after work. Mad 3-am traditions that, once we all moved to uni and different jobs, we tried to maintain going however life and London had different locations. On the time, considering again on it, it was the most effective instances of my life: few cares, shut pals, junk meals and all my days forward of me. I believe I’ve one image left of us on a couch that I used to be actually shut to creating the album cowl. I’m not pals with any of them anymore.


This one wanted a tempo change, “make it sooner!” I stated. I’m actually pleased with the writing on this monitor, a few of my fave writing is right here: When unsure say sure/friday evening in your sunday greatest/moon sits excessive in a blue evening’s chest/wash you clear of all of your stress/by hook or criminal you may be blessed”. Yeah I’m happy with that one. I wished to seize the center of an excellent evening out. Nothing memorable or distinctive, simply you and mates going for it and reaping the rewards. It’s an expertise I def wish to discover intimately in future tracks.

Finish Of The Line

That is the second half to final time. Yeah, a little bit of a tragic one, right here. We actually struggled with the refrain for this: at one level I assumed possibly it didn’t want one. After I’m caught, I generally take a refrain I like, break it all the way down to its essence and construct mine off the again off of that. With this track, after I wrote the refrain, it nonetheless sounded too much like the track that impressed it, So Lengthy by a buddy of mine and the most effective singer/songwriter I do know,  Jono McCleery. I known as him up, instructed him what I did and requested for permission to sing it. He cherished the track and supplied to sing it himself. It’s the largest second of kindness on the album

I Received You Each Step Of The Method (For Leone Ross)

This was the second track I wrote with Ludvig. I completed it in thirty minutes. The second I realised I used to be writing a track about Leone Ross and the way a lot she meant to me, the track adopted. Leone – wonderful author, godmother to my daughter – was a relentless at a really darkish time in my life, and she or he used to joke that I’d by no means write a track about her. I imply, I nonetheless kinda haven’t, however it is a begin.

All The Identical

That is really the oldest track off the mixtape, a holdover that couldn’t discover a residence from an outdated band. They’re all tales from my time as a barman within the west finish, all of the unhappy love tales that might play out in entrance of me because the evening closed down. Felt like a becoming final monitor.

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:: stream/buy Study to Swim: A Mixtape right here ::

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? © Agatha Powa

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