Bukola is a young singer-songwriter who is making waves: she was recently hailed by the CBC as one of the Top 10 Soulful Female Artists in their Searchlight competition. She also performed at pre-event for the Juno Awards and is seen by many as an artist to watch.
At Singdaptive, we were captivated by the music and message of Bukola’s new single “A Good Thing”. We caught up with her to ask her to share insights she has on singing, technique, social media (and more!) at the beginning of her career.
What’s an important lesson you’ve learned in terms of technique?
I love this question! I think the most important lesson I’ve learned in terms of technique is how important and influential the mind is when singing. Your mind can either allow you to do certain things or hinder you.
Can you give an example of this?
Sure! The perception of pitch. I used to think of higher pitches as going “up” in my mind and so I would always feel like I was straining to reach them. Working with my vocal coach, she taught me to perceive pitch not as “up” or “down”, but as a straight path. It sounds simple, but it has helped so much!
A key turning point in developing your own, unique vocal work?
I was a self-taught singer for the longest time and so I didn’t have any proper singing technique. As a result, a lot of the things I would sing would sound super heavy.
What do you mean by “super heavy”?
I guess “heavy” is an interesting way to describe a voice haha! I meant to say that my voice would sound really dark in terms of tone. Having some darkness to your tone is absolutely amazing and it can make your voice sound super rich. However, my tone was super dark all the time and it wasn’t by choice.
How did you develop more vocal ease?
When I finally was able to work with a vocal coach, we worked on this by really focusing on the pronunciation of vowel sounds. I never used to pay much attention to vowel sounds before, but they really do play such an important role in so many aspects of singing such as pitch and tone.
A favorite quote that inspires you
“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” (-Zig Ziglar)
What’s an important lesson you’ve learned in terms of vocal health?
To keep yourself hydrated!! It sounds like a given as we all need to keep ourselves hydrated to stay healthy, but it’s also important in terms of singing as well! When I would perform, I always found my mouth to be dry because I wasn’t hydrating properly. Constantly keeping yourself hydrated (not just five minutes before a performance) is super important!
A vocal artist who inspires you?
Hands down Whitney Houston.
What is it about their singing that inspires you?
Her voice was something so special and pure. Every time she would sing, you would get goosebumps.
What’s your relationship with social media?
It’s definitely a love/hate relationship haha :) It can be pretty hard at times as it’s so easy to compare yourself to people online and there is a constant pressure to post something amazing. But it’s also pretty sweet as it’s a great way to share your music with people and to connect with people who like what you’re doing.
What are you currently working on in terms of your music-career?
I’m currently getting ready to release my debut EP which is coming out this summer :) I’m super excited because we’ve been working on the project since I was in grade 11, so it’s been some time now :)
What was your first performance?
I sang a lot in church when I was younger as we had a kids’ choir. But my first big solo performance was when I was in Grade 5 for Remembrance Day.
What did you learn from that performance?
How vulnerable it truly is to get on stage alone and sing for people. There’s nothing to hide behind when you’re up there, it’s just you and your voice. It’s scarily beautiful.
What performance would you single out as being a “turning point” & why?
I think it was when I was 16 and I was performing in the finals for a Battle of the Bands competition being held by the Juno Awards when they came to Vancouver. Being the only solo artist in the finals, I thought I was bound to lose. I didn’t have band members who could hype up the crowd or other instruments that could boost the energy of my performance. So I had to really come out of my shell and try my best to engage with the audience. I took so many risks that night and it was really liberating. I ended up winning the competition which was such an honour as the other bands were absolutely incredible. But this performance definitely taught me to step out of my comfort zone and the importance of connecting with my audience.
How did you engage with the audience? What did you do?
The first thing I asked them was simply how they were doing. Instead of just assuming everyone was fine and just singing at them, I wanted to build a relationship with them by checking in first. I then poked fun at myself for not having a drummer with me and asked them if they could help me out with percussion by clapping their hands. Then I joked with them that it was very important that they stay on beat for the song – and they did such a great job! I also asked them to sing along during some parts and to put their lights up in the air for my last song.
What are some of your career dreams/goals?
I think my biggest goal is to be able to have music as my career which might sound pretty small but it’s super important to me. A lot of people end up having to put music to the side and it ends up becoming a hobby just because of the way life works out sometimes. But music is too important to me for it to become something I do on the side. I want to be able to do it all day, everyday :) I’d also love to hopefully win a Grammy someday :)
Recently hailed by the CBC as one of the Top 10 Soulful Female Artists in the 2020 CBC Searchlight competition, Bukola is a 19-year-old musician who blends the sounds of contemporary R&B and Jazz music to create her own soulful sound. Bukola recently worked with Grammy Award-winning producer, Chin Injeti, and Juno Award-winning producer Ben Kaplan on her debut EP The Chronicles of A Teenage Mind, which is set for release in 2021.