Download the song “I’ll Go” from up and coming artist Edei.
It’s not often that a young artist comes around possessing an innate ability to take the old and twist it up into a unique new flavor, but that’s exactly what 26-year-old British singer/songwriter Edei does on her U.S. debut EP. The artist offers up a mix of old and new with a musical soundscape of Northern soul with a bit of British garage.
To capture that mix of old soul with a modern twist, Edei enlisted the help of two very different producers – up-and-coming British producer/songwriter Ant Whiting (John Newman, Rizzle Kicks, M.I.A.) and the legendary American music man Thom Panunzio (John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones). It’s the juxtaposition between the two that helped bring Edei’s laid-back vibe of a classic songbird, her lyrical prowess of a poet, and old Motown soul into sharp focus. “I was so honored to work with both of them. Everyone wants to work with Ant right now. Then you’ve got the other side of it with Thom who has worked with everyone,” says Edei.
The 5-song EP’s first single, “I’ll Go,” a funky, edgy, up-tempo song laced with killer horns and strings, is one of the two tracks recorded in London with Whiting – the other being “Fill Me Up.” “I always write from experience whether it’s my own or someone I’ve known who’s gone through something that moved me. If there is a theme to this EP it’ about the distance in in relationships and how they are affected in different ways, whether it be between family, friends or love. ‘I’ll Go’ is about my little sister who I’m away from a lot and it’s really saying to our whole family that we’ll go anywhere for each other. ‘Fill Me Up’ is about a long-distance relationship and the effects of it,” says Edei, who has a tattoo of the lyrics, “don’t wait for angels,” from her single “I’ll Go” on her arm as one of her 15 tattoos.
With Panunzio, who produced the beautiful piano-based ballad “Falling,” the gritty “Shady Secrets,” and the poppiest song on the EP, “Relapse,” she was able to fulfill her lifelong goal of recording live – just like they did in the Motown days. “I love live recordings where everything doesn’t have to be perfect but it has this certain feel and energy. My band has such a love for my music that just makes it so exciting. Thom made everyone feel at home and took in all of our input. He let me kind of really drive with him, which was pretty amazing. He always trusted me and kept saying we’re not doing anything you don’t want to do, and this is your EP, and these are your songs. It was pretty amazing,” says Edei, who cites Rod Stewart as her greatest musical influence, along with John Newman, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and the Motown sound, Patti LaBelle, Gavin DeGraw, and others.
Edei also worked with another musical powerhouse, songwriter Mark Batson (Alicia Keys, Eminem, Dave Matthews Band), who co-wrote “Shady Secrets.” “It’s a dirty, grimy, sexy song about a relationship where the guy’s been lying but she kind of is always one step ahead. The guitar we did on that was awesome,” she says. Edei caught the performing bug at the early age of 5 when she saw her first play and said to her mom,
“I want to be up there. I want to be on the stage.” By age 6, she was enrolled in drama school and landed her first role in “Les Misérables” on London’s prestigious West
End. At the age of 10, she was cast in “Annie,” which led to her performing “Hard Knock Life” with music mogul and recording artist Jay-Z on “Top of the Pops.”
But the young talent, who hails from Buckinghamshire just outside London and is Los Angeles-based now, soon realized that music was her true calling. “At 16, I decided to focus on music more. My dad was sick and I wrote this song, ‘Back To One,’ about it and everyone told me, ‘You have to do this.’ That was the turning point for me where I realized that I’ve got to write. I always wanted to be a singer, but I realized I didn’t have to be a singer and sing other people’s songs. It was this point where I realized I could do it all,” says Edei, who describes her younger self as a tomboy.
Soon Edei showcased at music festivals around the world including being a headliner at Isle of Wight Festival as well as sold-out arena tours in the U.K. Complementing her dynamic live performances, Edei’s single “Loved,” in addition to being Record of the Week for five straight weeks, was the fourth most played love song in the U.K. in 2012. Since 2010, she’s been making quite the name for herself with a slew of unique covers and YouTube videos, including an acoustic cover of CeeLo Green’s “Forget You” (3 million views) followed by her own answer to that song with original lyrics called “Forget You Too,” an acoustic mash-up of Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” with Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” (nearly 1.3 million views), an acoustic cover of Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” (1.9 million views), as well as her own original material including the emotional track, “Invisible Scar” (542,000 views).
“The response from fans from ‘Invisible Scar’ saying how much it touched them or how they connected to it is when I realized I could really touch people with my songs in a real meaningful way and that’s just an amazing thing. It made me believe that whatever you have to fight through politics in music and whatever it is it can be worth it in the end if you can help people,” says Edei.
Though she already has a rich musical resume, her debut U.S. EP finds the artist realizing her true voice, sound, and sonic vibe for the first time. “The reason RH Music signed me was they thought I had a voice. I knew what i wanted to do and they let me do that. I’ve finally written the music that I would actually listen to myself. I’ve been doing it for so long, but I’m finally getting to live out this vision that I’ve had because my label just let me get on with it. I just want it to be about the music. Music is what I do, and I’m not going to put anything in the way of that now,” says Edei.