Interview: E Kelly [@ekellybeatz] talks through No Secrets EP and his musical journey

No Secrets is E Kelly’s debut project as an artist but you will have undoubtedly already heard his production before.

E Kelly is by no means new to the music scene, but No Secrets was definitely a step in a new direction for him. He is a Nigerian music and record producer, songwriter, sound engineer and A&R to Banku Music and emPawa AfricaemPawa Africa being the music distribution company set up by none other than Mr Eazi who E Kelly has worked with closely and even produced one of his hit song ‘Leg Over’.

Besides production for Mr Eazi he has produced songs for Major LazerPatorankingWizkid, and more. His affiliation with Mr Eazi has opened him up to being one of the most sought-out Afrobeat producers, collaborating on several music and non music projects together. He has today released his own artist project, 5 track EP No Secrets, which we spoke to him about.  

For audiences who don’t know you yet, how would you describe your sound?

I would say my sound is urban, Afro-Beat with a touch of RnB. The percussions, simple loops with a lot of unpredictability. Lyrically I love to work with themes that portray love, fun and appreciating beauty in general.

What drew you to wanting to make music?

I can say 90’s R&B & Hip Hop, songs like Twisted by Keith Sweat, Candy Rain by Soul For Real, Dear Mama by 2Pac got me curious about music production. The simplicity of the beats, the consistency of melodies, easy chords, basic drum patterns, really caught my attention as a high school kid.

You were a producer first, what made you want to take up the artist role?

I have made music for the past 20 years, I just felt it was time to make music for me, without the restrictions of an artistes preferences, also my partnership with Mr Eazi and emPawa Africa made it easy to make this transition.

What global influences would you say have shaped your sound?

The golden years of Hip Hop and RnB in the 90’ and early 2000s started the revolution on the creative side, the emergence of Afrobeat on the global scene gave me a further push for perfection to compete internationally.

You have worked with some huge names already but you’ve worked particularly closely with Mr Eazi, how did that relationship develop?

With Mr Eazi it was an instant connection, we had similar values and similar taste in music which is a blend of retro music, RnB and urban vibe.
We also developed a healthy working relationship which earned a lot of trust over time and mutual respect.

You have your new EP No Secrets coming out, what inspired the title?

I recently got engaged to my beautiful fiancée Nina, she was the first girl I was willing to risk it all for, be open and love publicly, so I was moved by the idea of “No Secrets” as a theme.

Thanks to Boybreed, a Nigerian Afro-Caribbean and dancehall duo for an amazing composition/recording of the theme song, though it speaks of a guy who is giving his all in love & not getting the same measure of sincerity in return.

The project is being released under emPawa Africa which is a unique set up, how did that help your recording process for the EP?

Well, the EP was 80% complete before I discussed the idea of releasing with emPawa Africa. I got the necessary support from everyone on the team, which motivated the completion of the project in record time.

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What is the thing you want people to take away from listening to the project?

Good vibes, an experience of my creative mind, an easy to listen body of work, very radio friendly, and mostly mid tempo feels.

Which track on the project was your favourite to make and why?

My Girl with King Perryy. I really had fun creating the music with SynX, and the lead guitar solo I believe is the most unique melody on the project, also King Perryy was amazing on the delivery & lyrics. 

With African artists making big impacts internationally at the moment, has that changed what you thought you are capable of achieving for yourself?

Ghanaian DJ and Producer GuiltyBeatz and Nigerian artist Mr Eazi have proven beyond doubt that there’s no limit to what you can achieve as a producer or artist, there’s absolutely no limit for me. I believe completely that this is just a start. I thank God that with technology we can reach people around the world. 

What is next for E Kelly?

Second EP or LP, more Experimental music, also new administrative roles as A&R with emPawa Africa.

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