Whether you know OKENYO from her acting roles (including a coveted gig on Play School), her acclaimed theatre work or her enigmatic pop/neo-soul music, you will struggle to find an artist as unapologetically authentic.
A proud proponent of inclusivity, OKENYO is among the many artists fighting to recognise and celebrate the value of diverse talent within the music industry and beyond. Her music encourages listeners to directly engage with their surroundings and the movements that matter. With tracks like ‘Woman’s World’ and ’10 Feet Tall’, her work contributes to the evolving dialogue influencing the music industry, politics, and culture, so often divided by misrepresentation and stereotypes.
What would you say is the best gig you've ever played?
I have to say The Plot festival - it’s such a great feeling as a new artist when people keep streaming in over the course of the set. When you are playing new songs that people might not have heard before it’s a great reminder that it’s all working out!
What are the main themes that you explore in your music and how have these evolved since you first started out?
Romance, Anxiety and Self Empowerment. They’ve always been strong themes in my writing but definitely I’ve evolved in terms of continuing to push my vulnerability. It’s great to feel like the music is helping me but also sharing my own mind and experience reaches other people. That’s the main aim anyways - for the audience.
If you weren't writing music and acting, what would you be doing?
Chef! I’ve been trying to fit something to do with cooking for ages but I just don’t have time. 2018 is going to be a big year for cooking classes and learning new skills for sure. I find cooking incredibly meditative, I cook really well for myself but it’s really great when there is someone to share it with.
What do you find most challenging and most enjoyable about being a full-time creative?
The most challenging thing is maintaining life work balance. I’ve definitely been taking care of that more recently - thank god for therapy! I am a very solo person and really enjoy my time alone but also what I do in my work is incredibly extroverted so also balancing that and remaining true to myself. I love being constantly challenged and I get that through all my artistic pursuits, I love it this way, dipping into all sorts of facets of life. The people I meet are also a huge bonus, artists are endlessly complex and fascinating people, I feel very fortunate to always be learning new things.
Follow OKENYO on Instagram at @_okenyo_ and keep up to date with her music on Spotify and Youtube.
Photography: Ben Murphy
Words: Johanna Aneman